Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Seventy-Eight
13th June 1975
Today might have been considered unlucky, but for Kiki, she finally felt like things were going back to normal. A few weeks earlier she had moved back to Balderschwang after great efforts had gone into improving the security of the house of the Director of Argelander Observatory. Despite this, Kiki knew that she would need to be preparing for her sister’s wedding in just a week in Galicia-Ruthenia. After that she was going to travel to Hohenzollern Castle to prepare it to play host to a new group of children from the city. It was considered a charitable activity because most of them were from various disadvantaged backgrounds. Then she would be back in Bavaria for the autumn.
There had been a bit of a surprise when Kiki had been sent a notification asking if Nina would be attending school in Sonthofen. She was used to thinking of her daughter as being a small child but when she got that notification she realized that Nina was not that small anymore. Nina was excited after they told her that she would be going to school, something that Kiki figured would probably change in a hurry when she figured out that it would mean getting up early most days.
Knowing all of that, Kiki figured the best thing she could do was as little as possible in the meantime. Fianna had understood this and had made a point of telling Kiki that she had the afternoon off. Louis and Nina had been taken to a different part of the house after Kiki had seen to Louis’ needs.
Sitting in the shade on the back patio of the house, Kiki looked down at the new fence at the edge of the property. The landscapers had done a good job in making hard to see and felt a bit of guilt that her presence had made it necessary. The rest of the valley was beautiful though. The green grass, trees on the mountainsides lit by bright sunlight on a partly sunny day. The mountains here were not quite high enough for there to be snow on the peaks year-round. It being June there were still patches of vivid white here and there though.
The ski resort had closed for the season and most of the activity surrounding the Observatory occurred after dark. So, it was pleasantly quiet with the main sounds being birds and the wind. Occasionally, Kiki heard the sound of Nina’s voice as she was talking at Fianna as she tended to do.
Ben had said that he would be back this evening. He had been invited to something hush-hush related to his role as a Luftwaffe Reservist and involving King Albrecht of Bavaria. Why was it that anything to do with Albrecht, no matter how serious it was, sounded like a silly game?
Entering the Kempten Imperial Laboratories was like stepping onto a different planet. It was pleasant late spring afternoon and then they had rounded a turn in the road and encountered a gate in a double fence with topped with concertina wire. Next to the road was a sign that read; WARNING, RESTRICTED AREA, Use of deadly force authorized.
Which struck Ben as a bit ominous even without the presence of a large number of Paras in full field kit. Ben had encountered members of the Fallschirmjäger in the past, mostly guarding the airfields he had flown out of. This felt totally different though. Something about the set of their shoulders and the expressions on their faces suggested that the words on the sign were not a bluff. When Ben had been named the Graf of Oberallgäu he had been expressly told that his authority did not extend to this place, and it had been strongly suggested that he not pursue the matter.
Yet here he was.
This had not been his idea. He had been invited by Albrecht of Bavaria as a Scientific Advisor and the King of Bavaria had basically ordered Ben to wear his uniform. The medals he was wearing, especially the PLM and ESA Polaris Medal would make the Laboratory Director and the Commanding General take him seriously. He had pointed out to Albrecht that he was an Astronomer as opposed to a Nuclear Physicist.
While there was a great deal of crossover, everyone in the Kempten Labs would know that he was not of their specialty. Albrecht had said it didn’t matter because he knew how to speak their language and Ben would be standing next to the King of Bavaria, someone who Emperor Friedrich wanted to keep happy about having this installation in his Kingdom. That included an annual tour to see what exactly was going on there.
Ben had warned him that he was probably getting snowed and kept away from the real research that was going on and Albrecht said that was exactly why he needed him along, there might even be another medal in it for him.
When Albrecht had said that it was a reminder of the reason why Kiki had a dim view of medals and Orders. She had clearly been influenced by Kat von Mischner in that regard, but after all she had been through Kiki had a slightly more nuanced perspective. She said that Kat had told her that medals never reflected the seas of blood they represented. While Kiki didn’t disagree with that, she felt that they were just bits of tin until the reputation of the recipient was factored in. King Albrecht was a prime example, he had served in the Bavarian Army, but during the Spanish War the Platoon he led as a Leutnant didn’t make it to Spain before the war ended. Apparently, someone in the High Command had him posted him to the Staff of Generalfeldmarschall von Wolvogle during the Second World War in an unexpected attack of good sense. His view of medals reflected that experience.
“Your Highness” The Fallschirmjäger General said to Albrecht as he stepped out of the car followed by Ben. Out of long habit, Ben snapped to attention in the presence of a General.
“My Science Advisor, Oberst Doctor von Hirsch” Albrecht said.
To Ben’s surprise, the General shook his hand. “An honor to meet you, Oberst” he said before turning on his heel and striding towards the entrance to the largely underground complex.
“See, I told you it was a good idea” Albrecht said, and Ben figured that holding his tongue would probably be wise.