Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread II

Chapter One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty-Three

20th April 1965


With Easter past everyone was just enjoying a few quiet days in the countryside before returning to their lives. The big family meals in the Richthofen house had grown into raucous affairs. Helene’s mother said that it was good to have them from time to time because the house tended to get extremely quiet if Ilse and Albrecht were back in the city. After nearly fifty years of marriage, Manfred and Käte understood where their interests lay and how they overlapped. There simply wasn’t a whole lot to talk about that they hadn’t discussed countless times before.

As Helene watched Marie and Tatiana playing a board game with Ina, it occurred to her that every time she saw Kat’s daughters, they reminded her of Kat herself when she had stepped off that railcar at the vegetable market in Berlin almost thirty years earlier.

There was also the reminder that her father was very different when he played the role of Opa to the various children who came to the estate. He had taken an interest in Marie this time, helping with her curiosity regarding the animals that she had only read about in books, seeing them for real. There was a rather large contrast between that and how Helene remembered her own childhood. She recalled that he had always been somewhat remote and a rather hard disciplinarian.

“How can he be so different?” Helene asked as she explained it to her mother.

“Because indulging grandchildren is the domain of a grandfather” Käte replied, “And as much as he is loath to admit it, I believe that he has learned from his mistakes.”

Of course, that was exactly what Helene would expect her mother to say. She had seen great Manfred von Richthofen when he had been at the height of his personal power and commanded the attention of the entire world. His career had continued for decades afterwards, but he had never quite matched the achievements of those early days. Helene knew that saying that her father had made mistakes was about as far as her mother would be willing to go, with her anyway.

“What’s this girl Suse who I’ve been hearing about like?” Käte asked, changing the subject.

“She is Gerta’s little girl” Helene replied, “And I don’t think that her and Manny are an item. Not yet, anyway, if ever.”

“Gerta?” Käte asked, “As in Gerta von Wolvogle?”

“Yes” Helene replied, seeing the expression on her mother’s face change.

“It is just speculation, but many researchers think that some forms of insanity might have a genetic component” Käte said, “Just something to consider if the girl is Ritter von Wolvogle’s granddaughter.”

“You knew the Old Wolf didn’t you” Helene replied.

“All too well” Käte said, “Do you have any idea how destructive that man was when he got drunk?”

“Ask the Russians” Helene said darkly.

Käte nodded, “He broke the picture window on the landing between the first and second floor of…” She trailed off as she remembered that this house wasn’t the same one that she had lived in decades earlier even if they had been built on the same spot. For Käte, damaging her house in a drunken stupor was unforgivable. Even after more than two decades, she still hadn’t been able to square that with how her husband had torched the old house rather than have it become a trophy for the Soviets.

Wilhelm Station

When the end came, it was an anticlimax.

The SMS Sirius had arrived a few days earlier and it was to open a passage for the Albatros back into open water. Louis’ mail had arrived, and it had included a stack of magazines about various topics and dozens of letters. There was an article about Kiki in there and they seemed to have caught her when she was in one of her melancholy moods. Still, seeing her sitting there in a garden somewhere was a reminder of just how long he had been away from home. There were also plants growing there, even in wintertime. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen an actual plant growing in the ground.

Louis had not had time to think about how much time was left in Antarctica, or much else, because he had been babysitting a group of Geologists as they had worked their way down a mountain range that was poking out of glaciers in the interior. It had been a boring task, keeping Geologists from coming to grief in the cold and weather had proven to be a fulltime job. Then they had returned to Wilhelm Station and it had been mentioned that he was on the next ship back to the world. Unless he wanted to spend another winter at Wilhelm Station that is, they always needed volunteers…

Now as he got out of the Iltis with Hugo carrying his sea bag across the ice dock to the gangplank, Louis realized that he was not going to this place at all. His time in Antarctica had not been an epic tale of survival or exploration. He had come here to do a job. He had done it to the best of his abilities and now it was over. Was most adventure just boredom masked by nostalgia? Louis didn’t know.

The Obermaat in charge of the security detail gave them the evil eye as their papers were checked and approved. Minutes later, they were shown to their quarters aboard the Albatros.
Louis going to put in for the German Pacific Islands as his next duty station? Might be a good place for Kiki and Ben to visit. Louis might even meet one of the island Princeses and knowing how it works she will be smarter than him.
It is another P.R. coup for the Imperial Family as Young Louis Ferdinand returns from the Antarctic as he shows that the Family will go to the ends of the Earth to serve the Empire.
The KLM is also going to get a great deal of positive publicity as they can claim they are on the leading edge of exploration and scientific research.

As I think about it, it is very natural that Graf von Richthofen is the Grandfather figure that he has become.
The children of Kat and Doug have a living Grandfather on the Father's side but he is in Canada and both Kat's biological father and her Uncle Klaus are dead, Kat with her expansive view of family would gravitate to the father of her friend as a substitute grandfather, along with the fact that both Nancy and Tilo's fathers are dead their son would think that the Graf is something from an adventure book.
Part 104, Chapter 1684
Chapter One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty-Four

8th May 1965


Of all the ways that Ben would have liked to have woken up on a Saturday morning, having his girlfriend’s little sister yelling at him and the dog licking his ear wasn’t very high on the list.

“Lotte just called and said that Poppa is coming here!” Vicky yelled at him, “You can’t let him, or his security detail catch you here, not like this!”

He had been sleeping cuddled together with Kiki after what had been a difficult night for her. She had spent the entire week in lectures and labs which she found to be an alienating, exhausting experience. Kiki had said that it felt like the most actual human interaction she’d had was with the Medical Academy’s cadavers and that was a mostly one-sided conversation. She had been extremely tired but hadn’t been able to sleep until the morning hours. She had asked Ben to only be with her so that she didn’t feel alone, nothing else had happened.

To Ben it had felt like he had just gotten to sleep when he had woken up to Vicky and Rauchbier. Kiki had been out of bed in an instant in Vicky’s face.

“You shouldn’t be so rude” Kiki said crossly.

“Your security detail and the household staff turn a blind eye to Ben so long as he doesn’t get you pregnant or give you the clap” Vicky said, “Poppa finding him like that in your bed will end that in a hurry.”

Ben watched Kiki’s face turn red as Vicky said that. Considering the extensive measures that Kiki insisted on, it was unlikely that could happen. Still, that didn’t mean that Kiki was comfortable with her sister talking about it like that. Ben remembered that when Kiki had moved in with Vicky, Kiki had thought that she was incredibly naïve. Vicky herself had quickly shown otherwise. Ben was reminded of that as he considered his present unclothed state.

“Er, if you wouldn’t mind Vicky” Ben said, instantly realizing that drawing attention to himself was a mistake.

“Grow up Benjamin. Even if you had anything I’ve not seen before, I wouldn’t care about it” Vicky said crossly, picking up his clothes and throwing them at him before storming out of the room.

“Sorry about her” Kiki said as Ben got dressed, “Despite everything else she is still the most conservative one in my family.”

That wasn’t the first time that Kiki had mentioned that there was more going on than was obvious with Vicky. Ben had not dared to ask exactly what that was. From what he had seen of Vicky, as judgmental as she could be about others it was hardly a surprise that she may come up wanting. Ben couldn’t imagine what that might be other than apparently Rea taking great delight in it according to Kiki.

“Is what she said true?” Ben asked, “That everyone around you tries to ignore me?”

Kiki gave him an exasperated sigh. “It’s the whole Princess thing again” She said, as if that meant everything. Ben had discovered a long time ago that asking her to elaborate upon that was a mistake, so he let it go. She had a lot of good reasons for wanting an ordinary life, hearing her complain about public perceptions and all the ways that distorted her life for several hours wasn’t something he wanted to go through again.

“Why is your father coming here?” Ben asked, changing the topic to something that was a safer topic.

“He could have a lot of reasons” Kiki replied as she started pulling clothes out from her wardrobe, “Checking on me and Vicky, touring local industry, finding out what the University is doing with the grants that he has given them, or something else that I’m not privy to.”

“It was nice of your stepmother to call ahead” Ben said as he looked for his socks.

“It’s because Charlotte doesn’t want an embarrassing scene for any of us” Kiki replied, “I guess this is it until next weekend.”

Kiki then kissed him goodbye before she shooed him out of the house.


As Louis Ferdinand’s motorcade pulled onto the street that Kristina and Victoria lived on, he might have sworn that a car of the type that Kristina’s boyfriend was said to drive was turning around the corner at the far end of the street. He knew though that if he brought it up with his daughters, they would just change the subject. Not that he would though. Presently there was a bit of equilibrium with his family and he had no intention of rocking the boat. He tried to think of himself as a modern man and knowing that his children lived in a very different society than what he had grown up in was a part of that. Knowing that Kristina had a boyfriend and that he would need to steel himself for whatever happened with Victoria in the future was still bothersome.

He figured that they would be happy to see him and by whatever means that they had to learn that he was coming would probably be in full swing. That also meant that he was going to see whatever Kristina and Victoria wanted him to see. Was that a good or bad thing? He was also sure that they would like to hear that Louis Junior was on his way home.

After this, Louis was scheduled to tour the University Hospital, Law School and the newest facility that Karl Zeiss AG had going. He wondered if either of his daughters would be interested in accompanying him on those tours.
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Typical Dad: "I know my little girls are all grown up, or nearly so; I would just prefer not to admit it to myself or have my nose rubbed in it."
I would like thank PM for his excellent timeline. It will be one of the tools I use to keep both sane & entertained during New Zealand's nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Stay safe everyone, its gotten damn scary out there.
I would like thank PM for his excellent timeline. It will be one of the tools I use to keep both sane & entertained during New Zealand's nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Stay safe everyone, its gotten damn scary out there.

Same here in the Netherlands. We humans like to think we're the rulers of this world, but those little bugs remind us every now and then that is not the case.
It also reminds me of how H. G. Wells let them save us from the martians...
Typical Dad: "I know my little girls are all grown up, or nearly so; I would just prefer not to admit it to myself or have my nose rubbed in it."

Like Linkin Park, he finds bliss in ignorance :p

Another great chapter.

I would like thank PM for his excellent timeline. It will be one of the tools I use to keep both sane & entertained during New Zealand's nationwide coronavirus lockdown. Stay safe everyone, its gotten damn scary out there.

Yes indeed... Same here.
Same here in the Netherlands. We humans like to think we're the rulers of this world, but those little bugs remind us every now and then that is not the case.
It also reminds me of how H. G. Wells let them save us from the martians...
Yep, working in retail and of management I'm the only one left that hasn't been done in so its a bit like panic stations atm
I wish that I could join the people staying at home I work in a grocery store and am considered an essential employee. All so thank you for continuing to update your story.
I wish that I could join the people staying at home I work in a grocery store and am considered an essential employee. All so thank you for continuing to update your story.
Both my sisters (pharmacy & supermarket) and my wife (dairy farm 2IC) are essential workers too. I'm in an at-risk group, which sucks.
Oooh, what is Zeiss up to?
Special lens for real time reconnaissance satellites.

Vicky has a problem of being very well known which makes it difficult for her to pursue a relationship that could result in scandal.
While Germany is apparently more tolerant ITTL about homosexuality, it is a different situation when it is an Imperial Princess.
The same sex romantic partners of famous people were described in the press with terms such as "Constant Companion" or " Very Close Personal Friend " which all but outed them without really saying so.
So what Vicky needs is a way to meet others like her in a discrete manner in a safe space where she is assured that her privacy is kept.
Part 104, Chapter 1685
Chapter One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty-Five

22nd May 1965

Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin

The Charlottenburg Palace was lit up in all its glory and serving in its intended role like it did four nights a year as opposed to that of a tourist attraction the rest of the time. The spring quarterly meeting of the Order of Louise was in full swing, Kiki found herself wearing the dark blue wool dress tunic of the FSR and was trying to ignore the itch that was developing between her shoulder blades. She was rather surprised by the company that she found herself in the grand ballroom as members and their guests enjoyed refreshments before the meeting started and just what they that had ended up talking about. Cosimo De’ Medici and a tall Englishman in his forties named Christopher who she had never met before. The way that Cosimo got his back up when Christopher approached them suggested that he was of the same sort of international problem solver that Cosimo and Kat were. They claimed they were diplomats, but Kiki had lived just enough in their world to know better.

“I was just telling the lovely Princess Kristina about how fortunate it is that her time in Korea didn’t coarsen her” Cosimo said to Christopher who just nodded.

“It was not as if I would come back smoking unfiltered cigarettes and covered in tattoos” Kiki replied jokingly.

“I would hope not” Cosimo said, “For a young woman to deface what I consider God’s greatest creation would be an atrocity.”

“You think I am God’s greatest creation?” Kiki asked in reply, amused by what was clearly flattery.

“No” Cosimo said, “All young women are God’s greatest creation.”

“Is that why you’ve maintained a collection of them?” Kiki asked to Cosimo’s feigned annoyance.

“I will know that I have never given my wife or any of my mistresses cause to complain” Cosimo said with mock indignation.

“I think she has your number” Christopher said.

“I am wounded that you think that I have such low character” Cosimo said.

“I think you’ll survive” Christopher replied.

“All of that aside” Kiki said, “Just what are you two doing here anyway? Two spies at a meeting of a Chivalrous Order for women?”

Both Cosimo and Christopher looked genuinely annoyed by Kiki asking those questions. Like if she was missing something obvious.

“I prefer the term Facilitator for what I do” Cosimo replied, “Spy seems rather crude, like if I were merely an assassin lurking around in the dark with a dagger and a vial of poison.”

“Something else you ought to consider Kristine, this meeting includes some of the biggest players in the German Empire” Christopher said, “Or at least their wives. My employer as well as Cosimo’s are very interested in what gets discussed here.”

“I see” Kiki replied as she wondered if it would be too much trouble to have them both thrown out. As one of the two Dame Commanders of the Order, she knew what was going to be discussed in the upcoming meeting. She figured that the vast majority of what was to be talked about would bore them to tears and wondered if they were being punished for something. The Order had finally codified the long-discussed expansion beyond the current hundred full members and that was to be announced tonight. Then the next quarter’s charitable activities would be discussed…

It was then that Kiki felt something close around her waist, looking down, she saw Marie Alexandra smiling up at her. It was the first time that she had seen Kat’s youngest daughter since the gold medal on its white bow that she had pinned to her dress had been awarded. It was the first Lady’s Merit Cross that had been awarded since the end of the Second World War and the first nomination for an award that Charlotte had felt compelled to make. It had been Kiki’s father who had waived the normal ten-year requirement between the awarding first and second class of the medal, something that was only done in exceptional cases. Kiki had asked why he had done that, and his answer had bothered her in the months since. Because he felt that helping to save Kiki had merited it. The fact that Marie wondered if she had gotten it for biting someone, something that she had been punished for in the past, sort of put it all into perspective.

“Just who is this?” Christopher asked.

“Kat’s little girl” Kiki replied, “Who has clearly escaped from her mother.”

“The Fürstin of Berlin” Cosimo said, “Someone who you wouldn’t want to tangle with Christopher, because she happens to be good friends with your employer among other things.”

Christopher gave Cosimo a dirty look. The Italian had just implied that he worked directly for the Queen of England. It was obvious to anyone with half a brain, but it was considered rude to talk about it in the presence of outsiders and Kiki figured that it was a calculated insult as well.

“I believe that I should go find Marie’s mother” Kiki said with a smile, “Try not to get too bored in the hours ahead.”

Kiki could tell from the looks on their faces what they thought of that idea. Once again, she wondered if they were being punished for something. The next time Kiki spoke with Elizabeth of England or Marie-José of Italy she would need to ask what sort of mischief these two self-styled men of action had gotten up to that had ended with them so far out of their element.