Part 20, Chapter 210
Chapter Two Hundred Ten


1st September 1940

Berlin

Friedrich, or Freddy as he was typically called by his family and minders was exploring. He had escaped when the attention of his nurse had wandered and he had the vague sense of the direction that Mamma or Poppa might be in. There was also Great Grand Poppa with the white mustache who delighted in seeing him and told him stories about ships at sea even though Freddy understood hardly any of it, the pictures were of vast grey ships spitting long plumes of fire and smoke. There were also fierce looking men in blue and grey clothes. They looked like the men who he frequently saw talking to Poppa but those men never looked fierce. They were kind to him and called him Tiger. Freddy didn’t know if Tiger was another name for him or something else. Freddy would be mesmerized by all that but eventually Great Grand Poppa would fall asleep and someone would come for him.

After taking time to examine a suit of armor that he would have never been allowed near, were he supervised, Freddy continued his quest down the halls. Then he heard Momma’s voice and that of another woman. He entered a room filled with bright sunlight and saw something brightly colored and shiny. Long copper strands, when Freddy grabbed a handful he was met with sounds of pain and dismay as a woman, not Momma looked down at him with big blue eyes and gently tried to disentangle his hand from her hair…

“Ow, ow, ow” Kat was saying as she worked to get her hair free of the toddler’s grasp. She had been so involved with having a discussion with Empress Kira that she hadn’t noticed Prince Friedrich entering the room until he’d started tugging on her hair. She’d found out that Empress Cecilie had taken a personal interest in Kat’s education and had been delighted when she found out that Kat had siigned up for Premedical classes. It had turned out that Kat had horribly misjudged the former Empress. Now Cecilie had pointedly retired from public life viewing the manner of her husband’s demise as vindication of sorts so Kat had never gotten a chance apologize.

Instead she was forced to try to make amends with the new Grand Mistress of the Order of Louise, Kira Romanova. The former Empress’s daughter-in-law. She had requested this audience and it had been an awkward, stilted conversation with the Empress drawing in a sketch pad hardly looking at Kat until she had found herself entangled with a small child.

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The Empress watched this with a detached smile as she watched what was unfolding over the top of her sketchbook. When this girl had asked to speak with her she’d asked around and gotten a rather mixed impression. The words “frigid psychopath” had been thrown around by her detractors. She had discovered that Katherine didn’t seem to fit that description, but Kira knew full well that such people didn’t always reveal themselves immediately. During her time as the consort of the Crown Prince and now Empress she had learned that being direct didn’t always give her a good read of people.

Playing it a bit aloof and letting them show you who they are had proven the best tactic. She had sat there drawing a study of Katherine’s face while listening and waiting to see what happened. Even if that included listening to excuses as to why the girl had avoided many of the responsibilities she’d been given. Katherine wasn’t a classic beauty by any means, thin slightly upturned nose and her jaw was a bit on the square side. She also had the rare combination red hair and blue eyes. Katherine was very guarded, understandable considering some of the things she is said to have done.

Kira was surprised as Katherine when Freddy grabbed a handful of her hair. The girl gently tried to untangle her hair from his hand only to have Freddy cooperate in the manner that had to be anticipated with small children by grabbing on with his other hand.

“No, bad” Katherine said with as much patience as she could probably muster. Trying hard to keep sharpness out of her voice.

She looked up at the Empress with look that said Help! Kira got up closing her sketchbook and coaxed Freddy to loosen his grip on the girl’s hair just as the nurse came running in. “He got away from me while I was changing Michael” She said mentioning Kira’s other child with a horrified expression “I’m so sorry…”

“No harm” Kira said, “Take him to his Great Grandfather, Wilhelm values every minute he gets with him.”

The little boy was clearly not happy about being carried off when the things he was currently interested in were in this room.

“Sorry about that, I figure that you are not used to being around children” Kira said, “I have an entire staff but with Freddy almost two these things still can happen…”

“I’ve dealt with grownups who behave worse than him” Katherine said, “He eventually listened.”

Kira had been hoping to get a read on this girl. Katherine could have handled that situation very differently. Instead she’d been as gentle as possible with Freddy, she’d also shown patience considering that he didn’t seem to be able to process the word no.

“I’ve heard about how you handle people who don’t listen to you” Kira said.

“Most of that is exaggeration” Katherine said.

“You didn’t fight off two American agents with a knife?” Kira asked.

“There was no talking” Katherine said, “One had a gun and the other tried to grab me.”

“You have to admit that sounds a bit extreme, Katherine” Kira said.

“No one calls me Katherine, it’s Kat” Kat said, “And as my friend Schaffer said when he gave me the knife I used, cats have claws.”

Kira gave Kat the barest of smiles. She was starting to understand this girl.
 
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Hm...the death of his grandson and son may leave Wilhelm II with radically a different perspective in life. In earlier times, he may well have joined a monastery as Frater Will. In this case, his ITL historical reputation will be much different from his OTL counterpart.
 
Part 20, Chapter 211
Chapter Two Hundred Eleven


6th November 1940

Rechlin-Lärz Airfield

It had been a long exhausting experiment and all Lenz wanted to do was collapse into his bunk and sleep. For some reason, it had been decided that needed to squeeze as much range out of their airplanes as they could manage. That had included the recent addition of drop tanks on the wings and belly. Taking off predawn the entirety of JG-1 had flown in formation over the Alps to somewhere well south of Rome where they had conducted a simulated mission with the Regia Aeronautica playing the role of opposition. Even with the auxiliary fuel tanks they had been on fumes by the time they had landed at the airfield after who knew how many kilometers and most of the day. Instead of sleeping Lenz was listening to the Oberst drone on about how he was almost happy with their performance but there were a large number of things that they needed to take into consideration before the next sortie which would take them back to Italy in a few days depending on the weather.

Lenz thought he heard someone mutter “Just shoot me now” behind him.

Then the Oberst dropped a bombshell “In the next sortie you will be escorting a wing of Do-19 bombers” He said.

That got Lenz’s attention. The FW-190 Würger was never intended to fill that mission.

“Isn’t that normally a job for the Heinkel Adler fighters?” Lenz asked.

“That’s actually a good question from you for once, Herr Schultz” The Oberst said “It’s been determined that the FWs are better in hot, humid climates and the Siemens-Schuckert Si-20 is optimized for point defense.”

Lenz glanced around to see if anyone else had picked up on that. Si-20 was a carrier based interceptor built around the same 18-cylinder engine as the FW, just slightly smaller. Was there a chance that they might be sent somewhere hot and humid? No one else in the room seemed to care and Oberst didn’t elaborate further.


Berlin

Grossmann was completing his analysis of the recently concluded American election. He’d watched the news that had been sent via telegraph as it came in over the last few months and it struck him that the entire election was strange. For a nation with very real issues the election had seemed to revolve around everything but those issues. John Garner had seized upon legislation introduced by Artur Vandenberg in the US Senate nullifying an obscure treaty with Japan to paint him as secretly plotting to bring America into a war in the Eastern Pacific. In the end, it seemed to revolve around who did you distrust the least as both men spent a great deal of time accusing the other of lying without actually saying that.

On the 5th of November 1940 John Nance Garner became President elect after winning a historically narrow election victory. Judging from the news coming in from the United States journalists were only now trying to figure what the policies proposals of the Texas politician were. Grossmann had been covering politics for decades. He’d thought that he was cynical about such coverage and how politicians tried to manipulate it. Even he found this appalling, the entire election had hinged on what could only be described as bullshit. The fact that this had been allowed to have happened like this was a profound dereliction of duty by his counterparts across the Atlantic from Grossmann’s perspective.

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The invitation to tour the construction site of the new Reichstag had come at a welcome time for Augustus Lang. He had come within an inch on telling a group of politicians and scholars that no one aside from them hardly anyone cared about the subject they were so engrossed in. While he agreed that the public typically looked at the royal family with affection, he secretly considered them to be a relic of a bygone age when being from a particularly lucky sperm determined your place in life. The world had moved on and found better ways to select leaders.

He also understood that if he said that aloud he’d create a debate that he couldn’t win. They had been debating the proclamation that was going to be made regarding the name of the Emperor. He was Louis Ferdinand, Louis V or Louis VI depending on your perspective. This was because of a handful of Carolingian Kings of East Francia more than a thousand years earlier and one Wittelsbach in the Holy Roman Empire. Looking at plywood forms with the steel rebar being wired into place before the concrete was poured was a lot more interesting, which proved how boring and tedious that debate actually was.

“Actually, Sir we are setting it up so we will able to have a fully modern communications suite available in every office” His tour guide said, “That’s what these are for” He pointed at a square opening at the base of the wall.

“That means that all the wiring is going to be in the walls?” Lang asked.

“Yes, Sir” The guide said.

“That will be a big improvement” Lang said, “It the old building much of the wiring was added well after the fact.”

“I remember that well, Sir” The Guide said, “I did a lot of work in the old building, it was amazing that the whole thing didn’t go up in flames.”

“It was that bad?” Lang asked.

The guide just shrugged “We did our best but so much of it was improvised and no one seemed to bother keeping track of what went where.”

“Were there ever any attempts to sort it out?” Lang asked.

“Sure, there were” The guide said, “but we never had enough money to finish the job.”

If that wasn’t the story of his time in elected office, Lang thought. Too much to do and never quite enough resources to finish the job.
 
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Escorted heavy bombers at the outset is going to mean a lot of dead/wrecked Japanese and a lot more German pilots/crews alive. From reading about Garner's election, it would appear that the Philippines have either been cut loose or worse, transferred to the Japanese sphere of influence, given the public's fears about an Eastern Pacific war.
 
What is the Alliance and Treaties status in Europe? Are France and Britain still connected by an Alliance? (If somebody attacks one of them, will the other join?). Are AH or Italy allied (or have a defensive treaty) with Germany (and are any of the two capable of projecting force outside of Europe)? Does Germany have some secret treaty with Great Britain? Because else it would be difficult to sell to the German public a conflict with Japan on the other side of the globe (does Germany still hold Tsingtao?).
 
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A nice bit of color here, as well as advancing the plot. The USA is a MESS! Long range escort fighters are a game changer, and the fact that Germany's been well led helps. Fairly soon, the butterflies are going to start showing up in sense that people born after 1917, won't be.

Is the new Reichstag going to be built along similar lines to the old one.

(Kittens are awake--just got very hard to type!)

good stuff!
'
 
Part 20, Chapter 212
Chapter Two Hundred Twelve


17th November 1940

Berlin

Kat could have thought of a lot of other things to be doing on a Sunday afternoon rather than standing in line with Helene in a bookstore. Gerta was fidgeting with a ballpoint pen, clicking it incessantly. Click-click-click-click. It was what Gerta had been doing for the fifteen minutes. Click-click-click-click.

Helene had seen that the book was to be released this afternoon and insisted that they come with her. Kat already knew the story upon which the book was based, she had been working at the BT when it was in the headlines. It struck her that it would be a lot like the occasional problem that she had with Helene and Gerta. No matter what had happened there was never a sense that anything truly bad could happen and Kat figured that the book would be a bunch of fluff. Kat had spent her life all too aware of what the worst sorts of things that could happen and there was what Kat had been able to read between the lines, the lack of preparation and contingency planning. How events played out should have been predictable. Click-click-click-click… Kat grabbed Gerta’s hand.

“Please, stop” Kat said. She noticed that several of the people also in line were thankful that Kat had stopped Gerta from clicking the pen.

“You both need to cut it out” Helene said, “We do stuff that you two find important all the time, it’s my turn for once and you’re both acting like children.”

The line moved forward a few paces then stopped again. Kat let out an exasperated sign, this was taking forever. The book would still be here for sale next week. “Why do we need to stand in line with you?” Kat asked.

“Because no one likes to wait in line alone” Helene replied.

This was better than waiting alone?

Click-click-click-click…

“Gerta!” Kat and Helene yelled as one.

After what had seemed like an eternity they finally made it to the head of the line. Helene grabbed a copy from the counter, Lost in the Pacific, The Harrowing True Story, by Amelia Earhart.

“If she doesn’t say in there how she ended up in the Marshall Islands then it’s not worth the time to even page it” Kat said as they walked towards the cashier.

“Why do you have to be this way, Kat?” Helene asked.

“Because one of us has to be realistic” Kat answered.

“Realistic is not the word I’d use to describe you” Helene said.

Gerta watched as her friends walked off bickering, they raised a few eyebrows with some of the words that were thrown around just a little too loudly. They really could swear like sailors. She looked at the pen still in her hand, she shrugged and shoved it into the pocket of her coat. She also picked up a copy of the book, to see what the big deal was and followed. She was rather surprised that Helene hadn’t noticed that it was the pen that she’d forgotten to return to Helene a week earlier. Gerta figured that she’d take care of that later, if she remembered.


Kiel, Germany

U-541 was preparing to put to sea along with a dozen of her sister ships. Kapitänleutnant Otto Kretschmer was personally overseeing the final details. Every spare bit of space on the ship was filled with institutional sized tins of food. There was also the provisioning ship, the old pre-dreadnaught battleship that had escaped the wreckers, the SMS Lothringen that was to accompany them along with the tanker, SMS Altmark. Captain zur See Canaris, who was the overall commander of this mission was aboard the Lothringen.

They were to cross the Atlantic and then through the Strait of Magellan. Eventually they were to arrive in West Samoa where they would wait for further orders.

Recently U-541 had undergone an extensive refit. New, more efficient diesel engines had been installed along with a new electrical system. This had increased her range considerably. The fire control system had been upgraded as well. Apparently, it was all related to the mission that they were about to undertake. When Kretschmer had been briefed it had been implied that that there was a chance that he might actually get a chance to go hunting for real this time.

He climbed up the conning tower with the two turrets, each one with twin 20mm auto cannons, the entire extent of the defensive armament of the Type XIX. It had been observed that if those came into play then there was a good chance that they had been caught on the surface by low flying aircraft and were already screwed. It had been strongly suggested that he avoid getting into that situation. As if he needed to be told that.


Galveston, Texas

The hull of the ship was sinking into the bay as tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil were pumped into it. From here it would be bound for the Panama Canal and the Philippines. All in the name of commerce, world politics be damned.
 
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While he agreed that the public typically looked at the royal family with affection, he secretly considered them to be a relic of a bygone age when being from a particularly lucky sperm determined your place in life. The world had moved on and found better ways to select leaders.

Delightful irony, considering the snippet before. Democracy only works until the leading strata have figured out with how much they can get away and that media consolidation and control makes issues irrelevant to elections. Then it just becomes a contest how much tax money each clique of scoundrels can milk for themselves and their patrons.
 
One little nitpick (because i can be an overanalyzing idiot). The (more efficient) ballpoint pen (the ones invented by Biró) shouldn't reach the German market until '41, and even then it would be slow to spread, except to people who's work require them to write a lot, like office workers and the like and field militarymen (kind of like the wristwatches), and slowly expand to the regular population.
The older ballpoints tended to spill ink, not leave ink at all, scratch the paper, not write if you didn't hold them just so and were generally an annoying pain in the fundament.
The vast majority would use fountain pens for regular writing, or pencils for jutting out a few notes.
 
One little nitpick (because i can be an overanalyzing idiot). The (more efficient) ballpoint pen (the ones invented by Biró) shouldn't reach the German market until '41, and even then it would be slow to spread, except to people who's work require them to write a lot, like office workers and the like and field militarymen (kind of like the wristwatches), and slowly expand to the regular population.
The older ballpoints tended to spill ink, not leave ink at all, scratch the paper, not write if you didn't hold them just so and were generally an annoying pain in the fundament.
The vast majority would use fountain pens for regular writing, or pencils for jutting out a few notes.

It's okay, I couldn't find a definitive date in which such a pen was introduced on the market, dates ran from the nineteenth century into the mid twentieth century with it possibly being reinvented several times. It was more of a device to have Gerta engaging in an obnoxious, repetitive behavior because of course she would.
 
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