Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 130, Chapter 2221
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Twenty-One



9th June 1973

Plänterwald, Berlin

Kiki had worked overnight at the Hospital and now that she was home, she was finding sleep elusive though she was exhausted. Her mind kept running about everything that was happening. There was all so much, both good and bad. She had been waking up after periods of sleep and this time of the year it was always sunny, so it was difficult to tell how long she had been asleep.

News had come that there had been a coordinated attack on the ship that her younger brother commanded off the coast of Africa. He was unhurt, but there were rumors coming back that Louis Ferdinand Junior himself had played a greater role in thwarting the attack then he otherwise should have. That was a reminder of how it seemed like everyone in her family was completely insane. Every single day, Kiki found herself in the hospital or out in the field trying to save the lives of those who thought that they could beat the odds and had miscalculated. A few days earlier there had been a motorcyclist who had managed to crush the entire left side of his body. While Kiki had worked to stabilize him for transport, she kept having the intrusive thought that this could be Lou, Zella, or someone else she loved who liked motorcycles. How long could they keep beating the odds like they had been for years? A reporter had recently asked Kiki what she had to say about those who felt she was inordinately lucky. She had said nothing, if someone thought that she had been lucky over the last few years then they probably were either totally uninformed or else completely insane.

At home, Kiki had been dealing with Nina who had not taken to the puppies leaving to go to their new homes well. They had become dear friends to her. When Kiki and Bianka had found themselves interviewing perspective buyers, the question of how the pups behaved around children had often come up. A photograph that had been taken of Nina in the corner of common room of the Kiki’s cottage with eight whippet puppies sleeping on her had instantly put those questions to rest. Kiki had spoken with Ben, and they thought it was time to think about finding Nina human companions her own age. The last thing on earth that Kiki wanted was for Nina to have a lonely childhood.

Pushing the covers off, Kiki got up and threw open her bedroom door. One of three bedrooms on the upstairs portion of the cottage, Kiki’s father had intended this place to be a bomb shelter of sorts, somewhere that she could go when the world got too much for her. Ironically, it had become the place where Kiki’s life tended to happen. The two extra bedrooms were intended for when she was entertaining, at least that had been what she had been told at the time. It was the sort of thing that made her wonder exactly what people expected from her. Now one of the bedrooms was Nina’s and the other was set up as a seldom used home office with both Kiki and Ben preferring to work downstairs if they were home. Fianna had said that if they were in Ireland that would be the boy’s room once in an unguarded moment and that had caused Kiki to stop everything for a moment as it had felt like her head had filled with static. Her ending up with a second child while the first was still a toddler was unthinkable. That had prompted Kiki to make sure that couldn’t happen with an appointment to Doctor Berg who had listened to her with a bemused look on her face. Now it was months later, and Berg had retired so Kiki had one less person nearby to lean on during one of her more difficult days.

Descending the stairs, Kiki saw that Zella was chatting amicably with Fianna in English. Nina was scribbling on a sheet of paper with a purple crayon. Zella was wearing her full rocker getup, leather jacket, blue jeans, and those absurd cowboy boots. That usually meant that she was riding her motorcycle. Kiki was a bit surprised that she had not heard her come in, that heavily modified BMW K3 Café Racer of hers was anything but quiet. There was also an odd effect that Zella had. Like muscle memory from decades earlier. Zella spoke English with what Kiki had realized was an Australian accent.

“Hey sleepyhead” Zella said, “About time you joined us.”

Nina being a small child, only existed in that very instant. She dropped her crayon and completely forgot the paper she had been scribbling on. “Momma!” She yelled with a wide smile.

“You slept through lunch again” Fianna said as Kiki picked Nina up out the highchair which she had been contained in. She was getting noticeably heavier. Nadine had told her that Ben had been the same way he would gain weight and then would suddenly be centimeters taller. It was nice that her mother-in-law had been putting in the effort to get along with Kiki lately. Of course, with Ben putting in the hours at the University to get Habilitation she didn’t have a whole lot to be unhappy with Kiki about. She had her son securing his future and a beautiful granddaughter, her son’s wife having a somewhat questionable character from her perspective was of considerably less importance.

“I haven’t been hungry” Kiki replied.

“Nonsense” Fianna said as she sat a bowl of soup down on the table. “I’ll take Nina while you eat and catch up with your friend.”

With that Fianna took Nina from Kiki and she found herself staring at the soup, it smelled of potatoes, onions, and pepper. Kiki heard her stomach growl and realized that she was in fact hungry. All she needed was for Berg to catch wind that she wasn’t taking care of herself again. Now that she was retired, getting after Kiki might just be a full-time job that she would be happy to do.
 
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Another great 'slice of life' episode. This is the stuff Kiki will remember of life at home with friends and family (real and adopted) - much more than she might ever have thought possible at another time. Also, a bit of time travel involved if she's slipped back to 1970 from 1973. Is this all a dream? Is anything real?
 
If Kiki wants Nina to be more socialized she should do what Jackie Kennedy did IOTL with Caroline, she had a daycare/preschool at the White House and Kiki should do the same at the new palace.
The children could come from a cross section of people that Kiki interacts with.
Some could come from people she works with at the hospital, some children have parents who are in the Diplomatic Corps and government.
The younger children of Freddy and Suga could be part of the older children group and for part time help they could get someone with a very active sense of imagination and play.
 
Part 130, Chapter 2222
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Twenty-Two



15th June 1973

Gibraltar

Standing on the bridge of the Grindwal, Louis Ferdinand Junior paced to relieve his impatience at being in this British port oddly placed at the southern end of Spain. He wanted to be gone from this place and back to somewhere friendlier.

With the mission complete there was little more to do than to just head back to civilization. The French and Spanish were up to their eyeballs in what had become a colossal mess and they didn’t want anyone else meddling in what they saw as being in their respective spheres of interest. You came in, collected your people, now get the Hell out. In school, Louis had learned about how the British and French had seen the permanent removal of Germany from Africa at the end of the First World War as one of the positives of the inconclusive ending of that conflict. He was starting to see why many in the Foreign Service now regarded the loss of those colonies as a blessing.

A ship like the Grindwal had major issues due to how advanced her systems were after several months’ worth of wear and tear. The nearest port that would meet her needs happened to be run by the British. While the High Command had told Louis to do what he needed in order to get the ship back into service quickly, the BND and their counterparts in Naval Intelligence were far less sanguine about the matter. While the gas turbine powerplants held few secrets for the British, they were basically modified versions of the Daimler-Benz engines found on airliners, the various electric systems were a different story. When it came to the computers, ASW, radar, and fire control systems, it was believed that they had a lead on the British that they wanted to maintain.

That was why Louis had ordered the Command-and-Control Room sealed and armed guards posted at the entrance at all times. He wasn’t stupid though. The British were not about to board the Grindwal, not when a few liters of cheap alcohol and a tape recorder in a bar that the British Navy controlled could just as thoroughly compromise the ship’s security with far less risk. That the crew was unhappy about the measures that Louis was taking to prevent that from happening was beside the point. They were here to refuel, make necessary repairs and then put to sea again, this was not a liberty port. The presence of tanker lories delivering aviation kerosine as opposed to the usual bunker fuel/oil alone was enough to let everyone here know that the Grindwal was not an ordinary ship.

Borchardt was bemused by the grumbling of the crew. They knew who was in charge on this ship, especially after what had happened off the Western Sahara. “The crew like having a fighting Captain, especially one who can use every weapon on this tub” Borchardt said, “They know better than to complain too much.”

Louis just wished that he had the luxury of the simplistic way that Borchardt could see the world. He had needed to do a considerable amount of paperwork describing just what had happened. He had fired on a civilian vessel, and it was his neck on the line if he couldn’t justify it. The Fleet prided itself on how egalitarian it was when it came to matters of Law. An Imperial Prince was hung from the yardarm just as easily as a Matrose once the matter was properly adjudicated, to use terms from the days when ships used sails. It might seem ironic to the peace campaigners out there, but the deaths of noncombatants happened to be something that couldn’t be ignored.

Into this, Louis saw two men, one wearing the summer uniform of a Konteradmiral and the other wearing a black wool suit in defiance of the climate, getting out of a car on the pier. The sentries standing guard at the gangplank snapped to attention as they made their way aboard. Louis knew exactly who they were long before they found their way to the bridge.

“Captain” The Admiral said shaking Louis’ hand as soon as he came aboard. “Allow me to introduce myself, I am Admiral Salz.”

“Sir” Louis said warily. He was all too aware of how men who were smarter than he was had ended their careers by saying the wrong thing in situations like this.

“My companion here, Herr Blau, decided that you needed to be debriefed as soon as you get back to Kiel” Salz said with a smile. “We are here to go over what you are going to tell them when you get there.”

Louis knew who these two men were. Herr Blau had long been the alias of the Deputy Director of the BND who dealt with Naval affairs and Salz was the alias of the Commander of Naval Intelligence. Blue and Salt. They couldn’t have made it more obvious, but those names were things that came with the Appointments they held.

“You are saying that a conclusion has already been reached, before the Board of Inquiry meets?” Louis asked, “Is this because of who I am.”

“Hardly” Blau said, the tone he used suggested that he was a harsh man. “The problem is that the Board might delve into areas that are not for public consumption.”

“Not yet anyway” Salz said, “Ordinary people like to go about their lives with as little interference as possible, this matter is a minor piece of a larger picture that has the power to inconvenience everyone.”

This was not what Louis had been expecting.
 
A good documentary subject for Zella would be the European version of the 1971 motorcycle racing documentary "On Any Sunday" financed by Steve McQueen on the different types of motorcycle racing and their riders.
Another good subject for Zella would if Kiki goes through with her trip to Russia is the reaction of Yuri the child of Russian POWs who couldn't go back to see how things are in Russia.

For LF Jr. the Navy is going to make a public show of having an open and thorough no holds bared inquiry in which the actions of LF Jr. are held to the highest standards.
Of course LF Jr. will be found to to acted in the best traditions of the highest order of the Navy.
Then he gets to do it all over again in front of a Reichstag committee.
 
A good documentary subject for Zella would be the European version of the 1971 motorcycle racing documentary "On Any Sunday" financed by Steve McQueen on the different types of motorcycle racing and their riders.
Another good subject for Zella would if Kiki goes through with her trip to Russia is the reaction of Yuri the child of Russian POWs who couldn't go back to see how things are in Russia.

For LF Jr. the Navy is going to make a public show of having an open and thorough no holds bared inquiry in which the actions of LF Jr. are held to the highest standards.
Of course LF Jr. will be found to to acted in the best traditions of the highest order of the Navy.
Then he gets to do it all over again in front of a Reichstag committee.
And then again in front of the highest officer in the land, (because Freddie would love that).
 
„The answer to that question might unsettle the public“. Famous answer of the German secretary of the interior OTL when he was asked about why exactly(!) a football game had to be canceled.

AFAIK the first suicide bombers with a ship were in the 90s OTL and the inadequate answer to that was one of the things that made 911 possible. ITTL Germany has all the reasons to be very thorough when it comes to fighting terrorists.
 
Part 130, Chapter 2223
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Twenty-Three



21st June 1973

Operations Command of the Armed Forces, Near Potsdam, Germany

It was with great annoyance that Malcolm put aside the book he had been reading, a biography of Ernest Shackleton that had been published a year earlier. Everyone assumed that he was reading it and rereading it, but the truth was that he was slowly, painstakingly reading each page, so he didn’t miss anything as he tended to do if he attempted to read too fast. It was the best he could do considering his circumstances, living in a world that didn’t seem to have a great need of explorers, not anymore. One of the computers was acting up again and Malcolm started hitting it on spot marked on the side in permanent marker until it stopped making weird noises. It was hard not to be annoyed with what his life had come to.

Cartographers and navigators had strived for centuries to map the world until there were few corners of the globe that were uncharted. Malcolm remembered school trips to a museum every year where there was an old map that was from the days when such a drawing would involve the imagination of the artist just as much as any actual cartography. Jerusalem was at the center of the world, with the Mediterranean Sea and Europe oddly shaped. Germany had been on the edge of what had been labeled Terra Incognita. There were drawings animals that were equal parts mythology and reality, with unicorns, dragons, and griffins living alongside lions, giraffes, and elephants. Malcolm’s teacher at time had pointed out to him that the artist had no way of knowing if any of those creatures were real or not. At that moment, Malcolm had envied the time in which the artist had lived. A big open world that no one even knew the shape of, which had a lot of “Terra Incognita” to venture off into.

That didn’t mean that Malcolm hadn’t tried. This was despite him being drawn into Computer Science, which was exactly the opposite of what he wanted to be doing. Ultimately it had been watching the Space Program unfolding on television had proven to be his undoing. He had seen that actual exploration was going on and wanted in on it. It was only later in retrospect that he had realized just how stupid that he had been. The Luftwaffe Reserves which were the mainstay of the Berlin’s Air Defense were always happy to tell someone like Malcolm exactly what he wanted to hear. It was only upon reading the fine print that one might learn that they were not bound by any promises that they might make to a perspective sucker/recruit. This had come at a particularly low point for Malcolm, his girlfriend Cora had grown increasingly fed up with what she saw as his lack of ambition.

Things had gotten totally unraveled after he had stupidly put his name down on the dotted line. The Luftwaffe didn’t have a pressing need for pilots, so they only accepted the best recruits for flight training. Malcolm’s Superiors somehow learned of his dyslexia though he had not breathed a word about it and that was a deal breaker as far as pilot training was concerned. They were more than happy to point him towards other rewarding career paths though, because of course they were. The most galling part was that Cora had dumped him shortly after that anyway.

Now, months later, Malcolm was a Fähnrich theoretically in charge of an Intelligence and Analysis section within the Operations Command Center on the outskirts of Potsdam. It sounded interesting, but what it involved was keeping the half dozen Radio Technicians who monitored observation satellites on task. His assistant, Oberfunker Micha Oberst, better known as Rook, had a reputation for using the satellites in ways that no one had ever intended, which couldn’t exactly be called innovative either.

The first night that Malcolm had been in the bunker, he had caught Rook and Stitch ogling a woman in a swimsuit laying on an isolated beach halfway around the world. He had failed to see what the big deal was. Rook had told him that in America the people were a bunch of prudes who frowned on nudity. In the months since, the two sharp-eyed Technicians had proven that they had memorized the locations of certain beaches on the California coast and rivers where they were most likely to get an eyeful. The two of them saw the bodies of American women as some sort of forbidden fruit and Malcolm wished that they would stop it before they got caught. This was exactly the sort of thing that everyone throughout all the shifts in the bunker and beyond would be snickering about for weeks.

Of course, Malcolm had a way out if the boredom and inactivity got too much for him. The Fallschirmjäger were always looking for warm bodies with University educations who were interested in becoming Platoon Leaders. The thing was that Malcolm had a better understanding than most of what that would involve. It was basically suicide, not just because jumping out of airplanes was inherently dangerous, but because his mother would kill him if he did that. Especially after what Tatiana had been up to over the last years. She apparently liked the idea that he was cooling his heels in a bunker five stories underground as a Reserve Officer babysitting six adult sized children.

Sitting back in his chair, he resumed reading his book. Even as he did that, he noticed that Stitch kept glancing his direction. He knew that meant that Rook and Stitch were up to something that they didn’t want Malcolm to know about. Normally that made this no different than any other day, but Malcolm was not in the mood to deal whatever trouble those two were cooking up.
 
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Makes you wonder what exactly two pranksters with worldwide comminication coverage could get up to, or?
Look, we caught the first lady sunbathing in a balcony... or something like that would just be the start of it.
BTW, seeing the dress state of people from orbit that are some impressive cameras.
 
It looks like Rook and friends have the satellites cameras trained on Black's Beach in La Jolla instead the carriers at NAS North Island, or the submarine base at Pt. Loma, or the 32nd St. Naval Base, or NAS Miramar, or the NucWeps HQ at Coronado, or the SEAL base next to it, or the General Dynamics Convair plant in Kearney Mesa, or maybe further north at Camp Pendleton, or MCAS El Toro, or...
 
One of the ongoing problems of intelligence gathering: if you act on what you know, then others find out your capabilities. I can see where the snooping that Rook and Stitch like to do leads to a situation where they should but can`t act on what they see.
 
BTW, seeing the dress state of people from orbit that are some impressive cameras.
In OTL there is a famous case where the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office was able to determine the time of day a photograph was taken by reading the watch on the wrist of a Soviet Officer in 1959-60. So, the voyeuristic antics of two bored Techs is well within the capabilities in TTL.
 
This Chapter sounds like the start of a new Storyline?
It certainly does. I'm looking forward to it, especially since we haven't really been exposed a lot to Kat's children.

On that note, I'm still not sure who the next main character is going to be. Or if PBM is going to keep spreading it around a bit. Creating multiple main characters. It's been the trend so far. Starting with Emil, then Kat with very minor main characters in Helene & Gerta. Then Kiki with a bit larger minor main character in Zella. Now it looks to be Sophie, with more minor(but still larger than Zella) main characters.

In the end it doesn't really matter too much to me. I just love the story. I look forward to a new chapter every day, and most of the characters feel like distant family/friends. So as always, keep it up PBM! Looking forward to more!
 
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