Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

This may sound bad, but, after so many posts spanning about 60 years and two three continents, has anyone put together a guide to the characters?

If I were to start reading the story now, it wouldn't be a hassle keeping everyone straight, but the episodic nature means that is not so easy.

Thanks in advance, and don't think ill of me!
Part 141, Chapter 2440
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Forty

5th March 1976

Breslau, Silesia

It had been a surprisingly good week, professionally anyway which somewhat compensated for what was going on elsewhere. Things at home had certainly taken an odd turn or two in recent days. Manny had come clean to her about what exactly had been going on at Suse Rosa’s birthday party the prior Sunday. For Helene it was all a bit of a surprise, but she understood that Gerta would not take it well at, not at all. Hans had just shrugged and said that it was the order of things, a point that was hard to argue with. Hans had also said that they couldn’t break confidence with Manny this time. It was far too soon for Manny and Suse to say anything on their own. That was just how it was.

While Helene’s personal lot had not been helped by recent events in Saxony, it boded well for her Political Party in the months ahead. Originally, Democratic Ecology had been criticized for having too narrow of a focus. Now, everyone was seeing that the environment was not just a single issue as City Planning had emerged as a major point of contention. It seemed that neither the Social Democrats nor the National Liberals had ever seen a road project or industrial expansion that they had disagreed with. If a town, village, or even some cities disagreed with such projects, they frequently found that their words fell on deaf ears. That was what had led to the recent election outcome in Saxony.

Helene had discovered the language in the original platform of the DOP had included mention of that exact sort of situation. Much to her annoyance, she discovered that her father had insisted they include it in return for his early support. That had been a minor detail two decades ago, they had included it to get his backing and had thought little about it at the time. Helene already knew that the old buzzard was going to say when he learned of this and was already dreading that conversation. Sophie Scholl didn’t really care. The deal had always been that Helene would handle her father and she cared far more about how they had finally gotten a breakthrough win in Saxony. Sophie was trying to learn the lessons from there to hopefully replicate it in her native Bavaria. They had a chance to move beyond their strongholds in Silesia or, strangely, the neighborhoods of several urban centers. Sophie intended to make the most of it. The trouble was that the party leadership in Saxony had their own ideas and many of them would prefer that Sophie Scholl or even Helene herself stayed out of what they saw as local matters. She wasn’t sure if Sophie was aware of the turbulent waters ahead. The Party in Saxony would need to prove to their constituents that they would mind their interests. Keeping everyone pulling in the same direction was the job of the National Party. The balance between those two things was the challenge.

Red Sea, off Jeddah, Arabia

The SMS Grindwal and the Squadron it led were escorting a convoy of Merchantmen through the Red Sea between Arabia and the Sudan, two vast lands that remained basically lawless. The Red Sea also included some of the busiest sea lanes in the world, meaning that piracy was an evergreen issue. The speedboats preferred by pirates wouldn’t come anywhere near the convoy with the three Corvettes about. The 12.8-centimeter cannon they sported was famous in this region for reducing the fiberglass hulls of such craft to splinters in seconds.

Surface contact radar had its limits though, that was why lookouts using the Mark One Eyeball augmented with binoculars probably wouldn’t ever be obsolete. To actually see something, you needed to have someone out looking for it and Louis had posted a double watch. This was because it seemed that the Achilles Heel of modern warships was becoming totally dependent on the advanced systems which made them so very lethal in the first place. A small wooden vessel, such as the lowly Dhow common in the waters of the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa was a surprising threat. That was particularly true if the crew didn’t care if they made it out alive and the damned thing was stuffed full of explosives.

Louis Ferdinand Junior had first encountered that off the coast of Western Sahara a couple years earlier. Tragically, that was not the last time such an incident had occurred. When Louis had been invited to dine at the Table of the Greek Emperor, Constantine II had told him all about it and his opinion of the Turks. That Constantine thought that the Turks were bunch of savages fit only for extermination was hardly a surprise. What was a surprise was the attitude that the Greeks so openly displayed. He had heaped praise upon Louis for his quick thinking and for taking what Constantine regarded as the only correct action.

The Greek Emperor had then said a turn of phrase that roughly translated to “There would be peace when Turkish was only spoken in Hell.” Later Louis had found out that this was a popular refrain among the Greeks, complete with T-shirts and coffee mugs. It was one of the most disgusting displays he had seen in his life. He had mentioned this to Freddy when they had talked briefly via the Grindwal’s radio-satellite suite. Freddy had told Louis to tread carefully. It seemed that his older brother was worried that if he said that it was what he regarded as out of control Nationalism that could only end in further rounds of destruction, it would be a diplomatic blunder that would drive the Greeks fully into the Russian camp. Louis was still cursing his own cowardice days later because he had held his tongue as his brother had asked.
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So, about Manny and Suse Rosa. Something happend that neither want to talk about but that will result in Gerta being greatly upset. An argument that lead to them deciding to get divorced? Maybe a pregnancy that lead to a miscarriage? I guess we'll see in the future.
Part 141, Chapter 2441
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Forty-One

8th March 1976

Gulf of Suez, off Adabya, Red Sea

After days of escorting the wallowing merchant tubs through the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, the Squadron led by the SMS Grindwal was headed back to friendlier waters. While that was a welcome development, the crew had other considerations. Oberbootsmann Martin, who had been a member of the Grindwal’s crew since the ship had first put to sea, which even before Oberdeckoffizier Greg Borchardt had joined her company, was not doing well. It was the sort of situation which crews dreaded, one of their own extremely sick with an unknown illness. Throughout his own career, Borchardt had seen disease race through a ship that was stuck in port, leaving those aboard too sick and weak to do anything about it. At the same time, everyone saw the yellow flag flying on the mast, marking the ship as being under quarantine and all the other ships of the fleet were keeping their distance for obvious reasons. It was something which they had apparently been spared this time, which was a mercy.

It was why the Medical Service Officers, especially Ship’s Doctors were inadvertent experts on infectious disease by necessity. Keeping disease contained was one of their key reasons for existence. The trouble started when there were cases like Martin’s, where they hadn’t the first clue as to what they were dealing with. As much as they hated to admit it. Everyone aboard knew Martin was sick and getting sicker by the hour. The Doctor was just left scratching his head and saying that some of the symptoms he had were not the sort of thing that one expected to find in a man in his thirties who had been in robust health just months earlier now looked like he was wasting away to a skeleton before their eyes. Borchardt knew that it took a lot to get a man like the Doctor to admit that he was stumped, which was the very definition of a worrying issue.

The fortunate thing was that whatever Martin had did not seem contagious. The Doctor had suggested that they put Martin ashore in Aden and arrange transport to Kiel. Borchardt had protested to Louis over the matter. He knew that Martin had no family other than the ship’s crew and his only home was the Sea. Putting a man like that ashore was cruel and cold-blooded murder if only because the medical facilities in Aden were crap. At least aboard the Grindwal he was surrounded by friends who would keep a close eye on him. Borchardt had rarely stuck his neck out so far, but this seemed like the sort of thing that a man had to take a stand over if he wanted to be able to live with himself afterwards. Borchardt understood that as Captain Louis had to make the best decisions for everyone. This time though he had relented somewhat, saying that they would take Martin back to Constantinople where he would get the best of care before being sent home.

Martin was sitting on a chair at the rail in the shade of the forward superstructure, the part of the ship that was known to be where the Noncoms took their smoke breaks. It was a surprise that he was alone. With the crew having stood down from General Quarters, there was always someone there. Not just Martin who was considered invalid.

The reason the crew could somewhat let down their guard in the narrow waters of the Gulf of Suez was visible on the shore. One would have thought that Suez Port would be a tempting target with its warehouses and shipyards, the Canal Authority saw to it that looks would be extremely deceiving. Along the shore on either side of the gulf was a series of forts made of packed earth and sandbags that made it so that any pirates would have to run a gauntlet of fire. The artillery might be composed of old Armstrong-Elswick 6-Inch guns that had been considered obsolescent even before the First World War, but Borchardt knew that having your ship eat several 45-Kilogram high explosive shells had a way of seriously ruining your day. The men employed by the Canal Service were mostly retired Artillerymen and Officers from the British and French Armies, so they knew exactly what they were doing. It was rumored that any raiders that got past the shore batteries would find out what happened in the form of French anti-ship missiles if the cheap solution hadn’t worked. The result was a tiny area of relative peace in a region that had known little of that for centuries.

“You got to eat something, and the Cook said that there is plenty more” Borchardt said handing Martin a mess tin of the stew that the Cook made from whatever was available, while the goat used in today’s offerings wasn’t great it was head and shoulders better than the usual potted mystery meat that almost everyone in the crew hated with the sort of passion normally reserved for the Luftwaffe or Football Referees.

“You could make a whole lot of far more persuasive arguments than that” Martin replied setting the tin aside, “Besides, I’m not hungry.”

“You’ve not been hungry in weeks” Borchardt said.

Martin just shrugged as he looked at the distant shore.

“You remember that night we boarded that Scottish ship that was on fire?” Martin said, “We couldn’t save her, and the Captain refused to leave. Captain von Preussen had to go over to tell him that he needed to let her go.”

“Prick” Borchardt muttered, and Martin gave him a mirthless laugh. At that moment, he had to fight the urge to throw Martin over the side.
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Is Martin an early late stage HIV (AIDS) case? Though OTL the very first cases were late 1950's / early 1960's in the West, and the the 1st major outbreak was in the Belgian Congo in the 1930's, which has only been discovered through forensic medicine.
The timeline is about right for a certain disease to start popping up more frequently, but it is going to take a few more years to put everything together and put a name to it.
Kiki, when she made her trip to California a few years ago, got some blood samples from a Free Clinic in Skid Row Los Angeles and if they are compared to other samples of patients with the same mysterious ailments and symptoms from other places, this may lead to an earlier discovery of AIDS.
If It's indeed HIV, I wonder if butterflies caused it not to spread initially on the gay community like OTL. That would give the disease a whole different initial perception.
If It's indeed HIV, I wonder if butterflies caused it not to spread initially on the gay community like OTL. That would give the disease a whole different initial perception.
I think it probably is AIDS, and given the reputation of sailors in Port, I think you have your transmission vector.
Why do I get the feeling, if Louis speaks to Kiki about this, (in either a professional or personal), capacity, Kiki is going to start ordering blood tests on the entire Navy?
Whatever is the first identifying group being associated with the unnamed disease is going to define how the public sees the disease.
IOTL, it was Gay men and Haitians who were first identified with AIDS and that shaped the perception on how the public saw the disease and the subsequent response to it.
ITTL, it looks like the disease will be referred as "The Sailor's Disease" with the sailors having first been infected by prostitutes who are IV drug users, and the sailors then spreading it to other parts of the world and infecting prostitutes who are NOT IV drug users, who then in turn infect other customers who are not sailors.
This disease should be start showing up in surgical patients who received blood transfusions from blood banks that are paying for donations which IV drug users donate to get their fix, and it also should start hitting the Hemophiliacs who need a clotting drug that uses a large number of red blood cells.
Part 141, Chapter 2442
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Forty-Two

10th March 1976

Albuquerque, New Mexico

A train to Berlin, then an overnight flight to New York, then after a long layover they had flown on to Chicago, then Denver, and finally they arrived in Albuquerque late at night. That made for a very long two days of travel. Like if someone was playing a twisted joke on her, Monique found that she couldn’t sleep while her grandfather and aunts had been out like a light within minutes. The only sleep she’d had since leaving Flensburg had been on the airplanes and there was a promise of a long trip to Window Rock by car when a distant cousin who lived in Red Valley came for them in the morning. Monique wasn’t looking forward to that journey because she tended to get carsick, much to her embarrassment it was something she had not grown out of.

For Monique, this entire trip was a leap into the total unknown. She had never even been on an airplane before she had boarded one at Berlin-Brandenburg International. She had no idea what would greet her when she arrived at Window Rock.

Growing bored with the book she was reading and feeling agitated, Monique stepped outside to get a breath of fresh air. The motel was of a type that was apparently common in America. L-shaped with two floors around a car park and a swimming pool that a sign said was closed for winter, with them on the ground floor. There was a restaurant on the other end of the car park called “Ed’s Diner” according to the neon sign that was on though the place was obviously closed for the night. There was the reflection of lights, presumably from Albuquerque itself off in the distance. The high-pitched scream of an airliner landing at the nearby airport passed overhead.

In the crook of the “L” that made up the hotel, there was a stairwell in addition to a common area that included a coin operated washing machine and clothes drier. Monique had also seen a pair of vending machines in there. Looking at the American coins that her grandfather had given her, she puzzled out their respective value as she fed coins into the slot. With a loud “Thud!” a can of Coca-Cola landed in the slot on the bottom of the machine. Stepping back to the front of the motel, Monique looked up at the sky and sipped her drink as a man stepped out of one of the rooms and gave her a venomous look before he stomped past her, talking aloud. She didn’t understand most of the words he used, but they didn’t sound complimentary.

Just wanting to avoid trouble, Monique stepped back into the room and found that her grandfather was awake.

“I’m sorry that would be your first encounter with this country” He said as Monique sat down on room’s the armchair and picked up her book. While she might not have understood what that man had said, her grandfather had overheard it.

Fort Wainwright, Alaska

How the Hell had he ended up somewhere colder than Wisconsin? That was a question that Mario had frequently asked himself as he had gone first to Fort Richardson then on to Fort Wainwright in the Alaskan interior, named for a Captain Wainwright in the First World War who had apparently won a Medal of Honor fighting the Germans, technically after the war had ended as absurd as that seemed. Of course, Mario had learned a lot about the absurd since joining the Army. Being told to take precautions against having anyone on sentry duty getting frostbite or freezing to death seemed like exactly that.

Beyond the cold, there was his introduction to First Sergeant Jules Mullens. Much to Mario’s terror, Mullens was an old friend of his brother. It was the sort of thing that he had learned did him absolutely no favors. At best it meant that he would find himself with unrealistically high expectations. More often though, Mario had found that his brother was not universally well liked and that those with a grudge were perfectly happy with the second-best thing as it were. It was impossible to know where he stood with Mullens because he was impossible to read. All Mario knew was that he had found himself shoveling a lot of snow and freezing while standing sentry out at the gates. Things had finally gotten better as Mario had done his level best simply not to be noticed. He was rewarded with two weeks of KP, which was somewhat desirable in the winter because it was entirely indoors.

Presently Mario was laying in his bunk staring at the plywood ceiling of the old Quonset hut he was living in with the rest of his Platoon after a long day running a dishwasher.

“Join the Army and see the world” He muttered to himself.

That was, if the world was composed of being crammed into a confined space with forty other guys while living under the constant threat of being smothered by carbon monoxide and bed farts. Or was that the Navy? Mario couldn’t remember. He found that he had little time anymore for unimportant things. Words on recruiting posters were exactly that, beyond him apparently having been stupid enough to fall for them at some point.

Earlier that day there had been the announcement that with the coming of spring, there was going to be an increase in the tempo of operations. They would be training to become proper Paratroopers, not just learning to survive in the Arctic. Mario had almost groaned when he had heard that. Was that what he had been doing for the last three months? Seriously?
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Hmm, I wonder if Wounded Knee still wound up happening in '73 this time around. No need for me to imagine the general tone of that oh so pleasant gentleman's words.
For Mario, learning how to shovel snow is something that is going to be a skill that he needs when he goes back home to Southern California...
For Mario, learning how to shovel snow is something that is going to be a skill that he needs when he goes back home to Southern California...
Or his next posting in Nevada*.

*Nobody accused the Army of not having a sense of humour
Part 141, Chapter 2443
Chapter Two Thousand Four Hundred Forty-Three

11th March 1976

In transit, near Grants, New Mexico

The windows of the van were rolled down and the was radio playing on a pleasant spring morning with John, a man who Sjostedt had last seen as a little boy some thirty years earlier. Compared to Flensburg it was dry and warm, which was a nice change. Sjostedt was under no illusions though about what this place would be like in a few months, this region was famous for the extremes of weather. Sweltering heat in the summer and bitter cold in the winter.

Looking at the back of Monique’s head, Sjostedt wondered if he ought to wake her up so that she could see the uplands of the Colorado Plateau. He didn’t though because she had endured traveling with him and his sisters without complaining as people her age tended to do. He had also seen how she had quietly read her book the night before. It was a small mercy that she spoke little English after what had been said to her the night before. Why did she need to have encountered the sort of small-minded bigotry that seemed to thrive in the United States within hours of arriving here? Despite Monique’s largely Gallic background, that man had only seen the bit of her that was Diné, probably based on who she was with.

“Let the girl sleep Piers” Nina said, she had taken time away from her own grandchildren to take this trip. So, she was probably an expert on that matter and could tell the direction of his thinking the way she had done since they were children. Still though…

“Moni should be seeing this” Sjostedt said gesturing towards what they were passing.

“She also gets terrible motion sickness” Nina replied, “As much as she tries to hide it from us, we don’t want to have to pull over out here.”

“She will have plenty of time to grow bored and just want to go home in a couple of weeks” Tilde said. Tilde had always been the most cynical of them, with Nina as the optimist and Elisabeth as the peacemaker. Besides all that, Sjostedt considered this home with everywhere else had just been places that he had lived. To Tilde, Flensburg was where her children and their families lived as well as where both of her late husbands were buried, so that was home. He realized that he had never spoken to Monique about where she considered her home was. He had the impression that she had never been particularly welcome in Fossoy and sincerely hoped that Flensburg had been better for her.

“I can think of a lot of reasons why Moni might want to return to Flensburg” Elisabeth said, “She has a few friends and is doing well in school. Not just because she is getting bored out here, I figure that will take longer than just a couple weeks for that.”

“She has also caught the eye of a few boys” Nina said, “I remember last year she certainly made an impression on Ilse’s boy, Niko. He looked so dashing in that Cavalry uniform.”

Sjostedt snorted at that, trying not to laugh aloud. He knew that his sister was referring to Prinz Nikolaus von Richthofen, the grandson of König Manfred von Richthofen of Silesia. Which was incredibly optimistic and considering that her late husband had been Walter Horst it was hardly a surprise. However, her oldest daughter Nizhoni was married to Stefan von Mischner, Ilse Tritten’s younger half-brother. Which made Nikolaus her nephew by marriage, so there was a good possibility that she might contrive reasons for Niko and Monique to be in the same vicinity in the months ahead. There was also the inevitable reaction of Manfred von Richthofen himself to his grandson consorting with a girl who was inarguably French with Monique’s background in petty thievery. That alone was almost enough to convince Sjostedt to stand clear. His sisters seemed amused by the prospect though, probably for different reasons. He also knew in his bones that Monique would probably resist her great aunts’ machinations without a whole lot of encouragement.

Montreal, Canada

It was deeply aggravating for Marie Alexandra that in order to make her grandmother happy, she needed to pretend to be Catholic. That included giving up coffee for lent, something that Margot Blackwood had been extremely fast to suggest, putting her on the spot. With great reluctance Marie had agreed, knowing full well that as a student she needed the caffeine to keep moving as she rushed from class to class, studied late into the night and was up early the next morning.

Henriette had told her that she just ought to limit her intake of coffee to when she was away from her grandparents’ house. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that simple. Her mother had told her many times that when in hostile territory you needed to play the role or else you would start to slip up in more ways than you could keep track of. Her dealings with her grandmother were the very definition of hostile and that was one of the few times that her mother had told her about what she did in the portion of her life that she had always shielded Marie from. Forty days wasn’t that long, so it wouldn’t cause her too many problems.

As it turned out, Marie could not have been more wrong. First there had been the headaches and feeling like she was sleepwalking between classes. Now, with Easter still weeks away she wondered if the whole stupid thing had been a mistake and not just the coffee.
As it turned out, Marie could not have been more wrong. First there had been the headaches and feeling like she was sleepwalking between classes. Now, with Easter still weeks away she wondered if the whole stupid thing had been a mistake and not just the coffee.
Well an addict going cold turkey is always a bit uncomfortable...