Part 27, Chapter 299
Chapter Two Hundred Ninety-Nine


9th April 1943

South China Sea

Jacob was visualizing the situation in Vietnam in his head. The Vietnamese Army had inflicted a major reverse on the Japanese north of Saigon. The Faustpatrone anti-tank rockets and artillery originally intended for China had proven decisive. The Japanese had retreated up the Mekong Valley but they had not given up. The latest intercepts had said that they were going to flank the Vietnamese Army by going through the Highlands south of Pleiku.

The Japanese were also aware that the main road between Stung Treng in Cambodia and Pleiku was blocked. So, they were moving through the jungle in what they understood was a gap between two Vietnamese Army Corps through the headwaters of the Srepok river. The Vietnamese Army had asked for assistance in plugging that gap. This had resulted into the 3rd Seebaitallon Division being dispatched to there. Jacob looked at the map, the place the 3rd was going to was isolated and difficult to reach but the river there did have a name, la Drang.

Jacob prepared a new set of orders, that was a single Division out there that was about to take on an Army Corps. Who knew how long until their Vietnamese or French allies got reinforcements there. The carrier based aircraft would need to start flying fire support missions from the instant contact was made.


la Drang Valley, Vietnam

Reier swatted at a mosquito. This was not exactly what Tilo had in mind when Phan had described this place. They had found themselves having to hack out a road through what was rain forest, any clearings were choked with elephant grass. The bolos that had been a rarely seen and seldom used part of the German kit since they had encountered them in the hands of the American Army were actually being used for their intended purpose here. Not as the fearsome weapons that had impressed the Heer on the Western Front a generation earlier.

It had taken six days but they had finally reached the ridge that they supposed to dig in on. Tilo looked down into the valley, he could see water shimmering through the trees.

“Welcome to the asshole end of nowhere!” Tilo yelled aloud “What do you think Saturday nights are like around these parts?”

“Go fuck yourself!” Someone yelled back.

That was about what Tilo had figured.


Potsdam

After a week of moping around her house on the island Kat’s mail had finally caught up with her. King Rupprecht of Bavaria and Duchess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen had both contacted her, requesting that she attend them at her earliest convenience.

Bavaria and the Dutchy of Sax-Meiningen, one of many that had been merged as a result of the new Federal Constitution in 1922 to form the State of Thuringia, were both trying to claim the SKA as their own, Judenbach straddled the border between the two States. Thorwald ignored them and they had absolutely nothing that he wanted. Since they had found out that Freiherrin Katherine von Mischner owned the land that the training camp sat on they been trying to woo Kat in his place.

There was also a summons from Kira. it was a toss-up as to who was more concerned with Kat for getting hurt again, the Empress or Aunt Marcella. Seeing that the Empress was the senior-most of the people demanding her time she had arranged to go back to the mainland and had a train ticket waiting for her in Neuharlingersiel.

When Kat arrived in Potsdam and the Sanssouci Palace she got one of the worst possible greetings imaginable for her. The Empress who had been expecting her fourth child had gone into labor while she was waiting to be announced. As she ran into the Empress’s Court she was told that the Royal Physician was on his way, as soon as they found him. Kat had gone through emergency medical training in Judenbach, correct? And as a woman she knew about these things? That was for things far less messy, like shrapnel or gunshot wounds and she didn’t bother to dignify that last question with an answer.

Kat asked the obvious questions, where the Hell were the Hellcats and the trained medics that were a part of each team but most of all why had this been allowed to happen to the Empress of all people. There was a great deal of shuffling before Kat had finally gotten an answer. The Emperor had gone to Antwerp for a meeting of nations and wasn’t due back until tonight the SKA Platoon had gone with him. All the guards present were from the 1st Imperial Foot. She would need to have a serious word with whoever was responsible for this because it was clear to her that things had gotten lax in her absence. She would also need to have a word with the Oberst of the 1st Foot about the training they got. If they were going to be around women and children they needed it.

That was all beside the point, because even Kat could tell that this kid wasn’t waiting around for the Physician to show up.

“I wanted to talk to you about how you saved my brother” Kira said between contractions. Was that some sort of sick joke?

“We can talk about that some other time, your Highness” Kat replied, hopefully never.

It was about that time that Kat was thinking that she should have gone to Bavaria, or better yet stayed in Friesian Islands. And she didn’t even want to think about what Doctor Holz would have to say on this matter.

----------------------------------------------------------------

Gerta and Gianna showed up as Kat was trying to explain to Freddy that he had a new little brother, Louis Ferdinand like his father. The four-year old Crown Prince was old enough to know that something was going on but still way too young to be told specifics. As it was, there were way too many questions that he was asking that Kat would sooner shoot herself in the head than answer.

The Royal Physician showed up ahead of the Emperor, better late than never Kat presumed. She had also seen the Chancellor walk past. Aside from Gerta and Gianna, everyone else was ignoring Kat which suited her fine. That was when she was surprised when Louis Ferdinand came looking for her.

“I know you were ordered to be out of communication, Hauptmann” The Emperor said “But Kira wanted to be the one to tell you that the King of Bavaria nominated you to receive the Knight’s Cross, Order of Max Joseph, making you eligible to receive the PLM for saving her brother’s life. I’m sorry that didn’t she didn’t get the chance to tell you before you know…”

He had to say that in front of Gerta and Gianna who were celebrating silently, and he’d just called Kat Hauptmann. She wanted to smash something. Screw having stayed in the Friesian Islands. Kat decided in that moment she should not only have never gotten out of bed that morning, she should have burnt her mail before she had read it yesterday.
 
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Well, somebody (probably lots of somebodies) is going to get in real trouble once the Emperor catches on that his expecting wife had no medical professional to assist her outside of a girl with some first aid courses.
 
If you can without spoiling, what exactly is the Japanese aim in Vietnam? Are they just after rubber?


So ITTL the Japanese figure that the Americans are too isolationistic (and making too much money by maintaining their neutrality and selling stuff to all sides) to intervene. Their PACFLT's still in San Diego so no pre-emptive strike on Pearl Harbor required.

Germany has to be careful with her U-boat campaign because one of the reasons that America entered the First Great Unpleasantness was the sinking of the Lusitania. How do cruiser rules work with submarines?
 
Tilo does not understand that he is the comic relief of this timeline, when the Sea Lions show up Reier is going to say or do something that will get Tilo punched in the face afterwards Tilo and Reier are going to be "volunteered" to go on a long range reconnaissance patrol with the Sea Lions to set up ambushes against the Japanese.
 
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Part 27, Chapter 300
Chapter Three Hundred


12th April 1943

Berlin

Kat had gone into Berlin to meet Doctor Holz wearing one of her faded dresses and an old coat. Comfortably anonymous and not a sign of a uniform or wretched medals anywhere to be seen on her person. Now she was having to explain what had happened to her over the previous days, again. The Empress had dismissed most of her attendants, including her Physician because she wanted to talk to her friend and confidant alone. Kira had figured correctly that Kat would be difficult over the Saint Petersburg matter. Things hadn’t gone as planned. As it had turned out the same Physician had managed to incorrectly estimate the due date. He and the Empress had assumed that it was from just before she had left for America last year, they were few weeks off.

“In fairness, it’s an imprecise science” Peter said, “How did you handle it?”

“I stayed with her until her Physician showed up and afterwards” Kat said, “Took him forever.”

“It was less than five minutes” Peter replied.

“Are you sure about that?”

Peter nodded his head.

Kat just looked at him with a frown on her face.

Doctor Holz was back in Berlin today, part of his duties as an Administrator for the Medical Service had him shuttling all over Germany and Poland. He had called Kat and asked her to have lunch with him. He had a whole lot of questions for her. He’d even gone out of his way to select a restaurant in a building that he knew Kat had broken into when she was a budding burglar at thirteen. Doctor Holz had greeted her as a semi-reformed criminal mastermind. She really wished her father had not told him about that, it was not as if she had ever gotten caught and she'd never actually stolen anything.

“I can’t believe what Kira had to say” Kat said, “She told me that in olden times women gave birth in the Royal Courts all the time.”

“It was so there could be no questions as to the succession” Peter said “There were a lot of practices of Royal Courts that we would find objectionable. Consanguinity and the Spanish Hapsburgs, for instance. There’s a reason why the inheritance laws have changed in recent years but that isn’t important. How did you feel about watching a friend of yours give birth to a healthy baby boy and living to talk about it?”

Kat stared at him, her frown deepening.

“If you’re going to at least attempt to have something that will pass for a normal life one day you’ll need to face your demons” Peter said, “Perhaps one day you’ll stop feeling the need throw yourself into gunfire.”

“Would you say that to me if I were a man?” Kat asked, clearly a dodge.

“If they act like you, yes” Peter said “I meet soldiers who behave the same way, constantly. You’d be surprised. Now if you could please answer the question.”

Kat sighed “I was terrified” she said, “When I’ve been shot at I didn’t have time to think, just act, this was different.”


la Drang Valley, Vietnam

The first couple of days here had been uneventful enough, still they had been worked hard. They had been hacking away and burning as much of the underbrush as they could on the face of the ridge. It was as if the officers had known something that they didn’t. As it had turned out that was the case when mortar shells started landing on the ridge and they scrambled for their holes. It had been shortly after that when Tilo had looked down into the valley and saw the scale of what they were facing. There had to be way more than a Division down there. Their own 10.5cm howitzers started firing over their heads from the back of the ridge and the 13mm heavy machine guns opened up.

As strong as those efforts were Tilo realized that they were barely putting a dent in the numbers. Even to him it was clear that they were going to come right through here to reach the lowlands. It also occurred to him just how precarious the narrow road that was their lifeline back to Pleiku was.

“Look alive you apes!” The Lieutenant yelled “You came here to kick ass!”

Reier looked over and saw that Phan was still there. “Decided to stay for the party this time?” Reier asked.

“No” Phan said, “I was just waiting for you to really throw one and this is it.”

“Huh” Reier said.

“You remember when I told you about a big battle that was fought near Saigon?” Phan said.

“Yeah”

“I think that might be the same army” Phan said.

“Wait” Tilo said “There’s an entire army out there?”

“Perhaps” Phan answered.

“So, it’s a good thing you stuck around then” Tilo said.

“Not as if it matters” Phan said, “There’s no place to go.”

Shit, that was an angle that Tilo hadn’t considered. There really was nowhere to go, was there.

That was how they spent the afternoon, waiting. As the sun sank towards the horizon it became obvious that the Japanese were going to take advantage of them facing west.

“You don’t need me to tell you we’re outnumbered here, so make every shot count!” The Lieutenant yelled “I catch any of you apes aiming wide then you’ll wish that they’d gotten ahold of you first.”

Tilo realized that his mouth was dry. The ambush on the road and the fight for the airfield had just been skirmishes. This was the real thing.
The mortar fire was intensifying and Tilo started hearing bullets zipping by seemingly inches from his head. He could hear the clatter of their FNs and the bark of Japanese rifles. He kept himself low as he aimed down the hill, squinting at the sun in his eyes. He fired at movement but couldn’t tell if he managed to hit anything. After a while the call of cease fire came down the line. As the sun set he could see the bodies of a few Japanese soldiers here and there, too few in fact.

“This was just a probing attack” The Lieutenant said as he worked his way down the line “They’ll be back later.”

What a comforting thought, Tilo thought to himself.

That was how the first day concluded.
 
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Are canister rounds in the basic ammo load out of any of the Seebataillon Division guns? The US 37mm anti tank guns had canister rounds at the start of WW2 and the Marines used them as extremely large shotguns early in the war.
 
Methinks that the Hellcat Platoon and several of the Foot Guard when they see the expression of Dame Von Mischner, will contemplate seriously if there is a slot opened for a Suicide Mission assaulting Moscow with a wooden spoon and wearing a pink tutu.

Should be safer than be around a pissed Kat and her "mercies" to fix the problems in the Guard training.
 
Are canister rounds in the basic ammo load out of any of the Seebataillon Division guns? The US 37mm anti tank guns had canister rounds at the start of WW2 and the Marines used them as extremely large shotguns early in the war.
I don't remember any European Power to use canister rounds. The Panzer usually used Penetration or Explosive ammunition (and occasionally paint rounds). And field guns / AT guns used their normal respective ammunition. Against Infantry, they used machine-guns, which seem to me a more reasonable and effective approach.
I presume, since the Japanese tanks were pretty thin skinned (sometimes penetrated even by bullets), that the US troops had found itself burdened with somewhat useless AT guns and crew and improvised a use for them.
 
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Part 27, Chapter 301
Chapter Three Hundred One


13th April 1943

Abwehr Special Warfare Camp, Near Judenbach-Sonneberg

Vasily had grown bored. He knew that they were treating like a prisoner of war when in all rights they could have had him shot as a spy, so he didn’t want to seem ungrateful. Still though he had a score to settle with that Commissar who had sent him unknowingly on a mission that could only end in his death and he couldn’t exactly do that from here. Wherever here was.

He had been sitting in this hut for weeks now. No changes. Twice a day a person who he presumed was a trainee of some kind who spoke passible Russian would bring him a meal then come back and collect the plate. They were never rude but they were always impersonal. Today that changed.

The man who came for him wore a German uniform with no markings. Everything about this man made Vasily suspect that he was an albino lacking only red eyes. There was simply no color in this man. He didn’t bother to speak Russian to him. He just said in German “The Oberst asked for you to join him at the instructor’s table tonight.” Then he stared at Vasily until he complied.

“I don’t know where that is” Vasily said in Russian.

“Then follow” The man said, then he left leaving the door open behind him. It was clear that the man could care less what Vasily did. He also left the impression that he was cheerfully kill Vasily if an excuse presented itself. For lack of anything better to do Vasily followed. He’d figured that he was in a forest somewhere but seeing but he saw that was in a small military compound surrounded by wooded hills. He could tell that the war was a long way from here. They walked into a mess hall, some of the tables were occupied, a great many others sat empty.

“Pleased to finally make your acquaintance Kaptian Zaytsev” The Oberst said “I am your host, Heinz Thorwald.”

Vasily just nodded, he was unsure what to make of the aristocratic officer. Was this the monster who had been hunting his men in Silesia?

“I apologize for Jonas” Thorwald said as he gestured towards an empty place at the table “He’s a bit unsettling.”

Vasily warily sat down across the table from the German Oberst.

“I can assure you this is not a trick” Thorwald said “It’s rare that that I get to share a drink with a rival.”

“You sit in a nearly empty mess hall and have drinks with enemies?” Vasily asked.

“This is merely at the end of the cycle” Thorwald said “In a few weeks this hall will be full of aspirants who will have their hopes dashed by the realities of this place. As for you being an enemy, I’d say that we share a common enemy at the moment. The man who helped Beria set you up to die to secure his place under a new Russian Czar.”

Vasily was intrigued by that, this German officer said he knew the man who’d set him up. He watched as Thorwald poured what label said was Port wine into a cup that he handed Vasily before pouring one for himself.

“What does the name Boris Merkulov mean to you?” Thorwald asked.

“Nothing” Vasily said as he drank Thorwald’s Port “Should it?”

“It’s only the name of the man who spoke to you in that prison cell” Thorwald said “Just how far are you willing to go to see that man dead?”


la Drang Valley

The Japanese had launched two more attacks in the night. The problem they were running into was shortages. They had run low on illumination flares during the second attack. They could hold here so long as they didn’t run out of anything. It was as Tilo had seen the day before. They were depending on a tenuous lifeline out here. Just before dawn they had watched as airplanes from aircraft carriers in the South China Sea had torn through the Valley. They had seen the flashes lighting up the entire Western sky and the roar of the engines as the airplanes had flown right over their position. That had bought them some breathing room. Tilo wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing.

The Lieutenant had arranged for hot food to be brought up to the front, the fish and rice that they had come to loath over the last few months. “There are some tins of potted meat you can have if you are feeling brave enough” The Soldat who brought up the food said. It was hardly surprising that he had no takers for that. Everyone had seen what this climate did to those and if you got sick or a bad case of the shits then the Brass would be less than sympathetic.

“I don’t get you are constantly complaining about” Phan said, “You eat well and its food I’ve eaten my whole life, there are worse things around.”

“It’s not that simple, Phan” Tilo said “Back home we would have food that was just as awful, it’s that it is not as simple as going up the road to get something better. A taste of home is thousands of kilometers from here.”

“So, you are saying that you like to complain about things you cannot change” Phan said.

“Fair enough point” Reier said with a shrug “But that is how the Brass figures out there might be a problem.”

“What happens then?” Phan asked.

“They tell us tough shit” Reier said “And let us know that if we don’t put a sock in it, they’ll give us something really worth complaining about.”

“But only because they care” Tilo said solemnly.

“See” Reier said “It’s so simple even the Kid gets it.”

Phan stared at them for a while trying to figure out if they were putting one over on him.
 
Carriers--they're a wonderful thing. Does anyone know where the Japanese carriers are? Or their subs? The Hoscheseeflotte is certainly living up to its name, but it is a long ways away from home and spare parts...

Thorwald's up to something...bodes ill for someone...
 
I been thinking...way too much

We all been thinking that Vladimir has just lost his shot in the Russian Game of Thrones but that was just his opening gambit.
Vladimir was trying to present a Fait Accompli to the Allies before any other groups can organize.

Vladimir probably can spin his dealings with Beria that if "he can get rid of Stalin, end the war, and stop the suffering then he will make a deal with the devil himself".
I have been rereading the timeline and I don't think that Vladimir knows that Jehene is still alive and in his and the world's eye he is still the legitimate heir.

Vladimir still has the backing of the Russian Orthodox Church. His main opposition comes from Trotsky and the revolutionary left and from Kerensky and the social democratic center-left, that will leave an opening on the nationalist conservative right for him.

After the war. Vladimir can say the fault of the war was because of that "Georgian Stalin and the Jew Bolsheviks" and that Russia and the Russian people are the real victims and should not be punished . Any peace treaty that has Russia losing one square inch of land and paying one Ruble of reparations is an unjust and unfair peace.

Vladimir can form a political party whose goals are to "Make Russia Great Again" and once he can get in office, Vladimir can consolidate power and suppress the opposition, then he can get himself proclaimed to be the Czar.
The real wildcard in all of this is Jehene and I doubt that Peabody-Martini would introduced a character who is the sole surviving granddaughter of the Czar and not have her play a big role in the RGoT.
 
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