Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Six
13th September 1975
The arrival of the Squadron was cause for great fanfare in the largest seaport in Romania. Everywhere Louis Ferdinand Junior looked, he saw the blue, yellow, and red flags of Romania mingled with the red, white, and black of Germany. It was painfully obvious what these people’s expectations were now that he was here. The Helmsman was expertly steering the Grindwal towards the pier, the actual size of the Corvette suddenly apparent as they could see hundreds of people there to greet them as they arrived.
“Looking forward to meeting the parents” Borchardt said with a chuckle.
“Don’t you start” Louis replied.
When they had arrived at station in Constantinople, there had been a message waiting for Louis. The Squadron had been ordered into the Black Sea for what had been described as a diplomatic visit. It seemed that the Navy was extremely interested in Constanța and the Danube Delta. From there they could keep tabs on what the Greeks and Russians were up to without drawing to much attention to themselves. Louis was reminded of the string of semi-secret listing posts that Naval Intelligence maintained on Atlantic islands so that they could observe what the Americans were doing. While there were already outposts in Odessa and Sevastopol, the unpredictable, and often openly hostile relationship between Ukraine and Russia imposed limits on them. No one in the BND, MND, and AA wanted to risk another war with Russia and had the goal of containing any conflict between Russia and Ukraine, should that happen.
The listening posts had been an idea of Grand Admiral von Schmidt, whose legacy the Navy had been built on over the last few decades. The Grindwal was also a part of that. Light, hard-hitting units that could operate over wide expanses of sea. The term glass cannon might have been used to describe the ships, though in an era with nuclear weapons and anti-ship guided missiles it was debatable just how much utility the old Dreadnaughts might have had. The electronic countermeasures, flare/chaff projectors, and the swift agility of the Grindwal herself were a different kind of armor. Louis had conducted drills where they had simulated missile attack.
The resulting mad scramble that had resulted had been informative. Louis’ greatest hope was that they would never put those systems to the test because in real life they couldn’t reset and start over. Any mistakes go them killed. To drive that point home, damage control drills had been conducted right after the missile drills.
The idea that Margareta was waiting for him in Constanța with her parents felt a lot like those missile drills. The difference was that this was obviously not a drill, the only difference was that no one was yelling “Vampire!” at the moment.
“The men are looking forward to liberty after they didn’t get it back in Greece” Borchardt said.
“I understand that Constanța is almost as good” Louis said, “They will be the toast of the town here. I’m not sure what sort of reception they might have gotten in Athens or Constantinople.”
“That’s you speaking as the Captain” Borchardt said, “The men just know that they have been at sea for a while and a few days of blowing through their back pay is in the offing. They could give two shits about politics right until the instant it lands them in the local jail.”
“Thinking about the welfare of the crew and avoiding international incidents?” Louis asked, “Starting to think like an Officer as opposed to being the buffer.”
Borchardt gave Louis a dirty look. His role as Oberdeckoffizer was a bit nebulous with men in his capacity often filling specialty roles. So, there was some question as to where Greg Borchardt fell into the chain of command aboard the Grindwal. Oberleutnant zur See Bruno Eglītis, the Grindwal’s new XO, the Ship’s Engineer, Doctor, ASW and Gunnery Officers all technically outranked him. At the same time, everyone knew that he was the enforcer of Louis’ will aboard the Grindwal. That had grown a bit more ticklish with the addition of Leutnant Muller to the crew, who now occupied the third in command slot which had once been held by Borchardt because no one else had been available.
It was a beautiful September afternoon, the sort that Marie Alexandra wanted to get out and enjoy it. Winter was coming soon enough, and she remembered what last winter had been like. Inviting Henriette had been a good idea, Marie had been planning they were exploring the Little Italy and Mile-Ex neighborhoods anyway. As had happened occasionally in the past, Henriette’s mother had practically pushed them out the door telling them to go do the sort of fun things young women did. Henriette had been dragging Alice’s stroller towards the door. Mrs. Lane had been having none of that. She said that she, but more likely the Lane’s housekeeper Isabella, would mind Alice that afternoon.
With how Marie had arrived back in Montreal with barely enough time to prepare for the start of the new term they had not had time to catch up in the weeks since. At the moment, Henriette was watching with a bemused expression as Marie talked with the woman who ran the bakery they were in, in rapid fire Italian. She had only wanted to order biscotti for them, but upon hearing Marie speaking in Italian, it had turned into an entire conversation. She didn’t believe that Marie was German, saying that she didn’t have a German accent and that she looked more like someone from Turin or Milan. It was sort of an odd thing to say, still, Marie was able to get directions to the best coffee shop in the neighborhood to go with the Biscotti.