Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-One
29th April 1974
The contents of the report that Kiki was reading was very dry, if she had to guess it had to do with the authors of the report being aware of the implications of the material. The alternative was to run screaming from the room.
It was the latest assessment by the Planning Division of the KZS on what they could expect in the event of a Peer-to-Peer war. Unlike most other Service Branches, the Medical Service didn’t feel any need to present a rosy, optimistic picture. Instead, it was unrelentingly grim. They figured that Berlin would be bracketed by Hydrogen bombs. With the river crossings, rail yards, highway junctions, administrative structures, and an International Airport, it was a target rich environment. Estimates were of initial casualties in the millions. Any surviving medical facilities would be overwhelmed. Basic supplies would swiftly run out and resupply would be more or less impossible. There would also be no electricity or running water. This report had been compiled so that they could make plans in the event of something like this occurring, but it was proving difficult to see past the despair that this engendered.
The long-term projections were actually worse. Factoring in the effects of radioactive fallout on a population and the likelihood of nuclear winter, civilization ending was a given. Extinction was a very real possibility. If they were extremely lucky it would only mean a return to the Dark Ages. It also laid bare why Kiki had been given access to this report, she had direct access to the ears of her brother Freddy and Chancellor Brandt. They figured that she would mention this to them.
It seemed strange to Kiki that Armageddon was actually boring when it came down to it. No final judgement, no last battle between good and evil, no Gabriel’s horn because there wouldn’t be a second coming. Instead, it was just the end of everything, full stop. It was perfectly in keeping with Nora Berg’s comments about how mankind was the cleverest and most vicious of all monkeys. At the end of the day they were still monkeys, regardless of how they tried to pretend otherwise, and that included flinging feces at each other. Just the nature of what was being thrown had changed. Nora had said that in order to survive they needed to finally evolve past that.
Putting down the report, Kiki looked out the window of her home office, it was a nice spring afternoon. A tugboat, one among the hundreds of similar craft that plied the inland waterways, was towing a line of barges down the River Spree. It was a reminder to Kiki that there was a wide world out there full of far happier things than the dreadful report that she had been reading. Months earlier, there had been talk of her going to the South of France this summer. Aurora had said that she was far more interested in doing that than going to Russia like Kiki had last year. It was just one idea among many, but escaping everything, even if it were just for a few weeks suddenly felt like it would be a very welcome development.
Olli was happiest when he was able to peacefully go about his work on his farm. Today, that included running the Hanomag tractor as is towed a plow across the field. As had become tradition, once he was through tilling his own fields, he started work on those of his neighbors. For him it was extremely welcome after wasting years in Krakow as an advisor to Queen Marie Cecilie. He had refused to take part in electoral politics, staying above the fray as it were. Finally, it had seemed that things had settled down enough for him to go back to doing the things that he preferred. He was certain that Marie Cecilie had named the highest award for gallantry in Galicia-Ruthenia the Cincinnatus Order, in which he was Knight Commander, just to poke fun at him.
Olli’s oldest son, Conrad had returned to Krakow, and by extension Jassel taking a job with the Galician Ministry of Agriculture. His wife, Nele joked about how some City girl was going to turn his head one of these days, but that hadn’t happened yet. It wasn’t as if there wasn’t enough of that going on closer to home. While Louisa, Olli’s oldest daughter had decided to go to University in Lwów, his second oldest daughter Janine had not been interested in furthering her education and had gotten married the previous summer. Now Janine was expecting, and Olli wasn’t sure what to make of his first grandchild being on the way.
Looking over his shoulder, Olli saw Hugo, his second oldest son driving the light Fendt tractor that was towing the seed drill behind him. Olli had warned him that he was going to get bogged down, but he insisted that he needed to help out this way. That hadn’t happened yet, but it was only a matter of time until it did and then Olli would need to tow him out, the Hanomag was good for that even if it was a waste of time. He had only relented because he felt he needed all the moments he could get with Hugo. Now that he had reached the age of sixteen, Hugo probably couldn’t be kept on the farm for much longer. He had told Olli that he intended to follow in his footsteps but not as a Farmer. That meant the Army and Nele had been understandably livid when she had learned he had made that decision. She had been hoping that Hugo would go to University like Conrad and Louisa.
It was too soon to know what thirteen-year-old Jonas would do. He seemed to prefer causing trouble, which in Olli’s experience was what was expected of the youngest sons. Of course, with a name like Jonas was it really a surprise? Nele had insisted that they name him after her father, who had also been a troublemaker in his youth.
Finally, Olli passed four-year-old Nele, named for her mother, as she sat on the edge of the field making a crown out of dandelions. She smiled and waved as he passed, which Olli returned. She had been a complete surprise for Olli and Nele, but it had worked out and she had Queen Marie Cecilie as a Godmother. For her the move back to the farm was still a novelty after having spent most of her life in Krakow.