Chapter Two Thousand Six Hundred Twenty-Six
13th July 1977
Fort Irwin, California
Going to Disneyland with Nina had been difficult enough. Massive crowds of people, the heat, the novelty of being at Disneyland wearing very thin for them after a couple hours. And that had been even before things had taken a surreal turn.
Supposedly, the castle that sat in the middle of the Park had been based on Neuschwanstein Castle, Kiki didn’t see the comparison. The rides themselves seemed like they were a case of diminishing returns and it felt as if the Teacup ride had been designed to make people violently ill. Perhaps it may have been better if they had visited during a different time of the year.
Eventually, they had found themselves taking two rides repeatedly, the Haunted Mansion and the Pirates of the Caribbean. For no other reason than the respite that those rides offered from the brutally hot summer day in Anaheim California.
It had been in the Haunted Mansion when the floor drops down in a clever elevator that was a part of the ride that a man had recognized Ben. Ben said that he had no idea what it had been all about, but while everyone else was listening to the recorded voice over the intercom asking if the room was stretching out this man started yelling at Ben. It was incoherent with Kiki unable to understand what this man was going on about. Something about how Ben had no right, and why didn’t people understand what he actually was. Disney’s security hustled the man off before Kiki’s own people acted, which was probably just as well.
Riding home Ben had said that they needed a couple days to rest and get their bearings before tackling the rest of the country. Kiki had already decided that she needed a break from the tour, but sitting around the hotel didn’t have a whole lot of appeal for her. Ritchie’s invitation to Fort Irwin, the U.S. Army conducted it’s Desert Training which he worked out of much of the time had held her interest. The U.S. Army had no objections to her presence, though Kiki wouldn’t figure out why until she got there. Simply put, Fort Irwin was where the U.S. Army sent people if they had really angered someone. Ritchie’s Special Forces Group a part of the California National Guard Division that operated in the Mojave Desert regardless.
What Kiki had noticed as soon as the helicopter that had taken her to Irwin from Los Angeles touched down was unmistakable for anything else. If the U.S. Army had been training to take on her Heer and Marine Infantry in Patagonia, this would be where it would have happened. She had certainly seen enough to the Patagonian Steppe when she had spent weeks walking across it to recognize the similarities to the American South-West. The real difference was that it got much hotter here. It had to be at least forty degrees as Kiki made her way from the helipad to the building that housed the Base Administration. If she had to guess, Ritchie was probably aware of that detail on some level. There were rumors that the American Green Beret had been seen throughout South America acting as advisors for the last several years and Ritchie was one of them.
Thankful for the air conditioning, Kiki followed her escort into what turned out to be a conference room. There were a number of men present. That included Ritchie who did not look particularly happy to be there.
“Welcome to Fort Irwin, General von Preussen” The man with the most stars on his collar said.
“Well… Thank you” Kiki replied, doing her best to be diplomatic. She knew that whoever had set this up had made certain that whoever she dealt with would outrank her.
Kiki recognized him from her briefing by the BND as Lieutenant General Keith L. Ware, his rank equivalent to a General of Infantry. He had come to the world’s attention a few years earlier when he had commanded the California National Guard’s 40th Division when the Los Angeles region had been consumed to a series of crises. He had come up in the world a bit since then, as the Commander of the American Continental Command. That meant that the Continental United States, Canada, and Mexico fell under his jurisdiction. Apparently, the Canadians and Mexicans had a very different opinion on the matter. Ritchie had made a few comments that implied that the 40th Division kept a close eye on what was happening in the Mexican States of Baja California and Sonora. It would of been stupid to assume that the Mexican Army didn’t have their own people keeping an eye on what was happening across the border in California and Arizona, but Kiki knew better than to bring it up.
The other men present were Major General Stuart, the current Commanding Officer of the 40th Division and Colonel Adams, the Base Commander of Fort Irwin. Them, along with their respective staffs, made for a rather crowded room.
“Warrant Officer Valenzuela extended this invitation at my request after that unfortunate incident on Monday” Ware said.
“I figure that was some man bothered by the heat and whatever he might have had to drink” Kiki replied.
“For starters, there is no alcohol allowed at Disneyland” General Ware said, “And there was more to it than that.”
“I also know that not everyone in America particularly likes me or my family” Kiki said, a bit annoyed by this. Threats were a fact of life for someone in her position, it was something she had lived with since she was a child.
“This has to do with your husband, Professor von Hirsh” Colonel Adams said.
“As I am sure you are aware, he serves your country in the capacity of a Reserve Officer in the Luftwaffe” General Ware said, “When his commission was active he flew fighter missions against the Chinese and Chilean Air forces.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Kiki asked.
“The pilots in those planes he shot down were not necessarily Chinese or Chilean” Ware replied and Kiki had a sinking feeling that this might have something to do with the sort of political nonsense that complicated everything.