Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Thirty
1st October 1974
When Niko was called into the Headmaster’s office he racked his brain for some infraction that he might have unknowingly committed. Or worse, be asked about whatever idiotic thing that Bas might have done despite being totally consumed by sports over the last couple months. Instead, Gruber told Niko that he had been assigned to spend the rest of the Academic Year on the Staff of Oberst von Kropp of the 3rd “Zieten” Hussar Regiment. The other detail that he learned was that the 3rd Hussars were preparing to deploy to Argentina on a League of Nations backed mission, what was dubbed Peace Keeping. These assignments were given to students as rewards, though Niko found it to be a somewhat dubious reward.
“This is an excellent opportunity for you Nikolaus” Oberstleutnant Gruber said, “In many ways I envy you for it, a real adventure.”
Niko was instantly reminded of his father’s warning about how it was called adventure once you were looking back at it through the lens of nostalgia. At the moment, it was just misery, hardship, and that death was always just around the corner. His father knew a lot about the subject having flown dozens of combat missions off of an Aircraft Carrier during the Mexican War and had been in Orbit a couple different times with the Space Program.
“What did my father have to say?” Niko asked.
“Unfortunately, the Admiral was unavailable because his Carrier Group is at sea” Gruber said, “Your grandfather told me to tell you to learn everything you can from von Kropp and that he wishes he were young enough to come with you.”
Of course, Niko’s grandfather was all for him doing this. No matter what else he had done with his life, Manfred the Elder was always a Cavalry Officer at heart. For him going to a place like Argentina to play that role would be like going to Heaven.
“As I said, this is an excellent opportunity” Gruber said, as he handed Niko a list of things he was supposed to get from the School’s supplies and a train ticket for Oberhavel where the Regiment’s Depot was located. “I told von Kropp that you are a good student and will serve him well as his aide having already been a leader among the Cadets, I trust that you will not disappoint me in that regard.”
Easier said than done, Niko thought to himself.
It was a reminder of what Bas had told him dozens of times. Cadet ranks were meaningless outside the school. Out there he would rise or fall on his own merits. If it were the later, no one would step in to stop it, though they might stop to gawk at him when he splattered on impact.
The Specialist they were seeing today had been highly recommended, though it only took him a matter of seconds to get on Kiki’s bad side. Ben understood that for this to work, she would need to trust whoever they saw and how he seemed to discount her opinions was a massive red flag.
“Well,” The Obstetrician said with a smile as he looked through folder with the lab results. “They double checked everything like you requested and I’m pleased to tell you that you definitely expecting.”
Ben was happy that neither he nor Kiki were in harm’s way this time. When she had unknowingly been pregnant with Nina things had taken a turn for the absurd for both of them. This time both of them were in Bavaria which had its own complications. Notably who the father-in-law of Kiki’s sister was. King Albrecht was like a force of nature here and that colored every consideration. Ben was concerned that word would get out too soon, having Kiki’s sister-in-law Alberta being the one to help her figure it out was almost as bad as them telling the sleazy tabloids themselves. Ben had known for a long time that the trouble with Birdie was that she just didn’t know when to keep her mouth shut. Her with this sort of information insured that it wouldn’t remain a secret for long. When it leaked, Ben figured that Albrecht would milk the situation for all it was worth like he did with everything else. Kiki had the idea of going on to the Hohenzollern Province. It was hers as a result of her father appointing her to be the guardian of the family’s ancestorial castle and the Principality that surrounded it. That also wasn’t a great choice for a lot of reasons.
“We will need to schedule prenatal care in the weeks ahead” The Obstetrician said, “I understand that you tend to travel quite a bit, arrangements can be made for that, but I would recommend against it, also you are over thirty which further complicates matters.”
That was probably the wrong thing for the Obstetrician to have said. Ben could tell from the expression on Kiki’s face that she was fighting the urge to rip the man’s arm and beat him with it. The last few months had been a rollercoaster with them trying to get pregnant without success, then having her change her mind, only to have this happen.
“During my last pregnancy I traveled nearly the length the South America” Kiki said with words that were dripping with ice water. “Without complications.”
“You were extremely lucky” The Obstetrician replied, “And I was warned that you can be difficult when I talked to your colleagues in Berlin.”
Again, that was the wrong thing to have said. Ben wondered if the Obstetrician knew that about Kiki ahead of time and this was a ham-handed way of encouraging them to go elsewhere. He also knew that whenever Kiki got back to Berlin, whoever had spoken out of turn would not be happy.
“I think that is enough from both of you” Ben said, “Let’s get through this today and then we can make other arrangements.”
Both Kiki and the Obstetrician gave Ben a dirty look. Were they trying to antagonize each other? And if so, why?