Chapter One Thousand Nine Hundred Ninety-Six
28th June 1970
Pacoima, Los Angeles, California
The reception was drawing to a close as the night wore on. The crowd had thinned a bit, so Ritchie and Lucia had already spent some time saying goodbyes to their guests before they left for the night. The band had resorted to playing requests as there were still several couples interested in dancing. Mostly, everyone was at their table having seconds of cake or they were standing in knots talking.
“I think that we got out at the right time” Parker said, “Some of the things I’ve been hearing through the grapevine about what the CIA has been up to have been questionable.”
They were standing at the open bar waiting for drinks, the music from the band made eavesdropping difficult. That was probably why Parker approached him here.
“How certain are you about your source?” Ritchie asked.
Parker just shrugged, which was typical for him.
This was the first time that Ritchie had seen Parker since he had left the Special Forces to go work for MGM over in England more than a year earlier. They had not had a chance to talk before now because Parker and Sigi had only flown in the night before. They had been traveling around Europe after the filming of the latest James Bond film had wrapped up. When would have Parker had time to talk to his source? Ritchie didn’t know.
“I don’t know if you heard, but the Government of Chile has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Some in the CIA are thinking it would be worth it to give them a push” Parker replied, “There is also talk that the Germans have been moving assets into Southern Cone in case someone down there does something stupid.”
Ritchie looked across the hall at Kiki who was talking with his mother and Lucia. He still couldn’t believe that they had invited Kiki, or that she had decided to come. If what Parker was saying was true, that complicated things. Though Ritchie wasn’t sure how that affected him even if he had a couple German Officers at his wedding. He was no longer in the Special Forces, the National Guard Division he was a part of seemed mostly concerned with what was happening along the West Coast from Oregon all the way to the border with Mexico. He had heard that unofficially the Division kept a close eye on what was happening in Baja as well, it would be foolish for them not to. How events on the very southern end of South America might come into play here he couldn’t begin to guess.
“It was because of that Ecuadorian thing, isn’t it?” Ritchie asked, “Why the Chilian Government is teetering?”
“The undeclared war in Ecuador was a proxy war between Chile and Argentina” Parker said, “In turn, Argentina has been closely allied with Germany for years. Since that failed coup there that the German Navy helped them squash.”
That was one of those stories that was hard to ignore. A Battleship firing into a city with its main battery was one of those things that got people’s attention, even twenty years later. Only the Germans would be crazy enough to pull a stunt like that.
For Kiki, the wedding was a bit of a tightrope to walk. If she had dressed too nicely, she would upstage Lucia. On the other hand, if she wore clothes were seen as being cheap or tawdry it would be seen as an insult. Luckily for her, the nature of the wedding had enabled her to sidestep that. Ritchie was Noncommissioned Officer in what Kiki realized was something like the Landwehr Divisions back home as well as being in the Los Angeles Police. So many of the guests were wearing the dress uniforms of the US Army and the LAPD. That was why Kiki had worn her Medical Service dress uniform whose grey-blue fabric didn’t look particularly good on anyone, the Medals and Orders she wore with it though, those changed everything.
“What are you going to do with the rest of your week?” Concha asked, “While you are in LA?”
“The holiday is over after this I am afraid” Kiki replied, “Tomorrow, I am supposed to be at the Medical Center at UCLA giving a lecture about my role in the Medical Service. Then there is the rest of the week, I have some time at a free clinic in the City Center lined up as well as a few meetings which I would prefer not to do but are a necessary evil.”
“Because you are a Princess?” Lucia asked.
“No” Kiki replied, “As a Field Surgeon. I would have declined if they were asking me solely because of my family connections.”
“You don’t like using family connections that way?” Concha asked, “If I was in your shoes, I’d use them in every way I could.”
Kiki paused. How did she explain this in a way that Concha might understand? It seemed that in Concha’s thinking, using family connections to advance yourself was something that you did if you were smart, and Kiki understood that she didn’t really understand Kiki’s stubbornness.
“When I was a little girl, my father’s Retainer, Katherine told me that unless I earned my own place in the world, I would always be beholden to my father and oldest brother” Kiki said, “I have always wanted to be a Doctor, so I joined the Medical Service as soon as was old enough.”
“This Katrina sounds like a smart lady” Lucia said, “But what do you mean by retainer?”
“Kat is sort of the Royal Assassin, or at least she was” Kiki replied.
“You still have those over there?” Concha asked with a bit of disbelief.