IOTL He died in 1939 as a result of his arrest and mistreatment at the hands of the Gestapo. ITTL I thought it would be fun to have him do one last piece that would be influential and possibly have a profound effect on this timeline.

The possibilities boggle my mind. A portrait of Kat in full uniform with all her decorations and honors; Kat in court dress with decorations and honors; Kat in armor on horseback as St. George slaying the Russian dragon; a triptych of Kat and Kira seated with the Royal children around them, Kat in combat uniform in action kinda like Liberty Leading the People , The Three furies plus Gianna sitting around a coffee shop table.

I hope our esteemèd Peabody-Martin enlightens us (hint, hint).
 
I've been on vacation without reliable internet for a couple of weeks and I just want to say I have loved the updates. Jacob and Kat getting PLM'd together. Kat accepting a date (and someone batshit crazy enough to ask her out) is a wow.
 
Part 28, Chapter 317
Three Hundred Seventeen

11th May 1943

East of Luck, Polish-Ukrainian Frontier

No one had told them what was coming. Jack had woken up to unholy sound of Nebelwerfer rockets flying over their position in the early morning hours. The shriek of the rocket and the red glow as it passed, followed by a thunderous explosion. From what Jack could tell the Russian positions were getting hammered, nice to see them being on the receiving end of a rocket attack for once. Coirnéal Aiken had told him that the Germans had decided that the roads were dry enough to start their planned offensive. The men had made a bunch of jokes about how the Huns needed this to start lest they arrive in Moscow fifteen minutes behind schedule. Jack had noticed that none of the noncoms had found that funny.

“If you’d been in Spain you’d know what they are capable of” Leary Quinlan said.

The night before Aikens had told him that he needed to be prepared to advance into the Ukraine at five in the morning. Compared to what they had been doing for the last couple of months it was a welcome change. Jack’s only concern had been having to wake this lot up that early. It turned out he didn’t need to be concerned, he’d been the only one sleeping.

Then artillery fire started coming from the other direction. While this was obviously counter fire, shells from both sides were falling short and landing on the front lines. Jack checked his watch at the bottom of his dugout. Unless something changed in the next five minutes there was no way they were going anywhere at five.


East of Sarney, the Polish-Ukrainian Frontier

The Panther was rolling over trenches that had emptied out in a hurry. Panthers firing canister along their length had that effect. Kurt was standing in the cupola, Lars was doing what he normally did in these situations, Kurt was starting to suspect that he was in fact aiming for the bumps. The Russian Tanks were not in evidence and they were probably not facing the cream of the Russian Army here. They were just here to delay them long enough for whatever surprises were waiting for them to finish being set up inside Russia.

Kurt heard a loud whoosh and clank as an anti-tank shell hit one of his one of his Panzers and was deflected skyward.

“Anyone have eyes on that!” Kurt yelled into the mic. He got a bunch negative answers back. How did someone fire off a gun and no one sees it?

The anti-tank gun fired again, this time the shell hit the same Panzer whose luck had run out. The shell sliced right through the weaker side armor and exploded. As the secondary explosion ripped the Panther apart Kurt cringed. There was no way anyone was getting out of that alive.

At least this time the gun was spotted. High explosive shells started landing around where the gun was. He watched with some satisfaction that the position was blown apart.

By early afternoon that had blown through the lines and the road to Kiev was open.


Berlin

They were all listening to the command nets of the battle in the common room. This had a very different feel than the previous Autumn. There were rapid advances in some places and stalled actions in others, the whole situation was chaotic. In the air, another massive battle was taking place.

The atmosphere in the Castle was different as well. Then they had the feeling that they were under siege, now things were different. There was even talk of moving the ATC operations to Warsaw. Helene just hoped all that wasn’t premature as she left the common room. As she walked towards the stairwell she ran across Magda talking to Kat of all people.

“You should happily take any honor that gets offered to you” Magda was saying “Every one of those increases your stature which makes it easier for those who will follow you.”

“But what happened was a total fluke” Kat said.

“Perhaps” Magda said, “But you took advantage of that fluke and did things that most people couldn’t do.”

Helene couldn’t believe this. She had seen Magda angry enough times. A few other times she had shown concern for her charges. But mostly she’d Magna with the apathetic attitude of having seen and heard everything. What Helene had never seen Magda happy to see someone like she was with Kat.

“Oberfunker von Richthofen, you never told me that you were friends with Hauptmann Mischner here” Magda said, “It’s a rare privilege to meet a pioneer like her.”

Helene could see Kat’s face flush red when Magda said that. She had never considered herself a pioneer, only a survivor. And that blue and white cross that Kat had at her throat ensured that anonymity she had always wanted would be impossible for the rest of her life.

“Hi Helene” Kat said shyly, she still wasn’t someone who welcomed being the center of attention “I was just getting some free advice from Hauptfeldwebel Krause.”

That caught Helene short. All these months and she’d never bothered to learn Magda’s last name. She most certainly had never really talked to her the way that Kat apparently just had. Helene walked towards the stairwell with Kat following along.

“I’m surprised that you’re here” Helene said, “I thought that you’d still be mad about what happened the other day.”

“It’s just one meal” Kat said “I’ve been talking with Gianna about dealing with fear. What sort of person would I be if I would be frightened of being around a journalist for a couple hours?”

“Still, we had to talk you into it.”

Kat just shrugged. “I know that you, Marcella, Gerta and even Gianna just want me to have a halfway normal life someday” She said, “And as a friend once told me, no one forces me to do anything.”

As they walked towards the situation room the two sentries snapped to rigid attention in a way the they never would have done if it were only Helene. How was it possible that Kat, the train hopping waif from Pankow, had taken on this aura of authority?

Later, Kat sat next to Helene and just listened as Helene bantered with the pilots until eventually she fell asleep. Helene knew why she had come here tonight. No one thought to look for her here or expected anything. Helene was reluctant to wake her up. When Kat dreamed her featured softened, Kat was the girl in the produce market again who Helene realized she missed.
 
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Part 28, Chapter 318
Chapter Three Hundred Eighteen


13th May 1943

3rd Seebaitallon Infantry Division Bivouac, Near Saigon, Vietnam

As soon as Edmund Metz stepped off the airplane it was clear to him the training and acclimatization he’d been doing in Western Australia had not done the trick. It was hot and it was pouring down rain. He also noticed that he along with the rest of his Company were getting called fresh fish. Edmund had trained in Judenbach and had combat jumps with the Fallschirmjäger Corps before that. Part of the problem was that they had come in along with a number of replacements from Cuxhaven. This Division had fought a savage battle in a place called la Drang and if you weren’t there you weren’t worth shit in their eyes.

“Now you need to constantly mind your gear” The Soldat who was guiding them was saying “Your clothes will rot off of you and insects and rust just adore your rifles. Worst of all everyone from the Oberst on down will kick your ass if that happens.”

The Soldat was typical of what they had come to expect of the Seebaitallons. A locally produced splinter pattern broadbrimmed hat instead of a helmet. Flak vest with nothing under it, revealing a tattoo on his chest and another on his shoulder. Pants hacked off at the knees, scarred shins and cloth sided tropical boots. There was however nothing wrong with his weapons, a G33 was slung over his shoulder, a bayonet and a bolo were on his belt.

“You lot are in the really deep shit now” The Soldat said smiling under a dark mustache “Got any questions?”

Something about seemed like a setup to Edmund. Several of the men raised their hands. The Soldat seemed to be making a point of ignoring them. “This is Vietnam” He said, “You’ve plenty of time for all those questions and then some to be answered.”

With that he pointed to some tents that were falling down in the rain. “Welcome to your new home” The Soldat said “We start teaching you on how to live and fight in this nice garden of earthly delights tomorrow morning. Stay inside the wire and try not to get yourself killed in the meantime.”

Edmund could smell that they had been put right next to the latrines. The Soldat walked off.

“You believe that asshole?” Soldat Piotr Kerwer remarked as they tried to fix one of the tents.

“He did say that he’d been ordered to do that” Edmund said, “I figure that he wasn’t thrilled with going out in the rain.”

“No” Piotr said “As far as he is concerned we haven’t earned our place here. It’s true with this entire Division as well.”

“An entire Division of retreads and rejects” Edmund said, “And they think we need to earn our place.”

“We’re here because the Hellcats gave us the boot” Piotr pointed out.

“Not helpful” Edmund muttered.

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

Tilo stepped into the tent he was sharing with Reier.

“Was I that full of myself when I joined this outfit?” He asked Reier.

“You were worse” Reier said.

“And why was I the one who got sent out to take them from the landing strip to their tents?” Tilo demanded.

“It comes for the fact that until this latest lot shipped in you were the bottom of the heap” Reier said.

“Why is that?”

“Because any promotion would need to be approved by either Wunsdorf or the Fleet HQ” Reier said “Freemantle is a Hell of a long way from here and Brandenburg might as well be on the moon.”

“Speaking of the Fleet” Tilo said “Any more on the rumors that something big is in the offing?”

“You know as much as I do Kid” Reier said.


Warsaw, Poland

Field Marshall von Wolvogle sat in his office staring at the map. There was a broad but uneven push on across the front. In some places, the Soviets were making a fight of it while in others they were folding like a cheap suit.

There were three armored thrusts into the Soviet Union currently. Their orders were to bypass strong points and rush for the distant far borders of Belorussia and the Ukraine. This was a cavalry campaign in the classic sense. With Panzer Brigades acting as the hammer and the Infantry Divisions acting as the anvil.

The goal however was not Moscow as much as Wolvogle might want to drive on that city. That would play according to the Soviet plans that had their best Guard Divisions in place for if he tried to do that. Instead he was going to focus on the south this season. Intelligence had said that the Volga River and the area around it was the major north south axis of Russian rail transport and several pipelines. Eventually he would go after Moscow but not before its starving defenders were forced to choose between defending the north or south approach to that city.


Near Korosten, the Ukraine.

Horst was really starting to dislike this road. It was the third time he had traveled it. At least this time they weren’t advancing at a crawl. The plan was to charge through, encircle Kiev and keep going.

While doing that, they had a whole list of things that they were supposed to be looking out for. People who seemed to be a little too well fed in this country were at the top of that list. It suggested either someone favored by Moscow or other far darker possibilities. What was this world coming to? He thought to himself.
 
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It looks like Metz and the Sea Lions just got welcomed to Vietnam Seebataillon style.
And Tilo will not be recognized by his family if he returns home alive.
 
I can see Doug and Kat getting into a spirited but friendly argument on their first date over which one of them is the most scared.
 
Just caught up with the latest update and I must say that this is a masterpiece!
Great set of characters. But I hope Kat and Kurt end up together.
Also some questions.
- How do the greeks control the population in former Turkey? I can't imagine turks just giving up.
- I keep imagining the gear of the germans as something comparable to the gear of OTL 60's. Are they maybe that far ahead?
- How does the SPz look like?

And I'm looking forward to the decolonasation era.
 
Did the original Holomodor of 1932-1933 happen, of which the current famine is another instance? The Wiki contains pure [SPOILER="nightmare fuel" ] Survival was a moral as well as a physical struggle. A woman doctor wrote to a friend in June 1933 that she had not yet become a cannibal, but was "not sure that I shall not be one by the time my letter reaches you." The good people died first. Those who refused to steal or to prostitute themselves died. Those who gave food to others died. Those who refused to eat corpses died. Those who refused to kill their fellow man died. Parents who resisted cannibalism died before their children did. [/SPOILER]
 
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Did the original Holomodor of 1932-1933 happen, of which the current famine is another instance? (The Wiki contains pure [SPOILER="nightmare fuel".)]Survival was a moral as well as a physical struggle. A woman doctor wrote to a friend in June 1933 that she had not yet become a cannibal, but was "not sure that I shall not be one by the time my letter reaches you." The good people died first. Those who refused to steal or to prostitute themselves died. Those who gave food to others died. Those who refused to eat corpses died. Those who refused to kill their fellow man died. Parents who resisted cannibalism died before their children did.[/SPOILER]

The first Holomodor was mentioned, in reference to a journalist from the BT being banned from the Soviet Union.
 
- How do the greeks control the population in former Turkey? I can't imagine turks just giving up.
No one gave up which is why the Turks and Greeks have constantly been at war with each other. Also without the actions of the Turks in the post war period the Greeks were able to take over areas with substantial Greek and Armenian populations.

- I keep imagining the gear of the germans as something comparable to the gear of OTL 60's. Are they maybe that far ahead?
The German's gear is at about the level of 1945 OTL, the rifles, Flak vests and other gear were all based on existing equipment.

- How does the SPz look like?
The Spz looks a lot like this vehicle, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pansarbandvagn_301

Pansarbandvagn_301_Strängnäs.JPG
 
Part 28, Chapter 319
Chapter Three Hundred Nineteen


18th May 1943

Malyn, Ukraine

Hans was watching the Russians. These weren’t prisoners of war, not anymore. They were from the millions of soldiers captured the previous winter and recruited by Russian exiles. While the Heer didn’t trust them on the front lines for obvious reasons, the Pioneer Corps was happy to take them as labor for railroad construction. Astonishingly, the Pioneer Corps were only hours behind the main column. After a week of driving forward the Regiment was taking a breather in the rear. In a few hours, it would be time to start moving forward again.

Hans was trying to avoid thinking about Doug Blackwood and Jost Schultz, they were both acting like schoolboys in different ways. Jost for getting petty revenge and Doug for thinking that avoiding talking about things made them go away. When Doug had come back from Berlin he had been squirrelly and Jost had a look of sadistic joy on his face. It took a few days but Hans got the whole story out of Doug and he didn’t know who he wanted to see thrashed more.

They could play their stupid games as much as they wanted but the instant they had gotten Kat involved that was over the line. It had come as no surprise to Hans that Doug had come to grief at the hands of the three furies. That was going to be an expensive proposition that Doug’s wallet might never recover from. Kat might not have expensive tastes but her friends, particularly Gerta, knew how to turn a simple meal into a budget crippling ordeal. Jost might get what he wanted, just not how he’d expected. Perhaps Kat was learning some discretion as opposed to smashing through anything in her path.


Sarney, Poland

Otto was skillfully guiding the locomotive forward, he was pulling a 42cm railway gun, it went without saying that it was a lot of mass. It was the second super heavy siege gun that he’d brought to the forward staging area this week. This one had come directly from the Krupp. The crew had already named it Kasia when he had coupled his locomotive to it. Then had come the fun part. People had stood along the tracks staring in awe at the size of the 42cm gun as it rolled past.

There was another train that was carrying the shells and explosive propellant that was trailing this one. That was one of those cases where seniority had its privileges. There had been plenty of times when he had driven loads of munitions. Spending hour after hour wondering if the next bump or dip in the track would be the one that would be the one that blew him into the hereafter was something that he could live without.

The train itself was the locomotive and tender car. This was followed by the guard truck and the gun carriage. 42cm gun that was slung on a steel skeleton structure slung between two trucks each of which were larger than locomotive that was pulling them. Past that was passenger car for the gun crew and a flatcar covered in anti-aircraft guns and sandbags at the very end.

As the train turned onto the siding Otto was sure to keep the speed to a crawl. These sidings were iffy compared to the main line. Once the gun was in place Otto could see crews were putting camouflage netting over the gun. It seemed almost absurd to try to disguise something so huge. That was what Otto was thinking about as the guard truck was uncoupled from the gun carriage.


Potsdam

You need to be shameless, Magda Krause had told her, a man in Kat’s position would never think for an instant as to whether or not something was deserved before he took it. That was proving difficult for her, if she responded to the offers what exactly would that entail for her, socially and politically. Already, she felt obligated to take the Saxe-Ernestine House Order to balance things out after she’d been pressured into taking the Max Joseph Cross. What she really wanted was to run far, far away. Perhaps she could go to Australia, Sydney was nice except for the Americans and British spies.

There were letters from Chivalrous Orders for Women addressed to Freiherrin von Mischner saying that they would be proud to have her as a member from Saxony, Hesse and Bavaria again. The whole situation was ridiculous. Just how shameless was she? And was this this like Thorwald had suggested that it might not be just about her?


South China Sea, off Vietnam

Tilo was woken up as the landing craft they were riding on had another wave slop over the side. After weeks outside Saigon the Brass had decided that they needed to pack up and move back up the coast. The roads were impassible so they were traveling by sea. The landing craft as it turned out were not particularly comfortable to spend any length of time in. Tilo had recognized them instantly as being nearly identical to the Japanese boats that they had captured months earlier. Spending all day in an open boat in the rain was not his idea of a fun afternoon.

The other thing that had come down was that wherever they were going would be in full view of the Brass. That meant that they had to go back to looking like proper soldiers again. Tropical uniform or not, wearing one in what felt like a lukewarm shower sucked. After a spell Tilo dozed off again only to be awoken by the sound of the landing craft running up onto a beach. As soon as the lamp dropped Tilo saw where they were. Right back in Da Nang. They’d run a giant circle through southern Vietnam.
 
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The Seebataillon Infantry is holding rehearsals for amphibious assault landings for a major campaign. Where? Central Pacific? German New Guinea?
 
The Seebataillon Infantry is holding rehearsals for amphibious assault landings for a major campaign. Where? Central Pacific? German New Guinea?
I guess if it were a rehearsal they would wake up the soldiers before landing. I guess this was just a transport.
 
Potsdam

You need to be shameless, Magda Krause had told her, a man in Kat’s position would never think for an instant as to whether or not something was deserved before he took it. That was proving difficult for her, if she responded to the offers what exactly would that entail for her, socially and politically. Already, she felt obligated to take the Saxe-Ernestine House Order to balance things out after she’d been pressured into taking the Max Joseph Cross. What she really wanted was to run far, far away. Perhaps she could go to Australia, Sydney was nice except for the Americans and British spies.

There were letters from Chivalrous Orders for Women addressed to Freiherrin von Mischner saying that they would be proud to have her as a member from Saxony, Hesse and Bavaria again. The whole situation was ridiculous. Just how shameless was she? And was this this like Thorwald had suggested that it might not be just about her?

Someone she trusts needs to tell her, "Yes, Kat, this isn't just about you.anymore. Part of it is people feeling good about themselves by sharing a bit of the honor they're bestowing on you; part of it's making the process easier for the next woman; and, yes, they think you deserve the honors they're offering. Just say 'thank you very much.'"
 
Part 28, Chapter 320
Chapter Three Hundred Twenty


30th May 1943

Da Nang, Vietnam

The good news was that they were back in Da Nang. The bad news was that they didn’t have it to themselves anymore. The 1st and 2nd Seebaitallon Divisions had arrived in Vietnam during their absence. Tilo was having a hard time trying not to be resentful of these new arrivals. When they had been in the la Drang Valley holding on by the skin of their teeth, where were they? Then Tilo saw a group of men wearing strange uniforms walking past their bivouac. A different splinter pattern than the Seebaitallon used. Tilo was sitting outside his tent on a chair that had come from somewhere, killing time.

“Who’re they?” Tilo asked no one in particular.

“The Hell if I know” Reier said.

“Those are Paras” Edmund said, “Not my old outfit, but still paratroopers.”

“You sure about that?” Tilo asked. The Company that had arrived shortly before their departure for Da Nang had settled into the 3rd Division a lot faster than the green replacements had. As it had turned out, they already knew how to fight once they got used to the climate. While the Division was still trying to figure out what to do with them Edmund Metz and his Squad had glommed onto Tilo’s Company.

“Yeah” Edmund said.

Damn, Tilo thought to himself there was something big coming.

“One of you Tilo Schultz?” An Unteroffizer carrying a canvas bag asked.

“Yeah here” Tilo said.

“These belong to you” He said, handing Tilo a stack of letters held together with twine.

The letters were from home, mostly from his mother and sisters. There were a couple from his father, one from Jost, a past due notice on the electric bill for his Berlin apartment and an official looking letter from Wunsdorf-Zossen.

“Would you believe this?” Tilo said handing the last letter to Reier.

“I’d say that congratulations are in order, Kid” Reier said “Don’t get an EK2 and promotion every day.”

“This is over a month and half old” Tilo said “What did they do put it on the slowest ship in the fleet?”

“That would probably be right” Reier said “You are going to need to make sure the Lieutenant sees that.”

“I’ve had to be in on every shitty job in this outfit because I was a damned Soldat” Tilo said “And I was a Gefreiter the whole time.”

Tilo leaped to his feet and stomped off.

“What was that about?” Edmund asked.

“Things move at a slightly slower pace here” Reier said “In case you haven’t figured that out yet.”


Jena

Peter was in his office this week and was marveling at the latest fire that his patient had had thrown herself on.

“You should have realized that these people would have questions when you didn’t respond” Peter said, “They are the sort who are used to getting their way.”

“But I’ve been busy” Kat said, lamely. As if Peter needed another reminder that she was extremely young for the sort of role that she had been thrust into. She had told him of her desire to run away to someplace where no one knew her. If he could have his way then he’d order her to do exactly that until she managed to decompress. The problem was that could take years at this point.

“That is the only reason that you’ve been given a much latitude as you have” Peter said, “As it stood you had the Empress herself ordering you to make the appropriate responses.”

Kat just shrugged, she was being difficult on a scale that only she could accomplish.

Peter knew full well that Kat tended to react in two ways, either fight or run and hide. She had opted for the latter in this case in hopes that the situation would just go away. That included a number of extremely prominent people, some of whom she had been ducking for months. Eventually they had approached the Empress who had told Kat that she would travel to them, accept whatever honor they were offering. Then thank them, be grateful and smile. Anything less than that would result in Kat being sent on a public speaking tour. The Empress was playing extremely rough with that sort of threat.

The result was that Kat had spent the past several days travelling between Dresden, Erfurt, Darmstadt and Munich. At Peter’s request Kat had brought in the four new order badges today. Two of them were orders exclusively for women. The other two were given regardless of gender. Their presence was the thing that she was talking around.

“Any one of these would ensure your future” Peter said, “Why do you feel so undeserving?”

“I just do” Kat said, “I got two of those because of politics and I can’t figure out what the others are for.”

“Didn’t you read the citations?”

“Selfless service, sacrifice, devotion to duty” Kat said, “It’s all the sort of things that they always put on those.”

“I’m starting to think you lack perspective” Peter said, “Any one of those would ensure your personal future and the people who gave them to you felt you were deserving.”

“Just because someone has a title doesn’t mean that they are always correct” Kat replied.

“You are a Dame and Freiherrin in five Kingdoms and Duchies of the German Empire, two of which gave you honorary citizenship” Peter said, “Ever think that you are getting things wrong?”

Kat frowned and sat in silence for the next several minutes.
 
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More good stuff. That which does not kill us makes us stronger; the jury is still out on which it will be with Kat. Vietnam's going to get messier.
This war won't be over fast on either front.
 
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