Chapter One Thousand Nine Hundred Thirty-Eight
28th September 1969
It was cost that decided things for Kiki and she was not happy about it. If she remained aboard the SMS Antonia, it would require dispatching Fleet Elements which represented eyewatering sums as opposed to the light units that would otherwise escort the Hospital Ship. Predictably Ben was overjoyed that Kiki would be returning with him which triggered a huge row. Her trying to tell him that he didn’t understand about how she was abandoning her responsibilities and him telling her that she was making excuses to be miserable. They had been talking past each other until in just became yelling over the frustrations that both of them had felt over the past few years. Eventually Ben had told her that her obsession with the past revolutions that had ended with dead Royals was unhealthy. Kiki wasn’t Marie Antionette and she needed to see herself as she was, not how she feared she was seen. That was over the line as far as she was concerned and she had told him so, only to have him point out that she wasn’t denying it. Fortunately, the villa was big enough for them to avoid each other over the next few days.
When Kiki was talking to the Cook, she discovered that the argument she’d had with Ben was the subject of Island gossip. It seemed that the whole community found seeing that the daughter of the wise High King Louis and her husband got into arguments like normal people did somewhat amusing. The Cook figured that it would be things like this that people would remember about the New German Times. That was a reminder of how the Islanders measured time. The Old Times, followed by the Spanish Times, then the Old German Times and the Japanese Times. The New German Times had started when the Japanese had been sent packing at the end of the Second World War and Kiki’s father was well regarded, mostly because he had built a house on Pohnpei and was wise enough to let the Islanders manage their own affairs. After the heavy-handed actions of the Japanese that must have been a very welcome change.
Kiki had pointed out that she had not married Ben yet and after the last few days… The Cook had just smiled and said that life was not perfect. It was a key part of the nature of people to have disagreements, especially if they cared. The Cook said that he saw it all the time, especially when couples discovered that Pohnpei was one of the rainiest places on Earth and they think that the weather has ruined their holiday. The Cook then reminded Kiki that it was also a part of human nature to make up afterwards.
The Cadet Corps wore parade uniforms that were modeled after the dress uniforms of the Heer, with the blue coat and field grey trousers. That was for inspections, meals, and drilling on weekdays. Saturdays and Sundays were typically informal with a number of activities that they were strongly encouraged to partake in. Mostly it was so that they wouldn’t cause trouble because they got bored and destructive. Niko had noticed that their Minders always looked at Bas when they said that. It was not that the weekend activities were boring, far from it. Beyond the occasional walk into Wahlstatt to go to the Cinema or market. There were practical lessons in what were dubbed “Survival skills” that were an introduction to scouting. These were mostly taught by the members of the Senior Classes, the older students who Niko had mostly avoided in his first year for good reason. Things seemed to have changed, but Niko didn’t trust any of them, not for a second. Especially since there was a rumor floating around that swimming lessons were in the offing.
So, when Staber Arbeit had told them they needed to be dressed as if for inspection on a Sunday evening everyone was a bit surprised. Then Niko remembered the notice that had been posted on bulletin board weeks earlier, the one that everyone had either ignored, or had forgotten. That they would be entertaining tonight. Looking at his reflection in the mirror, Niko saw that the cloth Enlisted Man’s mess cap he was wearing hid most of his hair. That was fortunate because he had been hoping to avoid the attention of Arbeit, who would doubtlessly send Niko to the school’s Barber whose only tool was a pair of clippers, if the Staber noticed. It was a small rebellion, but Niko was finding that he needed to do these little things to avoid feeling like he was being ground under the Drillmaster’s heel.
Everyone else was curious about what was going on as they were led from the dormitory to the large multi-purpose room where instruction in gymnastics and martial arts happened. It was then that Staber Arbeit informed them that they were to be one their absolute best behavior tonight. Because it was heavily chaperoned, every stupid thing the even thought about doing would be seen and reported immediately.
Upon entering the room, Niko noticed that a couple dozen girls his own age were standing around with varying expressions of boredom on their faces.
“Just who among you knows how to dance?” Arbeit asked, “You are being called upon to help with these young Ladies.”
Without thinking about it, Niko raised his hand and realized that he was the only one to do so. He remembered learning to dance under his Mother’s instruction with his cousin Marie helping. That had been a fun diversion, but tonight it felt like serious business.
“Nikolaus, how nice of you to volunteer” Arbeit said, reminding Niko of the first rule of the military, never volunteer. Niko wasn’t even a soldier, but he should have known that.
“Ladies, let me introduce you to Prinz Nikolaus von Richthofen” Arbeit continued, “Grandson of Kurfürst von Richthofen.”
Niko couldn’t help but notice that there was suddenly a great deal of giggling among the girls. How exactly was this supposed to work and who had thought that it would be a good idea? He thought to himself as he wished he could fall through the floor.