Chapter One Thousand Eight Hundred Fifty-Eight
19th July 1968
It had turned out that Reier’s prediction from years earlier had come to pass. As soon as the order went out that the entirety of the Marine Infantry was to prepare for movement Tilo realized what was about to happen right about the time that the Grand Admiral in Kiel had called him. He told Tilo that he had been promoted to General of Branch and was tapped to take command of the what had been dubbed Army Group North consisting of the Marine Infantry presently in the Baltic Area of Operations as well as two Heer Field Armies that were massing around Danzig and Königsberg. Word came through the Naval Academy that anyone in the Senior Class who wanted to volunteer for the Marine Infantry would receive a direct Commission without the Navy being mentioned he had almost cursed aloud. Whatever this was, Wunsdorf was expecting it to be a potential meat grinder.
Reier had his usual attitude and was happy about getting back into action. He had heard what had happened and had come in with a big grin on his face. There had never been a General of Marines before now and that was only a short step away from General Oberst and a Field Marshal’s baton. He had then caught a plane to Berlin where he had been briefed on the particulars. When the Luftwaffe and Fleet Air Command had started pounding the crap out of the Poles and he had been the process of making plans.
Finding out that Poland was in open rebellion wasn’t as much a surprise to Tilo as it seemed to be for everyone else when all of this had started. Even a cursory look at who had been in charge in Warsaw over the last few years made this turn seem obvious. While they were to regard the Polish Army and the Freikorps of Galicia and Ruthenia as equally problematic forces, anyone with any sense would see which faction was more likely to greet them as liberators or be hostile. Army Group South under the Command of General Hans von Mischner was likely to have a much faster advance through Galicia than he would through the north.
The real surprise in the briefing was that there were going to be the Fallschirmjäger Divisions involved in a hush hush operation. The scuttlebutt suggested that they were going to be deployed to support the efforts of the KSK and everyone knew whose personal fiefdom that was.
One of the things that Kiki’s father had made a point of reminder her was that she had responsibilities here in Principality. Beyond the obligations that dated from feudal times, she also had forty children under her care for the summer as a part of her mother’s foundation this year and a Japanese corporation’s Chief Executive Officer was here along with his family and entourage.
Being able to discuss the possibilities of locating facilities in this region to gain access to the European market and the cachet that came from being her guest were things that American and Japanese Executives found irresistible. Lately, King Albrecht of Bavaria had gotten in on the act, but he had a reputation of not being nearly as approachable or accommodating.
That also meant that she frequently had the medical issues that children accumulated to contend with. Mostly in the form of scraped knees and sunburns. However, at the moment Kiki was having to explain the particulars to one of her patients who had presented with a condition that would definitely affect the rest of her life when Marie Alexandra came to her complaining of feeling ill and having a stomachache. Kiki had only needed a few minutes to learn what was really going on and what Marie had been trying to hide. A five-minute phone conversation with Douglas revealed that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. Growing up was a painful process and the last thing anyone wanted was to be alone during the scarier moments.
“I called your father Marie” Kiki said, “Your mother is out of communication right now and he is trying to get a message through to her, but he can arrange for you to go home if you like.”
Marie just looked at Kiki with conflicted emotions playing out on her face. Going home was the last thing she wanted to do this summer but at the same time she wanted what any girl… Kiki realized that she could no longer call Marie that anymore and changed that to young woman… wanted. Someplace safe to process this, home and family being best. Kiki remembered clinging to her mother years earlier, it had been one of the few moments when they had been genuinely close. The rest of the time her mother had been from another era who had done what she thought was best for her children by trying to get them to conform to that. Small wonder that they had eventually come to blows and Kiki had been exiled to Japan.
“I want to stay with you” Marie said.
“Fine then” Kiki replied and even as she said it, she realized that she had watched Marie’s birth and had been present during every single major event in her life during the years since.
“You said this will happen again, next month?” Marie asked.
“Yes” Kiki replied.
“That is fucking bullshit” Marie spat at her.
Kiki wasn’t inclined to disagree with that assessment of the situation.