Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 135, Chapter 2318
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Eighteen

27th August 1974

Montreal, Canada

It had been harder saying goodbye to her family as they had boarded the plane that would take them home then she had thought it would be. Marie Alexandra had watched the plane take off and had almost cried when it had disappeared from view in the distance. Her grandparents had stood there with her, not in any rush to get out of the airport until she was ready to leave of her own accord. The entire ride back to the Blackwood house had been a blur, with Marie not really paying much attention to anything other than how she already missed them terribly. Even Sophie, who she tended to argue with constantly.

When Marie got back to her room, she found it was full of the clothes and other supplies that her mother had insisted she needed, most of which were still in their bags. At the center was a heavy weight wool coat and fur lined boots that she had said Marie would be incredibly grateful to have when winter came. Just that thought reminded her that she didn’t have the first clue as to when she might see any of them again. Christmas or perhaps Easter, Marie had no idea.

Then she saw the radiometer that had once belonged to her father and usually sat on the windowsill in her grandfather’s home office had been moved to the windowsill of her bedroom. The black and white vanes spinning around in the morning sunlight, Marie remembered how she had thought that it was magical when she had first seen it years earlier. Opa Blackwood had told her that it was simple physics that she hadn’t been taught yet. Later, the Science Professor at her Gymnasia had explained a concept called thermal transpiration which was the widely accepted theory of how a Crookes radiometer worked. She had thought that it was wonderful, learning the trick of how it worked. The world was full of magical things, all it took was a little bit of understanding and you could work wonders. The Science Professor had disagreed and had chastised Marie, saying that Science Class was no place for her frequent flights of fancy. It was hardly Marie’s fault that old fuddy duddy totally lacked imagination. It just seemed to her the world was full of miracles that had grown mundane by being familiar. Stepping close and seeing the little black and white vanes spin around a glass spindle inside the sealed globe seemingly of their own accord was one of those things.

“You found it” Sir Malcolm said from the doorway. “I’d say its yours now.”

“I cannot take this” Marie replied, “It belongs to my father, and it has been in your office for ages.”

“I doubt that Douglas would take issue with you having it” Sir Malcolm said, “I think you’ll get the most out of it. Before you came to visit when you were thirteen, I had almost forgotten that it was there.”

“Thank you” Marie said, looking at the radiometer.

“I know that you are a bit homesick but know that you choosing to come here to go to University and keep up the family tradition is quite wonderful” Sir Malcolm said with a slight smile. “Margot is proud of you, even if she will probably never tell you that herself.”

“I thought that she didn’t like me?” Marie asked.

“Pride can be a terrible thing at times” Sir Malcolm replied, “Your grandmother hates admitting that she is ever wrong, but if she really didn’t like you, she never would have allowed me to invite you to stay with us.”

That was an angle that Marie had not considered.

Plänterwald, Berlin

“Some things are supposed to be easy, fun” Was what Ben had said earlier that night. “The instant they became laborious and boring, there was a problem.”

He had said that because he had noticed that Kiki had kept looking at the clock, was unable to hide the bored expression on her face because it had come to feel like an obligation. That had completely killed the mood for both of them. Now a few hours later, rinsing out the small amount of blood that had seeped into the nightgown she had been wearing. It was a sign that what had become laborious had not accomplished anything this month. Besides that, she was more comfortable in the old football jersey and trackpants that she had slept in for years. The trouble was that as soon as Ben saw what she was wearing he would probably have a good idea of what was going on. Berg had warned her that when couples did this it took eighteen-months on average. It had just grown so frustrating in the meantime. Like anyone else, Kiki had wanted things to happen right away and that apparently wasn’t happening.

Looking over her shoulder in the mirror, Kiki saw a bit of movement by the doorway. “You are supposed to be asleep little Mouse Bear” She said.

Nina poked her head around the corner, surprised that she had gotten caught. Kiki didn’t think that her daughter lacked intelligence, she just hadn’t realized that even though Kiki’s back was turned she could still be seen in the reflection. It was the sort of mistake that children made.

“Owie?” Nina asked.

“No” Kiki replied only to get a quizzical look back.

One day, probably far sooner than Kiki would like, Nina would understand this. For now, she was a fairly typical three-year-old. Scooping up Nina, Kiki saw that Rauchbier had been watching over her as he tended to do.

“You are just getting too big for me to carry you like this” Kiki said sadly as she carried Nina back to her room.
As soon as the term starts at the university, Marie will be too busy to be homesick.
Since Marie is using her father's surname of Blackwood and dropping her mother's von Mischner name, she should be a bit more anonymous in Montreal then in Berlin.
This will give more freedom for Marie to be herself as she will not be dealing with small minded classmates that she left behind.
With her talent for picking up different languages and the Olympics coming to Montreal in two years, Marie is going to come in to contact with some very interesting and important people, and since she went to a prestigious Swiss finishing school and had an important position in the German Imperial Court working directly for Empress Suga, Marie has the protocols and etiquette down cold.

Dr. Berg should advise Kiki just relax and have fun and not put herself on a time table as stress is a great natural contraception.
Furthermore Ben and Kiki should plan something extra special that they want to do in the next 8-12 months from now as nothing messes with plans as much as an unplanned pregnancy does.

For Ritchie and Mike back in Los Angeles, there are several different scenarios running through my mind such as they are at "Ground-Zero" when a riot breaks out and either they are unable to prevent it, or they do prevent it and show off the value of having minority police officers in the communities, which in turn could make them unpopular to their fellow officers who are white.
Regarding Richie and Mike being unpopular among the white officers for being competent, they'll be unpopular among some white officers just for existing.

However, if they can head off a riot before it starts, no one, (except us, the readers), will know.
That said, if there's a bubble of law and order within the riot zone with Mike and Richie at the centre of it, it will be pretty undeniable.

Captain Valenzuela does have a certain ring to it though...
Part 135, Chapter 2319
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Nineteen

28th August 1974

Fossoy, France

Part of the problem was in convincing Monique that she was probably better off going home and getting her life in order as opposed getting into trouble. As Sjostedt had seen a few times before, living rough and facing the prospect of starvation tended to make one focused on their actual priorities. This was especially true when it seemed that Monique’s only real complaint about her home was that it was boring.

That was how Sjostedt found himself traveling more or less back the way he came. Just this time there were no express trains because like everywhere else, the transit was focused on rapid transport of people between major cities. Getting to a small village in Northern France took considerably more time.

First a slow train to Château Thierry after a considerable wait in Paris. Then they had the choice of an even longer wait or just walking the last few kilometers to Fossoy. For Sjostedt this walk left his mind troubled for a lot of reasons. He had time to look at the walls of the buildings they passed, sill pockmarked by bullets and shellfire decades later. More disquieting were the ruins of houses where all that remained were the masonry walls. With those there must have been no one left to back and rebuild after the war.

This entire region had changed hands several times during the war. For those long months it had been a war of movement, with the frontlines shifting constantly. Far different from the static trench warfare that had defined the earlier stages of the conflict. At the end of the war, the area had been in French and American hands. That had hardly mattered though because just across the front lines, the German Army had been systematically looting the areas they had occupied before retreating back to the 1914 Frontier as required by the treaty which had finally ended the war.

It had been witnessing that which had driven Sjostedt’s early anti-war activism and put him firmly in the orbit of Augustus Lang. Looking at the landscape they were passing through, he could see that what he had spent most of his life working on had hardly been enough. Three generations later the ruin of the First World War remained as a stark reminder of that. Department of Aisne had never really recovered and remained an impoverished backwater which most people tried to travel through as swiftly as possible so they wouldn’t have to think about it. There was also Sjostedt’s connection to a spot which they had probably passed somewhere along this very road.

“The first time I nearly died was somewhere along here” Sjostedt said, “The Amis, Marines supported by French built Panzers… er I believe they are called tanks here, got the drop on us and I caught a bullet for my trouble.”

“I thought you said you were a Lutheran Pastor?” Monique asked.

“Before that, I was a conscript in the German Army” Sjostedt replied, “I wasn’t much older than you are now at the time.”

“People still talk about what the Boche did” Monique said, “How they…”

Sjostedt knew that Monique had been about to say something but had suddenly thought better. He remembered many things which had happened, that he had grown ashamed of over the decades since. How he had basically taken advantage of desperate people because he had not been aware of what he was doing. That actually haunted him more than the memories of those he had killed. There was a staggeringly vast difference between what happened in fight between combatants and what individual members of an occupying army might do in what amounted to a moral vacuum.

“When I face eternal judgement, I will have a lot to answer for” Sjostedt said, “That is probably the only honest thing you ever hear anyone say on the subject. War turns ordinary men into brutes, and anyone who gets caught in the middle gets ground into paste.”

“Oh” Monique said, a bit surprised by that answer.

A straight answer was often hard to come by, getting one like that tended to end the conversation. Claiming patriotism or duty as a rationalization was just a denial of reality. Sjostedt had not been interested in that sort of thing for an extremely long time.

They walked on in silence as they neared Fossoy. The village had had only a few hundred residents during better times. Unfortunately, that had been during prior centuries. Now it was just a few streets worth of dilapidated houses clustered around the gates of a Chateau which shared the air of neglect as the rest of the village.

“What am I going to tell my grandmother?” Monique asked.

“The truth” Sjostedt replied, “That you ran off, that it was a mistake, and you are going to do better in the future.”

“That will make her angry, especially after what happened with my father” Monique said. She had told Sjostedt about how her father had spent most of his life coming and going from Fossoy. Running off for some sort of venture that inevitably ended in failure. The last time he had come to town he had left one step ahead of the vengeful family of a local girl who disapproved of her involvement with him. Apparently, Monique had been the result of that affair and her mother’s family wanted nothing to do with her. There had been bad blood between them and her grandmother even before that. Fourteen years later and no one knew what had become of Monique’s father after that according to her. All she knew was that he had never come back.

There is also this” Monique gestured to her hair, which was no more than a finger’s breadth in length. She had told Sjostedt the story about how she had sold it to a wig maker at the suggestion of Gabin. Beyond Sjostedt not realizing that was something that still happened, it had been an opportunity to point out the truth about her “friend” Gabin. In the short time that they had been together he had cajoled her again and again to take chances and make sacrifices for the sake of their friendship. Over time he would have taken more and more while leaving Monique with little in return if she hadn’t gotten away from him. That much was evidenced by how he had ditched her at the first sign of trouble. Sjostedt’s hope was that she would learn from the experience once she got past the embarrassment of having been taken advantage of.

“I think that your safety will be her main concern” Sjostedt replied as they walked up to the door of a small house near the church graveyard at the center of the village.

Having apparently lost her keys somewhere along the line, Monique was reluctant to knock on the locked door. Eventually, Sjostedt just did it for her. An elderly woman opened the door and the sight of Monique caused her to frown. It was clear that the girl would have a lot of explaining to do. Her gaze then shifted to Sjostedt and her expression became quizzical. This was a conversation that he’d had with the parents of runaways several times. They usually said the same sorts of things and asked the same questions. He figured that this would be no different.

“Piers?” The elderly woman asked. That was not what he was expecting to hear.
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That is Coyote laughing a full belly laugh, along with the others like the Raven, the Bear, and the Eagle that are nodding in agreement that Piers has come full circle.
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There are so many possibilities about our mysterious lady, such as she was the French woman at the farmhouse where the 140th bivouacked at and Piers protected her, to some very far-fetched ideas too numerous to mention.
While it is very likely that Monique is Piers' granddaughter there could be other possibilities like Emil or Walter or Agustus...
But no matter what the case is Piers could see this as a last chance to right a past wrong that has been at the back of his mind for all these years.


Oh you effing genius. After all these years you’ve been writing this story, you still have the ability to transfix a readership.
Part 135, Chapter 1320
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Twenty

29th August 1974

Potsdam, Germany

Black Shuck had been released to wide acclaim the prior July, or at least as much acclaim as a horror film might be expected to receive, and that had been reflected where it really counts. At the box office. To Jost’s amazement his own performance had been one of the things lauded. It was felt that he had lent the character of Oberst von Fürst an authenticity and gravitas. The result was that he was having a flood of job offers and had even been invited to the Vienna Film Festival in October and to Cannes next May.

Most of the job offers involved further horror or war movies. Not that Jost had a problem with that. Playing a General or Oberst was a lot of fun, the vast majority of the cast and crew that surrounded him were unaware that he frequently was making fun of the Officers he had served under for his entire career. Jost’s agent, it was unbelievable that he now needed an agent, had set up a number of small things to keep his face out there. A few television appearances here in Potsdam as well as a guest appearance on a British comedy series as a German tourist who ends up verbally thrashing a juvenile delinquent who was a series regular. The nineteen-year-old actor, Rowan something or the other, had been a regular smartass so Jost hadn’t exactly been acting when he had gone off on him. The trouble was that Rowan couldn’t understand a single word of German and exactly what Jost said had apparently horrified those busybodies in London who apparently could after it had been aired. Seriously? Fuck them, Jost thought to himself as he walked onto the set of today’s job. A commercial for Augustiner Beer of all things.

The whole thing was perfectly absurd and ironically based on something that Jost himself had done. Someone doing research had found an old photograph of Jost with Hans von Mischner and Soren Yont taken at some point during the race to Moscow at the end of the Soviet War. In the photo, Jost was seen with an MG42 slung over his shoulder with an unlit cigar in his mouth. While Jost wasn’t as stupid as he had been in his 20’s, now knowing that carrying the goddamned Bonesaw all day would end with him unable to move for several days, he could still carry one of them for a few minutes with relative ease. This one was an old MG42, the old pattern as opposed to the updated and improved MG42/48. According to the Prop Master, this one had been acquired by the Studio from the Heer had been used in dozens of films and television shows.

The sound stage was done up to look like a dark forest with dry ice ground mist. The sound of howling wolves could be heard in the distance. This was the fifth take that they had attempted, each time the Director spotting something that he didn’t like. The last time, Jost had joked with the Prop Master that he was going to find a belt of live ammunition for the bonesaw. They had laughed about that.

The script had Jost to say his lines and continue stalking forward, which he thought was stupid and it was small wonder that the Director had hated it for the first four takes. That was because it was crap. This time Jost had decided that an improvement was needed or else they would be stuck here all day.

Stepping to the pre-marked spot, Jost looked directly into the camera. “Defending the Realm against supernatural beasties just gives a man real thirst!” Jost practically bellowed at the camera off script. Past it he could he the crew were looking horrified as he pulled the bottle of beer from his pocket and used one of the vents on the MG42’s handguard as a bottle opener. It was something that he had actually done countless times. “Augustiner Beer hits the spot!” Jost yelled before chugging it. He figured that this would result in them needing to do a sixth take, but he needed to blow off a bit of steam. Finishing the beer, Jost threw the bottle over his shoulder. He heard it shatter on the soundstage somewhere behind him. Then with an evil grin, he brought the Bonesaw down from his shoulder, worked the bolt-cam to chamber a cartridge and leveled it so that it was pointed right at the camera and crew. From their perspective, the 8mm bore was like looking down a subway tunnel.

That was when Jost squeezed the trigger, firing a burst.

There was a belt of blank cartridges in a 50-round drum carrier that he emptied. There was little recoil brass flew and flame shot out of the muzzle. The truth was that even Jost would probably find it difficult to control an MG42 while firing from the hip with live ammunition, and there were also no tracers. The crew didn’t know that though and many of them scrambled to get out of the way. Jost was chuckling as he lit his cigar on the white-hot gun barrel of the Bonesaw.

“Cut!” The Director yelled, “That was perfect.”

“Wait, what?” Jost yelled back.

“You heard me” The Director replied, “That was perfect.”

Jost was willing to run with that, for now. He was finding showbusiness impossible to understand. If he wasn’t having so much fun, he might have taken issue with it.
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The nineteen-year-old actor, Rowan something or the other, had been a regular smartass so Jost hadn’t exactly been acting when he had gone off him. The trouble was that Rowan couldn’t understand a single word of German and exactly what Jost said had apparently horrified those busybodies in London who apparently could after it had been aired. Seriously? Fuck them, Jost thought to himself as he walked onto the set of today’s job. A commercial for Augustiner Beer of all things.

That scene has to be a goldmine.....
I wonder if another American journalist will make his way over to Germany to speak to Jost and Hans?

Wir Waren Einmal Soldaten...
American remake taking place in Mexico during the Mexican Intervention, Jost plays the same character has a line about his father facing the same thing in France during The Great War..
If it is Rowan Atkinson then there are some flapping butterflies as OTL he was still in university studying Electrical and Electronic engineering.
If he has gone to Oxford university earlier ITTL and his writing for Etceteras has been noticed earlier then that's quite. Major butterfly as it means he will not have met Richard Curtis yet.
That's just butterflied Blackadder then. Bugger.