Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy-Seven
4th September 1968
Returning to Berlin and attending Staff School was not something that Kiki was looking forward to. It seemed that she was being pushed away from her goals again. An unexpected event however completely derailed her life in a manner she couldn’t have imagined.
Sitting by the phone waiting for a call to learn the news about whether or not she was going to live was not Kiki’s idea of fun. She noticed that her left thumb was bleeding because she had chewed the nail down to the quick. It seemed like a trifling matter, but it showed exactly how things had spiraled out of control with absurd speed.
It had started with the best of intentions. Kat had wanted a medical examination conducted upon Marie Alexandra, the sort that was minimally invasive to make sure that she was developing normally similar to those that Kiki had been on the receiving end of when she had been Marie’s age. It had been Doctor Burg’s suggestion that because Marie trusted Kiki, perhaps she should allow Marie to see how the examination played out by volunteering to go through it first with the girl watching. It had gone well enough at first, the blood draws and various tests had been conducted. Kiki had been rather relieved to have it confirmed that she wasn’t pregnant, though she already knew. This was because when she had gotten together with Ben the prior month, they had not been particularly careful. It was well understood that no contraception was perfect. Marie Alexandra herself had been conceived despite Kat having an IUD similar to the one Kiki had. Then came the physical examination, using a sonogram to peer inside Kiki’s body to make sure that nothing untoward was happening. It had been when Berg had examined Kiki’s left breast that she paused for a minute, then had continued. Later, after they had successfully gotten Marie through it, Berg had pulled Kiki aside and told her that she had definitely felt a lump in her breast. Kiki didn’t need to be told the implications of that as she had felt what was like an icy wind blow through her.
As swiftly as it could be arranged, she had found herself in a different part of the hospital as a Surgeon had excised the tiny lump of flesh that Berg had discovered and sent it off to pathology. Kiki had been shot at, kidnapped, nearly had her brain bashed out, flown aboard helicopters that were awash with blood, and never once in all of that had she felt the fear she did as she waited for the results. Staring at the phone knowing that if the result were bad then the phone call was likely when her death sentence would be announced. There were treatments, surgery, radiation, and Chemotherapy. All of those would mutilate her body, make her deathly ill, and it was unclear if they would improve her long-term prognosis depending on how far it had spread. If she had cancer, then her future would be rather grim.
“Is everything alright Kiki?” Ben asked stepping into the parlor.
Just a couple weeks earlier Ben had implied that it was his intention to marry Kiki next summer. When she had heard that it had been as if her head had instantly filled with static, she had panicked and tried to rush him out of her room only to have him kiss her. All that drama now seemed rather trite and Kiki felt foolish for having engaged in it.
“I am waiting for a call” Kiki replied, knowing that answer didn’t even began to touch what she was going through.
“Your step-mother told me what happened” Ben said, “She told me that she though you shouldn’t be alone.”
Kiki tried not to be annoyed. Charlotte meant well, but she tended to speak out of turn at times.
“Making mistakes is a part of growing up” Niko’s father had told him weeks earlier. “What defines you however is seeing your choices through even after you know you’ve made a mistake.”
Niko hadn’t understood what his father was getting at, at the time. But now, after his introduction to the Wahlstatt School, he was starting to get an idea. The rigid discipline that the school emphasized meant that every minute was structured from the instant he awoke in the morning until he fell asleep at night. Opa had told him that he would get a lot out of his time here if he made the most of it, but for the life of him, Niko had no idea how to go about doing that.
The worst part was that it had been his choice to be here. Opa had said he was proud of him. His father had implied that it was a mistake and his mother had clearly not wanted him to go. On the first day when the school’s Drillmaster, Stabsfeldwebel Arbeit, had made his introduction. He had made a point of telling Niko that he didn’t give a shit who his grandfather was, if Niko thought that he was going to be featherbedding for an instant then he was in for a rude awakening. Afterwards, Bas has told Niko that he was an idiot if he thought that he would have been treated any other way.
The days since had been spent tripping over his own feet, running afoul of the school’s multitude of rules, and learning that the senior classes were best to be avoided at all costs. Laying in his bed seconds before the lights were going to be turned off, on a mattress and under a blanket that were both too thin it occurred to him that every adult in his life might be correct about this whole thing though they had all said something different. How was that even possible?