Chapter One Thousand Seven Hundred Fifty-Six
25th September 1966
Because she had called ahead, Kiki was there to meet Sigi as she got out of the car that had picked her up from the train station. She looked tired and while it was subtle, Kiki could see that Sigi looked stressed. In January, the Taxidiotis Program would resume and Sigi was to command a flight that would probably be one of the most watched events in human history. It would need to be perfect and the pressures had to be enormous.
“Shouldn’t you be in Peenemünde?” Kiki asked Sigi as they walked towards the Mess Hall.
“Kapitän von Richthofen gave me a week off and I wanted to get as far from there as I could get” Sigi said, “Besides, I heard from Louis and Lotte that what my niece was up to was interesting.”
“Interesting in the Chinese sense perhaps” Kiki said, “I have to get Hellcats and American Green Berets to work together in preparation of an upcoming operation. They clearly don’t trust each other, and the American Commanding Officer blames us, as in all Germans, for the death of a friend of his when we were on opposite sides in Korea.”
“I will trade you two Russians, a Co-Pilot and Systems Operator, a Mission Specialist who is normally a test pilot at Junkers and a French polymath Science Officer who has implied that he suspects that at least one of the other members of the crew is mentally retarded. Their egos are enormous, and they cannot seem to go five minutes without arguing over something stupid” Sigi said with a bit of weariness, “Somehow I’m supposed to make them into a team that can land on the moon and then get them home safely.”
Kiki couldn’t help but laugh at that. “How do we get ourselves into these situations?” She asked.
“Genetics supposedly” Sigi replied, “Our ancestors haven’t known how to stay uninvolved since at least the year 1061.”
“That’s all” Kiki said, “I thought it went back further than that.”
“That’s just the Hohenzollerns” Sigi said, “There are plenty of other branches in the family tree that go back further. Ever heard of the Carolingians? Charlemagne.”
“You know a lot about this” Kiki said, she was aware of much of what Sigi was saying having researched it herself when she had still been a child.
“Knowing who I am is important to me” Sigi said, “I just hope that our respective brothers don’t get any ideas in the coming months though.”
Kiki’s father and Friedrich had been discussing what to do about Sigi for some time. With her increasingly prominent role, publicly acknowledging that Sigi was the daughter of Wilhelm the III might prove advantageous. Kiki understood why Sigi would not be interested in them doing that, probably better than anyone.
Opening the door to the Mess Hall, Kiki could smell cooked food which meant that the noon meal was about to be served. It would lack the formality of Sunday nights, but in many respects was far more enjoyable.
Ritchie was seated at the table with his team as they ate lunch. Last week and this week, the cooks had gone all out on Sunday. That suggested that they must do this every week, which was a joyful development for as long as they were here. Parker was sitting glumly at the head of the table, having realized that he had made a complete ass of himself in front of the Princess hadn’t sat well with him. Or was it because Kristina simply hadn’t cared? Ritchie thought that it was sort of odd, back home Parker was a Manhattan Blue Blood with old money. Here in Germany in the presence of the likes of Kristina, Parker was viewed as being at about the same level as Ritchie. Oddly, no one here cared about Ritchie’s Mexican background like they did back home. The German soldiers had asked him a few times if he was a Spaniard and Ritchie hadn’t understood the significance of that. It had turned out that years earlier Spanish volunteers had fought in the Soviet War and made quite a reputation for themselves, one that Ritchie was benefiting from.
“Check that out” Huck said looking over Ritchie’s shoulder.
Ritchie turned and saw Kristina chatting with another woman, same dark blue uniform tunic but different. While he was unable read someone’s service history by looking at the ribbon bar here like he could back in the States, this woman was a Light Colonel and a Pilot.
“The problem with being in the minors is that you can always see that the majors exist” Mullens said.
“Why is always about Baseball with you?” Huck demanded.
Which resulted in an argument about Baseball metaphors, leading Kravitz and Mullens to get into the Yankees vs. Red Socks fight that they had been having for years.
Once again, Zella found herself rushed back to Berlin and was in the Television studios of FBB the Berlin-Brandenburg affiliate of ARD. The videos of the clash that she and Yuri had recorded had prompted the rush back to Berlin. Not only had she managed to catch the flotilla in action, she had caught a ship being sunk by two rockets fired from a ship of the British Royal Navy as well. A first apparently. Yuri had filmed the rescue operation as sailors from the Komet were hauled aboard as their boat sank. Her supervisor had told her that she needed to take a well-deserved vacation and to do it some place where nothing was likely to happen, but after the events of the last couple months he wasn’t sure where that would be.
Zella took her seat in the chair opposite the anchor, trying to ignore the makeup caked onto her face and heard herself get introduced. ARD’s Action Reporter Marcella von Holz, she liked the sound of that.