Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

I'm tickled by the fact that the fearsome Red Baron has developed into everyone's favourite grandfather, whether related or not.

I'll bet his own kids watch him interacting with all these children and just shake their heads, remembering their own strict upbringing.
Part 131, Chapter 2230
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Thirty

25th July 1973

Near Bad Reichenhall

When Malcolm had been given a chance to leave the bunker on the outskirts of Potsdam for a few weeks, he had leapt for the opportunity. It was something that he had forgotten that he had even applied for, Arctic training in the Heer’s prestigious Alpine Training area and the chance to go to parts of the globe that he had only read about or seen in movies. He had only told his family a couple days before he had left. Of course, his parents had understood. They had been the ones who had bought all the books about arctic exploration when he had been a child and had needed the encouragement to not give up on reading after his early struggles. Tatiana, whose opinion mattered a great deal to Malcolm due to her being his twin sister had been completely unimpressed. They had once shared in everything, but adolescence had created a gulf between them that they had been unable to bridge in the years since. Marie Alexandra had seen the romantic angle and Angelica had a whole lot of questions. Sophie had been absent, having already departed for the Summer Holiday a couple days earlier.

Upon his arrival to the collection of buildings on top of a mountain high above the tree line, Malcolm knew that he was finally doing something closer to what he wanted to be doing with his life. There were no guarantees in this. If he managed to complete the course over the Summer, there was a chance that he could go to one of Polar regions if a slot opened that fit his skillset. He would need to suspend his studies at University if that happened and Malcolm suspected that he was the only one who had no objections to that. The Luftwaffe wanted him continuing with Computer Science and his mother preferred that he remain going to University regardless of his field of study.

The last few days, Malcolm had mostly spent most getting acclimated and reading the syllabus. Beyond basic survival there was a considerable amount of training that involved skills that the Heer might have otherwise lost as technology had grown in importance that was taught here. Using equipment that was largely obsolescent but worked far better in icy climates as opposed to more modern gear that would become inoperable if it froze was a major part of that. There was also Celestial Navigation, Malcolm was not aware if the Heer taught people how to use a sextant anywhere else.

Everyone assumed that he knew what was expected of him, which was a nice change. He had figured that he would stand out, seeing that he had Luftwaffe patches on his coat. To Malcolm’s surprise, he didn’t. There were people here from all the Service Branches and there was talk about a joint expedition with Denmark and Canada to Baffin Bay. The instant Malcolm heard that he realized that it had not been an accident that he had been recruited.

Malcolm had thought that he might be able to finagle a trip to Antarctica. That would have to wait. Greenland or the High Canadian Arctic were almost as good by his measure.

Bodega Bay, California

It had been Lucia who had pointed out that they had not gone on an actual vacation in ages. Between work, school, starting a family, there had always been too much going on for them to think about anything other than what was in front of them at right that second. Lucia had far more in mind than just vegetating on the couch for a week or so. She wanted out of Los Angeles for a couple weeks, someplace they had never been before.

Years earlier, John Cassey had told Ritchie about Bodega Bay, a small fishing village north of San Francisco as a place to go if the goal was to escape from the world. With Ritchie’s mother watching Steven while they were out of town; he and Lucia had bid the heat, smog and traffic of Los Angeles farewell and had flown far to the north, to Santa Rosa and then a swift drive to the coast in a rental car.

While Ritchie had no expectations as to what they would find when they arrived in Bodega Bay, it was difficult to believe that they were in the same State as Los Angeles in the middle of the summer. It was a rugged coastline with rocky beaches, cliffs and windswept hills that were shrouded in low clouds. Lucia loved it though and that was good enough him.

Exploring Bodega Bay’s waterfront, it was impossible not to notice thousands of gulls and the smell of fish. T-shirts, refrigerator magnets, smoked salmon, and saltwater taffy were on sale in the touristy shops. It was odd seeing places like that open next door to shops geared to sell equipment to the fishing fleet that was based here.

As they worked their way down the waterfront, Ritchie noticed a man giving him a hard stare.

“Can I help you?” Ritchie asked.

“You got some nerve” The man said, something about the way that he talked was familiar, but Ritchie couldn’t place where he may have known him from. “A Dodgers cap.”

Ritchie had worn his ballcap without any thought. He had heard stories about how this was Giants’ territory.

“You don’t remember me Valenzuela?” The man asked with a smile, “Do you?”

That was when the man got into a pickup truck. He was laughing as he closed the door, started up the engine and drove off. It was only then that Ritchie remembered he was someone who he had not thought about in years.

“Who was that?” Lucia asked.

“Before I got into the Green Beret, I was in the 82nd” Ritchie replied. “He was a Sergeant in my Platoon back then.”

“Small world, I guess” Lucia said.
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For Malcolm the High Arctic will be better than the Antarctic. He is more likely to be involved in a multinational exploration group, and with his Canadian connection, might even have some kind of leader role in the group.
With no NORAD or NATO ITTL there is no DEW line stretching from Alaska to Greenland so that means an important part the defense of IOTL United States is missing and makes the United States more vulnerable.
Ohh Noes! The USA is theoretically vulnerable to an unlikely attack from an enemy it does not have.
No threat of Soviet Bombers flying over the North Pole in TTL. If anything, the strategic aims of the US are pointed south and east with German involvement in Argentina and a heavy presence in the Mid-Atlantic.
Part 131, Chapter 2231
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Thirty-One

28th July 1973


“I knew that the whole thing was cooked when I found out that Admiral Hase was leading the Board of Inquiry” Louis Junior said to the Grindwal’s Officers. That led to a bit of snickering around the table of the ship’s small wardroom. The truth was that Louis had an idea of what the Board’s findings were going to be when he had been briefed by Blau and Salz. That was why Louis had busied himself reprovisioning and refurbishing the Grindwal.

As it stood, he was credited with acting in the finest traditions of the Imperial Navy. The press releases were vague about what exactly had happened with Naval Intelligence not wanting that to be public information. It seemed that they were trying to avoid there being a panic if people learned that there were religious fanatics out there who thought that they would be guaranteed a place in Heaven if they died taking out those who they deemed infidels. When considering the history of religion in Germany, it was hardly a surprise.

According to Naval Intelligence, this was the direct result of the latest Turkish War and what was seen as indifference by European powers as Albanians and Bosnians were being exterminated in the Balkans by the Greeks along with their Serbian allies. It didn’t seem to matter that it had been the Turks who had started the war and had left their own allies swinging in the wind at the end of that conflict. When Louis had asked what any of that had to do with a regional conflict in the Western Sahara, he had been told there were opportunists who were able to make local grievances part of a larger whole.

Logic need not apply.

Actually, this was something that Louis had heard discussed before when he had been attending the Naval Academy in a different context. The unification of the German Empire had occurred during the Franco-Prussian War, and it was widely believed that it had been motivated by a desire to shove a thumb into the eye of the French. His Professor had said that “Fuck those guys over there” was one of the most unifying forces in human history.

The key takeaway that Louis had gotten from the findings of the Board of Inquiry was that while they had stopped short of giving him a medal for what had happened, it was clear that all of them were in uncharted territory, and they were still trying to figure out how to react. Apparently, Intelligence was somewhat miffed that the fishing boat had been blown into matchsticks. That made getting anything of value from the wreck nearly impossible. Louis was left with a few questions of his own and doubted that even he could get any answers. Like how Naval Intelligence had known that it had not been the Grindwal specifically that had been targeted? They had also backed up Louis’ claim that the fishing boat had been loaded with explosives. If Louis didn’t know any better, he might suspect that Naval Intelligence had agents on the inside. He also might suspect that they were willing to let a ship of the High Seas Fleet be damaged or destroyed, risking the lives of the crew in order to preserve the operation. Louis just hoped that Naval Intelligence remembered that they worked for the Fleet, not the other way around.

River Oder near Lebus

The Motor Barge Epione was considered an Auxiliary Hospital Ship by the Navy, so she was considered “His Majesty’s Ship” as opposed to a mere motor barge of the sort that plied these same waters hauling passengers and all manner of cargo. Optimized for travel on rivers and canals, she was relatively slow, but excelled in carrying her passengers and crew in comfort. That was what Ben kept in mind as he dealt with his latest Aide who had discovered the hard way that Markgräfin Marcella von Holz, his wife’s closest friend and confidant excelled at being outrageous.

“I might have warned you Zella can be difficult if provoked” Ben said as Markus Schlosser removed the icepack from his left eye which was nearly swollen shut. He was going to be left with quite a black eye from this. He had been sent from the Luftwaffe Academy to learn from Ben, he was an academic who was studying Meteorology, so Ben was at something of a loss about what exactly he was supposed to be learning.

“The Lady said that it was an accident” Markus replied.

“Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn’t” Ben said. “With her you never can tell.”

Somehow, Markus had caught Zella’s elbow to the face when he had stepped a little too close for comfort in the tight confines of the passageway that ran from the bow to stern on the port side of the lower deck. Ben remembered the difficulties presented by Bram Erdmann, his former Aide, who had turned out to be a bit too ambitious for the role he found himself in. Markus was the exact opposite though. He didn’t strike Ben as being particularly ambitious, he had told Ben that he had gotten into Meteorology because he liked looking at clouds. He also had not spent much time around women, particularly one like Zella who seemed to embody the reasons why hurricanes were named after them.

“I would never accuse the Lady of lying” Markus said.

“And you would be wise not to” Ben replied, “I have a lot of experience with her including the time she drove a motorcycle over one of my feet.”

“My God” Markus said looking suitably horrified. “Why does the Princess keep her around?”

“In Zella’s defense I had inadvertently cornered her, and she reacts in terribly when she gets scared” Ben replied, “I also know for a fact that she would do anything for Kristina or Nina.”
The main nuclear threat that the United States faces ITTL is the potential of German Ballistic Missiles Submarines getting real close to American shores to deliver the proverbial "Head Shot" .
That is why ITTL the United States Navy is more concerned with ASW.
Did the USA still develop the color coded war plans? Assuming that the most serious threat is the powerful German Empire, who else is considered potential future threats? Russia, England and the Commonwealth, France and her colonies? Because of our actions in WWI, did we lose our special relationships with England and France or did we informally band together against German dominance?
Did the USA still develop the color coded war plans? Assuming that the most serious threat is the powerful German Empire, who else is considered potential future threats? Russia, England and the Commonwealth, France and her colonies? Because of our actions in WWI, did we lose our special relationships with England and France or did we informally band together against German dominance?
ITTL the French blame America for the way that WW1 ended more than the Germans, they thought that they were finally winning when the U.S. Government at the urging of Jack Pershing forced the peace. England has had a strained relationship with the U.S. since papers outlining War Plan Red were deliberately leaked to the British by Jacob Schmidt.
So Islamic Suicide Bombers appear a couple of decades early ITTL. That will make things interesting in the Middle East and North Africa.
Did the USA still develop the color coded war plans?
I suspect it's practically a hobby for some in the senior staff.
It won't be just the Americans that do it either. Everyone has plans to invade everyone else. Some are more realistic than others, some are in more detail than others.

Probably find there's a German plan to invade Russia that just says "put all men in circle facing in and order them to open fire. Nuke our own treasury. This is least costly and damaging plan".

I know they've invaded to an extent, but this is for a Barbarossa style invasion now against a fairly unified Russia not under Stalin.
I suspect it's practically a hobby for some in the senior staff.
It won't be just the Americans that do it either. Everyone has plans to invade everyone else. Some are more realistic than others, some are in more detail than others.

Probably find there's a German plan to invade Russia that just says "put all men in circle facing in and order them to open fire. Nuke our own treasury. This is least costly and damaging plan".

I know they've invaded to an extent, but this is for a Barbarossa style invasion now against a fairly unified Russia not under Stalin.
Germany’s war plan against Russia will be defence as far forward as possible in Poland to trade space for time, on prepared ground where Germany has spent decades developing, improving and upgrading the infrastructure since the time of Augustus Lang, back when Emil Holz was getting started in the Fallschirmjager and Peter Holz was newly-minted combat medic under the wing of Walter Horst.
Which is ridiculous since they almost certainly have similar plans against you.
Indeed, but that's how it goes.

It's like spying - on the one hand, it's something that gets treated with the utmost seriousness when it gets discovered, but on the other hand every country spies on each other, whether rivals or allies.
Part 131, Chapter 2232
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Thirty-Two

30th July 1973

Baltic Sea off Pomerania

After it had taken a couple days to get from Berlin to the sea, it finally felt like they were on their way to Russia. Even Zella had noticed that Kiki could barely hide her excitement. This was a trip that she had wanted to take for ages. That morning, she had made a point of piloting the Epione as they passed through the mouth of the Oder at Swinemünde.

Unfortunately, that was where there was a bit of difficulty because the Baltic wasn’t the natural home of the flatbottomed Epione, even in good weather and she was pressed back into the role of Ship’s Surgeon. Kiki immediately felt bad because those unaccustomed to the motion got seasick. She had made sure that there was plenty of dimenhydrinate in the ship’s stores having foreseen this eventually, but Yuri had an adverse reaction to it. So, he was in the cabin he was sharing with Zella feeling extremely ill. Kiki had told him that he would feel better a bit sooner if he was up on the fore or aft decks. He had declined, saying that he didn’t want the others to see him throwing up over the rail. That was a bit of an annoyance for Kiki, but this wasn’t the first time that she had seen pride get in the way of a patient’s recovery.

“For Yuri, this whole trip is filled with trepidation” Zella said as they were laying in the sun on the foredeck. Kiki joined her this time after several hours helming the Epione and then being a Physician, she felt that she deserved some time taking care of herself. Not before she found the zinc oxide cream, which was something else she had made a point to have on hand. It was part of an old argument that Kiki had been having with Zella for years. How it was fine to be out in the sun, but risking a sunburn was not. Zella joked about how Nina must spend the entire summer completely covered in the stuff. Kiki didn’t find that in the least bit funny because it wasn’t far from the truth.

“I would think that this trip would be important for him” Kiki said as she tried to reorient her thoughts toward the conversation.

“As you well know, he’s ethnic Russian” Zella replied, “His mother was one of those who found they couldn’t go home after the Soviet War.”

Kiki was aware that it was a bit more complicated than that. Yuri’s mother had been widely denounced, first by the State and then by her family when her name had appeared on a list of Prisoners of War. They had done this because the alternative involved getting denounced themselves. Then when Yuri had been born, she had been labelled a collaborator as well because there was no way to prove who Yuri’s father had been. Kiki didn’t need much help to fill in the blanks and found the whole thing to be sickening. It was nearly three decades later, and the scars left by that were still present. Yuri would be seeing a country where he had never been, but it had defined his entire life. All of that had come up when Kiki had been planning this trip and settling on who would be accompanying her.

“Doesn’t that break your mother’s rule about the Journalists becoming part of the story?” Kiki asked.

“Not really” Zella replied, “Yuri is mostly invisible to the public because of which side of the camera he is normally on. This adds an interesting angle that people will like.”

“You’re the expert” Kiki said before laying back, just enjoying the afternoon sunlight and a few hours without worries or responsibilities. It was something that happened so rarely these days. There had been an agreement earlier in the day that Ben and Fianna would watch Nina so that she could just enjoy this time.

Kiki was unaware of how long it had been until heard Markus trying nervously getting their attention. She must have been dozing. Opening her eyes, she sat up and looked at the boy whose face was turning a dozen shades of red. It stood as an odd counterpoint to the purple-black colored bruise around his right eye. Kiki had gotten the full truth about what had happened with that. Zella’s preference was that she be thought of as violent or crazy as opposed to clumsy. And Markus hadn’t been too mindful of boundaries. He had been standing right behind Zella when she had lost her balance.

“What do you need Markus?” Kiki asked sitting up. Zella was ignoring him, but obviously found the entire scene amusing.

He gulped and kept his eyes focused on Kiki’s face. “F-Frau Dunn wanted me to tell you that supper will be in a little bit” He stammered before retreating back into the saloon.

“Do you think he couldn’t make it more obvious?” Zella asked as Kiki found her shirt that she was pulling over her head.

“Don’t be mean” Kiki said, “Not everyone is inured to your antics.”

“He was looking at you” Zella said, with a snicker.

Earlier, Zella had been talking about angles. That was one that Kiki had not really considered.

“That hardly matters” Kiki replied, “Once we are past Saint Petersburg then we will all have to be on our best behavior.”

“Which is something that I am not looking forward to” Zella said as Kiki opened the hatch that led down into the master’s cabin.

She figured that she had time to take a shower before the evening meal. It was one of the advantages of traveling by a means in which all the comforts of home came with her.
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