Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread II

Part 106, Chapter 1727
Chapter One Thousand Seven Hundred Twenty-Seven



2nd June 1966

Jena

Another Thursday spent trying to explain herself and not doing a particularly good job of it. In theory, everyone in the group came from a shared experience but even here Kiki’s background reared its ugly head from time to time. Today was no exception.

It should be obvious by now that not everything was well with her, but Kiki still needed to explain to people who could hardly understand her reasoning. She had been notified that after she completed the State Exams, she was to report back to Laupheim to do recertification training with the FSR. That basically assumed that she would pass, something that was hardly guaranteed. Kiki’s stomach had constantly been in knots and as the date of the Exams approached her face had broken out in a manner that hadn’t happened since she was a teenager. Doctor Holz had said it was the constant stress that was causing her problems and that she needed to take care of herself first, even as she tried to review two years’ worth of material ahead of the Exams.

Then Kiki had gotten a reprieve when her Commanding Officer in Laupheim had notified her that her recall was deferred until the end of August. There was only one person with the sort of clout to make that happen and an interest in doing so. This was confirmed she was given the option to accompany her family on a diplomatic mission to the South Pacific. Her father had told her that she could go elsewhere if she chose, but he wanted her to take a break from the relentless drive forward that had defined her life for the last decade.

“So, you are telling us that you would rather endure a few weeks of physical training in the arsehole of Bavaria followed by immediate assignment as opposed to an all expense paid tropical vacation?” One of the others in her group asked, his voice full of disbelief.

“It is not that simple” Kiki replied, “If I go with my family I will be expected to play just as much of a role. A role that doesn’t mean as much.”

“But you just said that your father told you that you don’t have to go with them” One of the other men said, “Just that you needed to take a break.”

“Ever heard of obligation” Kiki replied. It was a galling little detail about her that she knew her father had exploited in the past. Giving her the option not to do something was often an effective means of getting her to do it. He wanted her at the Pohnpei conference for political reasons. She had served in Korea and had spent a year in Japan, meaning that she would be a welcome presence for both delegations and could act as a go-between in the extremely likely event of them not talking to each other. If she didn’t feel obligated Kiki would cheerfully switch places with Vicky who was planning to stay in Jena and take a pottery class over the Summer Holiday.

“We all understand obligations” Doctor Holz said, “Just how does this fit in with the consensus from a few weeks ago that you need to take care of yourself first occasionally Kristina.”

The actual terms that had been used had been a bit more pointed and vulgar, that she needed to be a selfish bitch at times, but the point was the same though. Kiki needed to tell people no more often, particularly members of her family. If that took the form of going back to Laupheim early so be it. Just when it came time to tell her father that, Kiki had stood silent. Kat had told her about how there were times when she knew she should have spoken up during her dealings with Kiki’s mother, but hadn’t. Kat considered it cowardice, but Kiki wasn’t sure about that. That obsequiousness towards certain people was something that had been taught to them from the day they were born and fighting it felt like it was nearly impossible.

Around Kiki the discussion moved on to the issues that one of the others was having with someone in one of his classes. It was one of the rules of the group was that if you stopped talking no one would force you to continue. Everyone listened to you and you were expected to return to favor.



In Transit, on the Rhône near Valence, France

For lack of anything better to do, Louis Junior was watching the countryside roll by. Deckoffizier Borchardt was piloting the boat as Louis did his best to look the part of the Captain on the bridge with all the armored shutters open. People saw the white brimmed cap and knew who he was.

An old man stepped out onto riverbank and shook his fist at SMS SK-12 “Windhund” as she passed. The crew responded by waving back as they had since the Gunboat had crossed into France on the canal in Alsace and proceed down the Rhône. The local people had seen the German Naval Ensign and the reaction was either mild curiosity or theatrical hostility like the man who was shaking his fist at them. They were making good time on their way to the Mediterranean.

After the Windhund had been refit this spring and the crew had learned that they had been reassigned to the Adriatic Squadron in Trieste. To help their Greek, Italian, Austrian, and Balkan allies combat smuggling was the stated purpose. The 8cm mortar and 40mm automatic grenade launcher that had been added amidships suggested that they were probably going to be doing a fair amount of inshore work as those were designed to really ruin someone’s day on land. Borchardt had suggested that when they reached Avignon, they ought to put together a shore party and see if they could find something better than the usual fare in the wardroom. The question had then become who in the crew could speak French well enough to carry out that objective. All eyes had been on Louis as the answer. Yes, he spoke French. If he knew enough of that language to avoid causing an international incident was another story.
 
Ah the perils of command....

Though I mean it's not like the French media will jump on any sort of even minor insult Louis Junior offers with both feet.....
 
Part 106, Chapter 1728
Chapter One Thousand Seven Hundred Twenty-Eight



24th June 1966

Jena

Sitting in the hallway outside the room where she had just been grilled about what she had learned over the prior two years, Kiki was trying not to hyperventilate as she dreaded what the result would be. She was still waiting on the results of the written portion of the Examination and it felt as if the entire process was designed to be an elaborate torture with all the anticipation followed by additional waiting. Kiki hadn’t frozen during the oral portion, but she worried that she had babbled during parts of it as it now seemed like a blur. Everything that she had done in the past, helicopters full of wounded, life or death decisions needing to be made in seconds while getting shot at. Yet here she was, almost undone by getting questioned by three experts in the field she had been pursuing a career in for years.

“I would suggest wearing your uniform for the next exam” Doctor Holz said. Kiki hadn’t heard him approach she had been so wrapped up in herself. “It helps you feel confident and acts like armor. Regardless of what the Examiners say, they are impressed by that sort of thing.”

That was a reminder of how Kiki had tried to dress smartly in business formal, to look professional. That had not worked, and she had been left feeling like a child playing dress up. Also, there would be other Examinations in the future. Just the thought made her want to groan aloud.

“Eighteen months?” Kiki asked, “If I didn’t blow it this time.”

“You passed the written exam” Holz said, “It would have taken considerable effort on your part to have failed the oral portion. Except for how you tend to talk too fast when you are nervous, you knew what you were talking about.”

“Thank you” Kiki said, hoping that Doctor Holz was correct about that.

“Besides that, you have a summer in the Caroline Islands pack for” Holz said.

“I haven’t thought about that” Kiki replied, “Ben still thinks I’m going to visit him in Peenemünde and Rauchbier, what am I going to do with him? Hera?”

“Your boyfriend was moved up to second alternate for the Taxidiotis III Science Officer’s slot” Holz said, “He is departing for Cam Ranh this week but didn’t want to distract you from your exams. So, I think that he will be understanding if he doesn’t see you for a few more months if you are. The dog and cat are a bit easier to sort out.”

Kiki sat there in silence for a few moments before Holz offered her one last bit of advice.

“You should spend your Holiday doing what you want to do, regardless of where you spend it” Holz said, “Ignore the political machinations of your father and just enjoy yourself. Spend time with your sisters and niece or sit on a beach and read a book or two.”

“Again, think you” Kiki said.



Salamis Naval Shipyard, Salamis Island, Greece

The Greek Marine Sentries looked at the SMS Windhund with complete nonchalance. These were among the most elite soldiers in the Greek Military. The Simonov carbines that they carried showed a great deal of wear and the state of their uniforms would have caused any Senior Officer in the KM to go ballistic. It was clear however that these men were all proven killers and their lack of polish was entirely because they were constantly in the field. While the last Greco-Turkish War was more than a decade behind them, the ceasefire remained very tenuous and frequently broke down, just not into open warfare yet. There were frequent skirmishes that occurred along the Turkish border in Anatolia and at sea it could be argued that the war had never really ended.

All the Greek Marines who Louis had talked to had been involved in boarding actions and firefights in the recent past. The smuggling operations that the Windhund had been sent to help combat had been described to him as shoveling shit into a bottomless bin by Anthypaspistis Fotios Papadopoulos, roughly the equivalent of a Oberstabsbootsmann, who the commanded the Marine Sentries on the dock that the Windhund was moored to. As Fotios put it, guns went south, opium, cocaine and hashish went north. There were vast fortunes to be made and that attracted mafiosos who were not picky about who they did business with. Unless they were trying to kill each other over the profits or national interests came into play, that is. Fotios had explained that their job was to see to it that the Turks didn’t get those guns or the cash. What the Greek Mafia happened to be up to was for the Federal Police out of Constantinople to deal with.

The cynical realpolitik of that was irksome. Louis might have told Fotios how making sure that the crooks who controlled your locale were your crooks had worked out in Germany by generating lawlessness, corrupting everyone it touched and making those at the very top of the heap richer than the Junker Class. He figured that Fotios probably already knew that, which had been what prompted the comment about shoveling shit. Louis had then asked Fotios what the actual mission was? To make it expensive for the bastards, was the answer that Fotios had given him.

Louis was going to be spending the next several months in the Eastern Mediterranean doing that?
 
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Well, at least it isn't the footballer in charge of the Greeks....

Besides, that part of the world is never going to be settled, not without divine intervention, and I don't see Athena popping in to beat some shit into both sides in this time line.
 
If there is a demand there will be a supply. Old rule and of course it needs to be qualified:
If there is a demand with means to pay there will be a supply as long as the risk does seem worth taking.

The latter qualified part is why even in countries with strictest antidrug laws, drugs come in (just are a bit more expensive) because the people who rake in the profit are not the ones to end up in death row and there are enough stupid or desperate people to fill those ranks... and the erstwhile qualified part explains why the GDR never had a serious drug problem.
 
It would be a good thing for Kiki to make the trip out to the Carolines with her family and if Kiki needs to justify to herself the trip she can always put on her "Princess Hat" to do a morale boosting visit to a JMS medical clinic in her unofficial role as the Poster Girl for the JMS.
Also there should be one of the "Princesses" hospital ship on station for the Kaiser and if it is the one named after Nella I am sure that Kiki will be more then delighted to take Nella and Nan on a tour of the ship.
 
Sitting in the hallway outside the room where she had just been grilled about what she had learned over the prior two years, Kiki was trying not to hyperventilate as she dreaded what the result would be. She was still waiting on the results of the written portion of the Examination and it felt as if the entire process was designed to be an elaborate torture with all the anticipation followed by additional waiting. Kiki hadn’t frozen during the oral portion, but she worried that she had babbled during parts of it as it now seemed like a blur. Everything that she had done in the past, helicopters full of wounded, life or death decisions needing to be made in seconds while getting shot at. Yet here she was, almost undone by getting questioned by three experts in the field she had been pursuing a career in for years.
Examinations, written, oral & practical, are sheer hell for many people. They are specially stressful for those who perform better in a assessment based environment and those who find public speaking to be pure torture. That said, they are partly designed to see how you cope in a high stress environment, with the knowledge part being the minor component of the exam. I know aspiring airline pilots who have failed their final simulator tests because of this; they knew exactly what had to be done & even demonstrated it during the test, but they had handled the pressure of the scenario poorly, so...

It would be a good thing for Kiki to make the trip out to the Carolines with her family and if Kiki needs to justify to herself the trip she can always put on her "Princess Hat" to do a morale boosting visit to a JMS medical clinic in her unofficial role as the Poster Girl for the JMS.
Also there should be one of the "Princesses" hospital ship on station for the Kaiser and if it is the one named after Nella I am sure that Kiki will be more then delighted to take Nella and Nan on a tour of the ship.
Not to mention that the Carolines are a hell of a lot closer to Cam Ranh than Germany is. Take the trip, let Daddy have ONE and only one photo op, spend a couple of weeks sunning on the beach & playing with the youngsters, then hop across to Vietnam to visit Ben. Use the Princess Hat. Daddy will see the political aspect too. Hell, if he's smart, he'll stop off for a visit himself, to "see the facilities and acknowledge the spirit of international cooperation involved, as well as the generosity of the Vietnamese people in hosting this magnificent venture".

As for Louis Jr., this is a very risky mission he's on; personally, professionally & politically.
 
Pilot aspirants who cannot control stress are rightly weeded out in the process as well as surgeons. Admittedly the stress in an exam is different from that in an emergency but there are areas where you do not take risks.
 
Not to mention that the Carolines are a hell of a lot closer to Cam Ranh than Germany is. Take the trip, let Daddy have ONE and only one photo op, spend a couple of weeks sunning on the beach & playing with the youngsters, then hop across to Vietnam to visit Ben. Use the Princess Hat.
Indeed indeed. Kiki can absolutely have her cake and eat it on this trip.
 
Part 106, Chapter 1729
Chapter One Thousand Seven Hundred Twenty-Nine



29th June 1966

Jena

Kiki was finally packing her bags after arranging for Rauchbier to spend the Summer Holiday with Rolf in Hechingen. The Kennel Master was delighted to help. It meant that Rauchbier would spend his summer ferreting rabbits teamed up with another dog who Rolf said he could learn a lot from and a pair of ferrets. Kiki figured that he would enjoy it and had taken Rauchbier down to Hohenzollern Provence over the weekend. It had been strange being in Hechingen for a couple hours as a guest of Rolf’s with no fanfare or time spent in the castle. Kiki had met the other dog that Rolf had mentioned, it had the same long legs and thin body that Kiki was familiar with on a Whippet, just the long brindle and white fur was unexpected. She had thought that all Whippets had the same short wiry hair that Rauchbier had. This dog was three quarters Whippet, one quarter something else a bit fuzzier and Kiki had to agree that it was well suited to living in the Swabian Jura.

Hera would stay with Vicky on the other hand. The elderly Calico Moggie hated changes to her routine and that included travel especially. The last time Kiki had taken her into the Veterinary Clinic she had been told that Hera was in good health, but her advanced age meant that she could live a few more years, or a problem like kidney failure could crop up next week and that would be that. Kiki and Vicky should consider all their remaining time with Hera to be precious. Hera being able to spend the summer in comfortable surroundings was the best solution.

For Kiki herself, she was trying to figure out which clothes she had would work in the Tropics when the package arrived. Inside was a shoulder bag made of brown waterproofed canvas that already had SA K. von Preussen stenciled on the rain flap. It folded open to reveal that it contained the tools and paraphernalia of a Field Surgeon. Kiki recognized the manufacture of the equipment as being of the highest quality. It was only when Kiki looked at some of the vials of medications present that it occurred to her that she was now authorized to possess them legally without question. The weight of the responsibility that entailed was considerable.

The note attached read; I know that you still have the stethoscope that I gave you on your sixteenth birthday. This will complete the set. I was told that the bag meets the requirements for use in the field by an FSR Stabsarzt. I understand that you still have a long way to go, but you have my sincere congratulations on taking such an important step.

It was nice that her father was once again endorsing Kiki’s career choices. She remembered when she got that stethoscope in Japan, the same one that she had taken with her twice to Korea. It took a few minutes to get it out and place it in the bag with the rest of the tools. Then she had to go back to packing for the Carolines. Looking at the bag Kiki realized that she ought to bring it as well, that now being a part of who she was.



Strait of Gibraltar

Europe and Africa were both visible on either side of the USS Blue as Commander James “Jimmy” Carter looked at the distant Rock of Gibraltar through his binoculars. The Destroyer had been reassigned to the Mediterranean after an eventful cruise in the North Atlantic and this time the Office of Naval Intelligence was calling the shots. Scuttlebutt was that Carter was due to be promoted to bigger and better things, so this mission was likely to be his last in command of the Blue.

Not that a Sub Chaser like the Blue didn’t have plenty to keep her occupied in these waters even if she kept with her original mission. Every Regional Power in the Mediterranean maintained a Submarine Fleet as well as USS Blue’s varied counterparts. So, as the Blue crossed into the Mediterranean Sea the crew was in General Quarters with it figured that the British, Spanish and the French were already aware of her presence. No one was sure how they would respond, but Carter knew from experience that he wouldn’t like it when it materialized.

The three men on board from the ONI had briefed Carter shortly after they had departed from Norfolk. They were looking for one man who was rumored to have been assigned recently to this theater and the ship that he commanded. His Majesty’s Ship Fast Cannon Boat Twelve dubbed Little Greyhound or Whippet by her crew. The ONI had a photograph of Senior Lieutenant Louis Ferdinand von Preussen Junior with his sister’s black and white Whippet Rauchbier who’s likeness had been painted on the side of the boat’s bridge as well as the best available information about the boat herself. Smoked Beer, Carter thought amusedly to himself, he wondered who had come up with that. The sister was supposedly on leave from the German Medical Service’s Special Forces while attending Medical School. Perhaps the name had something to do with that. It made Carter wonder exactly what sort of nation Germany was.

Carter had no idea what the ONI wanted with the German Kaiser’s youngest son. It was a case of need to know and he didn’t need to know according to the ONI. He was supposed to mind the ship and get the Agents where they needed to be.
 
Rauchbier gets to spend the summer chasing bunnies; Hera gets to spend the summer ruling over her dominion & at least one vassal; Vicky gets to spend the summer learning to make pottery, being Hera's remaining vassal & possibly finding a nice... err... 'bad'(?) girl while doing so; Kiki gets to spend the summer on a Pacific Island (& possibly Vietnam); and Louis Jr. gets to chase smugglers in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean & Black Seas.

Kiki remembering to pack her medical kit has given me a sense of foreboding. Combined with what PM has let slip regarding the health of Kaiser Louis, I suspect that she might be using it far sooner than she was expecting. If so, I hope that her brother Freddie inherits the throne because their father decides to abdicate/retire early due to health reasons and not because of the more traditional reason. I don't think Kiki could survive if her father died while she was trying to save his life.

As for the American ONI agents aboard USS Blue, I suspect that someone may be channeling the stupid exhibited by Finley and the FBI Boston field office. Hopefully they aren't and, if they are, hopefully Carter foils whatever crazy they come up with, due to not being a bloody idiot. Pulling that sort of shit with a Royal tends to start wars.
 
I think that the Kennel Master has another job other than chasing rabbits for Rauchbier, we must remember that Rauchbier was a gift from Freddy albeit in bad taste but if there is one thing that Freddy knows it is dogs and there is no doubt in my mind that Rauchbier is the pick of the litter from champion stock.
Of course the Kennel Master doesn't care about pedigrees but he does knows good stock when he sees it and he may "have a friend" for Rauchbier.

One of the great things about how well written this timeline is that we can imagine all sorts of scenarios that are very logical and still be surprised by them,
I can see Kiki visiting an island clinic that is staffed by a couple of nurses and medics and only see a doctor once every couple of weeks and an emergency is brought in and Kiki saves the day... or not.
 
The context of my post was a manned US space mission exploding during launch, it was not specific to shuttles. I used Challenger as an example of the type of disaster that could occur, especially since PM noted in his update that NASA was having trouble with their Saturn rocket and that the US has an administration hungry for results.
I wonder if the Escape Tower will end up getting used in this timeline?
 
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