Chapter Two Thousand Twenty-Two
27th September 1970
A journalist had come across the story about how a revolution in computer design had quietly occurred in the warehouse district of Kiel. Sigmund Kappel had remained in Kiel as the head of Naval Research AG working on dedicated computer systems for not just the KM’s Surface and Aviation Branches, but the rest of the Military as well as the European Space Agency. The detail that he had been working in close partnership with company that found civil applications for their products which was headed by a former Film Actress was a wrinkle that the press was astonished they had never run across before. Wendell Bratfisch was the President of the Berlin Technical University. Konteradmiral Albrecht Prinz von Richthofen had been there at the beginning but had soon departed and had gone on to play a different role in history as the first man in orbit. Presently, Albrecht was on leave to spend time with his wife and infant daughter as he waited for his next assignment.
Sigmund had looked at the whole thing with wry amusement. He had never liked the newspapers and felt they got many things wrong with little effort made to correct their errors. The fact that television and radio newscasts followed along slavishly to whatever had been printed in the last edition before broadcast just proved his point. Strangely, the paper that had run the story about the early days of Naval Research seemed to have gotten most of the details correct. Right next to that was a story about the make up of the Imperial Council that was about to have its first meeting in Berlin annoyed Sigmund. An elected Monarch? What a farce that was.
“Rauchbier is not a great conversationalist” Ben said.
“Are you joking?” Kiki replied, “He is great at listening.”
“Sure, but his replies leave a lot to be desired.”
“I’m glad that you have been talking to him every day” Kiki said, “You know how lonely he gets.”
“Between me and your little sisters he seldom is alone” Ben said, “I sometimes think he might enjoy a bit of quiet.”
“Glad to hear that” Kiki replied.
This was the first time that they had had a chance to talk since Kiki had left for Argentina through the miracle of satellite communications. This had not been something that Ben had planned on doing today. He received a call from his father-in-law asking if he would like to do this? As if Louis didn’t already know the answer. A couple hours later, Ben was talking to Kiki in what was admittedly a waste of Military resources, but he didn’t care. He had been told by a teenager who had been introduced to him as Funker Oberst that they would only have a few minutes, so Ben wanted to make the most of them.
“Please tell me you are taking care of yourself” Ben said, “I know how you get while you are in the field.”
“It’s sort of hard not to with a Surgical Regiment’s personnel with seemingly nothing better to do than mind my health” Kiki said with a bit of annoyance. “It seems like there is little I can do without them trying to find a diagnosis. From brushing my teeth to having breakfast disagree with me like it does for everyone else.”
“Army food still is that terrible?” Ben asked.
“Worse” Kiki replied, “At least in Korea we got a bit of variation because the Koreans like to spice things up. You don’t get that in this corner of Argentina, at least not in the wintertime. Here if powdered eggs, oatmeal, and canned sausage aren’t your thing, there is mutton. Lots and lots of mutton.”
Something about the way Kiki suggested food was a sore subject for her at the moment. He knew what it was like in the field. As a pilot, he had been far in the rear and had gotten the best of things because of that. Still when they weren’t flying, the monotony and boredom had gotten to even those in the SKG 18. When every single day played out like the one before, food became a particular form of torture.
“I’ve been spending as much time as I can out in the sheep stations and villages. I have been encouraging others to do the same well” Kiki said, “This waiting around for something to happen is a big part of why they are all in each other’s business, and mine.”
“The 18th is taking delivery new planes…” Ben started to say only to get cut off by Kiki.
“Ben, please” Kiki said, “Knowing you are far out of the way of this mess is one of the few things keeping me from going insane. So, don’t do anything stupid.”
Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, California
“Is that a joke?” Bobby asked in disbelief.
“Its true” Wilkinson said, “If the neighbors call the cops on us, dispatch knows that address and would call your brother to find out what’s going on. Of course, if he tried to bullshit them the Watch Commander would find out and he would land of Ritchie like a ton of bricks.”
“And if someone from this address called?” Bobby asked.
“Half the Central Bureau would roll up in about five minutes” Wilkinson replied.
“Shit” Bobby muttered.
“There are advantages of being inside the system” Wilkinson said, “I know that you and Ritchie were on the receiving end of the worst aspects of being on the outside, isn’t that why he joined the Army?”
That much was true, but it wasn’t something Bobby liked to talk about. Standing in Ritchie’s new house as they were assembling a table so that they would have some place to eat dinner tonight, which was apparently going to be pizza as soon as they nailed down who wanted what as toppings. Ritchie was puzzling over the instructions with Walt, one of the Davis brothers who had come from their home in South Pasadena to help out. The three of them had shown up that morning to house that belonged to Bobby and Ritchie’s in a battered old pickup truck to help with the move. The crowd who had come to the housewarming and setup was certainly eclectic.