Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 139, Chapter 2398
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-Eight

9th August 1975

Charlottenburg, Berlin

Zella had spent most of the last week inside her apartment having locked everyone else out and having a panic attack every time she thought too much about everything that had happened. Instead, she had gone to her original medium of painting to try to work that out. The result was a painting that was a mishmash of garish colors and no cohesion, a visual representation of her own anguish and mental state. Looking at the thing, Kiki figured that it was probably just as well that no one else had seen it and that Zella would probably paint over it with something less disturbing in the future.

Kiki could also see that Zella looked like she had not slept, eaten, or bathed in that time. Wearing dirty clothes that were covered in paint while looking like was about to fall over from exhaustion was really the least of her problems though. Fortunately, any drugs and alcohol in her apartment were long gone and Zella’s anxiety had prevented her from getting more.

“You make a phone call, and a problem just goes away” Zella said to Kiki as she was sprawled boneless on the couch. “Can you do that for me this once?”

“I wish it worked that way” Kiki replied as she was opening the windows of Zella’s apartment to let some air in. “That only works if someone is giving me trouble. When it comes to personal matters, I am on my own.”

“That fucking sucks” Zella said.

“You haven’t done lasting damage to yourself” Kiki said, “And your employer was quite happy when I told them that you had talked me into doing a live interview at some time in the near future.”

“Except for that one thing” Zella said, and Kiki gave her a dirty look.

“Your obsessing over that matter does you no favors” Kiki said, “It’s been what, six or seven days? Too soon to know anything and that is my opinion as your Physician.”

Earlier that week Zella had called Kiki frantic about how in the intoxicated state she had been in, she had neglected everything. That included the dietary supplements and oral contraceptives she was supposed to take daily. Ordinarily that wouldn’t have been a problem, except her boyfriend had come over while Zella had been feeling upset and lonely, what had happened next was predictable. She had only discovered the problem the next morning. The thing was that it wasn’t the first time that Kiki had heard a story like that, not by a long shot. She had suggested that Zella talk to her mother or their friend Aurora, but Zella had been afraid that she would have to listen to some version of “I told you so” and had isolated herself. In Kiki’s personal experience, that was almost always a stupid move especially at a time when you shouldn’t be alone.

“What would you do if you were in my situation?” Zella asked.

“I wouldn’t be asking stupid questions” Kiki replied, probably sharper than intended. “Especially ones with obvious answers.”

Zella paused; she had been so wrapped up in her own problems she had not considered that Kiki had her own life. A life she had put on hold to come help a friend sort things out.

“Where are Nina and Lutz?” Zella asked, as she belatedly realized the problem.

“Nina is with her father and Louis is with his grandparents” Kiki replied, “Bernhard and Nadine are always happy to see one of their grandchildren.”

Zella groaned and threw a blanket on her couch over her head. That response was exactly the sort of thing that she didn’t want to hear. For lack of anything better to do, Kiki joined Zella on the couch and waited for her to say something.

“Why can’t life be simple the way it used to be?” Zella asked.

“You would have to go back a long way for that” Kiki replied. She couldn’t remember when life had been particularly simple. There had always been something going on that had made a mess of things. Being the Princess Royal of Germany came with a massive load of expectations, and the first thing that anyone noticed was that Kiki had never been able to look or act the part with her dark curly hair, glasses, and bookish nature. When they were children, Zella had been far ahead of the game. Or at least that was how it had always seemed to Kiki. Now as adults, that was simply not the case. What exactly had changed and when had that happened?

“I have an idea” Kiki said after they sat in silence for a long awkward moment. “You get cleaned up and we will go get breakfast. And I promise that we will save this conversation for later.”

Zella smiled at that. Despite everything else, she had to be hungry and as well as exhausted. Kiki had seen this before in the Emergency Departments of the various hospitals she had worked in. People wanted basic needs filled, any discussions regarding thorny issues had to wait until they were in a better frame of mind. The worry that Kiki had was that Zella might be expecting her to make her decisions for her because she was feeling overwhelmed. That was the last thing that either of them needed. When Kiki had spoken with Nora Berg, she had made a point of telling her to use caution in that regard.
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Zella has a lot of guilty feelings over the affair with her professor, one is that she informed his wife of the affair along with Zella bringing other victims to the wife's attention leading to the wife taking hammer to balls to her husband.
This led to the wife being convicted of a felony and sent to prison.
Kat did tell Zella that the wife would be viewed favorably by the other prisoners and the wife should be out of prison by now and I wonder if Zella meeting the wife after all these years might be a good thing or the worst...
The simple act of having a shower and cleaning herself up will lift Zella significantly. Not a cure, not by a VEEERY long shot, but, it's a start and will make the next step easier than otherwise.
Part 129, Chapter 2399
Chapter Two Thousand Three Hundred Ninety-Nine

14th August 1975

Near Limassol, Cyprus

RAF Airfield Akrotiri wasn’t a hard place to be posted. Drinking water was the biggest problem as Wing Commander Bradford Sickles had discovered, with the Cypriot Greeks just outside the gates being a close second. He had joined the Air Force to fly airplanes after University, only to discover that the RAF needed Logistics Officers and Engineers far more than they needed Pilots. That especially true in places like Cyprus, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Diego Garcia, Hong Kong, and dozens of points in between where he had been posted over an eventful career. It had been fighting the insurgency in Kenya where Bradford had found himself leading RAF Airfield Security Personnel who had been pressed into service as Infantry which he owed his present rank, reputation, and posting. The trouble was that he found himself having to play the role of diplomat. One that he was ill suited to as he had some unexpected and unwelcome guests, several of whom were in this room sipping drinks and carrying on conversations.

Once, a handful of German ships might have caused a panic if they had appeared in Akrotiri Bay. Bradford remembered his grandfather’s stories about what the Jerry had done to British Coastal cities during the First World War, how the Admiralty had assumed that they could track German ships at sea. Decades later they discovered that the Jerry had been wise to that and had planned accordingly. The result was the shelling of Lowestoft and Gorleston in a single bloody night that had ended in the almost complete destruction of Felixstowe, a crime of such a scope that it was only eclipsed by the actions of Stalin a generation later. An entire city, thousands of people, gone in an instant. Should not have been the least bit surprising that Norfolk and Suffolk had erupted in violent protest when word reached them that Westminster had thrown their lot with the Germans and joined the fight against the Soviet Union. That had all happened a few years before he had been born, but people talked about those events like they were yesterday.

When he had seen the German ships Bradford had felt anger at their mere presence, wishing that the sea would open up and swallow them. Those were Corvettes according to the Naval Personnel who had seen them and apparently under the command of a German Prince. He had to bite back his distaste as he saw Prince von Preussen speaking with the Base Commander and Jack Wick, the Colonial Administrator who Bradford considered possibly the biggest waste of oxygen he had ever encountered.

Seeing the German Prince up close, Bradford could see the white Summer Uniform and the array of medals. Bradford recognized the blue enameled gold Maltese Cross, the famous Blue Max, on the black and white ribbon around the Prince’s neck and the Iron Cross pinned to his chest. He also saw the George’s Cross, a British medal, which was a puzzling addition. The rest were ones that he was unfamiliar with. There were two men with the Prince, a man identified as a Warrant Officer named Borchardt, a name that didn’t sound like it was German, and Major Brog, a Marine Officer.

“This is Wing Commander Sickles” Wick said in introduction, “If you need anything while you are in Cyprus, he is the one to ask Captain von Preussen.”

“Pleased to meet you” The Prince said in heavily accented English and was offering shake Bradford’s hand. He debated for a moment exactly what to do and wished that Wick had not said that.

Mitte, Berlin

It was obvious why the Tigress had wanted to meet him in the Tiergarten. There were few places so far outside his element than the park in broad daylight on a warm summer afternoon. That much was made clear by the stares that Birsha Bleier was getting from the passersby. The Tigress was seated on a bench enjoying the afternoon as Birsha took a seat beside her.

“Exactly why did you want this meeting?” Birsha asked.

“It has been two years since you last tried to kill me” The Tigress said, “I felt that it was only fair to mark the occasion. There is also this…”

The Tigress gave him a smile before handing him a piece of paper. Unfolding the piece of paper, Birsha saw a name and an address, both of which had once belonged to him.

“I have resources that you cannot imagine” The Tigress said happily.

“I’ve killed for lesser trespasses than this” Birsha said angrily. The expression on the Tigress’ face never changed.

“Spare me the theatrics” The Tigress said, “I get enough of that from my children and besides, the KSK Snipers I have on overwatch for this meeting will shoot you dead if your hand gets any closer to that knife on your belt.”

Birsha paused his hand moving away from the knife.

“If anything happens to me and you happen to get away, your friends in the Society of Silence will hear all about the real reason why you were run out of Altötting and cannot use your real name” The Tigress said, “Do you think that you would vanish as thoroughly as most of your victims? Just with a lot more screaming before the end?”

It had been a long time since Birsha had been so easily outmaneuvered.

“You wouldn’t have called for this meeting unless you already knew exactly what would happen?” Birsha spit at the Tigress, that was half question and half accusation.

“What do you think?” The Tigress asked in reply.

“What the fuck do you want?” Birsha asked.

“Mind your language” The Tigress said, “There are children around and their parents might take exception.”

The serene expression on her face suggested what she wanted; To show Birsha who was boss in this city. He had no answer for that.
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I think that the next major international crisis is going to be in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Geeks when last seen were pushing the Turks along the Mediterranean coastline of the Anatolian Peninsula, probably to deny the Turks any operational room to interfere with any plans the Greeks has for either Cyprus or the Dodecanese Islands held by Italy.
The easiest option would be forcing an Enois between the Hellenic Empire and the British Crown Colony of Cyprus.
With the population of Cyprus being over 70% Greek that maybe the less risky option for Greece as they can use the "spontaneous" outbreak of violence as an excuse for sending "Peacekeeping" forces in order to protect the Greek population against the British "Oppressors" and their Turkish supporters.
Hopefully Sickles wasn’t involved in the concentration/torture camps the Brits used in Kenya, or the multiple notable massacres committed by them
If sir Terry Pratchett ever writes the Discworld series in this timeline Vetinari may just end up female due to the inspiration from Kat.
I hope whatever the greeks Planned, fail. It just left bitter taste in my mouth after they got away with their ethnic cleansing with almost no repercussion last time.
I hope whatever the greeks Planned, fail. It just left bitter taste in my mouth after they got away with their ethnic cleansing with almost no repercussion last time.
Sadly, the perpetrators of crimes against humanity are rarely prosecuted for it unless they lose a war. There was reason why Augusto Pinochet getting detained in Spain came as such a shock.
It had been a long time since Birsha had been so easily outmaneuvered.
He really should have seen this coming, considering what happened to his suicide squad when they went up against Kat and the Russian Sisters. He keeps underestimating her; now he knows why they call her the Tigress... and that her karambit is sitting just under his balls.
Part 139, Chapter 2400
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred

22nd August 1975


Public relations disasters came in all shapes and sizes as Manfred the Younger had learned as he prepared to make yet another television appearance where he could try to be the friendly face of the 140th Regiment. All of this stemmed from an exercise that had been planned and executed without Manny’s input where the Oberst had wanted the most realistic simulation of actual combat possible and those he had tasked with carrying it out had done their jobs a little too well.

The scenario was an urban setting with the enemy deeply dug in, it was something that soldiers dreaded coming against. The real trouble though, was that one of the Engineers had done his homework and read accounts of exactly what that entailed. He had also included several elements that were not typical. Tape recordings and old department store mannequins had been set up to simulate the presence of civilians with cunning devices set up to create the unexpected in that situation.

Manny had later learned that they had all been so proud of the project that they had stupidly invited a camera crew to record the exercise. He would have told them not to have done that if he had been asked. And the results had been completely disastrous.

The sounds of people in the buildings around them had caused the soldiers to move with too much caution, enabling the opposing force to run circles around them. It wasn’t until one of the Leutnants became a “casualty” that the Noncoms who had experience in Poland and Patagonia had taken charge, clearing rooms with grenades and machine gun fire. Disregarding the presence of any “civilians” with the ill fortune to be present. The thinking had been that minimizing casualties was well and good, but not at the expense of blood. Everyone knew that urban combat was inherently brutal business, at least anyone who mattered.

The video cameras had caught the whole thing, including the explanations given.

Manny’s father had once told him that people liked the idea of Soldiers. What they didn’t like was seeing the reality of what Soldiers did. It wasn’t the bloodless thrills and quips they saw in action movies. It was grinding and bloody. Even an exercise like the one that had been captured on camera revealed several uncomfortable truths that the public was not prepared to deal with, mostly that extremely bad things happened to those unlucky enough to be caught in the crossfire. The tapes had been disseminated widely by the time Manny had been belatedly called and he was left being the one to clean up the mess, after all as the Public Affairs Officer that was what he did as he found himself answering questions from unfriendly journalists. This was one of those times when he seriously wished that he had any other job in the Regiment.

Los Angeles

The phrase “Move along, nothing to see here” had never felt more absurd as it did at this moment. Thousands would have witnessed the mid-air collision that had occurred over the Santa Monica Mountains. In addition to the Fire Department, there were those who were merely curious, and they needed to be kept away before they messed up the incident scene. After the shootout in South Central, Ritchie had been reassigned to the distant West Bureau patrolling the exclusive neighborhoods in West Los Angeles. Having him remain in Central was seen as borrowing trouble as apparently the street gang whose membership he had decimated had vowed revenge. Of course, Lucia didn’t mind. His rank meant that he was almost always the incident commander, meaning that his arrival on the scene was usually after things had settled. All that was left was questioning the witnesses and cleaning up the mess. Of course, little of note ever seemed to occur in West Los Angeles beyond drugs and domestic incidents. That was completely unlike the Central Bureau which had been a thrill a minute. Until today.

Ritchie was cursing under his breath as he drove towards the scene which was spread out over several hundred yards. There were things that were recognizable, like a turbine engine that had split a tree in half. The rest was unidentifiable twisted wreckage. The primary concern of the Fire Fighters was to put out the fires that had been caused by the crash.

Looking around, Ritchie swiftly called for backup as he saw that there were a couple of Police Officers standing around in the manner he was all too familiar with. They had seen that it would be difficult if not impossible to cordon this area off and hadn’t even tried. Ritchie could hear on the radio that the FBI and USAF Investigators were inbound. They were going to be pissed if they saw the chaotic scene that he was looking at…

That was when he saw something that made his blood run cold. Down the hill from the main crash site what looked like a giant trash can was hanging from a parachute in a tree. Some of the people who were here to gawk at the crash were looking at it.

He was out of the car in seconds and running down the hill.

“Get away from that!” Ritchie yelled in a tone that suggested that he was not to be disobeyed.

“We’re just looking around” One of the gawkers said indignantly.

“Do you have any idea what that is!” Richie roared back.

He just stared at Ritchie, it suddenly penetrating that more was going on here than he had thought. “Asshole” The gawker said as he and his friends walked away.
It sounds like it is a Fuel Air Explosive Bomb or the proverbial Nuclear Bomb or the more benign explanation that it is a dummy practice bomb and the aircraft it was on was on a simulated bombing run.
I was thinking about the sheer prestige the German armed forces must have ITTL. They've won every war they fought decisively, except for WW1, which, while a technical impasse, could be argued to be a German strategic victory. They've been a cornerstone of the German Empire right to being largely responsible for enabling its foundation, and have fought and won decisively what most would consider an existential war in living memory.

The perception the German citizens would have of them would make OTL's modern US' adoration of the military blush, and it would not only be a thing among Germans. Going to war against the Germans at this point would be seen as suicide with extra steps by most people.
Part 139, Chapter 2401
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred One

25th August 1975

Washington D.C.

“Yeah, it would have been a great loss if all the fruits and nuts in LA had been blown to dust” Nixon overheard one of the Aides say to another with a snicker as he walked into the Oval Office. He took note of who he was. While Nixon wasn’t intending to retaliate, it was good to know which people should not be in positions of responsibility in the future. What the Aide had expressed was a common attitude that Nixon had encountered from people who had never set foot in California, much less knew anything about Los Angeles. If they had understood the reality beyond their own narrow perspective, they wouldn’t have found the situation remotely funny.

They had no idea devastating it would have been to the entire country if the bomb that had landed in the Santa Monica Mountains had gone off. They only knew what they saw of Los Angeles on television or had thrown jokes around about. Southern California was home to domestic film production, aircraft, and car manufacturing, not to mention that a good portion of the nation’s agricultural products. The explosion and the radioactive fallout would bring all of that to a screeching halt. There was also the human cost, which was too nightmarish to think about beyond raw estimates. There was a reason why the League of Nations had debated whether or not the use, or even the possession, of nuclear arms constituted a war crime. Finally, people in small States had no idea how dependent they were on the flow of Federal tax dollars from New York and California to remain functional. Thanks to the Electoral College and the US Senate they had an outsized voice in the Government, far more than their actual numbers warranted. They would have been forced to take notice of reality if things had played out with only a slight difference. The experts were debating about switches and yields, it seemed that disaster had only narrowly been avoided.

“How close was this thing to going off?” Nixon asked the gathered experts as he sat down behind the resolute desk. “No hypotheticals or speculation.”

The experts started debating among themselves for several more minutes.

It was Nixon’s understanding that a Boeing B-56 “Stratojet II” out of Travis Air Force Base had been conducting a training mission when it had collided with a cargo plane over the Santa Monica Mountains. It was unclear exactly how that had happened. Regardless though, the bomb that the USAF plane was carrying had been flung from the bomb bay and had armed itself. Apparently, only the failure of high-voltage switches had prevented a detonation. Nixon wanted the head of whoever was responsible for this mess, and they had better have stars on their collar.

“We think that the most likely result would have been a fizzle Mr. President” One of experts said.

“And that means?” Nixon asked.

“Well, it would have gone off” The expert replied, “Just the secondary stage wouldn’t have ignited.”

“So, that means that a nuclear bomb would have still gone off in the middle of one of the largest cities in the country?” Nixon asked. The experts just stared at him. That was exactly what they were saying. The only question was just how big of an explosion it would have been. Already, there were moves to bring down the veil of secrecy on the whole thing. The public already distrusted the Government over matters of war and peace, this would just compound that further if word ever got out.

Looking at the documents, Nixon saw a familiar name. Richard Valenzuela, a Police Sergeant in the LAPD, and Sergeant-Major in the California National Guard had been one of the first people on the scene. He had instantly recognized what he was dealing with and had radioed in help from anyone he could raise to contain it. That was fast thinking and considering where he was, Sergeant Valenzuela could have done profound damage with that same radio. When he had become President, Nixon had been made aware of the secret wars that America fought and just who fought in them. Sergeant Valenzuela was one of those people and this wasn’t the first time he had kept the details of an incident like this himself. That man’s talents really were being wasted by the City of Los Angeles.

Charlottenburg, Berlin

Looking out at the park and the city lights beyond, it was a reminder to Zella that there was a wider world out there. She was starting to feel a bit of guilt over how she had been totally selfish over the prior weeks. Kiki had told her that it was a normal reaction to the loss of a loved one and that there was no correct way to go about doing it. Still though, she recalled her family, her parents and uncle in particular, who had borne the brunt of her misbehavior. Now she had the unappetizing prospect of trying to make amends. How exactly do you apologize for some of the things that she had said? It didn’t matter that she had need drunk and high. All that did was lower inhibitions. Uncle Peter was a retired Psychiatrist, so he would know full well that Zella had spoken the things that she was thinking and not caring about how much hurt she caused. Her parents weren’t stupid, Zella understood that her mother had thought that she was insane at various times in the past. God only knew what they thought of her.

Kiki had told Zella not to worry too much about that. Accepting all the times that you far from your best self was the sort of thing that families did. Of course, Kiki had made a point of telling her that she couldn’t just put her life on hold every time Zella had a personal crisis because she had her own family to consider. That was something else that Zella felt guilty about. She knew that Kiki was stretched more than anyone else, yet she had still called her. Only now did Zella realize how being scared had made her make a series of mistakes which had only compounded the ones she had already made.
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