A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

And so the world inches closer to another World War... this time with nuclear weaponry.
It's not that any one of the participants wants an all-or-nothing victory... just grabbing a bit of their neighbours here or there, right a historical wrong while an opportunity presents itself... until one of them miscalculates.
Hey reformed cannibal Mao is back.

I get that pride is an ugly little demon that makes people blind, deaf, and too stupid to recognize when something is a bad idea, but the Chinese of all peoples should know what the consequences of nuclear fallout (both in war and accidentally by themselves) are.

Here's hoping for a limited salvo of nukes launched that doesn't end in another Nuclear Winter.
The people are that part of the state that does not know what it wants.
(Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel)

Franz Josef had finally regained his composure, thank goodness. Well, the damage had come to pass, and there was no use crying over spilt milk. Consequently, Franz Josef had flown to Moscow – to parley with the new rulers in the Kremlin. A pity he wasn’t chancellor and could strike grand deals with Zademidko. But cooperation ought to be possible nevertheless; the Rodinyadniki weren’t that far away from the intellectual world of the Völkisch folks. Perhaps even a strategy could be found how to topple the Krosigk muppets.

Discomfiture was on the rise in the populace. The Mars effect had worn off. After all, the Red Planet wasn’t any better than the Moon, just a big heap of rubble – too far away and too hostile to be of any relevance to the ordinary citizen. It was but an incredible waste of taxpayer money. And nothing here on earth had been improved by these space capers. Yeah, greyness was back. Hello again, good old German dreariness…

Okay, the DVP was no good for rioting. That had now been understood. One needed other instruments to subvert this regime of mummies. It would be a march through the governmental institutions, according to Franz Josef. Hitherto, the DVP had been a small party, hardly entitled to occupy important functions. This was different now, one was the strongest party in the Reichstag – and hence was qualified to man a lot of significant parliamentary jobs. And one could ensure that DVP followers were given important positions in the civil and military administration.

Indeed, one had to tap into the possibilities offered by the system. It was like a self-service shop – if you were the strongest party. And it was paying – not only in money, but also in influence. It was already perceivable: people from industry and commerce were flocking in, trying to feather their own nests. – It would take some time to achieve all goals, but one had the whole legislators’ term – if not Franz Josef came up with an innovative idea when he returned from Moscow…
A physicist is just an atom’s way of looking at itself.
(Niels Bohr)

Uh-huh, radioactivity was abating. The eggheads thought it should stabilise at a tolerably low level – in three months or so. That meant the journey to Jupiter wasn’t compromised. Whoopee! – However, the landers and the tenders had caught radiation as well. Not just from cosmic rays, which was the normal thing to happen; no, it clearly was neutron-induced gamma activity from the propulsion bombs. It had been anticipated that the pusher plate would shield the dinghies, but that obviously wasn’t the case – at least not in full.

Could the contamination have brought about the “Wolpertinger” disaster? No, certainly not, said the academics. The debacle definitely must have had some other cause. Nevertheless, the Feuerdrache now was to be designed to carry the dinghies inside the hull. And the Hammer would be equipped with new ones for the Jupiter foray. – Okay, Jochen Zeislitz was happy. The grand voyage was going to happen; he didn’t care for minor irritations like swapping dinghies. Yeah, to Jupiter – five months out, one month – or perhaps two – sojourn in the Jupiter system, and five months back.

According to actual planning, the mission was to start in early December, around St. Nick’s Day. One should arrive on target in mid-April 1963. And be home again by the end of November – or just on St. Nick’s Day. Wouldn`t that be droll? – Well, the new government – which was the old one with only a couple of Sozies added – would hopefully stick to their word. You never knew with these politicians. The admiral thought the tensions with Russia would make sure the Hammer was sent. One couldn’t afford to soft-pedal. Jochen was ready to pray for it…
Power is the chance to impose your will within a social context, even when opposed and regardless of the integrity of that chance.
(Max Weber)

It was a rather thoughtful Franz Josef Strauß who was flying home from Moscow. He had been given the full complement of honours, even an audience with the Tsar. Indeed, they had treated him like the ruler, which in fact he ought to be – if not the mummies had screwed him over. – Nevertheless, he was alarmed, deeply alarmed. These Ultra-Russians were above themselves; they were engrossing things that rightfully belonged to Germany.

Yeah, they were very much interested in cooperation – but to the detriment of Germany. How much of this could he support? The COMECON wasn’t at disposal, it was Germany’s domain. That included, sad to say, also the Heymshtot. He might – as chancellor – harrow the Jews, but he could – and would – never compromise the integrity of the COMECON.

This limited cooperation to a very small window indeed. Putting pressure on the Krosigk muppets was all right, but betraying legitimate German interest was out of bounds. – Zademidko, who seemed to be a sober fellow, had eventually understood – hopefully. But several of his companions were clearly unamenable for such considerations. Strauß had also met Raisa Rozhdestvenskaya, who was one of the most influential persons behind the Rodinyadniki: scary, absolutely scary!

Where did this leave him? Very much out on a limb… Well, down but not out. He had to reform the DVP, make it a modern political force – able to honeycomb the existing system. And he had to – relentlessly – fight this very system. The old parties – dating back to the last century – were past due. Modern times required modern ideas and modern methods. Though, it wouldn’t be easy. Also in the DVP there were many who were past due…
Go make yourself a plan and be a shining light. Then make yourself a second plan, for neither will come right.
(Bertolt Brecht)

It was almost impossible to make ends match. In the Midwest, trees were growing; up north, the ice was growing; in the Southwest, it was getting wetter; along the East Coast, there seemed to be no change at all. Rupert Gordon McCormick found it difficult to interpret the diverging signals. Ice in the north and increasing humidity in the south-western deserts were pointing to a cooling down. Trees in the Mississippi’s catchment area were pointing to a moderate warming; and constancy on the East Coast was pointing to no change at all.

The North American continent being formed as it was, the Midwest was the classic passage way for blizzards and glaciers. So, any cooling down should show prominently in this area. But fledgling forests were quite to the opposite effect; they were indicating a warm stage. – Now, B2G2 was undeniably growing – and the Republic of Quebec was undeniably freezing to death. Where was the mistake? The facts were there. Hence, the theory had to be emended.

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the eternal candidates for joining the US, were doing quite fine. Newfoundland, however, was suffering from the cold ocean drift originating from B2G2, a kind of super Labrador Current. The latter, however, should also cool down the East Coast – but didn’t. It was an enigma. Perhaps, the conception of time for a cold stage needed to be corrected.

After all, one didn’t really know what happened in the earliest phase of a cooling down. The Sangamonian, the last interglacial, had ended, somehow; it had become colder, trees had died, yet the Wisconsinan glaciers had taken a long time to grow – about thirty thousand years. That was – in a nutshell – all one knew. It wasn’t much – and it didn’t provide a vivid picture of the long transition period.

Well, he would research the phenomenon, that was his job. But the politicians wanted advice. And from what he could tell right now, his counsel was: no imminent cold stage ahead. You can carry on as usual.
Order, unity and continuity are human inventions, just as truly as catalogues and encyclopaedias.
(Bertrand Russell)

Nothing new in the “Wolpertinger” case. Security was still investigating. Helga von Tschirschwitz wondered whether they ever would succeed identifying a culprit. Well, silent observation might indeed reveal connections to hostile elements; it only took a lot of time. And, of course, there was no warranty of success. A nasty affair… Would it have a bearing on the voyage to Jupiter? Other than swapping a major portion of the Hammer crew?

Listening devices, hidden cameras, security personnel; Helga had already heard a bunch of proposals. Hans Kammler was seriously worried. She knew he would like to have the Feuerdrache ready for backup. But that wouldn’t work. And delaying the mission was out of question. Yet, losing the Hammer and its crew because of some sicko saboteur would be bitter – and most probably fatal for the NPP programme.

The Mars landers – Dolle, Klüfer and Pallicke, Kohlbrandt, Seiffert and Fellgruber – were touring the country. Yeah, magnificent pictures they could show, and tell breathtaking stories about their adventures. It was first rate promotion. Helga had supervised the compilation of the presentations. The stuff was vastly superior to what she and her companions had had to show and tell about the Moon.

The most fascinating motive on the Moon was Earth; Earth rising, Earth hanging above the lunar horizon like a blue-white pebble. – Mars was better. There was scenery, mountains, valleys – remotely similar to Earth – and a wide horizon. And an atmosphere transporting light… Okay, even the photographs of the “Wolpertinger” fragments were attractive, and the pyramids as well…

Prerow was now gearing up for the Mondstadt missions. The Russians hadn’t yet managed to establish a working water supply for Lunoseló. That didn’t bode well for Mondstadt… Helga thought the project would be abandoned in due time. The Feuerdrache would have fins – and could land safely on the Moon. It could deliver all stuff required for a lunar colony in a single sortie.

Indeed, the current Mondstadt mission was hardly more than a filler – to keep RRA in the news. But who could know? Perhaps the blokes were lucky and did strike water – ice – early on. That would be a nice bounty. And another fine story to tell the public…
The art of our necessities is strange that can make vile things precious.
(William Shakespeare)

Those Rodinyadniki were a curse, thought Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev. Delineation opposite Russia had already been difficult before, but with these jingoes at the helm in Moscow it had become a grind. Not that ordinary Ukrainians would take much of an issue. They were, by all means, proud to be Ukrainians and had no desire to be turned into Little Russians. But the ethnic Great Russians – a minority of roughly thirty percent nationwide, yet a majority in the eastern districts – were reacting strongly to the new chimes heard from beyond the eastern border.

The spectre of separatism was threatening once again. Well, it had happened before. In fact, it seemed to come – and ebb away – in waves. It couldn’t be tolerated, of course. However, one had to react with subtlety. Civil war must not occur; neither must intervention by Russia proper and Germany. The Ukraine was not a poor country, thank goodness; one could afford to tackle the issue with money. Certainly, some of the separatists could be bought, but not all – and hardly any of the leading men. But one could deprive them of their basis – by improving conditions for the famous little guys.

It was going to be expensive, because you couldn’t simply pour out money over the Great Russians – and leave the Ukrainians standing in the cold. No, every improvement – or investment – in the east had to be mirrored in other parts of the country. – Okay, it would require issuing bonds, but it was virtually agreed that German and Swiss banks were going to buy the bulk of them. He had already issued pertaining directions. Another striking project, however, had recently been proposed by Ganna, his lover: space flight!

It was true, Sergei Korolev, who was managing rocket construction for the Germans, was a Ukrainian. But only Germans were flying around in space. That was unfair. He had already phoned his dear friend Johann Ludwig – Krosigk that was – and explained the problem. RRA had to take some Ukrainians – and among them one or two ethnic Great Russians – into space and onto the Moon. And Johann had promised to help.
Nukes will not save Ukraine since Russia has enough to blanket nuke them anyways.

I don't think blanket nuking is on the table, more like striking let positions to get the leadership to capitulate.

Unless we are talking about crazy Ultra Nationalists that want to recover all of the lands of the Tsardom or burn it all, which we might be, Russia has a vested interest in keeping the land and people useful.

Ukraine having nukes also let's them perform a retaliation strike that would help soften up Russian targets and bide time for Germany to deploy their own nukes.
The scientist needs an artistically creative imagination.
(Max Planck)

Making Indrik Zver a super spaceship wasn’t easy at all. The pusher plate had already been manufactured; it hence was a given – if one didn’t want to start from scratch again. But the original design had been copied – stolen? – from Donars Hammer. And the Hammer couldn’t land, which was an enormous disadvantage. Indrik Zver had to be able to start and land regardless where.

For that purpose, landing legs had to be added. They could be made retractable or fixed. Retractable ones would be protected from the effects of the explosions most of the time, but nevertheless had to be able to withstand them when extended. That would make them massive as well as complicated. But fixed ones had to be flexible as well – in order to compensate floor level differences at the landing site. They would therefore have to be massive as well as complicated.

In addition, the landing legs would have to be attached above the shock absorber arrangement. In a nutshell, Indrik Zver had to be designed new from the ground up, taking into account the existing pusher plate. – Would that suffice to beat the Nyemtsi and their second NPP vessel? It was going to have landing legs for sure. – Mikhail Andreyevich Suslov didn’t quite know whether he was coming or going. Decisions, decisions, decisions… And each single one of them, if wrong, could mean ultimate failure.

He had experts beyond number, who were counselling him. But he had to make the crucial decisions. And he was directly responsible to Kántsler Zademidko. Headaches, nothing but headaches… The only consolation was that the person in charge of the second Nyemtsi starship could not be off any better… Anyway, Shishmarevo was bustling, all facilities were operational. Ládno, fixed landing legs it would be, fins, five of them… Or six? Blin!
Is the Raisa character Otls Raisa Grobachev?
No, she isn't. Rozhdestvenskaya is about a generation older than OTL's Gorbacheva. She's a Russian capitalist "nobiewoman" of the highest order, perhaps the most wealthy woman the world over.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
(Albert von Einstein)

The person in charge of the construction of the second German starship was Doktor Manfred Rüchel, who already had directed the building of Donars Hammer. De jure, he still was subordinated to Professor Max Born; de facto, he was running the show. Professor Born certainly was pivotal for keeping the scientific community in the loop, but actual design was Rüchel’s domain.

The problems encountered were rather similar to those Mikhail Suslov was struggling against at Shishmarevo. The landing legs necessitated a new approach. They must be kept away from the nuclear explosions – and they must be flexible enough to compensate unevenness of the floor. Fortunately, mass didn’t matter as much as with chemical rockets. The Feuerdrache would, however, look completely different from the Hammer.

It would rather resemble a globe than a lean classical missile – except for the pusher plate and the shock absorbers, which were still positioned in a cylindrical extension. Indeed, a light bulb came to mind when looking at the construction plans – only that here the socket was to do the lighting. The retractable landing legs were going to be stored away in bulges attached to the lower part of the sphere. Because of the massive weight, there would be a whole dozen of them.

One would have an astronomical observatory in the polar position. And the dinghies would be stored away in closed hangars. – Building all this was going to take time. At present, completion was scheduled for the second quarter of 1964. Director Kammler had been pressing for an earlier date, but it couldn’t be done. There was no way to have the Feuerdrache ready as backup for the Hammer on its journey to Jupiter.

Nevertheless, the Feuerdrache was going to be a potent and efficient spaceship. One would be capable of shuttling a whole bunch of scientists to Mars – or to Venus – or withersoever – and bringing down the ship on the planet – or moon – instead of using precarious landing craft without charge capacity. Rüchel was quite contended with progress. Construction hadn’t come far yet, but design was almost complete.
How big was the budget for the german space program? All this space launches makes it feel like they have an unlimited cash.
The peak in expenditure was during the Cold Stage Crisis, when RRA built the Weizsäcker Suns and NASA built orbital mirrors en masse. Since then, costs have gone down and actually Germany and Russia spend less for space exploration than UK and Germany spent for their respective pre-Great-War battle fleets. The NPP starships may be big, but they are not at all expensive. You get the Hammer for the price of three nuclear powered missile subs.
A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgement based upon it.
(Bertrand Russell)

Well, thought Jeremy Dreaming Fox, is was like everywhere else: not the person of the monarch was important, but the quality of those who were counselling him and implementing the decisions taken. The fabulous Intip Churin was just a child, a naïve young boy from the Peruvian uplands. And the amauta, the learnt men, who were advising him, were nothing but a bunch of prig blockheads and impudent bumpkins.

Not that the kid was actually ruling anything. But the Peruvians thought he should. And they were forming the majority of the population in the Opaque Woodlands – while ever more of them were due to immigrate. They could well be trusted to adjust the laws to suit their peculiar wishes. One would hardly be able to stop them. – Okay, not all of them were believing this Tahuantinsuyo rubbish. That might still offer a chance to wiggle out of the dog’s dinner…

And… a certain immigration from Mexico had become noticeable recently. It was true, most Mexican Indians had lived in the south, in the states depopulated by the plague. Nevertheless, also in the northern states there were sizeable minorities of true Indians – and vast majorities of mestizoes. These folks might help to form a counterpoise opposite the Peruvian challenge, even if they could be trusted to harbour some weird ideas of their own…

Yeah, who would have thought that establishing an Indian nation could become so difficult? One had been naïve, had thought it would go well – because the land was depopulated and – quasi – untouched. But add human beings to the equation – and you have trouble boiling...
Skill is fine, and genius is splendid, but the right contacts are more valuable than either.
(Arthur Conan Doyle)

Hermann Kizwete had finally quit. The upsetting knowledge that high-level criminals were allowed to continue their felonies – without that they had to fear prosecution – had nagged at him for a long time. Until he had decided it was enough. What use was it to hunt petty shoplifters, extortioners and robbers, while upper-crust child rapists and murderers were allowed to crack on?

Of course, he had foregone his old age pension because he had retired ahead of time. That was bitter, but couldn’t be helped. – In fact, he already had had a new job in mind. SIRAB had offered him the job of security officer at the Tanga plant. But that had not happened. Max Sikuku, upon learning of the ongoing negotiations, had hired him right away as security chief for Sikuku Enterprises.

Well, obviously Anton Mbwesi had had a finger in this pie. Hermann wouldn’t complain. His salary was royal, no comparison to the austere earnings of a Kriminalhauptinspektor. But the boss didn’t pay him for nose-picking. His job was to protect Sikuku Enterprises, a huge conglomeration of industry and trade companies – and a media group, against espionage, sabotage and subversion. That was no mean task.

Was there a threat? Yes, of course. The infamous SIRAB bomb incident was only the tip of the iceberg. Industrial espionage was ubiquitous. But his capabilities were at least as multifaceted as those of the attackers – and he had troops of his own – his staff, thirty-two case handlers and specialists, and the security officers of the individual enterprises and their staffs.

Prevention was the main occupation – and screening new personnel. You constantly had to fight for attention; the managers and the personnel procurement guys would rather do what they liked – and not what security was prescribing them. But the big boss was on his side. Sikuku Enterprises had to be protected from plagiarisers and stealers. You couldn’t hurry from success to success when you had lice in your pelt.
There is no justification for taking away individuals’ freedom in the guise of public safety.
(Thomas Jefferson)

Call me King of Cuba, thought Jimbo Owens cheerily, well, to be honest: rather Viceroy. Yeah, the island was not a part of the US; the Constitution was null and void hereabouts. There was no reason not to implement feudal rules. The consortium owned the land – and he, as their supreme representative, was handing it out to the lieges, who in turn were dispensing it to individual retainers.

The system had one huge advantage: it worked. Feudalism certainly wasn’t the most modern among social systems, but it was quite appropriate for colonising virgin soil. Fiefdom solved a lot of problems for Jimbo; it reliably delegated responsibilities and obligations. – Well, the difficulties would come at a later stage, when certain lieges had accumulated enough power to challenge the central authority.

Indeed, Jimbo remembered the history lessons at that British officer candidate school. The commies hadn’t thought much of feudalism, which they had regarded as precursor of capitalism. But the struggles between the nobles and the crown had found their favourable attention. It had been the role model for later movements of emancipation.

Actually, there were a lot of parallels between Cuban neofeudalism and gangland. Hence, it was a field he had felt at home immediately. – Of course, there were outlaws and escapees. Most were hiding in La Habana. He would have to organise purging operations from time to time. That would also provide a good opportunity to test the liege system.

Yes, and there was another potential menace: peasants’ revolt. But it was still too early for something like this. The farmers were just in the process of establishing their tenures. Exploitation would follow later…