A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

I felt hopelessly cut off from my kind – a strange animal in an unknown world.
(H. G. Wells)

All right, the Mondstadt Operation had begun. Jochen Zeislitz – was once again – watching from privileged position. The Hüpfer of Raumkobolde 46, 47 and 48 were to land on Crater Meton consecutively – to deliver the construction crew of six. Once this had been accomplished, an initial series of eight drones would bring in vital supplies.

Yes, the drones had become ready about one year earlier than initially assumed. But that had its price. They were just transport shells – and had no inner workings. These would arrive as part of the supplies and had to be installed by the construction crew. It made things a little bit more complicated – and might prolong construction time, but it also allowed more flexibility.

At the same time when the decision to use simple transport shells had been made, the name of the settlement had mutated from Mondlager – moon camp – to Mondstadt – moon city. It was – as Jochen knew – just window dressing. Director Kammler wanted the public – and the politicians, of course – to be rivetted. Nobody should find time to think twice about the financial commitments to RRA.

Nevertheless, it was a serious operation. Well, he didn’t envy the six chaps. This was going to be a grinding job. No, he would rather indulge in the treatment his torturers were serving him. It was marvellous to be in their hands again. – Otto, the gym whiz, Jürgen, the outdoor freak, Mannie, the centrifuge bogey, Fritz, the flying menace, and Knut, the masseur, were making him fit for the Jupiter tour.

Uh-huh, the Hüpfer of Raumkobold 46 had disconnected and was ready to go down. Jochen leant forward. They had given him a set of monitors for his personal use – and earphones. Yeah, you couldn’t have a full colonel lounging in a bleak backseat. It was Friday, June 22nd, 1962.
The paranoid is never entirely mistaken.
(Sigmund Freud)

Sa váshe sdaróvye, mumbled Karl Johann Schmid with an effort and raised his glass. Russian! He had grown up with German and French, could also communicate in Spanish and Italian at a pinch; Russian, however, was a closed book to him. That made him dependent on the interpreters, a situation he perceived as entirely unrewarding. Establishing personal relations was the fundamental condition for a successful foreign policy. How should he do that when no private conversation was possible?

Not that he distrusted Herrn Schwartz and Herrn Haberstroh, the interpreters working for him, They were hand-picked luminaries and reliable by all means. But they were attendant – or rather one of them was on a rotating basis. And of course, Yuri Andropov would also bring along his interpreter. – Schmid hadn’t yet become comfortable with this situation – and he doubted he ever would.

Was it possible to become comfortable – even friendly – with Andropov at all? The fellow was a learnt diplomatist, Schmid had been told. But… Did schools for diplomatists in Russia teach harsh behaviour? The man had served in the Indian Federation, in South America and Australia – in subaltern functions, and finally at the foreign ministry in Moscow. The Rodinyadniki had now made him foreign minister.

Yeah, Andropov was one of those spooks in tails, a nit-picking secretmonger disguised as diplomatist, not a genuine master of diplomacy. He was sullen and farouche – and his ideas on international affairs were ludicrous. This was Schmid’s fifth voyage to Moscow. And he still was biting on granite. There could be no talk of confidence building hitherto. – It was not so that Schmid was demanding anything that would hurt the Russians. He was simply trying to build a foundation of trust. But even that didn’t work…
What happend to Subhas Chandra Bose in this timeline.
Never met Gandhi, but nevertheless was active in the independence movement. Became deputy prime minister of the Bengal state after independence and played an important role in forging the Indian Federation. Was minister for education of the IF for eight years. Retired in 1955 and turned towards the economy. Was member of the supervisory boards of several large trusts. Today a man of private means, lives in Kolkata - if not cruising the high seas in his yacht.
Never met Gandhi, but nevertheless was active in the independence movement. Became deputy prime minister of the Bengal state after independence and played an important role in forging the Indian Federation. Was minister for education of the IF for eight years. Retired in 1955 and turned towards the economy. Was member of the supervisory boards of several large trusts. Today a man of private means, lives in Kolkata - if not cruising the high seas in his yacht.
Nice thanks for answering.
The past resembles the future more than one drop of water resembles another.
(Ibn Khaldun)

The capital had two faces, thought Nurzhan Sarsekbay. There were, on the one hand, the splendid government district and the sumptuous residential areas of the upper classes – and, on the other hand, the drab quarters of the coal and steel workers. Qarağandi had been built from scratch – not least because of the huge coal deposits found in the vicinity. The Kazakh Republic had decided to establish its capital here, where its industrial core was located.

However, many of the people living in the working class neighbourhoods were ethnic Russians. This always had been perceived as a problem, but now it was seen as a blunt threat. It was seething among those Russians. Virulent rodinyadnik propaganda had seized hold among them. Would they riot? Or even revolt? Did they have arms?

Nurzhan, as chief of the national customs service, knew they must have. One had ferreted out a couple of clandestine transports. Sari Su, which the Russians dubbed Tsaritsyn, seemed to be main smuggling hub – and River Idel, called Volga by the Russians, appeared to be the preferred transport route.

Indeed, Nurzhan remembered Nooriman, where he had served fifteen years ago, the Kazakh border station opposite Sari Su, – and the smuggling going on there throughout. He knew that many of his officers – if not all of them – were corrupt. They would even wave through tanks and artillery pieces, if the bribe was copious enough.

Okay, the transports one had seized had only consisted of pistols, rifles, ammunition, some hand grenades. But it was alarming nevertheless. Russian luxury merchandise and Russian porn were welcome, but Russian arms – smuggled into country for arming ethnic Russian Kazakh citizens – were almost a declaration of war.

Of course, if one had caught three transports – and about five hundred weapons in all – this was only the tip of the iceberg. The experts thought it ought to be just one percent of what was pouring into country. Should one close the border? The ruling politicians wanted it. Nurzhan knew it wouldn’t work.
Nothing is so unbelievable that oratory cannot make it acceptable.
(Marcus Tullius Cicero)

The hot phase had begun. The national elections had been fixed for Sunday, October 7th, 1962. Max Sikuku was touring the country, electioneering for MALU. He was fairly sure to win his constituency in Unterkamerun, hence he felt free to support party comrades all over the country. He loved these campaign tours. TV was nice and dandy, but facing the real thing – the voters – was matchless.

Okay, folks voting for MALU were not the rabble that usually was attracted by socialist or nationalist rallies. The meetings generally were held in an elevated ambience, often on private ground, in gardens or villas. Yeah, MALU was the party of the businessmen and the well educated. Discussing the situation with them was profoundly instructive. You could learn a lot – and sometimes even catch decent opportunities to earn a mark…

Unfortunately, the prospects of enhancing the electorate were not promising. MALU was going to remain a small party – with between thirty – hopefully not – and fifty seats in parliament. Max regretted that liberal ideas wouldn’t spread more widely, but it couldn’t be helped. The liberals in Germany were in quite the same situation. Damn socialism and jingoism together had killed the liberal majorities of old.

Indeed, the socialists could hope to retain the post of Kanzler. Emil Muramba might well gain a second term. That was goofy, because the SDPMA could be trusted to renew the coalition with the religious dudes. That would exclude MALU from the possibility to tip the scales of national policy. Too bad! The economy was suffering under socialist bureaucracy and sleaze – and was yearning for more latitude.

Well, even in the family MALU wasn’t uncontested. Karl should certainly vote for MANaP; the nationalists used to be the party of the soldiers and policemen. Paula, the physician, could be trusted to ballot for the Holy Joes. And Heine would surely vote for some tree huggers and animal savers. Only Adele and Otti might put a cross for MALU…
Change is the only constant in life. One’s ability to adapt to those changes will determine your success in life.
(Benjamin Franklin)

Dock worker! – His academic training didn’t count a bit. In the WAU, social and political sciences were not taught – and no slots for graduates were available. But his activities as stevedore – and as prisoner – had formed his body sufficiently to ensure being hired as docker. – Well, he had had no papers or documents at all. However, his language skills in English – and Spanish – had convinced the auditors that he should be admitted as immigrant. His tales about his academic career in the US, though, had interested downright nobody.

Engineers and technicians were in demand hereabouts, as were craftsmen and school teachers. The so-called “waffling sciences” were not considered reputable. Malcolm Little had been told this was the legacy of the Old Man, the legendary founder of the WAU. Okay, howsoever, he was here – and he was earning money. And – although there were many Middle Africans, or rather former Middle Africans, running about – he was treated like a normal human being, very much an underclass human being, but nevertheless…

He was sharing a room with three other guys, one dude from former Sierra Leone and two blokes from former Côte d’Ivoire, also toiling in the harbour. They weren’t very bright. You normally wouldn’t become dock worker when you had been an ace in school. Nevertheless, he could learn a lot from them – about the realities of life in the WAU. Equality of opportunities wasn’t really in place, but at least you were treated fairly. The “foreigners”, the folks from Middle Africa and the US, were running the show, and the indigene elites were playing the second fiddle.

That was at least the impression those dudes from the external regions were nurturing. The Ivorians were native-born French speakers in addition, whose English was horrible. – But if the “foreigners” from the US were indeed privileged, shouldn’t that open opportunities for him? After a time of acclimatisation? – He must be alert and look around. Luck might lie in wait just around the corner…
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Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds.

The CBIC – the Central Bureau of Investment Control, the WAU’s domestic security service – had its site in downtown Deygbo, slightly closer to the riverside than to the embassy quarter. The building had been erected in the early fifties – as a manifold office block in the neo-colonial style. CBIC had moved in five years ago, after the interior had been adapted to its needs.

Doctor Paula Wilmington née G’Norebbe used to walk to work every day. She and her husband had rented a house near the river. It took her less than ten minutes to arrive at CBIC’s gate. It was a nice walk, even if taking an umbrella along was imperative most of the year. In fact, walking was eminently convenient to clear your head.

Once arrived in the morning, she had a mug of coffee in the rec room, before attending the staff update briefing at 08:45 hours sharp. Thereafter, she went to her office and started sifting the files in her in-box. Today, already the first case rivetted her attention.

Yeah, evidently, this man looked exactly like the guy who had tried to kill – and nearly had succeeded – Venezuelan president Enrique Peña Morales. Allegedly, he had died in a landslide that had ravaged his prison camp. But obviously that wasn’t true.

He had recently immigrated, had claimed to come from Texas, was working as a docker. What did he want here? Kill her dad? It might well be. Her dad had been president of Venezuela as well. – She grabbed the telephone and dialed. The bloke had to be arrested immediately.
Human reason is by reason architectonic.
(Immanuel Kant)

Another drone was due to come down. You couldn’t see the beasts – until they fired their rockets. Not that anyone would stand outside and wait for touchdown. No, shelter was indicated. But it wasn’t worthwhile to shed the spacesuit. Oberleutnant Benno Gutschke felt like a stranded beetle in his hard shell. Sitting down was okay, but everything else was difficult.

“There she is!” announced Theo Diehl, who was monitoring the monitors. Okay, ten seconds to go. – Thump! Touchdown. – Wait for fifteen minutes. Standard operating procedure, don’t ask. And here we go. – Theo was still talking with Raumkolonie, while Benno and his comrades were gearing up for getting outside again. It took some time, until it was Benno’s turn to pass the airlock.

Yeah, there it was, about ten klicks to the south, where the small dust plume – or rather regolith plume – was still hanging. Uwe, Karl and Jürgen had already manned the tractor and were driving towards the impact site. They would drag the drone to the construction site. There was a wheeled baseframe onto which the drones could be heaved for towing.

Benno and Rainer returned to their machines. Rainer was operating the backhoe and Benno the dozer. Both machines were small, but nevertheless effective for moving the regolith. The pit into which the new drone would be dumped – after discharge – had already been dug. One was currently working on the pit for the drone after next.

Mondstadt right now consisted of twelve former drones buried below three metres of regolith. Half of them were already habitable. One was making good progress indeed. But one had still not started to dig the well. That meant water was strictly rationed. One shower per week. – Well, the actual drone should contain the drilling rig. Perhaps one would see light – err, ice – before the end of the turn.
Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.

Hermann Kahn had been three, when his parents had decided to leave the US and emigrate to the fledgling Heymshtot. He didn’t remember anything from these early years, except the voyage on that huge HAPAG liner – or at least some impressions of it. Consequently, he had grown up with Yiddish and German. His dad being a humble tailor, there had been no money for higher education. But Hermann had been a clever child – and had won a fellowship of the Von Oppenheim Foundation at the age of six.

Growing up at a boarding school hidden in the forests of the Taunus Range, Hermann had developed a penchant for analytic work. And – haphazardly, as far as he recalled – he had picked Russian as his first foreign language. It had seemed quite a consistent choice for a boy coming from Grodne. – Well, several years later it had earned him a job with NASA.

Almost all Yews living in the Russian Pale of Settlement had moved to the Heymshtot after 1925, happy to escape the threat of the occasional pogrom. However, a class of educated urban Yews had endured in the major cities. These people had significantly contributed to the Russian nuclear and space efforts, creating a tradition which had led to hiring young Hermann, a graduate with excellent marks, as an analyst.

Toiling behind the scenes, Hermann had been instrumental in forming a think tank at NASA’s. It had helped formulating the strategy for the lunar campaign – but hadn’t anticipated the German move to NPP starships. That was unfortunate. It had, though, caused Hermann to scrutinise German strategic thinking.

This exercise had led him to a new field of activity: comparison of national strategies. The outcome was the top secret study “On Thermonuclear War”, which had caused uproar in the Kremlin. But Hermann had checked his figures thoroughly. What he had written he could prove. Currently, he was waiting to be admitted to Minister of War Pyotr Vasilyevich Dementyev’s office. He had been ordered to brief the important man on his findings.
You lack the courage to be consumed in flames and to become ashes; so you will never become new, and never young again!
(Friedrich Nietzsche)

A Jew, thought Pyotr Vasilyevich Dementyev. They’re truly everywhere. It’s a plague. And the bloke looks like a storybook Jew, soft, chubby – and damn smart aleck. Ládno, they say he’s true wisenheimer. Let’s hear what he has to tell. – Of course, he had been given an executive’s summary in advance – and knew what was to come, near about. – Bothersome stuff…

This Yid had looked into the way the Nyemtsi were looking at nuclear war. Nuclear war with Russia, that was. – One had assumed it would be a trade-off. That assumption was wrong, according to the slyboots. – Germany was small, too small… It didn’t take much to raze it. Therefore, the Nyemtsi wouldn’t trade blow for blow. You attacked them – and had to take delivery of the whole shitload…

Yeah, they wouldn’t toy around. Germany was so minute it could be utterly destroyed even with unoffending tactical nukes. Hence, their counterstrike was designed to scorch all of Russia. – Did they have the means? Unfortunately yes. The Yid had figured it out. They had enough nukes to destroy three Russias. – At the outset, they had had to balance England and Russia – and retain a reserve for deterring the US.

Today, all their assets were aimed at Russia. And you would get a big bucket full of germs on top of it. It was nasty, absolutely no fun…
“Zdrávstvy, Gospodin Kahn, have a seat. Tell me how did you arrive at your figures concerning the missile submarines? Even the Okhrana folks were surprised…”
The spread out nature of Russia does give them an advantage, the large amount of land and lower population density would be hard to coordinate an attack on all population centers and places the government could be hiding to ensure complete destruction.

Germany's higher population density and smaller landmass would it easier to find targets to launch missiles at.
The spread out nature of Russia does give them an advantage, the large amount of land and lower population density would be hard to coordinate an attack on all population centers and places the government could be hiding to ensure complete destruction.

Germany's higher population density and smaller landmass would it easier to find targets to launch missiles at.
Yes, that is basically what he just said.

Poor Malcolm.
If the Russian government is seriously contemplating war, you’d think they would develop a super extensive Civil Defense program. After all, Russia is so spread out that providing relatively modest shelters to everyone would be expensive but would ensure a lot of people survive. (Not that that is sane or practical)
Of all men’s miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing.

Does he understand what I’m telling him? wondered Hermann Kahn. Needless to say he had studied Dementyev’s profile: son of a teacher family, model pupil, student of mechanical engineering, doctor of ME, whizzkid of the national automobile industry, master of rationalisation, holder of hundreds of patents, turned to politics at the age of forty-seven, elected mayor of Saratov, had joined the Rodinyadniki in ’59. This man was not to be underestimated. But did he really comprehend the essence of Kahn’s lecture?

Russia was vulnerable. It was a huge country – but her population was distributed quite unevenly. Of course, the Germans would not bomb unpopulated climes. Most of Siberia would not be targeted. The population centres, however, would. The Germans were not necessarily aiming at the launch sites. They were going for a retaliation strike; the launch sites might be empty already. The cities would not be empty. – The ruling politicians in the underground facilities below the Kremlin might feel secure, ordinary Russians would be fair game.

There was no sense in planning deliberate campaigns when the opposite side was determined to play another game entirely. With the advent of nuclear weapons – and fusion bombs in particular – the German strategic planners had moved away from conventional thinking. – Had they failed to communicate the change? Not really, because Kahn had found the pertaining documents without much sweat. Why had the Russian planners not taken more heed of it? – Well, the Germans had never officially admitted to the possession of thermonuclear weapons.

Hence, their language was kind of clouded – and very vague in some respects. But it was all there. And once you had understood the basic premises, everything was falling in place. Abandonment of tactical nukes, concentration on nuclear missile submarines, gradual cutback of land-based systems. – Yeah, the era of classical war was over, at least in Europe… What else remained? Well, that was a very interesting question…
Little Switzerland, ever alone in the heart of Europe. What do they think of the current world order and the events that formed it?
We shall be free, just as our fathers were.
(Friedrich Schiller)

Zurich was an important business – and banking – place. Doris Zülch was – every time she visited Switzerland – amazed how clean the country was. No garbage to be found in the streets, everything was neat and tidy. Okay, they didn’t allow women to have a vote, but they kept their environment painstakingly clean. How did they manage that? Well, drop a piece of refuse – and you immediately had several Swiss folks at your heels, telling you you’re not allowed to do that and you must pick it up again.

Having a Swiss bank account – or a couple of them – was normal for German business people. A lot of money went that way, bypassing the German tax authorities. Telefunken, her employer, operated their Swiss office here in Zurich. Hence, the big bucks passed the border quite legally. Her private money had come along in her handbag – and was now in the custody of the Swiss bankers. Their reputation to augment it was legendary. And their determination to uphold bank secrecy was adamant.

Yeah, Switzerland was not part of the COMECON, although voluntarily playing to the rules of the common market and participating perkily. But in certain areas, they were keeping themselves apart. No common defence, no extradition, no law enforcement treaties… The Swiss tradition of neutrality and autonomy was strong, except in the field of economy, where they were showing astonishing flexibility. Okay, one had to live. There were no worthwhile natural resources. Commerce and manufacturing had to sustain the country.

Doris looked at her wristwatch; it was Swiss made, of course. About time to head for the hotel and then to the central station. She had an appointment in Kolmar tonight. Travelling by train was an outright pleasure in Switzerland. Fortunately, she needn’t change trains; there was a direct link via Basle and Mülhausen. All right, here was the hotel… Not cheap… No, Switzerland was quite expensive, but neat… And Telefunken was paying her bill.