Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 140, Chapter 1429
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Twenty-Nine

25th December 1975

Mitte, Berlin

The studio was located in the penthouse apartment that belonged to the Hohenzollern family. Zella had visited it several times before because Kiki frequently stayed there whenever she was in Berlin and didn’t want to go through the bother of opening up her cottage on the grounds of the Winter Residence in Plänterwald.

Normally, Zella would have been a bit put out over having to work on a holiday. This however was different. Perhaps Kiki had talked her brother into it, or Freddy had decided to request Zella on his own, she wasn’t sure exactly, but she had been asked to give the interview that would be the follow-up to the Emperor’s Christmas address to the Empire. It would be going out on all the major radio stations and television broadcast channels, so it was the sort of thing that defined an entire career.

For Zella herself, this had come at the perfect time. She had found that she was running out of time. At the Hospital, she had been told that her pregnancy was progressing normally. The trouble was that her employers expected her to go on maternity leave at six months, which was the beginning of January. The other wrinkle was that ARD was a public broadcaster and they were looking at the political aspect of all this. Zella felt that her life outside of what she did in front of the camera was no one’s business but hers. The Chairman of ARD’s Berlin affiliate disagreed. He had told her that her marriage status and gender made this a political issue. Zella had seen that this was one of those times when arguing would make things worse. The physical realty wasn’t helping as she was nearly six months along and anyone who saw her could tell.

Yuri had offered to marry her but hadn’t thought this through. He was technically Zella’s subordinate even if they hadn’t worked together in months. Despite ARD’s policies when it came to interpersonal relationships, Zella knew that they would not hesitate to land on her with both feet. As it was, she was going away and taking the problems she presented with her, so they didn’t have to think about it.

Then there was Yuri’s mother.

Yuliya Kozlova saw nothing wrong with Zella’s situation, which was exactly the opposite of how Zella’s own mother saw things. She felt that it was tame compared to what she had faced when Yuri had been born three decades earlier. She had never told Zella the details, but it didn’t take much effort to fill in the blanks. Yuri’s paternity being totally unknown told a story in itself. For Yuliya this was her first grandchild and Zella saw her constantly because of that. She was also one of the Russian sisters and Zella had heard the rumors about what they were capable of, so it was difficult to tell her “No” when Yuliya became too intrusive.

Today’s interview would be the last hurrah before Zella would be required to bow out for the next year. Then she would have a few months to try to get things together before she would have the baby. It all seemed so daunting.

Watching Freddy giving his address, Zella thought that she heard a bit of dislike creep into his voice as he mentioned the present Chancellor. Zella had heard talk about some of the minor parties that were part of the governing coalition with the National Liberals. Mostly about how they had a mindset that would have fit in well in the Court of the Habsburg Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. To their great disappointment pogroms and witch burnings were no longer fashionable. Like his father before him, Freddy tried to have a somewhat progressive outlook, something that was made difficult by occupying an Office that was essentially a Medieval institution. Zella had several questions addressing that very topic.

Then Freddy mentioned that the family had new addition with his children receiving a puppy from retired Generalfeldmarschall Manfred König von Richthofen zu Silesia. Apparently, it was of the weird mixed breed dogs that von Richthofen had on his estate that were descended from Friedrich and Wilhelm, a pair of Dachshunds he had been given as a joke several years earlier and what he thought were local terriers. It seemed strange to hear about how all three of the Emperor’s children were old enough to have a dog, but with the youngest, Prince Eduard being four years old, that was true. Like most people, Zella thought of them as being small children, but Princess Mirai was nearly twelve.

While Zella was not planning on giving the sort of interview that might be called “Soft Ball” there were a few questions that she had for Freddy. Namely how he would handle having a daughter who would probably be every bit as wild as Zella had been in a couple of years. Freddy would probably respond with a bit of humor and joke about sending Mirai to a convent. That was where Zella’s relationship with Kiki would trip him up. She knew that his father had done that once to Rea and Vicky when they had gone too with one of their pranks when they had been teenagers.

With that, Freddy concluded his address and Zella glanced at her notes. This was going to be the biggest moment of her career and she was intending to make the most of it. As the production crew signaled that they were in a break, two chairs were brought out. Freddy gave he a smile before taking his seat and Zella couldn’t help but notice the direction his eyes went as she walked towards hers. He had probably known for months because he had talked to his younger sister. If he thought that would cause Zella to go easy on him today, he was mistaken. Zella retuned his smile and thought about how this was actually going to be fun.
Oh Zella, I think you might be mistaken. Freddy has had a chance to learn from some of the best and worst and Freddy seems to me like that is just a facade he keeps up and knows exactly when to use it to his advantage and turn the tables on people when they least expect it.
Just got done watching All the President's Men (1974) on TCM, and it is another movie that won't be made ITTL.
The film introduced the phase "Follow the Money" into popular culture and that got me thinking that the film that would replace it ITTL would be about the embezzlement of the Kaiser's trust fund to be naturally titled All the Kaiser's Men (English title).
Oh Zella, I think you might be mistaken. Freddy has had a chance to learn from some of the best and worst and Freddy seems to me like that is just a facade he keeps up and knows exactly when to use it to his advantage and turn the tables on people when they least expect it.

I think, because of that, this will actually cement set in stone Zella's reputation as a journalist.
She's not likely to get flustered by this and Freddy will give as good as he gets, this has the hallmarks of being the sort of interview that is taught in journalism schools for the next 20+ years.

And knowing Freddy, he will "accidentally" say a few words that cripple ARD's chauvinistic politics. An off hand comment about how there's no reason women can't continue their careers after having children without penalty...
Freddy as the Kaiser has to walk a fine line in his interview with Zella, as a Constitutional Monarch he can not directly comment on policy, but he can go sideways in his criticism of the governing collation views on minorities in the Empire by saying his wife and the mother of his children is just as German as anyone else.
Freddy can also remind everyone that he took an oath to protect the rights of everyone, including those who look “different” and came from other places.
Sending daughters to the convent for them to learn a lesson is almost tradition on their extended family at this point since it would be 3 generations in a row.
Sending daughters to the convent for them to learn a lesson is almost tradition on their extended family at this point since it would be 3 generations in a row.
Though given his daughter’s half-Japanese, maybe shake it up by sending her to a Buddhist convent or to be a Miko in a Shinto shrine.
I am sure that if his eldest cannot get a chance to go to Tante Katze's charm school for truculent girls, she could spend some quality time with some of her cousins in Japan. Seems like there might be a private school, monestery, family historical sight on one of the numerous islands that make up Japan.
Call on line one your Highness. It's the ghosts of Louis Capet and Nicholas Romanov, it sounds urgent.
While it is assumed that any anti-Monarchial movement would come from the Left, IOTL the right-wing nationalist parties of Germany were not in favor of restoring the Hohenzollern Family to the throne.
Also, IOTL Admiral Horthy, the Regent of Hungary was in no hurry to restore the Habsburgs to the Crown of St, Stephan and it was the right-wing Military Junta of Greece who got rid of the Monarchy and made Greece a Republic and ask the political parties of France from the right if they are in favor of bringing back the Bourbons, Orleans, or the Bonapart's.
While Augustus Lang was in favor of getting rid of the Monarchy, he did have enough respect for the institution to let the people decide for themselves if they wanted to keep the Monarchy or not, I doubt that the Far-Right parties if they were given the chance to impose their will would bother asking the people first.
With all of that in mind, I think that the next big threat to The House of Hohenzollern is going to come from the right, who would have no problem using violence to get their way.
Part 140, Chapter 2430
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Thirty

31st December 1975

Balderschwang, Bavaria

It was New Year’s Eve, but no one felt like celebrating this year. Ben knew that for Kiki it was particularly hard because she needed to hold herself together for Nina. The way a child experienced grief was all consuming, both Ben and Kiki had been involved in dangerous occupations in the past. They understood the risks and accepted that. Nina though, she was dealing with the sorts of things that troubled adults.

Things had been going wonderfully as they had enjoyed the Christmas Holiday with a winter storm having closed the Observatory for a few days. Kiki had found watching Zella giving a particularly tough interview to her older brother a rare treat. Two days after Christmas, that was when things had taken a turn.

Having been a fixture in their lives for the prior decade and a half, Rauchbier had always been there, content to be close to them. Suddenly he was gone and that left a shattering void. The Veterinary Clinic had told them that it was stroke that had left him with a deep neurological deficit when they had brought him in and there was little that could be done. From almost the instant that Nina had been born, Rauchbier had been her constant companion and guardian. Kiki had told Ben that for her this felt the same as when she had lost Hera, she couldn’t imagine what it must be like for Nina. Hera had lived nearly twenty years and Kiki had been an adult at the time. Rauchbier had originally been part of a childish joke by Kiki’s brother, but he had become very much a part of their family. When the weather got better, they were planning on traveling to the Summer Residence in Potsdam and interring Rauchbier’s ashes on the terrace with the other family pets. Kiki remembered the impromptu service that she along with her brothers and sisters had performed when Ueli, Freddy’s foxhound had died. She said that was exactly what Nina needed. Ben didn’t feel the need to point out that Nina wasn’t alone in that, the two of them would be right there next to their daughter when they said their goodbyes.

Despite it being well after her normal bedtime, Ben was letting Nina stay up so that she could count down to midnight. Kiki had agreed that they needed to give her a rare treat after everything that had happened.

In the final hours of 1975, they talked about the changes that had occurred. Not just the obvious, but how Nina was no longer an only child, how riding a bicycle had turned out to be harder than she had thought it would be. Nina wasn’t particularly thrilled over the prospect of finding herself with a little brother and had said as much when Ben had mentioned it to her.

Ben had mentioned that in addition to his work at the Argelander Observatory, he was doing important work with Wim Franke that would help others like him make it back home in the future. What Ben had not been able to tell Kiki and Nina was that the Luftwaffe High Command had caught wind of the project. The result was that the stamp of official secrecy had been placed on it. They felt that if there was an advantage to be gained in any future conflict, then they wanted to be the only ones who knew about it.

Finally, Kiki who had listened to Ben and Nina talk had said that she was looking forward to going back to her career as soon as Louis Bernhard was old enough. It was a reminder to Ben just how when given a choice, Kiki almost always chose the most difficult path. Ben understood why she did it and wished that she would rest on her laurels this time. Still, regardless of the political issues that were presently a barrier for further advancement, Kiki’s ambitions had not changed. Ben knew in that instant that she was planning on dealing with that the same way she had dealt with every other barrier in the past, and God help anyone who got in her way.

As midnight neared, Nina had dozed off in her chair as Ben told Kiki about the most recent discoveries made by the huge primary telescope in the Observatory and the other more specialized telescopes and instruments. He had photographs in binders which Kiki always enjoyed looking through. In many ways he wished that it were possible for Kiki to be as open in her career but had realized that she was protecting him from some of the terrible things she saw on a regular basis.

As midnight arrived, Kiki gently woke Nina up and they headed out to the back porch. As the hour was struck fireworks were shot off in the center of Balderschwang and the bangs echoed off the mountain slopes. It was nothing like the massive fireworks display that was happening at that very moment in Berlin, but it was a welcome close to what had been a hectic year. Then after a few minutes they headed back into the house. Out of long habit, Ben held the door open for a minute with the expectation that… He closed the door quickly when he realized what he was doing and why. Kiki noticed and a look of sadness crossed her face.
Last edited:
And who would dare argue with the Emperor?
Oliver Cromwell, for one.
Out of long habit, Ben held the door open for a minute with the expectation that… He closed the door quickly when he realized what he was doing and why. Kiki noticed and a look of sadness crossed her face.
I have found myself putting food out for deceased pets more than once over the years. Damned onion ninjas then pounce on the opportunity. Just like they have now.
When Zella goes om maternity leave, it will be worth her time to watch a lot of the programs that are being shown on ARD.
With the National Liberals and the coalition partners on the Right, Zella may see a shift in the news reports and overall programming that reflects the views of the new leadership.
IOTL in the first years of the Nixon Administration, a White House Advisor by the name of Pat Buchannon, order a count of how many Jews were in the Commerce Department, and it wouldn't be surprising for that to happen to ARD ITTL.
The main areas that would be looked at besides the On-Air talent would be people in the production end including those in the editorial suites.
Part 141, Chapter 2431
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Thirty-One

16th January 1976

Mitte, Berlin

It was said that Augustus Lang would look out the windows of his office and just watch the anonymous people pass on the sidewalk and the avenue below. It had seemed strange that a man at the pinnacle of Government would waste time in such a manner, then Heinz found himself in the office looking down at the street named for the man who had walked down into the basement of the old Reichstag Building in a doomed effort to disarm the bomb which had leveled that building. The new building, the one Heinz was in, had been built atop the ruins and the body of Karl Weise had never been found. The memorial marker that was next to the front doors of the building was essentially a gravestone. Heinz had heard talk of a man sometimes seen wandering the halls of the Reichstag building late at night wearing the field grey uniform that Heer Soldiers wore back in the 30’s. Heinz was a rational man, so talk of the ghosts of the dead from the bombing struck him as patently absurd. Even so, he would be fool if he didn’t realize that there was more than one kind of ghost. This office, those that surrounded it, and the halls of the Parliament already had the weight of history of History upon them. This had been where Lang had been at the apex of his power even as the seeds of his own downfall had been sown. It was a lesson that those who had followed him ignored to their own peril.

Then Heinz caught sight of a man on the sidewalk holding up a placard with a photograph of Heinz’s face on it. It was the image that was popular with the University crowd of him with his right eye being blind. The implication being that he couldn’t see the danger that was coming from that direction. It just proved what they knew. The far-right parties that the NLP was in coalition with were composed to Monarchists who believed that they should be the Monarch and the Nationalists who believed the more or less the same thing except they usually called it something else. Their craving for power was the only thing that kept them pulling in the same direction, but Heinz knew that was tenuous. At any moment they might start arguing among themselves and he would have the headache of smoothing things over until the next argument, sometimes only moments later. He was well aware of the actual danger posed by them, it involved getting trampled if he made the mistake of getting between one of them and a television news camera so that they could preen a bit before bitterly whining about how the world was unfair to them and who they thought was to blame.

Turning away from the window, Heinz looked back at the notes from the latest briefing on his desk. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. The student protesters were getting a disproportionate amount of attention from the BII, but they had said what Heinz had already known. Most of them were harmless with groups like the Neo-Jacobins having disbanded when their leaders had landed in prison. Instead, there were nebulous threats from across the political spectrum with the BII basically saying they wouldn’t know what was serious until something changed.

Fort McCoy, Wisconsin

“Ritchie said he would have talked you out of it if he had not been up in Washington, but it’s a bit late for that now” Bobby had said over the phone when they had talked the day after Christmas. “Being bored in Burbank riveting aluminum panels has got to be better than freezing your nuts off in Wisconsin.”

It was sort of hard to argue that Bobby was wrong.

The whole thing had not been well thought out from the beginning. Mario’s real consideration had been that the thought of going back to work at the Lockheed assembly plant and working the riveting gun with the Quality Control Inspector breathing down his neck the entire time had filled him with such loathing that a few days up the coast, surfing with some friends in Santa Cruz and Big Sur last summer had seemed like godsend. Mario’s mother had been furious with him when he got back because she had gotten the call from Lockheed leaving a message that said not to bother coming back.

Bobby had told Mario about how Ritchie had told him that it might not have been a coincidence that an Army Recruiter had just happened to run into him when he was newly unemployed and with few prospects. They would have known about his technical background, he had built airplanes for crying out loud, and kept track of these things. They would have also known that he was Ritchie’s kid brother. Of course, the Recruiter had told Mario exactly what he had wanted to hear. They were extremely good at that sort of thing and if Mario had been bothered to read the papers he had signed, he would have seen that the Army wasn’t obligated to keep any promises made to get his signature on the dotted line. It was something that he had had a lot of time to consider as he had done basic training in Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.

It hadn’t been that bad when Mario had gotten there, but autumn had turned to winter and then it had started snowing. The Barracks had become a complete mystery to him. How could it be both freezing cold and uncomfortably hot at the same time? Finally, it had been announced that Mario’s outfit was nearing the end of training and that he had been assigned to the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 11th Airborne Division. He had told the Recruiter that he had wanted to be in the Airborne like Ritchie. It was one of the few times that he had been given what was promised. He would be traveling to Fort Richardson, wherever that was it had to be warmer than Wisconsin.
For those who don't know, the 11th Airborne sleave insignia, the top bar gives you a clue about where Mario is going.