Part 27, Chapter 296
Chapter Two Hundred Ninety-Six


1st April 1943

Antwerp, Belgium

It had to have been on April Fool’s Day of all days. Somewhere out there an Anarchist laughing his head off, Augustus Lang thought to himself as he stepped onto the rail platform careful to mind the gap with his cane. Dozens of flash bulbs went off as he did that. Lang had heard that President Franklin Roosevelt of America had kept the extent of his paralysis due to Polio from the public for the entirety of his Administration. Lang saw no point in that. He had been injured in war, came home, mixed it up with police and right-wing thugs, then led a revolution. He might be battered but he still had a lot of fight in him.

That was when the flash bulbs and shouted questions intensified. Lang knew it was because Louis Ferdinand had just stepped off the train. Say what you will about the Emperor, he was relatively young and handsome for his role. Lang’s appearance on the other hand had been frequently been compared to that of a University Professor. Lang had been somewhat surprised when the German Emperor had decided to come along. One of the remaining powers of the throne is the command of the German military for humanitarian or diplomatic purposes, Louis had pointed out. That meant that this meeting was the perfect way for Louis to get involved.

But it was not as if they could answer any of the questions being thrown at them by the press. Between the Emperor’s security detail, which was taking no chances after the events of last month and the Belgians wanted this meeting to go off without a hitch there was no way the press was getting that close.

Lang noticed that the Belgian police were looking nervously at the ceiling, or more precisely the walkway up there. That was where the advance team from the SKA had set up, Jägers on over-watch, gunners on the floor just out of sight. The events of the last month were also weighing on them. The difference was that they were looking for trouble and woe unto the person who caused it. The preliminary findings of the events in the recently renamed Saint Petersburg were that Oberlieutenant von Mischner had been trying to convince Vladimir Kirillovich to rethink his course of action when she had spotted the reflection of light off the scope of a sniper’s rifle. Something she had been trained to do. Without thinking about it, she had thrown herself into the path of the bullet meant for Vladimir. Part of the anger of the SKA was in that a consensus had built up that Vladimir wasn’t worth that sort of sacrifice. It had also effectively ended his political aspirations as other things had come to light.

A bullet in the back was a thing that Lang knew all too well and it was no surprise that the Oberlieutenant had been out of communication for the last two weeks. The rumors that she was at death’s door turned out to be overblown, still she was laid up due to her injuries. The official finding was that probably due the loose bore of the rifle, something Russian guns were infamous for, the bullet had failed to stabilize. It had been tumbling through the air when it had hit. The result was that the armor vest she was wearing prevented a fatal injury. It had been compared to getting hit with a sledge hammer.

According to the Emperor, the girl herself had told him that she didn’t feel that her actions were the sort of thing that should be recognized, from a hospital bed no less. The Emperor had also learned from the Empress, who knew Katherine von Mischner well, that she could lead an assault on the Gates of Hell and still feel undeserving. Ironically, the collar patch of the SKA itself and the Regiment’s unofficial name were a tribute to her, depicting that very thing.

For Vladimir himself, he had realized too late that Lavrentiy Beria had played him. The entire assassination plot had been a “heads I win, tails you lose” thing that no matter how it had played out it would be for the benefit of Beria. The sniper makes the shot, Vladimir dies, one less threat to the Soviet Union. The sniper attempts the shot, dies in the process, Vladimir cements his hold on the throne, which is what Vladimir thought the plan was and he owes it to Beria. No matter how it played out Beria won.

Instead a young woman takes a bullet meant for Vladimir. Filled with remorse he tells his sister, the Empress, over the telephone what had happened and where Beria, who was hoping to take his place as the power behind the throne in a new Czarist Russia, could be found. Beria gets arrested and will face trial. Law and justice prevail. This also meant that Vladimir would get no backing from Germany or the UK on his claim to the throne. Other arrangements would have to be made later, as in after the war. Something about it did not sit right with Lang, it was all too neat. People were usually messy and for any sort of justice normally someone had to be dragged in kicking and screaming. Then the courts would then have the not always easy task of figuring out who the aggrieved party was.

The meeting that Lang and Louis Ferdinand were here to attend was more in keeping with how humanity operated, messy. A conference hosted by Belgium of the heads of Government of all nations in this war. Germany, the UK, and France were considered the big players. Italy, Romania, Hungary, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands and Bulgaria were all involved powers that had a place at the table. The focus today was to be on the immediate crisis, the famine in the Ukraine and the ongoing war. They would then lay the ground work for future meetings where the thorny issues of post-war Russia would be discussed.

That meant that Lang would have to convince nations with competing interests to help coordinate the flow of food, medical supplies and personnel to the Ukraine. He would then have to ask nations at war to lift all tariffs on food staples, something that he didn’t imagine would go over very well.

As Lang watched the train carrying the Italian delegation pulled in. Men in black suits spilled out and he found himself shaking hands with the Italian Prime Minister. Lang saw that the representatives from the Vatican had come in with the Italians and someone who Lang thought might be a Cardinal was talking with Louis Ferdinand. Hopefully the Emperor would be able to get them as enthusiastic supporters, if there was ever a time for divine intervention this was it.
 
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The British Prime Minister could tell Chancellor Lang that King George VI has a document that might change the order of succession in Russia but he, the Prime Minister does not know what it contains.

Pope Pius XII used to be the Vatican equivalent of an ambassador to Germany in the 1920's.
 
the girl herself had told him that she didn’t feel that her actions were the sort of thing that should be recognized, from a hospital bed no less. The Emperor had also learned from the Empress, who knew Katherine von Mischner well, that she could lead an assault on the Gates of Hell and still feel undeserving.
. . .Why i feel that they will make it that in addition to the Wound Badge, Kat will have to deal with being sent to a boring Procedures and protocols Course during her medical rest. . .with Nobody telling her that once she approves it, Louis can legally raise her to the rank of "Major" Katherine Von Mischner?

It would be facepalm worthy. . .specially as she's likely to get even MORE Hellcats to follow her. . .
 
Part 27, Chapter 297
Chapter Two Hundred Ninety-Seven


1st April 1943

Near Walmer, England

Operation Sealion

Germans invade Southern England.

Late two nights ago England was invaded by a Company of German soldiers from the elite Seebataillon Meeresaufklärung Regiment “Seelöwe” (Sea Battalion Marine Reconnaissance “Sea Lion” Regiment) were put ashore via submarine as part of a joint military exercise. They prepared the way for our boys by…

Edmund Metz put down the local newspaper, the rest of the article was fluff. The picture showed a few men from Edmund’s own Platoon the night before in the local Pub drinking beer. The whole point of this was to show off what they could do. While the Luftwaffe had proven secretive with the SKA, the KLM had been overjoyed to have the MA at their disposal. The shiny new toy that they wanted everyone to see. After spending the last couple months in Cuxhaven, which was to be their permanent base of operations, setting things up there and learning everything they could about amphibious operations they had been given this as a treat before they would board an airplane and deploy to the Pacific.

They were scheduled to fly out tomorrow, the destination would probably be Vietnam or Australia. Edmund looked at the photograph again, if he had one last night here why not hit the Pub himself. He knew he’d have plenty of time to sleep it off on the airplane if he tied one on tonight. Besides that, there was this crazy English officer who had stormed the beach armed with a long bow and broadsword. Now that officer was saying that he could drink any Hun under the table. As Edmund saw it he had his Regiment’s reputation to defend…



East Frisian Islands

On the day after she had been released from the hospital Kat sat on the porch of the house that it had turned out she owned drinking coffee that had been smuggled in from her source in New York. She had found out that she had been renting it from herself months after she had returned from the vacation when she had come here with Marcella and Gianna the previous Summer. Those perfect days when she could just forget who she was for a few hours.

The black moods that had been her problem for years had come crashing back in after she had returned from Saint Petersburg. She’d managed to hold them off for the most part over the last year. Doctor Holz had told her that it wasn’t good that she’d been doing that. If she wasn’t allowing herself to feel things then it would come out in other more self-destructive ways. Like volunteering for something that was absolutely insane that had left her with several cracked ribs, a wrenched back and being left hardly able to move for several days, for instance.

Doctor Holz had a lot of questions to say the least. She had managed to nearly get herself killed, had roped both him and her father into it. If any of this ever came to light in their lifetimes then it would be easy to see them being burnt at the stake on the Königsplatz for what they had done. Worst of all he had said that he had an in depth talk with Otto Mischner, her father, and had learned a great deal that Kat had avoided telling even him. Doctor Holz had told her that they would have a great deal to discuss when she came back to Jena. It was a conversation that she was dreading, it was a good thing that Doctor Holz was in the Ukraine for the foreseeable future.

It had been the visit from the Emperor and Empress that had been the worst part. It had hit Kat that her actions had been to manipulate Kira’s own brother, it could easily be branded a conspiracy against the throne. She had seen a family dispossessed, the head of that family encouraged to commit suicide rather than face a public scandal for far less than what she had done. And they wanted to reward her for it.

It was Thorwald who had helped her the most. Much of his file was sealed and would probably remain so forever. He had told Kat of missions into friendly nations to keep politically inconvenient leaders from rising to power or the wholesale slaughter he’d engaged in, in places like China and Spain. Things that the German Empire could never afford to have find their way into the history books. This was just one more of those things.

The good news that Thorwald had given her, Schultz had carried through with his promise and she had been promoted to Team Leader within Abwehr, even if she ever actually constituted a team she would be no longer be in Schultz’s section. That meant that she was out of Schulz’s purview, forever. Between that and the capture of Beria, this whole thing might just have been worth it.

Now she was on convalescent leave, which was a nice way for them to tell her that she needed to stay out of sight until further notice. Luckily for her these islands were perfect for that.


Rokytne, Polish/Ukrainian Frontier

The situation had gone from bad to worse the closer to the old frontier they got. Refugees clogged the roads and these people were starving. The part that had become absolutely soul destroying was that they had been ordered not to give them food, they could kill them that way. Medical personnel had been rushed in and they were doing their best. Mostly the Heer was reduced to finding those who could still be helped and burying those who couldn’t. Field Marshal von Wolvogle had said over a radio address that their actions reflected on their nation and honor, the whole world was watching. Now with the Spring thaw and first rains everything had ground to a stop in a sea of mud.

Hans envied Doug in how he seemed to spend all his time looking through the viewfinder of his camera. It allowed him to be a step removed from what was happening all around them.
 
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It had been the visit from the Emperor and Empress that had been the worst part. It had hit Kat that her actions had been to manipulate Kira’s own brother, it could easily be branded a conspiracy against the throne. She had seen a family dispossessed, the head of that family encouraged to commit suicide rather than face a public scandal for far less than what she had done. And they wanted to reward her for it.

Well, so much for Vladimir.

And Black Ops suck in the repercussion arena..
 
We are beginning to see the start of the European Union, it will start with eliminating tariffs on food staples then with raw materials and finally manufactured goods.
We will see a formal collective security agreement being reached.

The people of the U.S. will overwhelmingly give generously to the relief of the famine, I can see former president Herbert Hoover heading up a united relief organization that coordinate relief efforts so that it will maximize the effectiveness while avoiding duplication of services.

The U.S. military might send medical and logistics units to help and we might see the first Jeeps and Halftracks in action.
 
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Chancellor Lang was giving a story by Abwehr that Lang knows that isn't the whole truth, but it does eliminate Vladimir as a wild card in the Russian game of thrones.
As for Kat, the Empress is going to be mad at her for putting herself in danger again, but the Empress wrath is really going to be directed at Vladimir for even considering to make a deal with Beria.
 
Operation Sealion

Germans invade Southern England.

Late two nights ago England was invaded by a Company of German soldiers from the elite Seebaitallon Meeresaufklärung Regiment “Seelöwe” (Sea Battalion Marine Reconnaissance “Sea Lion” Regiment) were put ashore via submarine as part of a joint military exercise. They prepared the way for our boys by…

Besides that, there was this crazy English officer who had stormed the beach armed with a long bow and broadsword.

I was envisioning this timeline as an HBO series (it's entirely too long to be a movie), with A.H. aficionados sitting on the edges of their seats applauding with glee at this kind of tidbit (I'd call it fanservice but that's almost always sexual titillation).
 
Hmm... the French Navy, in a grudging appreciation for the German Idea of Marine Recon, may offer the recently developed Gagnan-Costeau Demand Regulator that made modern Scuba systems a reality... In exchange for getting some pointers and info in settling up their own version of the Judenbach Training Camp.....
 
Part 27, Chapter 298
Chapter Two Hundred Ninety-Eight


2nd April 1943

Da Nang, Vietnam

“Too much easy living will make you soft” The Lieutenant had said “The Pacific Command has decided to do something about that.”

This had come just as the 3rd Division was settling in. Once or twice a day a Ju-90 transport flew in from Australia packed with all sorts of goodies and things from civilization. To leave here meant that they would have to give that up and go back to what they had before. The Luftwaffe was going to take over guarding their own airfield. They were bringing in quad 20s and 8.8cm Anti-Aircraft guns to make the Japanese pay a heavy price for coming too close to here. That was the bad news, the good news was the 1st and 2nd Divisions were going to be joining the party in the next week or so, an outfit that no one had heard of called the MA was also inbound.

It had been infuriating when they had learned that their victory in Da Nang had been overshadowed by the collapse of the Leningrad Front, the other Divisions had been present when the city had surrendered. A shipment of SPz-1 Armored Personnel Carriers of Spanish vintage had arrived and Australian made Opel lorries had arrived, so they wouldn’t have to walk back across Vietnam. It was good to know that the Fleet didn’t consider them a side show like rest of the Wehrmacht did.

At least that was the thinking. Instead they had boarded lories that had to go down what were possibly the worst roads in the world. Phan had remarked that at least they weren’t doing this during the rainy season. Tilo realized that they hadn’t had that pleasure yet and wasn’t looking forward to it.

Tilo had asked Phan if he knew anything about the place they where they were going to and he had said that it was near the Cambodian border in the Gia Lai Provence, some valley in the middle of nowhere he’d never been. A branch of the Srepok River flowed through there. As far as Phan knew it was a place where not a whole lot happened. That actually sounded sort of promising to Tilo. Boring meant that they wouldn’t be getting shot at.


Berlin

The US Embassy in Berlin wasn’t exactly a great posting for anyone in the US State Department these days. The city had gone from being an armed camp to a sort of resigned normalcy as the war had moved in to its second year. Now everything was about the Ukraine and the famine there. It was expected that the whole of the Ukraine would be invaded as soon as the roads dried, hopefully putting an end to that. As it was the first photographs were finding their way out into the world and that was just of the refugees spilling out of the Soviet State. The Germans had been milking it and what they had found in Polish cities that had fallen under Soviet occupation for all it was worth in the form of propaganda.

The orders from President Garner had arrived. While the United States was not going to change its stance of neutrality on European conflict they were going to send Army medical personnel and food aid. The Embassy was expecting a General Bradley at any time who was to be tasked with coordinating the American effort. Adding a General and his staff to the usual mix of this embassy, they might as well put in three rings and call it a circus.


East of Łuck, Poland

Dear Lieutenant Commander Fleming, you total and complete bastard. I spent the morning spreading quicklime in a mass grave, this afternoon I brought a number of refugees into camp where they could get food and medical treatment. This included a man I found trying to eat grass… Jack composed a letter that that he would never send in his head to the British Spymaster who had gotten him into this nightmare.

Jack had spent months at this and Abwehr had yet to make contact. He had used his father’s contacts to get in touch with Coirnéal (Colonel) Frank Aiken, the commander of the Reisimint Ilchríochach or Continental Regiment. They had been overjoyed to have a volunteer like Jack, that should have been the first clue as to what he was getting into. Having swiftly been appointed to the rank of Leifteanant he’d been shipped to a place called Zossen when he’d been given a brief training course on German military procedures and a training refresher.

During a medical exam, he’d been asked about the scar on his leg. He’d said it was from a sailing accident only to have the Doctor say to him that he’d heard it was from Katzenklauen, Cat’s claw. Was there anyone on the planet who hadn’t heard that story?

When he’d met his Platoon, he had his worst fears realized. A mixture of former IRA gunmen and Dublin gutter rats who’d most likely used the Regiment as a fast way to skip town. The Noncoms were all men who’d fought in Spain on the Republican side, against Germany.

“Now Leifteanant” Leary Quinlan said, “You shouldn’t look so pissed all the time, didn’t you hear that our mission here now has the blessing of the Pope himself.”

Jack looked at the Sáirint, he still needed to translate that to Sergeant in his head. That blessing from the Pope had swiftly turned into a subject of mirth for this crew. They all knew the score and had remarked that you could practically smell the brimstone in the camp. Or it could just be that they needed to shove Saighdiúr Sean O’Neill into a river again. Hard to tell.
 
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