Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 134, Chapter 2295
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-Five

14th May 1974

Caribbean Sea

Lighting a cigar, Louis was standing on the fantail of the USS Gridley he was having a moment of contemplation as he looked up into the night sky. Few people understood what it was like to be on a ship out at sea far from the noise and light pollution of the cities. That was especially true here in the Caribbean where it felt like the night sky was a crystal bowl that arched just overhead.

Louis Ferdinand Junior’s understanding was that the US Navy had grown tired of the game that they had been playing and had decided to just invite the small flotilla he had been a part of to join the exercise. Of course, that was with the understanding that the Americans would be devoting everything they had to learning the capabilities of the three ships. Louis had discussed it at length with Akihito and Amedeo, the three of them were sticking their necks out here. If the Americans learned too much, they would have a serious problem. But if they hid everything, they would just be burning fuel while their hosts kept them carefully contained. Akihito had pointed out that they needed to find a balance and Louis wasn’t inclined to disagree. In the meantime, he had remained aboard the Gridley to iron out some of the minor details and that had lasted into the early morning hours. Compared to the Grindwal, the Gridley was massive. The crew was proportionally larger as well.

Louis knew that there were members of his family who would be all over him if they knew what he was doing at the moment, but it was one of those when in Rome sorts of things. In Havana, what were arguably the best cigars in the world were readily available at prices that even the lowest ranking Sailors could easily afford. Naturally when the Grindwal had left port there had been hundreds of boxes on board. Louis himself had bought several boxes along with some cases of fine aged rum that he and his XO, Isaak Lehr, were keeping in the “Doomsday” locker which only the two them had keys for and both keys had to be turned at once. It was the most secure place on the ship and the other items that they shared the space with, which oddly looked like industrial garbage disposals, were secured in their lead lined cases, and wouldn’t do the rum or cigars any harm. Louis had seen how the crew had run through what they had brought on board within a few days of leaving port.

“Enjoying your morning Mister von Preussen?” Louis heard Captain Carter ask.

“It has gotten early, hasn’t it” Louis replied, “Want a cigar?”

“My wife would kill me when word of that inevitably gets back to her” Carter replied, “Enjoy your freewheeling life as a young bachelor while you can.”

Louis was aware that Carter didn’t actually mean that last part.

“An extra one for me then” Louis said.

“You still think that our respective Governments have gone mad?”

“No more than usual” Louis replied, “It is just when it comes to the implementation that it causes a lot of trouble.”

“I understand that your brother got involved this time” Carter said, “I guess the Navy is sort of your family business.”

“The Navy was a big part of what my great-grandfather was about, he was buried in the Naval section of a military cemetery” Louis replied, “In the years since, my Grandfather was an Army General and my Father was an Airforce Reserve Officer, Freddy was in the Pioneers… Sort of like your Army Corps of Engineers.”

“Quite a history of service in your family” Carter said.

“That is one way to put it” Louis said, “Sometimes I think it has more to do with feeling useful more than anything. If you have ever seen some of the things that, Michael, my other brother gets up then you would probably understand.”

“Isn’t he the one who imagines himself to be King Arthur?” Carter asked.

“It is far more involved than that” Louis replied, “And there is absolutely nothing imaginary about it.”

“To live in a world where Knights, Kings and Queens are still a thing” Carter said, “It would almost seem romantic if you were not aware of the blood-soaked history behind it.”

“At least two of my sisters would agree with that” Louis said.

“The Doctor and the Revolutionary?” Carter asked.

“I would say that Rea is mostly harmless” Louis replied, “I do however think that the boosting Universities in Krakow and Lwów are closest thing to her actual aspirations made real, long term.”

“And your other sister, Kristina, getting your highest medal for valor without ever firing a shot” Carter said, “That drew the attention even from my church.”

“It is not that simple, not at all” Louis said, “Kiki is an idealist and willing to walk through fire for what she believes in. That is not always a good thing.”

“Even I can understand the nobility of her purpose” Carter replied.

“That is easy, from a distance” Louis said, “I have known her my entire life and have a different perspective.”

“And just what is that?” Carter asked.

“Kiki, Princess Kristina, is possibly the most dangerous person that I have ever met” Louis replied, “And it is entirely because she would blow up the world if she thought that it was necessary to save it.”
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“Kiki, Princess Kristina, is possibly the most dangerous person that I have ever met” Louis replied,
And this is from someone who grew up with Kat as an ever present member of the household, and I'm sure Louis is only too aware of the personal debt he and his siblings owe to her.
Part 134, Chapter 2296
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-Six

18th May 1974

Tempelhof, Berlin

The ending of the film cut a little too close to home for Sepp.

He had been expecting the typical Science-Fiction escapism and it was. Right up until the closing minutes as the final plot twist of the film was revealed. The big bad of the original film and now its sequel, revealed his actual identity. Learning that the monster under your bed and the long lost, presumably dead, sainted member of your family were one in the same was understandably hard to take. Of course, Sepp had never been under any illusions about who Hagen was.

Still though…

Walking out of the theater as the lights came on, Didi was just ahead of Sepp and Sophie. It was nice to see that he had gotten somewhat back to normal, at least as normal as Sepp’s youngest brother ever was. Bringing him along had been part of the deal in getting Sophie’s, Sepp wasn’t sure how exactly it worked or who they were to her… Parents? Guardians? Sepp didn’t know exactly what to call them, to agree to let her see the film with him. They seemed to have an understanding that they wouldn’t engage in anything with Didi right there and with everything else going on, Sepp leaving his little brother alone in a public place was out of the question. Not that Sepp would dare to cross Katherine, she had a million ways to make his life a pure Hell without even crossing any legal or ethical lines.

“What did you think of the movie?” Sepp asked Sophie who just walked along in silence for a long moment as they walked through the lobby.

“It was fun for the most part” She finally said, “But spaceships and laser swords are normally not my thing.”

“You mean lightsabers?” Sepp asked.

Didi heard that and started making whooshing noises.

“It is very much his thing though” Sophie said as they walked out the doors where Sepp saw that there was a line of people stretching down the block. Hardly a surprise really because of the close proximity of the Humboldt Campus of the University of Berlin. The theater practically sat in the shadow of the buildings that were the student housing. Sepp realized that they had been lucky to get to the early screening this morning. The afternoon and evening shows looked like they were going to be packed if what he was seeing was any indication.

The theater was just one business along Tempelhof’s High Street. Two blocks of small shops, book, and record stores, along with other things that were largely geared to University students and faculty as their customers. It was a paradise for Sepp if he had money to spend.

“Marie Alexandra loves this place” Sophie said as they walked past the window of a thrift shop, a mannequin was wearing a dress made out of a shimmery fabric that was probably fashionable fifty years earlier. “Think I ought to try that on?”

Sepp imagined what she might look like wearing that and nearly walked into lamppost. It was like all the times his mother had pointed out that clothing seen in a photograph or on television could only be worn by someone with the figure for it. The implications of that hit like a hammer blow between the eyes after what Sophie just said.

“Perhaps some other time” Sepp said, and Sophie had a slight smile on her face, like if she had anticipated his reaction.

Walking on down the street, they turned a corner and walked into Benno’s. While they were thoroughly tired of what was on the menu, the fact that Sepp could get food here for free or at a steep discount depending on if the owner had been around that day more than made up for that. Ordering their meals was simple enough. It was having to sit out front on the bench by sidewalk because all the tables inside were taken that was a bit irksome. It was cloudy, but at least it wasn’t raining.

“How come you never come around our house Zoe?” Didi asked as he picked the pickles out of his burger to eat separately. It was an innocent question, but this was a minefield where the wrong answer was a catastrophic misstep.

“You live down on Materialstraße, yes?” Sophie asked, “The last time I was down there some dunk guy threw bottles at me and yelling about how I was a stuck-up bitch for not stopping to talk or something, I don’t know. As if I would have. So, I don’t go that way anymore.”

Sepp knew that Sophie had a vague idea of where he lived. Called Materialstraße because it was where construction materials were unloaded from boxcars and stored during the vast Tempelhof project when this neighborhood had been built on the site of the airport. Afterwards, the land had been sold in small parcels to many of the Builders involved with the project, Sepp’s father had been one of them.

“That sounds like something Poppa would do” Didi said with a laugh. Sophie didn’t look amused. For months he had been dreading her putting two and two together because he knew that the math wasn’t going to be good for him.

“That man was your father?” Sophie asked.

“He gets drunk, and he does stupid things” Sepp said apologetically, “Momma tells me to stay with him to keep him out of trouble, but he is hard to stop.”

“Were you there?” Sophie asked.

“I told him to cut it out” Sepp replied. It was the truth, but that answer felt totally inadequate. “What was I supposed to do?”

Sophie had a whole lot of suggestions about what Sepp might have done, some involved his father’s beer bottles getting crammed up somewhere uncomfortable. He couldn’t help but noticing that Sophie’s demeanor and accent changed the angrier she got. The refinement that was the result of her education vanished and what he was hearing was pure Berlin Street. Katherine’s warning about there being a lot about Sophie that he didn’t know came back to him.
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So "American Graffiti" is either butterfied away or made earlier, either way it does makes sense ITTL but will "Jaws" get made ITTL as it will come out next year IOTL.
"Jaws" was made by the same director and producers of "The Sugarland Express" and both movies were scored by the same composer, this brings us to an interesting possible butterfly as the director of "Jaws" recommended to the director of "Star Wars" to use the same composer, but if the order of movies are reversed as it seems ITTL there might be a different composer for "Star Wars" ITTL.
Called Materielle Straße because it was where construction materials were unloaded from boxcars and stored during the vast Tempelhof project when this neighborhood had been built on the site of the airport.
Materialstraße, probably. (Or maybe also Werkstoffstraße or even Werk-/Bauhofstraße - that later more implying a work yard than a mere storage area.) When I read Materielle Straße I was wondering who in the Physics Department thought of that. Since it can translate to 'Matter Street' in that particle physics way.
And then I'd also assume it's more likely an unofficial name or one that has since been changed - since I can't see any relevant city or Bezirk authority allowing that name to stand for a residential area in the long term)

The other thing I noticed is the implied university structure. In the German tradition (that I'm pretty certain had unlikely changed) universities rarely directly own dorms in the American style. Not even integrated in Campus.
With the Tempelhof Campus having been a planned one, I can however see both 'Studentenheime' - what we'd probably translate as dorms anyway - and apartment buildings with a 'student friendly' layout being planned in the areas around the university buildings.
Studentenheime are mostly privately owned (though some are part owned by the universities in the end) (often ironically enough owned by churches or church aligned organisations) housing exclusively for students. With all those 'organised housing' perks. Shared kitchens per floor, for the 70s probably shared bathrooms per floor too, probably tiny rooms that barely fit two beds, two wardrobes and two tiny desks, restriction on times non-residents can enter - if at all, etc. However living there is voluntary and you have to apply (and attractive, because it's often the cheapest variant for living). Also usually no hall monitors that seem to be the norm in the US, just a bored guy keeping an eye on the entrance if at all. And usually no restrictions on alcohol.

'Student friendly' layout you sometimes see with new construction close to universities. They tend to lack those 'nuclear family' 3-4 person apartment (2 bedroom), instead having mostly single person or 3-5 bedroom apartments for what is called a Wohngemeinschaft (WG). Usually more expensive, but allowing some more privacy.

All that's down to the fact that university housing is considered something the student (or his parents) take care off, not the university. But you still have those 'student areas' even if it is often more mixed and at least in bigger cities they tend to migrate over the decades.
In germany, ina Stundenteheim, you usually have one person per room. Depending on when it was build and by whome, you sually have a shared kitchen and shared shower/toilet area, or if very luxerious, tiny bathroom cubicle attached to the room. I was in an older building in munich, directly behind the university, with a 12 sqm room, sink in the room, everything else in the hall.
Looked over by ahousekeeper for 120 rooms to the building. No hall monitor, alcohol was no issue (or rather mandatory at the summer barbeque). Well, it was in munich. Out in Freimann they had the Studentenheim high rises, 35 floors of students piled up, but they had the in suite showers.
There was the Studentenwerk, wich basically ssigned you a possible place to dos while you where a student of the university, by lot. (Munich even back then had a lot more students than spots in studentenheims. My cousing was housed in a studentenheim run by the catholic church... oh boy, did they have rules... basically, when i went to visit her, she had to go to the entrance door and tehn go with me to a caffee around the corner. :)

of coursem trying to find space privately was... interresting. I did get offered a 6 sqm room in a WG.... no thanks.
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IOTL the women’s section of the 1972 Munich Olympic Village became students residences run by the Munich Student Union, and in the context of this timeline where universities that were founded in the 1500’s are called the “New University” a new university campus that was built as part of a new development in the 1950’s it would very logical that student residences were also built as part of the overall project.
Part 134, Chapter 2297
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-Seven

19th May 1974

Mitte, Berlin

The old VW Microbus that Doug had used to get around town for the last twenty-four years was almost as much a part of the family as any of the human members of it. Its engine had been rebuilt a few times, the brakes had been replaced, and there had been countless other repairs that had needed to be done, but it was still the same vehicle. He remembered that he had used it to drive Tatiana and Malcolm home from the hospital after they were born, then a few years later they had done the same thing with Marie Alexandra. The fact that Marie, who had just celebrated her eighteenth birthday in March, was sitting in the passenger seat fiddling with the radio made Doug wonder where the time went to. Sophie had tagged along this afternoon for lack of anything better to do and she was sulking in the middle seat with her dog. That Sophie was now fifteen and was upset over a row she had gotten into with a boyfriend the day before was equally astonishing.

As a father with daughters, two of his own and several others who circumstance had brought into his home; Doug was very aware of the constant drama that surrounded them. Marie Alexandra was looking at attending school in Canada, but first she would need to visit McGill University and make a final decision. This was after Doug had guided her through the application process, something that she wouldn’t need to worry about if she stayed in Berlin. Because Doug and his father had attended McGill along with how Marie was expected to do when she sat her Abitur, her getting in was assured. They just needed to go through the process while listening to Kat complain about what she saw as the problems with Universities in North America. Doug never really did completely understand her general dislike of most Americans and she never let an opportunity like this pass without inserting her own opinions about the subject. Kat was also upset at the prospect of Marie, who would always be her baby regardless of how old she got, being so far away even if she wasn’t saying it aloud. It was a big part of what they were doing today.

Doug understood the reason why it was felt that it would be good for Marie to spend a few years away from Berlin though. Here she lived in the shadow of her mother, and it had been suggested that one of the issues was that Marie didn’t feel she had an identity of her own. Attending University in Canada where she would simply be Miss Marie Blackwood. As opposed to here where because Kat was the Prefect of Berlin and Marie had been a key player in the Court of the Empress for the last couple years, everyone assumed that she was a Princess in her own right.

Pulling into an open parking space, Doug opened the door and looked at the trees of the Tiergarten. Over the years, Kat and Marie Alexandra had been frequent subjects in his photography. Tatiana had grown camera shy as she had gotten older, so she had been seen less and less. Sophie had taken an interest in photography before she had discovered Cycling, but Doug figured that sooner or later she would show an interest in it again.

“You wanted this to be the backdrop” Doug said as they walked through the park at the center of the city.

“You think that Momma will like it?” Marie asked as they walked down the footpath towards one of the bridges over the pond that ran through this portion of the park.

“If you are in it, she’ll love it” Doug replied.

Sophie said nothing. Just glumly walked with Sprocket on his leash running a few paces ahead of her. Doug understood that she was in a difficult situation. Both her and Josef were birds of a feather. They had been thrust into adult situations long before they were ready, Sophie with her abusive mother and Josef with his parents who didn’t to want to play that role. Into this there was the fact that both of them had withheld information from each other and in the manner of young people everywhere there was a great deal of sexual tension which was only natural. That had made for a combustible mix and the day before it had finally exploded as everything had come out. Sophie had been born in a Working-Class tenement with an unknown father, when she got angry all of that came to the fore. Josef had gotten a full taste of that when she had found out that his father was a drunk who had harassed her on the street and though he had been present, Josef had done nothing to stop it. While that was relatively a minor thing to get into an argument about, Sophie had blown it far out of proportion. An action which she swiftly came to regret.

“This looks like a nice spot” Marie said as she stood on the footbridge. Marie had no idea, but with her frequent raids on the clothes her mother had placed in storage she was wearing an old grey coat and a green woolen scarf that her mother had worn in Ireland during another photography session more than a decade earlier in Dublin. One of Doug’s favorite photographs was of Kat leaning on the railing of a bridge over the Union Canal near Dublin. Just as Marie was now with Sophie joining her.

“That is perfect” Doug said as he focused his camera and snapped the picture, one he knew Kat would love. “This is the part where I might have told your mother to think of a dirty joke but not to say it.”

“My God, Poppa” Marie said, “That is more than I needed to know.”

Sophie just had a slight smile. Despite her being determined to be miserable today she saw the humor in that.
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Sophie just had a slight smile. Despite her being determined to be miserable today she saw the humor in that.
Have I told you lately how much I look forward to and enjoy your writing . . . every day for years and years? Its little turns of phrase like this, so deliciously laden with personality making your characters into "real" people for whom I deeply care, that keep me endlessly engaged.
IOTL the 1976 Olympics were held in Montreal and if this the same ITTL then Marie with her talent in languages is going to find herself in demand for her services from the IOC to various networks from around the world to the local, Provincial, and Canadian Federal government to corporations and anything else that would need her talents.
For Sophie and Sepp once they figure out how to communicate to each other about their pasts and family dynamics, they are going to grow closer to each, but not too close as Oat will have no problems in sending Sepp into exile at a strict Prussian military school.
Part 134, Chapter 2298
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Ninety-Eight

25th May 1974

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

It was said that the dark blue Summer Dress Uniform of the Heer was the most beautiful military uniform in world. Louis Ferdinand Junior understood the reasoning, even if he didn’t agree with it. The Summer/Tropical Dress Uniform of the Kaiserliche Marine looked nicer from his perspective and that was even factoring in his own personal bias on the matter.

The white tunic and trousers made for a great contrast with the array of medals that he had been awarded over the course of an eventful career. He was also wearing the white cap which told the whole world that he was the Master and Commander of a Warship. The reason he was dressed like this this evening was because he had been invited as the guest of the US Navy as they were throwing a soirée at this odd Naval Base on the South-East Coast of Cuba. The US Government leased the land, and the current Cuban Government had been unable serve them with an evection notice.

“I was wondering if you would show up Louis” Captain Carter said in greeting.

“After what happened last week, I was certain that there would be a battalion of angry Marines waiting for me on the dock” Louis replied, and Carter just laughed.

Louis had been asked to make an attack run on the Saratoga Carrier Group the same way he would have if he had been ordered to do it if there really was a war. The SMS Grindwal may have been built with having her be primarily a Sub Hunter, but long experience had taught the KM that ships that were too specialized for a certain role was asking for trouble. She had been equipped to be a capable anti-aircraft platform and in the case of surface engagements she had an ace up her sleave which the US Navy had not been prepared for.

Louis along with the other two ships in the small flotilla he was a part of had fired a spread of torpedoes at the American taskforce, not just any torpedoes though. Back during the Pacific War, the Japanese Type 93 and Type 95 torpedoes had made an impression after a squadron of Japanese Torpedo Cruisers had inflicted one of the few defeats upon the KM during that far flung conflict and it had made an impression. Admiral Jacob von Schmidt himself had ordered the Type 93 to be reverse-engineered and while it had not been ready before the end of that conflict, what became the G8SlR(T17) torpedo that had been the first of a new generation of lethal new weapons that had emerged. The torpedoes that the Grindwal and Audace launched at the Saratoga were the latest version of the G8SlR which combined extremely long range with the latest acoustic seeker heads. They also had a deadly new trick. They could cruise along at a relatively slow, economical speed until they locked on the target they had been aimed at, then they would speed up and maneuver towards the target. The Yoizuki had used a similar system that had been inspired by German design. The Saratoga had blundered into the path of these after they have been launched from over the horizon and by then the Destroyer flotilla had been racing north at flank speed, taking cover among the islands.

He had heard the pandemonium taking place over the radio as the Americans had realized too late that they were under attack. The ships of the US Atlantic Fleet taking evasive maneuvers to try to evade the torpedoes. The inexperience of the American crews had been on full display, and they were lucky that the warheads had been replaced with concrete ballast and small demolition charges that were meant to destroy the seeker heads. That was why the US Navy was aghast as those had gone off, at least three under the keel of the Saratoga, which would have broken her back if the torpedoes were carrying actual warheads.

“That might have happened if you had told them the real reason why your flotilla was racing north” Carter said, “After all, going east would have put you straight downwind if this had not been an exercise. That would have killed your crew as surely as if you had come right at the Saratoga.”

Louis was reminded that there was a good reason why Jimmy Carter had been assigned to track him over the last several years. Carter could see between the lines to the things that others missed. The US Navy had been unable to see past how some upstart foreigners had unexpectedly humiliated them. He also understood what Carter had just implied. He correctly suspected that the Grindwal and her sisters would be tasked with hunting Carrier Groups across the Atlantic. There were moments when candor was necessary, Louis had a feeling that this was one of those times. By her very nature, the USS Gridley would perform a similar mission, except she would be hunting KM Destroyer flotillas.

“There is a locker aboard the Grindwal whose contents are straight from the Devil’s workshop” Louis said, “I pray that we never have to open it.”

“I understand completely” Carter said, and he didn’t seem to have anything else to add.

Walking across the floor, Louis got a mixture of hard and respectful looks. He now had a reputation among these people, and it would be difficult for him to put one over on them as easily in the future.

“Rosalynn brought a guest with her when she came from Georgia yesterday” Carter said, “A mutual friend it seems.”

“Wait, what?” Louis asked. He had no idea who that could possibly be…

Only to have the crowd thin before him and he saw exactly who Carter had been talking about.

“Louis!” Margareta of Romania said with a smile.

Louis figured his reaction to this unexpected development was similar to the one that Americans must have had when the torpedoes kept turning towards them as they had tried to evade.
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Ambush predators, they're both ambush predators. If they end up getting together you just know their kids are going to end up in the submarine service...