Chapter Two Thousand Ninety-Eight
14th October 1971
Near Curicó, Maule, Chile
It was a strange thing that the Brass had asked Hauptmann Adam “Spark” Graner for. As the Squadron was conducting the latest mission, the bombing of a bridge over the Tinguiririca River near San Fernando. On the way out he was to jettison a drop tank that had been provided to him by the BND at a location that would be marked by a satellite navigation point that would only be up for a few minutes. It was strange to be selected to be a part of this sort of cloak and dagger nonsense, but he was willing to roll with it because it would be one more interesting story to tell when he finally got rotated back to Berlin in only a few days more days.
The drop tank itself looked normal enough. A streamlined cylinder that was fin stabilized, made of nonstrategic materials, mostly fiberglass, and painted grey. After a year of war, it was said that the countryside was littered with the damned things. This one was somehow special though. As it was attached to the belly hardpoint of Spark’s Orkan and filled, the mechanics noticed that it held slightly less fuel than normal. Spark told them not to worry about it, the entire time though he had the intrusive thought running through his mind that the spooks had put God only knows what in there and it might come as a total surprise to him if it went boom unexpectedly.
After the usual wild ride through the Andes mountains, Spark led a flight of four planes through the valleys and dropped their bombs at the selected target. Maintaining speed, he watched as the kilometers ticked down and they released the drop tank the same way they would a bomb run before turning back to Córdoba.
The smell of aviation kerosene was giving Christian a headache as he and Ralf helped Manny cut open the drop tank. The day before when Manny had mentioned calling an audible, he’d had no what that meant. Apparently, the original plan to pop a Chilean General who had become an obstacle to peace and lethal threat to President Allende once the shooting stopped with a single long distance rifle shot was out. Manny figured that the presence of the troops from the 3rd Mountain was a part of the plan that Allende had not told their side about, the bit where he parades their well-ventilated corpses to the press and public as justice for the death of his dear old fiend Augusto at the hands of the dastardly Germans. Afterwards, he would quietly make sure that General Pinochet took the vast majority of the blame for how the conflict had turned sour for them over the last few months.
Manny had decided that they needed a different plan and that involved this drop tank that the Luftwaffe had decided it didn’t need anymore. Eventually, Manny pulled a package out of the tank and had a smile on his face as he as he put it under his arm. “I can’t believe that this worked” He said.
“What is that?” Christian asked.
“Later” Manny replied as he started walking back towards where Einar was watching the nearby road.
Classes that revolved around etiquette were the absolute worst. This went way beyond minding your manners, it was more like a lifestyle choice, and it was a choice that Marie Alexandra wouldn’t have never made for herself. The instructor had asked a question about an awkward social situation, one that she didn’t care to answer.
“I don’t know” Marie replied.
“Surely you have a better answer than that?” The middle-aged woman who was the instructor for class and was conducting today’s lecture asked.
“She deserves to get punched in the face” Marie said, “Happy?”
That earned Marie a sour look, she had been getting a lot of those over the last month and figured that she would continue to get them until she left for the Christmas Holiday. The trouble was that she would only have served half her sentence at that point and would have to come back. The other girls in the class tittered like they always did whenever Marie said something they thought was outrageous. It proved what they knew. The girls who made up the mostly Anglo-French class wouldn’t last five minutes outside the carefully controlled environment they lived in, the term hothouse flowers came instantly to mind.
“A Lady does not settle a minor dispute that way, Alexandra” The instructor said flatly.
That much was correct, Marie thought to herself, normally there was a lot screaming involved, along with scratching, kicking, and even biting.
“While Fraulein Blackwood seems intent on entertaining us with her witticisms just remember that it is all for show” The instructor said to the class, “She is a long way from home, and it is understandable that she might be defensive.”
Speaking of people who deserved to be punched in the face. Marie thought to herself. The instructor had just shifted the entire context of her words, making her an object of pity. It was very noticeable that here she was Alexandra Blackwood. The school had omitted that she was the daughter of Katherine von Mischner, a woman ruling over a City-State Principality simply didn’t seem to enter their thinking and the forename of Marie was a childish affectation that she was being encouraged to put behind her.