I'd bet that it was originally wired to an S-mine. The rust pits and the missing marble kinda indicate that it did explode. Now, exactly what it might have signified to the Polkovnik is a mystery :cool:.

If anything. It may have been a souvenir saved from a scrap heap
The value of that cat has just exploded.

In large part because the cat didn't. x'D

There's an industry around commerce in signatures of famous and not-so-famous people. I wouldn't care to guess how much that signed cat would be worth with a proper provenance. Of course it'd be worth your life to try to get it away from that Polkovnik against his will.
There's an industry around commerce in signatures of famous and not-so-famous people. I wouldn't care to guess how much that signed cat would be worth with a proper provenance. Of course it'd be worth your life to try to get it away from that Polkovnik against his will.
With no proof that it is The Kat's signature, not likely to be worth much.
With no proof that it is The Kat's signature, not likely to be worth much.
Surely, in the case of an eventual auction, decades or even generations later, their would be signatures of Kat's on file with government agencies, such that authentication would be possible. And Woe to the unwise, who attempts to counterfeit such.
When Kat finally gets around to writing her autobiography Nine Lives the value of the cutouts will soar.
There will be ways of authenticating the cutouts by the stamp in the back showing that it was made by the company owned by Kat's uncle.
Also there will be debates about which is more valuable, a cutout that is in pristine condition, or one that has battle damage to it.
If Kat ever gets to write an autobiography, then Peter and co should give themselves a huge pat on the back. At this point in her life it is the least likely thing she will do.
Gerta on the other hand, being a media star, is only too likely. And it would be a publishers dream for her to refer to her close friendship with the mysterious Freiherrin Katherine.
Given the "training" with the "body doubles", that seem likes its the obvious route with the way things are going.

As they walked up the platform they saw couple photographers shooting pictures of the train. From this angle it just looked like any other passenger train, Gianna failed to see what the big deal was. One of the photographers started to take pictures of them and Tilde made a rude gesture. They all laughed at that. It was the whole point for their presence, to hide the Grand Duchess who no one had seen since she was eleven or twelve. Kat had briefed them on what was expected of them for this trip. They were going to a funeral as cover for the Grand Duchess and if anything happened then they were to duck and wait for help to arrive.

I'm not sure how much weapons training the girls have received because this indicates that they may not be armed.

Doug was photographing the street scenes. The streets were definitely electric with the throngs of people moving about. It was said that was the reason why the city had been bypassed even though there was no resistance. He heard a string of firecrackers go up just a few meters away. He saw the smoke and red paper flying among the feet of the crowd. The noise reminded him uneasily of Russian machine guns.

I hope that's not a harbinger of something to come.
Part 39, Chapter 484
Chapter Four Hundred Eighty-Four

17th August

In Transit, Rural Russia

“How long will she be like this?” Ilse asked.

“It could be an hour, or it could be days” Gianna replied.

Kat was sharing the room with Gianna, Ilse and Asia. She had woken up this morning, felt a black mood slam down on her for the first time in months and she didn’t have the energy to get out of the fold out bunk. She had been warned that pushing it aside like she had in the past was an extremely bad idea, instead to ride it out. She was listening to the girls talk about her, Gianna and Ilse anyway. Asia had spoken to Kat only a handful of times since she had met her in June and never when anyone might overhear. The girl seldom spoke but heard and saw everything.

“But we’ll need her in a couple hours” Ilse said, “We’ll be in Moscow and we still need to figure out the whole religion thing.”

Kat almost groaned aloud at that. She was tempted to tell Ilse that they should fake it like most adults did whether they admitted it or not. Aunt Marcella was fond of saying that she didn’t think where you are for a few hours each Sunday made up for the messed things that had been done all week. Which was ironic because Marcella was the most religious person Kat knew but Marcella had absolutely no use for the organization part of organized religion. The girls still for the most part had the beliefs of their childhoods and thought that it was important. They wanted to know how to handle it. Among the girls three were Protestants of some kind, two were Catholic and one was Jewish. The seventh, Gianna, was technically Russian Orthodox but for her that was something she barely remembered. And they were all taking it way more seriously than they needed to. Kat had selected them because they fit a certain description, later it had become apparent that the differences between them were not something that any of them seemed prepared to give up even if it was just as a cover. Reality wasn’t going to wait for Kat to be ready to handle it, the girls needed direction.

Kat forced her eyes open and threw the blankets off. When she put her bare feet on the cold floor and was thankful it wasn’t winter, she noticed that she could feel the vibrations of the train through them. She had always liked that feel. “I need coffee and a chance to feel more human before we discuss these matters” Kat said, and she watched the girls scramble out of the stateroom presumably to the lounge car with the kitchen. They would probably load it down with an obscene amount of cream and sugar but at the moment that would probably help. She would probably feel like she’d been thrown under this train all day, but her responsibilities were not going away.


When the train pulled into the station in Moscow it was obviously not Berlin because there was a heavy military presence and the entire station had closed to all but a few members of the Press. Kat had wanted an entire Division guarding them if that had been possible. It turned out that she had gotten what she had wanted, after a fashion. There had been two troop trains a few kilometers ahead and behind them. Setting that up had also been what had delayed them for several hours the day before. That had also resulted in that weird incident of Kat being asked to autograph that cat but then she always had made quite the impression.

The city was still being rebuilt, a process that would probably take years. Georgy was there to greet the train as it arrived with the newly appointed Patriarch of Moscow. Helene had been surprised to learn that one of the things that Stalin had done in an attempt to rally the Soviet Union was to allow the election of a new Patriarch, who had died a few months later as Allied forces were closing in on Moscow. It was an odd but strangely fitting metaphor for Stalin’s involvement in the last months of the Soviet War.

Kat had spent this whole trip busy with either coordinating the security, keeping a close eye on the Englishman who she clearly didn’t trust or was spending time with her girls. Apparently one among them was the long lost Grand Duchess Jehane Alexandra but Helene couldn’t figure which one it might be. She recognized Gianna, Kat had probably thrown her in because she looked the part and she was someone inside the circle who Kat trusted. If Helene had to guess if was either the silent girl who watched everything or the one who seemed to hardly live outside her books. But knowing Kat, it was very likely none of them.

Gerta had been acting even more scattered and absent minded than usual, like if there was something weighing on her. That meant that Helene really had no one to talk to during this trip. The result was that Helene had been left watching the landscape roll by, the closer to Moscow they had gotten signs of war had been there to see even a year later. Now, here in Moscow Helene watched as the Czar’s entourage boarded the train. It had already been crowded but with this latest turn many nonessential people were being relocated to one of the other trains. Helene hadn’t been asked to be one of them, not yet anyway, though she was already feeling like luggage. Helene’s mother had said that being seen on trip like this was important and she was left with an important question. Why?
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By the way, who are in on the secret? Kira, Kat, who else?

Kira, Kat and Peter Holz are the ones who have been aware that Gianna and Jehane are the same person from the beginning.

Marcella Strobel, Maria Acker and Asia Lawniczak figured it out on their own.

Edit: I had forgotten Feodora, but she wasn't fooled for an instant.
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Kat may be realizing that this is the end of Gianna and the return of Jehane and this is making her depressed.

For Kat this is like losing a sister that she's taken care of, and this is just like how Kat feels that one way or another, everybody will leave her because she is not good enough.
Part 39, Chapter 485
Chapter Four Hundred Eighty-Five

18th August 1945

Saint Petersburg

The hotel was not exactly the place that one would expect royalty to stay, even if it was the nicest place in the entire city, but Georgy had his own way of doing things. Anyone who had seen the palaces that had mostly been converted to museums could see the reason why the revolutions of 1917 had happened and could well happen again. The result was that aside from the residence in Moscow he’d made no effort to reclaim those spaces. The reality was that he couldn’t personally afford the upkeep and asking for the money from the provisional Government was not going to happen. Which was much to his detractor’s frustration. As someone who was still seen by many as an outsider, Georgy couldn’t afford to give them anything.

This whole funeral business had to be in keeping with that. Nicholas the Second cast a long shadow over every dealing in the present and now his remains had been returned to Russia for burial. While they had to proceed in a manner that was in keeping with the status of the Imperial family George was acutely aware of the tightrope he was walking, ostentatious displays of wealth would be out. The private train that the German Kaiserin was using was being seen as necessary as a security precaution and everyone knew what the Germans were. Many saw Georgy as being crafty for wringing as much of an advantage from his wealthier cousin as he could.

The train had arrived in Saint Petersburg the night before and today was seen as a chance to have everything prepared for the events of the next day. It was also a respite from the frequently frustratingly slow pace of travel. Kira was listening to Georgy’s encounter with Katherine von Mischner earlier that day.

“…So, she says to me that because of your brother Vladimir’s involvement and it was clearly done in error that I needed to take it back” Georgy said.

“Did you give her what she wanted?” Kira asked.

“Even as Czar I lack the authority to do that” Georgy said, “And that’s not how things are done. Besides you are still the Grand Mistress of the Order, so it clearly wasn’t done in error.”

Kira didn’t know if she should be amused or exasperated with Katherine’s antics. Her brother was last seen boarding an airplane to parts unknown one step ahead of his angry creditors and the people who had backed him politically but a couple years earlier he had suggested that Katherine be inducted into the Order of Saint Catherine. Katherine being Katherine, she had floated the idea of returning it.

“Katherine would give every medal back if the opportunity presented itself” Kira said, “It’s a part of who she is and what they actually represent to her is not all together positive.”

“I don’t understand” Georgy replied. He had served in the French Army and saw decorations as the sort of things to be celebrated.

“Let’s just say medals are not viewed as a cause for celebration from her perspective” Kira said.

“I wish I’d known that before I suggested that the Duma reward Katherine for keeping Jehane safe for the last few years at some risk to herself” George said.

“That was probably a mistake” Kira said, “She’s one of the strangest people I’ve ever met, she doesn’t like official acknowledgement or attention at all really.”

Kira saw that Georgy was giving her a quizzical look. It was a question that she was aware was occasionally asked outside her hearing. Why did she tolerate someone like Katherine von Mischner? Georgy would soon learn that someone willing to be honest with him is an extremely hard thing to find. There was also the aspect that Katherine had run through gunfire to save Kira and her children. Loyalty like that couldn’t be bought with trinkets.

Near Pusan, Chōsen

The port city of Pusan was under siege and Hans had a feeling that what he was seeing was what the end of the world would look like. Shells were raining down and smoke was pouring from the city. In the distance, it looked like anything that could float was being used to try to get to Japan. The Brass was content to blast the dug in defenders from the heights north of the city. This also happened to be the last of the major Japanese controlled strong points on the Korean peninsula.

“Any idea where we’re going next” Soren asked to no one in particular.

“There’s still work needing to be done in China” Hans said, “And that’s if they don’t send us into there.” He was referring to the city of Pusan. As if to punctuate that a large secondary explosion sent an orange mushroom cloud erupting out of the center of the city. Even the greenest of the Soldaten knew that urban fighting was to be avoided if possible by now.

“It depends” Jost said, “Are the Chinese finally going to show up?”

That was a bit of a sore point for the Divisions that had been redeployed to the Far East. The Chinese were suspicious of their Allies motivations. After Taiwan had declared themselves independent the worry was that the same thing was going to happen in Manchuria. That had dominated the discussion at the recently concluded conference but until the Chinese were convinced that no one was planning on annexing Manchuria they had slow walked their involvement in this war. Sure, they were fighting in this war, but not to the extent that other already were. One thing that the 2nd Army had discovered was that if given the right weapons, the Koreans were not a force that any sane military planner wanted to tangle with on their own turf.
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Somewhat surprised that Belarus seems to be independent from Russia, any reasons why?
Belarus first time declared independence in March 1918 after Brest Litovsk.

Would actually make sense for Berlin to keep Belorussia running since 1918 as buffer state ITTL.
Otherwise I just finnished reading from start to end.
Excelent work. Peabody-Martini, you got some talent and I am looking forward to read more.
Didn't want to spam your account with likes after every chapter I finnished reading so just you know, you have 485 of them.