Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Fifty-Seven
9th July 1968
The broken glass under his feet from the decanter said more about their situation than Mieczysławm Moczar was prepared to admit. The night before, Moczar had been in his office when Warsaw had been buffeted by sonic booms and the lights had gone out. Out of the window he had seen anti-aircraft artillery shooting blindly into the night, the yellow-green tracers filling the sky. Later he would learn that the radar installations that were meant to guide their fire had been the first thing that had been hit, followed by powerplants and the Warsaw railyards. In mere minutes, a modern city had been knocked back to the Fifteenth Century. Then reports had then started coming in of rail junctions being carpet bombed while bridges had been hit with almost supernatural precision.
No one had noticed that Stanisław Mikołajczyk, the Prime Minister of Poland, had suffered some sort of event in his home office for several hours after it had happened. By the time the housemaid had found him his body had already grown cold. When Moczar entered the office, he had seen the Premier on the floor face-down in a pool of what smelled like gin and shards of glass from where the decanter had hit the floor and shattered. On the Premier’s desk were several telegrams from Louis Ferdinand giving him an ultimatum, cease the provocative actions or else. Moczar had thought that the events of the night before had been a surprise attack. The truth was that Mikołajczyk must have thought that the German Emperor was bluffing and had apparently fallen over dead when the bluff was called.
The problem facing Moczar was that in a few hours everyone would know about this because it was simply too big to be contained. The normal process was to have the King appoint a new Prime Minister until elections could be arranged. The telegrams on the desk showed exactly what the issue with that was. Coupled with the recent reverses that the Polish Army had suffered. When the people inevitably learned of this, the present Government would be lucky if they weren’t torn to pieces by angry mobs.
It was a pleasant afternoon with fluffy clouds filling the sky. The summers in Germany had taken a bit of getting used to for Suga, they were different from the hot, humid summers she had experienced in Japan. She remembered Kiki’s reaction when she had first arrived as a teenager in Kyoto and hadn’t understood it at the time. It wasn’t in Kiki’s nature to complain, outwardly anyway, but she had clearly been suffering due to the climate. Suga had decided that spending the afternoon outdoors would be a wonderful idea, taking Mirai and Alexandrine with her.
The Zen garden and pagoda had been a present from her new family when she had married into it because they had felt that she would like a taste of home. It wasn’t exactly authentic when compared to what was found in Japan with many of the details slightly wrong, but she had been touched by their effort to make her feel welcome.
Now, a few years later Suga was preparing tea while watching Mirai as she lay on a rock that formed an overhang over the pond, transfixed by the brightly colored Koi that swam in the still water below. At four, Mirai was still trying to come to terms with the idea that she now had a little sister.
Mercifully, Alex was sleeping in her carrier which Suga had placed in the shade, something that was completely unpredictable with babies and Suga was enjoying it while it lasted. A couple weeks earlier, Louis Senior had arranged for his younger sister, Alex’s namesake Aunt Adini to visit Potsdam and she had been overjoyed to meet her newest great niece. Too many people treated those like Adini badly, Suga had recognized that she was a warm and caring woman who didn’t allow her difficulties to define who she was. Louis’ mother had always insisted that she be a very visible part of the family and Louis had tried to continue that, though Adini preferred to remain at her home in Starnberg, just south of Munich, most of the time. Adini had mentioned that she had been a little scared, that Alex may have been born with a similar genetic condition as hers. That wasn’t the case though, the only oddity with Alex was that she had inherited her father’s eyes, which coupled with her Euro-Asian features would give her a startingly exotic appearance when she got older.
“Opa!” Mirai yelled and she rolled off the rock and ran to Louis who had been walking from the Summer Residence.
Suga watched as Mirai started talking at her grandfather in a manner that few other people did. To his credit, he just listened and did his best to answer her questions. Like always Louis did his best to dress like a businessman. Today he was wearing a summer suit that was cut from lightweight tan fabric, a red tie, and white fedora. The hat was clearly being worn at the suggestion of Charlotte. Louis was rather famous for the lack of fashion sense he had taken on over the years, so it was unlikely he chose that for himself. He also looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.
“Decided to hide out here while the Headmaster is looking for you?” Suga asked.
“That is a little too on the nose” Louis replied, “Ever have a day when it seems like the whole world is trying to drive you mad?”
“Try being a mother” Suga said as Alex woke up and started fussing.
“Touché” Louis replied, amused by that answer.
Over time, Suga had become something of an expert in trying to sort out the meaning of her children’s cries. There weren’t many, mostly letting her know if they were hungry, tired or had just soiled themselves. The nurse who always hovered nearby wasn’t nearly as attuned to them. Back in Japan it would have been unthinkable that a woman in Suga’s station would take such an active roll in raising her children. It was a small act of rebellion, one she delighted in. While she saw to Alex’s needs, Louis kept Mirai busy. When she was done, she grabbed the rope connected to the bell that was there for the exact purpose she put to.
A moment later, one of the Palace Servants appeared.
“The Emperor is going to be joining us for tea” Suga said, “Please let the kitchen know.”
“Very well your highness” The Servant said before disappearing.
Louis just smiled at Suga’s presumption, even he needed to take a break occasionally.