Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Seventy-Five
24th May 1975
Richthofen Estate, Rural Silesia
Albrecht had gotten a taste of what his father did over the last few weeks and was already finding not to his liking. It was a heavy burden had he felt obligated to carry even though it meant giving up much of what he had carved out for himself over the prior decades. Watching his father sip his drink as he sat by the fire, Albrecht was struck by how this scene had probably not changed in centuries. Mathilda Auer had said that she saw Manfred von Richthofen as something akin to a High King from the Viking Epics, that was never truer than now.
The study was uncomfortably warm as it tended to be when Manfred the Elder was present, which was most of the time these days. Albrecht didn’t hold that against his father, he just wished that they could hold these meetings in a more neutral setting. Having him sweating through his clothes as his father explained some other facet of his vision for their family’s future. Which Albrecht was finding difficult to pay attention to because of the intrusive thoughts that were swirling repeatedly around his brain.
While Albrecht admired the aspect of his father that was the ability to bring his ambitions to reality, he feared that vision would run aground on the shoals of reality and might not live long past Manfred the Elder himself. To put it plainly, Albrecht already found himself trying to fill his father’s shoes and worried that he wasn’t adequate. Give him a Carrier Taskforce with a well-ordered crews and a clear set of orders, and Albrecht could exceed even the wildest of expectations. Silesia was far messier though and there were dozens of competing interests that all had valid claims. How on earth had the old buzzard managed to play this game for so many decades without having them eat him alive?
Albrecht was nowhere near as ruthless as his father. So, what was going to happen once his father was no longer around? For all his scheming and ambition, the one thing that Manfred the Elder had never seemed to consider was that he was as mortal as any other man.
“I received the latest letter from Nikolaus” Manfred the Elder said, “It seems the Martzel Ibarra has finally reached out to him, that old reprobate is looking for a deal involving the younger of his two grandsons.”
They had discussed this months before. Manfred the Elder knew a great deal about what the political situation was in Argentina where land was a sign of political clout and the Richthofen family owned a great deal of land in that country. That had given Nikolaus a seat at the table in Patagonia, and it had also created friction with his Commanding Officer who was not nearly as well regarded. Manfred had stated that sometimes having to sooth the bruised egos of his superiors was something the Nikolaus was just going have to do throughout his career, no matter what it ultimately was. It was one of the few times in which Albrecht was in perfect agreement with his father.
“Just what does he have in mind?” Albrecht asked.
“Nothing too difficult” Manfred replied, “Just the introductions being made and getting an indifferent student to go to University.”
“Sounds all too familiar” Albrecht said, he and Ilse had been trying to convince Nikolaus that he should go on to higher education. If for no other reason than Ilse thinking, probably correctly, that being a Cavalry Trooper in this era wasn’t a career with much of a future. Nikolaus being a teenager though, he had seen the opportunity for adventure and little else.
“I think that when Nikolaus gets back this time he will be a lot more agreeable with what you are Ilse have been telling him” Manfred said, “Nothing like a good dose of reality to get a young man to see he has better options.”
“Speaking from personal experience?”
Manfred the Elder didn’t answer that question. Though he’d had a Classical Education in the fashion of a Nineteenth-Century Gentleman, he had excelled on the athletic field rather than the classroom. Albrecht suspected that was part of the reason why he enjoyed the presence of Sabastian Schultz on Holidays, the boy reminded him of a younger version of himself.
“I’ve been observing how you have been running things” Manfred said, changing the subject. “You are going to burn out if you don’t change your perspective.”
“And what perspective do I need?” Albrecht asked in reply.
“This isn’t commanding a ship at sea” Manfred said, “More like being the referee at a Football match.”
“What about all the times you have given a hard no to people and advised me to do the same?”
“You mean telling Aaron von Groß to go fuck himself last week over his latest hairbrained venture?” Manfred replied, “I’ve done that a lot over the years and that idiot has never figured out that it is far more useful for me to tell him no.”
There was cynical and then there was this, which was taking it to a whole new level.
“He is Sonje’s husband” Albrecht said.
“And I told her that her marriage to that louse was a mistake” Manfred replied, “That was right after Helene had married into the Mischner family and Sonje was desperate to keep up appearances by marrying into a family with an old title. A few decades later, how has that worked out?”
Albrecht seldom heard his father talk about his sister’s various marriages. He had often referred to Hans von Mischner as a lummox, but that was it. He had stopped doing that after watching how the Polish Campaign, in which Hans had masterfully commanded an Army Group, had played out. Over the years Manfred seemed to have come to the opinion that Sonje and Caecilia, his two youngest daughters, could have done better in that regard.