Chapter Two Thousand Eleven
4th August 1970
Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport
It was to Suse and Jo’s surprise that Kat was there to see them off and knew exactly what was going on. They had thought that they had made the arrangements on the sly. Sure, Kat had some idea of what Jo was up to, but Suse had not mentioned that she was planning on accompanying her.
Jo had her teaching assignment, but Suse’s reasoning was a bit different. The project she had worked on the prior year, the radical redesign of the turret on the Panzer VIII “Leopard” had been adopted by ĈKD for the Bohemian Army. The process of retrofitting the new turret onto the existing hulls had begun months earlier. Rheinmetall had been forced to follow suit, curiously driven by the Navy. It seemed that the Marine Infantry had decided to replace their antiquated Luftpanzers with what had been dubbed the Leopard II. They had a great deal of experience with autoloaders and the reduction of manpower required appealed to the Marines for that exact reason. The Heer had adopted the new turret and high-velocity gun, but they were not thrilled about the process in which it had happened. The Reichstag was unhappy about the expense and money was getting shifted around from other necessary projects to pay for this. Which meant that there were a lot of pet projects that had unexpectedly gotten short shrift. Suse’s father had decided that her leaving the country for awhile might be good thing as there had been threats against the design team that she was the public face of.
So, this wasn’t exactly a holiday.
Berlin Technical University had wished Suse luck and said that she would be welcome to return when she made it back in a manner that she had found extremely patronizing. What was particularly galling was that she had done exactly what they had wanted her to do. Pushing aside her annoyance, Suse had decided to go with Jo because it sounded like a real adventure. Besides that, no one knew more about the inner workings of Panzers than she did. Opportunities might present themselves.
Then Suse found out that Kat’s niece, Manny’s little sister, Ina von Mischner would be joining them, like it or not. And Kat’s reasons for being so agreeable came into focus. As much as her mother’s flighty nature bothered her at times, at least it was never wheels within wheels like it was with Kat.
Overnight things had changed.
The casual call for volunteers had changed when orders arrived for the entire 34th Medical Services Regiment to prepare for movement immediately. Kiki found herself having to answer questions from her subordinates that she did not have ready answers for, that is beyond the obvious. Didn’t they watch the news? All roads seemed to lead to Argentina.
The worst part was that many of them were professionals, Physicians with various specialties. Most of whom were not thrilled with the prospect of leaving their practices for an open-ended commitment. The Nurses and Orderlies who were reservists were a bit more down to earth, mostly concerned for what would happen to their families in their absence. Kiki had to answer questions from all of them because part of her job was to handle matters like this so the Oberst who commanded the Regiment wouldn’t be bothered. Lieutenant Juta Balodis had been appointed Kiki’s aide and she was a godsend as Kiki felt like she was juggling a thousand balls with everything that was going on.
On top of this, Kiki had her absurd personal life to contend with. When she had been in the Doctor’s office the day before, they had discovered that the copper-silver alloy ring IUD that she had been told was reaching its expiration date had gone missing sometime over the last year. Kiki had been told that this happened, occasionally the body expelled them. She had instantly understood that for at least the last few months her and Ben had unknowingly been playing with fire. The nerve-wracking pregnancy test that had followed had been negative, much to her profound relief. Kiki had known for years that she didn’t have it in her to be a mother and nothing that had happened had changed her mind in that regard.
Kiki had tried to get an appointment to have a new IUD installed but the orders had arrived which complicated things. Doctor Berg had told her in a brief phone conversation that it was a simple matter of not fucking anyone in Argentina and telling Benjamin to keep his hands to himself in the meantime. That was sort of covered by the “Love, Honor, and Respect, to be faithful” clause of their wedding vows that Berg had been present for. Kiki had told her former mentor that wedding vows were not a contract and Berg had laughed. Berg had then told her that it was actually the oldest sort of contract, two people promising to spend their lives together and not fuck around. It was also one of the hardest ones for people to keep to.
Feeling a bit put out by that, Kiki had asked Berg what the Hell she would know. It was not as if she could get married. Berg’s reply was that she had seen the results of infidelity throughout her long career. Berg also that she knew a lot of women who had been married for years and had come to envy her lifestyle. Not every man was as accepting of his wife having a career as Ben seemed to be and Kiki outranking him was exactly the sort of thing that resulted in violence in some households. She was lucky in many regards. It was a perspective that Kiki had not considered until Berg had pointed it out to her.