A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

Who the first inhabitants of Britain were, whether natives or immigrants, remains obscure; one must remember we are dealing with barbarians.
(Tacitus)

The nuclear explosion near Derby on August 11th, 1962, roused the German surveillance forces out of their tranquil routine. Within the hour, helicopters coming from the base on the Isle of Sheppey arrived at the site. Yes, a nuclear device had exploded at ground level, producing a nice crater. Yes, 20 KT seemed to be a correct guess. No, there was nobody. Radioactivity was still up; one couldn’t go near.

Indeed, evidence indicated that a British nuke had exploded. Certainly not by accident. Who had manipulated the widget? Impossible to say… There still were roving bands of Negroes – and most probably wandering immunes. Could the nukes be manipulated? Yes, the ignition mechanism wasn’t very sophisticated. It was fairly safe against accidental release, but hardly protected from determined human meddling.

Okay, one could surmise that those who had fired the device were now part of the fallout. – But it was evident that the blockade had to be kept up. The Kaiserliche Marine had to cordon off the British Isles even more closely than hitherto. The incident might have aroused avidities – not only in Europe – and not alone in nations…
 
Did we force ourselves on you, or you on us?
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Our Foreign Legion, mused Helga von Tschirschwitz, while watching the ceremony. Who would have thought it would get round to something like this? Look at all those smiling faces. Do they really simper – or are they just grinding their teeth? I know that Hans Kammler is quite mad about it. And Bruno Bredigkeit is said to be frothing at the mouth – when he is alone in his office…

Hardly had the Krosigk government had agreed to admit six Ukrainian kosmonauts, when the storm had begun. For what reason were the Ukrainians getting a special treatment? If they were given six slots, the Kingdom of Hungary must also get six – or at least four. And so on… – Finally, one had ended up with six Ukrainians, four Hungarians, three Italians, one Bulgarian, one Swede, one Finn, one Frenchman – and a Yid.

Of course, they all had to be perfectly fluent in German. And their nations were liable for their upkeep. – One would train them for three years, in the customary way. Thereafter, they could be employed in orbit and on the moon. – However, they would not serve on the NPP craft. That had been ruled out – for the time being…

Okay, why not? It certainly was going to add colour to RRA’s proceedings. Basically, nothing had changed – only that eighteen slots had been added to the training schedule. Without the NPP craft, this indeed would have meant a reduction of German kosmonaut training places. But as it was, the German slots had simply been transferred to the NPP side.

Well, Kammler and Bruno would get used to it. A pity, though, that the Foreign Legion was all male. No slots for women had been stipulated. None of these countries had even considered to send a female nominee. – But on the other hand, the guys down there were looking quite sturdy, attractive so to speak…
 
Riches do not consist in the possession of treasures, but in the use made of them.
(Napoleon Bonaparte)

Studying biology at the University of Duala was cute; Heine Sikuku had quickly discovered he liked it – although at the outset he had fiercely protested against his dad enrolling him. In fact, the studies did not hamper him to continue activism for Nature’s Hands. His probationary period had passed without incidents; he was free to fight for the environment again.

But Mom kept impinging on him: he was twenty-nine already – and had no job and no qualification. Didn’t he think it was most important to acquire a profession and spread his wings? Did he really prefer to live from his dad’s dirty money? – She had a point there. Dad was making money with everything – and didn’t care a damn for the environment.

Becoming independent certainly was an agreeable goal. And the science taught was interesting indeed. Even Professor von Misuku, the famous pest fighter, was lecturing from time to time. It was too early yet to specialise; he was still in his first year. But becoming an evolutionary biologist would be fine – and then working with the big apes…

His dad had geared up for the national election in October – and was touring the country at a stretch. Heine imaged him partying with his rich sympathizers – and cutting deals to the detriment of nature. It was so repulsive… Should one start an action against it? He had to talk about it with his pals…

Otti, who also lived in Edea together with Mom and Heine, was like Dad. But at least one could discuss things with her without ruffle or excitement. She maintained Dad didn’t care about money. It was a means – not the end…

But what was Dad’s end? Destroying the environment? – No, rather forming it. Heine had never been to Germany, but she had lived there for many years. Nothing up there was natural, everything had been planted or affected by man; nevertheless, it was a beautiful country.

That was what her dad had in mind. Untamed nature was waste. – Heine didn’t like it. The Snowpushers had had many centuries to form their country. Here, it was happening in one generation’s lifetime. That was way too fast. It couldn’t be allowed to go on…
 
There is an infinite amount of hope in the universe… but not for us.
(Franz Kafka)

At the age of seventy-five, Ernst Röhm was a sick and bitter man. He was suffering from prostatic cancer and overweight. Well, the doctors kept saying he indeed might die from overweight, but he certainly was going to die with the darned cancer. Anyway, what was nagging on him was not his somatic condition; it was the utter failure of his life’s work.

Becoming a professing gay had taken a lot of effort, initially. He, the frequently wounded war hero and active officer, had avowed to being queer. But in the ambience of the 1920ies it had seemed the right thing to do. The army had dropped – err, dismissed – him at once. He hadn’t let himself be deterred though – and had founded the Schwule Aktion – gay initiative, the famous Pink Shirts.

The SA had clamoured for equal rights – and in the late twenties it had appeared possible to achieve progress. But the tide had turned swiftly. Porn had been banned; sexuality had been cloaked in secretiveness again. And his Pink Shirts had quickly lost all public support. – He had fought on, of course, but to no avail…

Today, at the end of his life, he had to admit that nothing had changed. Section 175 of the German penal code was still in force, making homosexual acts between males a crime punishable by prison and loss of civil rights. Normally, however, the public prosecutors wouldn’t press a charge. One rather preferred to look the other way instead of raising fuss, as long as adults were in question.

But in special cases, when figures of public interest were concerned, the machinery could be set in motion smoothly – and would promptly sweep away the unlucky fellows. And when did you discover you were a pansy? During adolescence… and here, you easily could be shut up in a borstal or be treated a pharmaceutical therapy – to turn you into a normie.

No, nothing had changed – and the Pink Shirts had faded away as the thirties had turned into the forties. Okay, the situation in Germany was still more tolerable than what was going on elsewhere. In France, gays were hunted down and forced to fornicate with women; in the Low Countries it was the same. Homosexuality was treated as a cardinal sin in Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Iberian Peninsula. In the Ukraine and Russia you were in deep trouble when your disposition became known; being brutally beaten up was the least penalty.

In the Scandinavian countries it was – more or less – like in Germany. Socialist Britain had been really progressive, at least on paper. But that was history. – It was repression throughout. A sad situation – and no betterment was on the horizon.
 
It may be a good thing to copy reality; but to invent reality is much, much better.
(Giuseppe Verdi)

The lads on the Moon had stricken water! Jochen Zeislitz was mightily impressed. The Russians, arrived much earlier, were still searching for the stuff – but the Mondstadt crew, not yet three months in action up there, had done it! It was a rich deposit, said the report, water ice on the rocks, in a manner of speaking. Well, it meant that Mondstadt should be viable. – And once the Feuerdrache became operative, one could easily shuttle a nuclear reactor to the Moon – without the need to break it down into small components and reassembling it after transport.

Yes, it was the right thing to do. Jochen had come to appreciate having a reactor at disposal. The thing had made the Hammer a real ship – a true space cruiser, not just another puny capsule wobbling about. – Preparing the Hammer for the grand journey was due to begin in some days. He was scheduled to go up next week. In fact, a lot of folks had been replaced. One would have to train the newbies. The Admiral hadn’t explained why the exchange had happened. It was galling. Extra work, as if there wasn’t already enough to do…

Jochen felt fit. The torturers had done a marvellous job. One would use a new shuttle, the Raumbus – space bus, specially developed by DELAG for traffic between ground and orbit. It wasn’t revolutionary, just an advancement of the Große Schwester converted to personnel transport. But together with the improved Brüderchen, which DELAG called Projekt SR 880, travel time to Raumkolonie was reduced to a mere four hours. And DELAG was now starting from the Saaler Bodden, near Prerow, which meant you hadn’t to fly down to Lake Constance anymore. Yeah, things were improving…
 
With his nightcaps and the tatters of his dressing-gown he patches up the gaps in the structure of the universe.
(Heinrich Heine)

It was not so that the NASA kosmonauts at Lunoseló hadn’t found water. They had in fact, but they couldn’t use it. There was water, or rather ice, in the deep craters near the lunar south pole, mixed in the regolith. About three percent of the regolith seemed to contain ice – or be ice cloaked by regolith. That summed up to quite a considerable amount – in total. However, one didn’t have the facilities to mine the stuff.

The hope had been – and still was – to strike an ice vein or an ice deposit deep down below the surface. After all, the exploratory drilling had found – very small – ice lenses in that range. Exploiting such an ice mine was still a complex operation, but deemed possible under the limitations of Lunoseló. – Until now, though, one hadn’t discovered any minable deposit.

It was dangerous. One had had two serious accidents already. Pyotr Ivanovich Dobrovolsky had been buried alive – and only had been rescued in last minute. And Mikhail Sergeyevich Falin had suffered a failure of his breathing apparatus – deep down in the shaft. Getting him up in a hurry had ruined the hoisting equipment.

If one didn’t strike water ice soon, one would be forced to shift to refining regolith. That required shuttling a lot of additional equipment to the Moon – and hence was better avoided. The Nyemtsi obviously had managed to locate an ice deposit. This should also be possible at Crater Klaproth. One had to try again – when the new hoisting equipment had arrived…
 
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I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.
(Jules Verne)

The Raumbus was now floating alongside the Hammer. The boarding manoeuvre could begin. It was awkward, but there was no other way to do it. The passengers were, working in pairs, getting their spacesuits ready. One had ridden up with the suits already donned. So, only the helmets and the gloves had to be fixed – and everything checked. The steward, the third crew member of the Raumbus, was preparing the line.

Jochen was working with the Admiral. The man wasn’t really used to it, but at least he executed Jochen’s directions meticulously. One was plugged together and could talk without jamming the general comm frequency. The other pairs were doing the same. One of the newbies would jump and carry the line over to the Hammer. Well, he wasn’t a newbie to space, only to the Hammer. He should be able to do it smoothly.

Okay, all teams seemed to be ready – and were reporting back to the comm. The steward was now taking over and pumping down the air. Jochen watched the gauge. All right, vacuum had been generated. The newbie grabbed the line and braced it to his suit. The steward took the handle and started opening the gate. That was the moment to gape. The Hammer was about six hundred metres away.

The newbie stepped – well, waded – to the gate, took a stand, flexed his knees and jumped – without wasting a word. The line unrolled quickly. “Okay, arrived. Fastening the line.” reported the newbie after half a minute. “Line is fast. Opening the door.” Another pause. “Door is open. Ready to go.”

The Admiral waded forward, attached his safety hook to the line, and dived out. – One after another the passengers were following suit. Jochen was the last, the serrefile. The steward waved his hand as he passed him. – And out into space. It was magnificent. Earth was below, huge, blue, white and brown. The passengers were progressing hand over hand along the line. The Hammer was glittering faintly.

There ought to be ways to simplify the procedure. Obviously, nobody had really thought of it in advance. Well, the Feuerdrache was going to have hangars. And the Hammer at least was about to get foldable tunnels for mounting the dinghies. – The Hammer’s hull was approaching quickly. The door was illuminated. “Bang!” The impact resounded in Jochen’s suit. He was back…
 
If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.
(Mark Twain)

It was Sunday, October 7th, 1962. Max Sikuku had betaken himself to the MALU headquarters in Daressalam. Adele was at Edea, watching – err, caring for – Heine; hence Max had decided to spend election eve with his party comrades – and, inevitably, the media. It would take time, though. No results were to be expected before 20:00 hours. And the end result was not due until two or three o’clock in the morning. It was going to be a long evening indeed.

MALU hopes were not spuming high tonight. The socialist-religious Muramba government had – basically – done a neat job. Military engagement in Somalia and Kenya had been extremely unpopular; they had terminated it. Emil Muramba had been wounded by a terrorist’s bomb, but had survived – and was up and kicking. The economy was doing reasonably well. Middle Africa was not involved in any foreign adventures…

Okay, Max and a merry bunch of vanward fellow party members were engaged in the Caribbean and the Philippines. But these were private ventures, nothing done by the government. – No, the SDPMA had a clean slate. They even had fulfilled some of their campaign promises, hard to believe… And the Holy Joes also had committed no major mistakes…

Should MALU try to enter into a coalition with the socialists? Max was very doubtful. Muramba was a gimp, but not bloody-red, rather a prosaic bureaucrat. But the coming man of the SDPMA, Seppel Mobuto, stood for communism in the guise of socialism. There was no common ground between cranks like him and MALU. No, it either had to be a coalition with MANaP – or nothing…

It was a pity to have no reasonable alternatives. But things were as they were. The socialists were recruiting their voters from the industrial and agricultural workers, not to forget the host of MARB railway workers, their true power base. MANaP was attracting government bureaucrats, soldiers, policemen, teachers and the like. And MALU was the party of the businessmen and large farmers. Unfortunately, there were far more workers about than men of affairs…
 
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Did the British socialists impose socialism on their African colonies? Are the falkland islands still inhabited by British? Did Australia and New Zealand declare themselves republics?
 
Did the British socialists impose socialism on their African colonies? Are the falkland islands still inhabited by British? Did Australia and New Zealand declare themselves republics?

They did send merited socialists to govern the colonies, but didn't interfere much with the indigene elites' rule. So, if some younger members of said elites picked up socialist ideas during their studies in Britain, they still had to overcome traditional values. In a word: not much socialism, and quickly forgotten after Britain's downfall. There are still British people living on the Falklands, but under Argentine rule since 1956. Australia is a republic since 1959. New Zealand hasn't yet done anything to acquire a new head of state.
 
Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.
(Oscar Wilde)

Okay, the ballot results were rolling in now. Max had won his constituency, the Edea district, as he had anticipated. MALU as a whole had a little bit recovered from the defeat of 1958. 37 seats meant an increase of 12, which was not an outstanding result but not an altogether bad one either. One had almost closed up to MANaP who had gained scant 46 seats.

The socialists were the big winners: 128 seats. Their coalition partners of the BMC had reaped 45. The communists of the RNP had fallen to 7 seats. AKU had got 11; PG 3; ML 4. Independent candidates had captured 8 seats.

All right, SDPMA and BMC could continue their coalition. They mustered 173 seats, a lush majority above the 145 required. – But SDPMA and MALU might also form a government. One would have to talk… Max didn’t think it would work. But a number of party comrades were hoping for fat government posts. Well, let them try… He wasn’t going to grab for a ministerial post.
 
They did send merited socialists to govern the colonies, but didn't interfere much with the indigene elites' rule. So, if some younger members of said elites picked up socialist ideas during their studies in Britain, they still had to overcome traditional values. In a word: not much socialism, and quickly forgotten after Britain's downfall. There are still British people living on the Falklands, but under Argentine rule since 1956. Australia is a republic since 1959. New Zealand hasn't yet done anything to acquire a new head of state.
So is New Zealand's head of state vacant or is it some distant relative of the Windsors?
 
So is New Zealand's head of state vacant or is it some distant relative of the Windsors?
Nobody ever bothered to pronounce King Gerald dead. And nobody - outside Britain - knows whether he really is. Queen Vera, who is in Russian exile, claims she's still legitimate spouse of the British king - and her daughter, Mary Rose Anastasia, is heir to the throne.
 
Destiny may ride with us today, but there is no reason for it to interfere with lunch.
(Pyotr I Velikiy)

There had been a lot of snow yesterday; and three nights before, the thermometer had fallen to minus ten degrees Celsius. Today it was piddling down; cold drops that were glittering like ice when meeting the surface. Winter was approaching flat-out. Shishmarevo was ready for it, what else? At least the gnats had disappeared. Mikhail Andreyevich Suslov thought he had become used to the cold season in Siberia.

Indrik Zver was now standing on its landing legs. There were six of them, massive structures that made the ship look like an elephantine mosquito bent on sucking – with the firing and shock-absorbing portion acting as turgid sting. The rest of the body was still incomplete, including the nuclear power plant. Finishing it over the winter was the task lying ahead.

One had erected a hall – no, a tower – around it. That was the sensible thing to do. After completion, the tower was to be dismantled – and Indrik Zver could soar. Until then, one was able to putter around snugly protected from the weather. Was it possible to beat the second German NPP ship? Suslov had been given access to all Okhrana reports pertaining to the construction site in Ireland.

The Nyemtsi had realised – it seemed – that their second ship wouldn’t be available as backup for the Hammer on its journey to Jupiter. Hence, one believed they had settled down to an ambling. They were also struggling with the problems associated with fixing landing legs. And their solution appeared to be much more complicated than the one applied to Indrik Zver.

Hence, there was hope. Suslov wasn’t overoptimistic. The Nyemtsi had gathered a lot of experience that he and his men had still to acquire. Nevertheless, there was a fair chance to beat them. They certainly weren’t aware that NASA had solved the Siberian weather problem.
 
Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.
(Voltaire)

Professor Sigbert Ramsauer carefully pulled off the rubber gloves and dropped them into the bin. An assistant was freeing him of the apron and the scrub. These post mortems were complex – and complicated because of the safety rules, but rewarding.

There was no doubt: the Negroes had picked up the pest. They were dying from NED. The two he had cut up today had died three days ago, with all the exemplary NED symptoms.

He still had to examine their blood and segregate the little buggers. Would he find just the good ole NED bugs? Or had the disease evolved into something new? – For an engineered disease, NED had proven surprisingly stable. Okay, it had developed into RV, which was immune to the original Misuku antidote. But RV and NED were indistinguishable, not only when it came to symptoms.

Okay, most Negroes had gone for repatriation when Germany had offered it. Only a bunch of hardboiled blockheads had refused, perhaps seven to eight hundred – certainly not more than a thousand. And now, these folks had caught NED – or RV – and were dying… They – or some of them – must have been infected by English immunes.

The damn British Isles were remaining an interesting – and dangerous – place. And perhaps he really could identify a new variant of NED…
 
Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.
(Voltaire)

Professor Sigbert Ramsauer carefully pulled off the rubber gloves and dropped them into the bin. An assistant was freeing him of the apron and the scrub. These post mortems were complex – and complicated because of the safety rules, but rewarding.

There was no doubt: the Negroes had picked up the pest. They were dying from NED. The two he had cut up today had died three days ago, with all the exemplary NED symptoms.

He still had to examine their blood and segregate the little buggers. Would he find just the good ole NED bugs? Or had the disease evolved into something new? – For an engineered disease, NED had proven surprisingly stable. Okay, it had developed into RV, which was immune to the original Misuku antidote. But RV and NED were indistinguishable, not only when it came to symptoms.

Okay, most Negroes had gone for repatriation when Germany had offered it. Only a bunch of hardboiled blockheads had refused, perhaps seven to eight hundred – certainly not more than a thousand. And now, these folks had caught NED – or RV – and were dying… They – or some of them – must have been infected by English immunes.

The damn British Isles were remaining an interesting – and dangerous – place. And perhaps he really could identify a new variant of NED…
Is there a possible animal reservoir for the NED? If I remember correctly it is derived from glanders and there is a bunch of wild and domestic animals that can contract glanders as well...
 
Is there a possible animal reservoir for the NED? If I remember correctly it is derived from glanders and there is a bunch of wild and domestic animals that can contract glanders as well...
Horses, donkeys and mules would be primary disease carriers. There certainly are - now - wild horses and ponies roaming the British Isles. But this is an anthropogenic disease - and horses wouldn't touch human corpses.
 
Gaiety is a quality of ordinary men. Genius always presupposes some disorder in the machine.
(Denis Diderot)

Indeed, NPP spacecraft were necessary for building fusion drive ships. It had been an awkward procedure to even get the small test generator up – using conventional chemical rockets. One needed true oomph to lift all components into orbit. The Feuerdrache – and any follow-on ship – would be capable of accomplishing it.

Klaus Fuchs had co-chaired an RRA/KWI working group convened to determine the specifications for a FD vessel to Alpha Centauri. – It was going to be huge, really huge. The journey would take about 42 years at an average speed of 0.1 c. For the kosmonauts, however, only 38 years would pass.

Nevertheless, it still was a long time. The kosmonauts would be greybeards on arrival. And none of them could hope to see Earth again. Hence, it would have to be a four generation ship. That made it even huger. But it could be done – once the Feuerdrache was available for hoisting up heavy stuff.

Fuchs had the theoretical part ready. Generating a nuclear fusion process – and feeding it – was not difficult. At least not in space… After GQDD and two Weizsäcker Suns, the knowledge was there. And the test generator had provided sufficient data about the magnetic fields required. One needed power, though, quite a lot of it.

It was now up to RRA to design the ship. Four big nuclear reactors – at 1.700 MW rated output each – had to be installed. Well, one had gathered ample experience with nuclear submarines; the Kaiserliche Marine could provide good advice here.

Fuchs had seen the plans for Feuerdrache. Vessels like that would be the dinghies of the FD starship…
 
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