A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.
(Niccolò Machiavelli)

Well, the Russians had got the message, that was obvious. But had they understood? Or had they only been temporarily flabbergasted – and were actually already concocting new shenanigans? Ferik Reşat Çokbilmiş couldn’t tell yet. The reports from the Kazakh Republic told of a slip in Russian agitation, but that might only be the drawing of new breath. One could bet: they had been utterly surprised by the swiftness of the Pan-Turan response.

However, they were going to find out. It wasn’t really difficult: police the mosques – and you have got the first half; monitor the hawala bankers – and you tap into the second half. Yes, these channels were burnt now. But that didn’t matter – because they were only diversion. In the meantime, one could establish the truly secret channels. It was the good old game… And the Okhrana was as good at it as the Istihbarat. One was working hard to identify the Russian troublemakers in the KR; they could now try the single out the Muslim troublemakers in southern Russia.

But, of course, one was targeting the decision makers in the Kremlin, not the spooks working for them. The Rodinyadniki had to realise that the KR was not a weak target – and that scratching the Kazakhs did in fact solicit a Pan-Turan response. That message had been delivered. – Perhaps one should emphasise it by some military actions. Manoeuvres could be helpful in that respect. The Grand Vizier had earmarked the Parachute Corps and Air Lift Command for this purpose.

Çokbilmiş had already talked to the generals. They were ready on a one-week-to-move basis. Should the Russians indeed resume their shenanigans, one would trigger the manoeuvre…
 
An honest man always values earning honour over wealth.
(Rembrandt van Rijn)

The Robbins Farm was thriving. It was hard work, but it was paying off. Anne Robbins had specialised on paprika peppers, red peppers and radishes. That had been a beneficial decision. The complete first harvest had been sold to Germany – and she was under contract to deliver more for the next two years. The farm was located near the former town of Hoogeveen. It was part of a newly constructed farm collective. Power and technical support were supplied centrally; the field work remained with the individual farmers.

The glasshouses were recycled hardware dismantled somewhere else in the depopulated areas. Her living area was a small house, a wooden shack. These units were produced in Sweden. They could be combined into larger homes for greater families. But for Anne a single shack was considered appropriate. Because they arrived new and ready-furnished, they didn’t require much attention, freeing the farmer to do his farm work.

There had been attempts to resettle former villages and towns. It wouldn’t work. The old infrastructure was failing in many places, forcing the settlers to divert too much of their time and attention on repairs. The collectives were very basic, but doing the job they were supposed to do. Landgrab was slow, because people were so few. The Nieuw Hoogeveen community was composed of repatriates from the former colonies and folks like Anne. It had a Kindercrèche though. That meant Anne could see Patricia, her two years old daughter, almost every Sunday.

Anne was running for mayor. It was an honorary post, but ought to be a nice preparation for major orders. As member of the Vrijheidsbond, the liberal party, she hoped to advance to national level one day. Dutch democracy was working also under stress. It was a grateful experience. After the disaster in England, she had at long last found a place she was willing to call home.
 
I can think of nothing else than this machine.
(James Watt)

The location was still called Hammerhorst, although the Hammer was long gone – and wouldn’t come back. Its place had been taken by the Feuerdrache. But there wasn’t much to be seen yet. Krupp’s were in the final throes of preparing the manufacture of the pusher plate. And elements of the ring that was to accept the landing legs were already piling up. The landing legs were currently produced in Germany; they were due to arrive in September and October.

Peter Vogel was busy revising the plan for the scaffolding. It could only be erected after the pusher plate had been moved into place. So, one was actually waiting for the Krupp steel plant to accomplish their most important job. Well, they had done it before – and the Feuerdrache’s pusher plate was only a repetition of the one installed in the Hammer. Hence, one could anticipate smooth delivery.

Once the pusher plate was in place, speed of construction was going to increase sweepingly. Parts would arrive from all over Germany, including the reactor, which was the second crucial item to be integrated before the mounting of the outer hull could begin. – Indeed, it was like building a ship – only that there couldn’t be a launch of the hulk. Vogel had recently met the designated pilot, Hauptmann Sigmund Jähn, who was to steer the Feuerdrache. The chap would have to wait another two years…
 
There are countries where a man is worth nothing; there are others where he is worth less than nothing.
(Baron de Montesquieu)

The locals were calling it Maşr, which was also their name for the whole country. Dhuxul still preferred to call it al-Qāhirah, Cairo. It was, beyond doubt, the largest city in the world. It was beating everything. So many people. It was strictly unbelievable…

He even had found a job, hardly that he had been arrived here. Bodyguards seemed to be much in demand in this metropolis. As former Ardayda fighter and private in the Guban Rifles, he was well qualified for the job – if not overqualified. His employer was an oil baron.

The oil of the Libyan desert was a boon for Egypt, he had been told. Well, he was seeing many poor people every day, who were trying to get alms from his boss. Cordoning them off – or banishing them – was one of his prime tasks. – He couldn’t drive a motor car, hence wasn’t deemed fit for escort duty – and was only given simple tasks at his master’s estate.

But he was a good marksman. And his patron had decided to have him trained as a sniper. That was cool. His instructor was an old Turk, Bülent. He had been a sergeant in the Ameer’s lifeguards, in his youth. The training was tough, but Dhuxul liked it.

For what purposes did an Egyptian oil baron need a trained sniper? Dhuxul didn’t know – and Bülent wouldn’t tell. – His secret employer in Jabuuti, the unknown who had supplied him with cameras – and paid him for photographing military facilities, hadn’t followed him to Cairo. That meant he was free, somewhat poorer than before, but free to establish himself hereabouts.
 
If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not…
(William Shakespeare)

Gordon Rupert Dickson had been born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in 1923. In 1937, after the death of his father, a mining engineer, his mother and he had moved to Minneapolis in the US. That had been three weeks before Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King had been assassinated on September 16th, 1937, – and the British communists had subsequently taken over the country.

Minneapolis – and the whole State of Minnesota – had not suffered much in the Troubles. His mother had quickly found a job as secretary. Gordon had attended school – and afterwards had studied English and creative writing at the University of Minnesota. During that time, he had got acquainted with Clifford D. Simak and Poul Anderson. The former had already been a well established author of future histories at that time. The latter had just begun his career as writer of fantastic stories.

Following their example – and his inclinations – Gordon had become a writer. In 1950, he had sold his first short story. His first novel had been published in 1956. Today, he was a well established and distinguished author of speculative fiction. The sad fate of Canada had always bothered him. The country he had known in his childhood had been serene and blithe. Its current state was an outrage.

But what would have happened if Britain had not been devoured by the pest? It had been an accident, a terrible accident, all the sources available to Gordon were claiming. And accidents must not happen. – Would the British communists have attacked the US? Or rather subverted the States? – The Germans, the great opponent of Britain in Europe, would not have intervened; they were not interested in American affairs.

The US under the communist thump. That was a nice subject for a novel – or even a cycle of novels. You needed a congenial young American hero – and an evil English controller witch. Perhaps one could even construct a dimensional travel story… The hero is – somehow – transported to a universe where Britain was never destroyed by the pest – and has subdued the US.

The Yankee and the Red Witch, that might make a nice title. Gordon was busy gathering ideas – and information. There were numerous Canadian expatriates living in Minnesota. They could tell him how living under communist rule had been. And there doubtless had been striking models for the Red Witch. Edith Rowley and Polly Brown both were fascinating persons…
 
Everything is vague to a decree you do not realise till you have tried to make it precise.
(Bertrand Russell)

Outbreak! Multiple-sufferer incident! North of the Aruwimi River near Zambeke in Zentralkongo! Professor Eberhart von Misuku’s team was already on the move. The Air Force had made available a transport aircraft, a big turboprop bus normally used for shuttling paratroopers or bulk supplies. Yeah, and a platoon of heavily armed paras were on board as well.

The boss was sitting up front, in the cockpit, while Konrad Schabunde, Felix, Dieter, Kurt and Ekki were crouching on one of the bench seats. The paras, with all the gear and stuff strapped onto their bodies, seemed to be sitting quite comfortably. But in plain civvies it was well-neigh impossible to find a cosy sitting posture. Still about two hours to go, said Konrad’s wrist watch. His back was aching like hell – and the noise was maddening.

In a helicopter, you usually were given earphones that also served as hearing protectors, but here nothing had been handed out. The paras were wearing ear plugs. They were part of their standard kit. Konrad scribbled a short note into his pad for enhancing the equipment package. You never finished your learning…

What would it be this time? A virus or a bacterium? Certainly some zoonotic stuff again. Okay, one was going to see. But when the military had already been brought in it ought to be quite serious…
 
A pessimist is a man who thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it.
(George Bernard Shaw)

It was an incredible lot of petty stuff. He should have known it. Security was most of all prevention. You had to instruct people about the rules and regulations – and monitor whether they adhered to them. New employees had to be screened. It was tedious routine. – There was espionage, no doubt. But it was hard to detect. The enemy was pussyfooting. And one had no way to find out what he really was doing.

Hermann Kizwete didn’t think he would ever enjoy something like a cracked case here at Sikuku’s. It wasn’t that kind of police work. And the perpetrator – if you should really be able to track him down – was going to be one of your own employees. You wouldn’t succeed in pinning down the principal. – The bombing of the SIRAB plant had been an absolute exception. The normal thing was utter stealth.

Moreover, Sikuku Enterprises was immensely widespread – production, transportation, power supply, media, only agriculture was missing. Hermann had tried to make a list of those who might spy on SE, but it was hopeless. Almost everybody might… SE was selling to all of Africa, the COMECON, South East Asia, South America.

But even such remote competitors like Russians, North Americans or Japanese could be trusted to assign spies, because many SE ventures had proven amazingly successful – and the boss always seemed to be good for a new striking idea. SIRAB truly had begun delivering missiles to RRA – and Sikuku Brennelemente, SIBE – fuel elements – was active in the – nonexisting – Middle African nuclear weapons programme.

Yes, and the boss had recently decided to venture into the zusie business, was talking about the paperless office and other outlandish ideas. Hermann had tried to get an idea what that meant, but nobody hereabouts seemed to know exactly. He had ordered a book about it from Germany, which hadn’t arrived yet. No paper… interesting conception… could it work?
 
Stupidity is much the same all the world over.
(John Stuart Mill)

The Middle Africans appeared to have run into a serious problem. An official request for assistance had been received. And Eberhart von Misuku had sent a private cable: “Major outbreak of haemorrhagic fever – 255 infected sick, 21 dead to date – Seems to be highly contagious – Precautionary measures of the highest degree required.”

Professor Sigbert Ramsauer had ordered his staff to pack up. The Luftwaffe was sending a long-range aircraft, one of the famous Dornier SR thunderbirds. Obviously, losing three days for rail transit was considered too dangerous. That was telling a lot.

Okay, one would close down the lab here on the Isle of Sheppey, leaving behind only the caretaker and the military guards. The thunderbird could carry the complete staff and all equipment – plus a bunch of medics from the Hamburg Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Ramsauer thought the disease must already have spread. Otherwise the big commotion couldn’t be explained, at least not yet… Was it still spreading? Perhaps… Indeed, this mission had the potential to become thrilling. He checked his wristwatch: two hours still until touchdown of the big bird.

Whistling the Walkürenritt theme, Ramsauer started filling his rucksack. The Middle Africans would have a field laundry – well, they had had one last time, at the Ubangi – hence, he didn’t need bag much underwear. That left room for some books – and his butterfly collector’s kit…
 
Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves.
(Jean-Jacques Rousseau)

Was something wrong with him? He didn’t have a sex life – and he wasn’t missing it. Heine Sikuku was mystified. Sure, as a pubescent boy he had had some romps with girls, confusing affairs in hindsight. But afterwards? Rather nothing… And he wasn’t gay – or otherwise kinky…

His testosterone level wasn’t outstanding, but also not quite marginal. It was strange. But perhaps it was a trait found in the family. Dad didn’t have any mistresses, although wealthy men the world all over were keeping concubines. He had sired Otti in Germany during his vocational training, and then – with mom – Karl, Paula and him after having returned home.

Thereafter, he had focused on business – not on women. And Heine had focused on saving nature – well, without producing offspring, but with all his energy. He was going to celebrate his thirtieth birthday this year. Should he see to children – and a wife, of course – or rather not?

Too many people living on earth was pernicious for nature. But he was the youngest sibling – and none of his sibs had children yet. Was the Sikuku family going to go extinct? That was a weighty problem. He should discuss it with mom…

But after that Zentralkongo thing… Professor von Misuku and his emergency team had left for the Aruwimi Valley three days ago. And now volunteers were wanted to reinforce them. That was cool. Heine had immediately volunteered. His transport was due to leave tomorrow morning.
 
The only people who ever get anyplace interesting are the people who get lost.
(Henry David Thoreau)

There was an asteroid ahead, detection had reported, a fairly large piece. The Admiral had decided to pass it close by – which meant a distance of about 10,000 kilometres. The navigators said that should allow detailed observation. Of course, one wouldn’t brake – or even stop. Nevertheless, the Hammer had to manoeuvre. Jochen Zeislitz had put Werner and Fritz, his co-pilots, to the task of working out the tilt – and to execute it.

It was good practise – and a welcome diversion. Steering the Hammer was possible – within limits – with the gun, which had a swivelling range of two degrees to all sides. That should more than suffice in this case. – The asteroid had been named Hammerstein – hammer stone. It was, said the navigators, following a trajectory significantly listed against the ecliptic. Right now, it was close to its ‘northern’ zenith.

Okay, only the folks in the observatory were going to see the chunk in real life. But one would be able to view the photographs. Hammerstein had a diameter of approximately ten kilometres, said the navigators. That wasn’t actually much, but enough for analysis – according to the boffins. All right, Werner and Fritz had worked it out. Looked good… The Admiral had already signalled accordance. “Attention! Adjustment manoeuvre starts in twenty-two minutes.”
 
Everything that lives, does so under the categorical condition of decisively interfering in the life of someone else.
(Mikhail Bakunin)

One had nicely mapped the network of the Russian insurgents – and one was now listening in on their communication. They had been told to pause. Apparently, their masters beyond the border were still deliberating how the roundelay should continue – if it could be allowed to plough ahead at all. Indeed, the Rodinyadniki seemed to have realised that the Kazakh Republic was no easy prey.

Should it really be that easy? Mirliva Zaghros didn’t think so. The Russians had been dumbfounded by the sudden riposte. But they wouldn’t quit just because. The Rodinyadniki had to produce a success, something to show their followers they were serious about making Russia great again.

This was not about the ordinary voters. Voters had long learnt that campaign pledges were never kept. – It was about the groups that had supported the Rodinyadniki’s rise to power. If those groups – mighty capitalists like Rozhdestvenskaya, the military big brass, the patriarchate – arrived at the perception that Zademidko and his lot were paper tigers, a major personnel turnover might occur.

That wouldn’t change much for the Pan-Turan side, as the new men certainly had to prove their value. But it would change a lot for Zademidko and his crew. Hence, one had to anticipate another stab – rather soon. Well, one was ready to smash any insurgency in its infancy. And one would strike out into Russia proper, but this time not by sick reports…
 
Amidst the vicissitudes of the earth’s surface, species cannot be immortal, but must perish, one after another, like the individuals which compose them. There is no possibility of escaping from this conclusion.
(Charles Lyell)

Railway construction! And the disease had spread along the line under construction. From Kole in the north to Bobende on the Aruwimi it was a length of 90 kilometres with the small town of Zambeke roughly in the middle. Luckily, the bridge at Bobende wasn’t ready yet, hence spread to the south had – basically – been stopped by the river. But in the breadth, east to west, one couldn’t tell how far contagion had diffused. It was plantation land, approximately five, in the north, to ten kilometres, in the south, wide.

The armed forces had cordoned off the whole area, but had one really trapped all those infected? One didn’t know. The Aruwimi Fever had an incubation period of ten days on average, it seemed, until first symptoms, qualm, diarrhoea and elevated temperature, manifested. Lethality appeared to be one out of five, but two of the four survivors would require intensive care for a longer period, one had found.

It was a virus disease, that was clear. But one didn’t know yet which host animal was transporting it. Nobody had admitted to having eaten monkeys, lizards or bats. The railway workers had been cooked for by a regular caterer. But it seemed the outbreak had begun among the plantation folks. One could trace events to have started near Zambeke. However, the community had more than two thousand inhabitants.

As specialist for viruses, Konrad Schabunde was toiling in the lab at Zambeke. The army had set up a field hospital next door. Yeah, and Sigbert the Snowpusher – and his cute assistants – had arrived three days ago, setting up their own lab alongside. The boss was trying to coordinate the whole effort – together with a grim general. The number of sick was rising by the hour.

Well, the thrilling question was: had one roped in all infected persons? There had been a lot of traffic, construction supplies arriving, plantation goods being moved out, people moving off-handedly. The local police was attempting to track all former movements, but there had been no central record; apart from the construction business, everything had happened more or less randomly.

Indeed, this was much larger than Ubangi had been – and had a strong potential to spread even further. The boss didn’t look happy at all – and the nutcracker general neither…
 
For what could be more beautiful than the heavens which contain all beautiful things?
(Nicolaus Copernicus)

Hammerstein was a rubble pile, most probably, the navigators had explained. Well, the photographs showed a rotund body like an ordinary potato. But it wasn’t a monolith consisting of solid rock – or ore, it was a conglomerate of small components baked together by gravity, according to the experts. You could call it a flying jamboree bag. It might contain precious materials – or just cheap garbage.

Jochen Zeislitz had wondered how they could know. One hadn’t come nearer than 9,900 klicks, and there had only been seconds for taking pictures – or measurements. To him the potato looked quite substantial. Yeah, expounded Captain Frerichs, the chief navigator, one couldn’t prove it, of course, but it was a sound theory. Hammerstein was rotating quite slowly, far slower than a body of its size should. The assumption thus was that its mass was far less than a solid potato should have.

An assumption, uh-huh, Jochen felt reassured. Okay, he was no astronomer like Frerichs, but his knowledge of celestial affairs still seemed to be correct. – One was now aiming directly on Jupiter. That was a nice feature of NPP. There was no need to sneak about in large circles. One could go straight. The gas giant was still far away, but well visible on the monitors. Two months still until arrival. And no more diversions…
 
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.
(Adam Smith)

Haha! The Aruwimi Valley was a treasure chest. Professor Sigbert Ramsauer was delighted. – The haemorrhagic fever was the usual affair, but this time made piquant because of the rail line. At Kole, the line under construction was linking to the existing line Buta – Maliabwana. Nobody could tell how many infected persons had travelled that way. Well, one was going to find out – rather soon…

Aruwimi didn’t differ much from Ubangi and any other of these tropical haemorrhagic zoonotic fevers. Of old, they would locally kill some individuals, but wouldn’t spread greatly because people were quicker blighted than they could bolt. But with the arrival of railways, this had changed. And these Middle Africans were avid rail line builders. In fact, by now Aruwimi could well have arrived in Daressalam and Duala – and even in Vienna and Berlin.

Yeah, you never knew… Thank goodness these Negroes had been trained by Germans. They were quite well organised and thorough, if not nit-picking. They could be trusted to find all infected folks, to the last man… – or woman… Okay, you might have a super spreader… or two of them… That could happen. The disease was transmitted by body fluids, spittle, sudor, blood, even urine; but these good black Piefkes would surely manage it.

His team had found several very promising specimens – apart from Aruwimi. This spot here was a true horn of plenty. And one was – of course – working hard to find a vaccine – or an effective treatment, together with Eberhart von Misuku’s team. But that wasn’t easy. The little buggers were destroying the body’s immune system, and you couldn’t strengthen something that just had gone bust.

However, not everybody was dying; eight out of ten did survive, on average. Hence, one had to find out what – in their bodies – was overcoming the viruses. That Doctor Schabunde of Misuku’s team was a first-rate specialist in viruses. He was working on this issue. Ramsauer had sent two of his senior assistants to help the guy – and to look over his shoulders. A real treatment hadn’t been found yet, but one could at least outbrake disease progress by blood change.
 
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Between the mouth and the morsel many things may happen.
(Cato the Elder)

Yield had turned out to be abnormally picayune. One would have to buy extra rations. Jimbo Owens was furious. Okay, the farmers were a bad bunch – sottish, afraid of work, indolent, dim-witted, but because of that he had introduced feudal rules. The barons should have ensured a rich harvest. That had not happened. – Yeah, they were rabble as well, the most vigorous and sly of the thugs, but thugs nevertheless.

As far as Jimbo could tell, the situation in the Middle Age had been quite similar: the aristocrats had been the master villains, yet they had kept things ticking over. Why had his barons failed? Didn’t they realise that it came down to them? – Well, did it really? As long as he was buying extra rations, he was acting as deus ex machina. They simply didn’t see the need to make the decisive effort.

Indeed, he was not going to buy extra rations. Let them starve, all of them. That should teach them the lesson required. – Some might actually die, some of the farmers, of course, not of the barons. A baron who starved wasn’t worth a damn. – It should also force the barons to form the militia – their men at arms – at long last. So that the farmers couldn’t get at them.

Jimbo looked down at the yard, where his own men at arms – officially still the police force – were being drilled. Today they were working with machine guns. It was quite an endeavour to transform those hoodlums into a military unit. There had been deserters, but not too many. Most of the guys evidently had grasped that they were going to be a privileged lot. The king’s – err, the viceroy’s – guards…
 
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For a country, everything will be lost when the jobs of an economist and a banker become highly respected professions.
(Baron de Montesquieu)

All right, the picture was gradually getting clearer. There was – another – tropical disease outbreak, once again a haemorrhagic fever, in Zentralkongo. This time, spread along the railway lines had occurred – beyond doubt. Hence, one was facing a nationwide epidemic situation. – And all of a sudden, Seppel Mobutu was campaigning for the establishment of a national police, the Staatspolizei, abbreviated StaPo.

It did make sense, in a way. The districts were coordinating their efforts, of course. But there was no overarching authority which assured scope and synchronicity. Therefore, in the presence of mortal peril, Mobutu’s push had a fair chance of success. Yeah, it certainly would be wise to do as the chap was proposing; even Max Sikuku had to admit it. Indeed, MALU was going to approve the StaPo bill.

On a personal level, Max was quite apprehensive. Heine was somewhere down in the Aruwimi Valley, helping Professor von Misuku to fight the disease. One could only hope the lad didn’t catch the bugs. – How dangerous was the fever? Misuku and his military counterpart, General Abeku, thought it would be possible to identify and isolate all infected folks. Deathliness was within normal limits for such a haemorrhagic fever.

Yes, there might be further outbreaks – along the railway lines, but one should be able to control them, as long as a certain basic precautionary rules for epidemic control were observed…
 
I don’t dislike babies, though I think very young ones rather disgusting.
(Queen Victoria)

Oskar, her son, aged three, was due for attending Kindergarten. But Kindergarten was a pathetic affair, starting at 08:00 a.m. and ending at noon. That didn’t help her; she needed child care around the clock. Hence, she had hired a private child minder. Anna Brieske was to replace the previous baby minder. Oskar would go to Kindergarten nevertheless; he had to meet other kids. But Anna would manage all that, leaving Hanne Zülch free to pursue her career.

Franz Josef was working hard to reform the DVP; and that wasn’t a walk in the park. The old crocks from the backwoods were staunchly resisting change. And his private life was grinding him down. His wife in Munich – backed by her father, an influential building tycoon – was insisting on his presence over the weekend. And his mistress, the filthy rich wife of Albert Leise, was getting weirder and weirder. Well, a haggard Franz Josef was at least authentically representing the zealous opposition leader …

Hanne had by now successfully recast party administration. One was ultramodern now, truly making good use of the zusies and their potential. It was a job killer though; many a secretary had become redundant. However, Franz Josef wouldn’t fire them. They had been offered new jobs in the countryside – to spread zusie use and to pry on the old crocks. It was working surprisingly often. Evidently, the traditionalists couldn’t believe young women were anything but abject maidservants – and sex objects...

Yeah, most ordinary party members were quite disgusting characters. If it wasn’t for Franz Josef, who truly was a gifted politician and a bright mind, she never would have joined the DVP. Alas! Screw the reactionaries! Franz Josef’s ideas for a new economy and a new constitution were spot-on. The man had vision and vigour, even when his methods were questionable, sometimes…
 
The best way out is always through.
(Robert Frost)

Intently, Teniente de Navio Julius Nyerere was peering through the periscope. There was nothing and nobody. The whole island of Hispaniola seemed to be devoid of people. The Amis were on Puerto Rico and Cuba. Why were they sparing Hispaniola? Seven years after the pest? Well, his mission was to find out more about this issue. His vessel, S-17 ‘Jaquetón’, was carrying a commando of five marines which he was to land in the Bahia de Neiba.

S-17 would stay in the bay and wait for the men to return, quite overtly, surfaced. An uninhabited island was an invitation for explorers. The Amis were claiming possession of the Greater Antilles – except Jamaica, of course, but as long as they weren’t exerting their claim… One had observed the situation for a long time. The Venezuelans on Jamaica were reporting Hispaniola was dead – with regard to radio traffic. US ships were often passing by and patrolling the waters, but no landings had been observed.

Why was that so? The question had been hotly debated in Camp Bwana Obersti. Were there survivors on the big island? Savage cannibals? – There had been quite a number of Middle Africans living in Haiti. Might it be that some of them were still alive? One had to check it. Capitan de Corbeta Nkotenga, the commander of the submarine force, had finally been charged with executing the reconnaissance. S-15 was going to land a commando on the northern shore, at the Baie de l’Aoul. And S-17 was responsible for the southern approach.

The marines would use motor bikes, robust cross-country vehicles. It was assumed this was the best way to travel rapidly through the wilderness. – All right, disembarkation could begin. Nyerere turned to his first officer.
 
Children usually do not blame themselves for getting lost.
(Anna Freud)

Okay, Aruwimi was in Duala. Should one stay at Zambeke – or move back to the university? The boss thought this here was the place where the disease originated from. Hence one should stay put and study the environment. That ought to teach various ways to overcome the virus – or at least to neutralise it. Konrad Schabunde, though, didn’t believe his work would profit from sojourning in the wilderness. He would prefer the neat labs at the faculty over the tents on site. Studying the virus required electron microscopes, not walks in the jungle.

Help came from unexpected side. Sigbert the Snowpusher was urgently suggesting the move to Duala. Hereabouts nothing was going to happen anymore. But Duala – city of over a million inhabitants – had to be tightly controlled – or Aruwimi might really get nasty. He knew what he was talking about. – Unsurprisingly, General Abeku was seeing things in the same way. One was going to dislocate to Duala as fast as possible. Ekki could stay put and study the environment; everybody else was going to move, chop-chop!

The Snowpusher team was going to come along as well. That was cute. The two assistants detached to help Konrad were not only nice but also pretty bright. They knew a lot about viruses. One had already identified two promising antibodies. Indeed, developing a vaccine should be much easier at the faculty – if at all... Oh, one surely was going to find a vaccine; Konrad didn’t doubt it. The big question, however, was: when was that going to happen?
 
Prophesy is many times the principal cause of the events foretold.
(Thomas Hobbes)

Repairing Indrik Zver was a true pain in the ass, thought Anatoly Alekseyevich Dorodnitsyn, the new head of NASA’s NPP project. The engineering part of it was fairly straightforward, just a damn lot of fiddly work. But the political dimension could turn a man bananas. The Nyemtsi starship was approaching Jupiter – and their second craft was gradually taking shape in Ireland, while Indrik Zver still looked like a marauded wreck – and was far from flying again.

He was spending almost all his time at the phone and in conferences, explaining again and again the same things to ever-changing folks. Unfortunately, most of these conferences were taking place in Moscow, forcing him to spend hours in pointless transit. Damn, you couldn’t hurry reconstruction. It was extremely complicated and time-devouring. And quality of work was paramount, after all… Nobody would want to risk a second accident, but everybody and his dog was demanding rapid progress…

Ladnó, the reactor had been repaired; the new turbine was in place – almost... Rozhdestvensky had announced expedition of the new gun. One was getting ahead; slowly, but persistently. However, Indrik Zver wouldn’t take off this year; it wasn’t feasible. – Right now, the sequence plan put launch to April 1964; by then, the first Nyemtsi ship would be back from Jupiter, by all probability; and the second one might also just be approaching launch time.

Yes, it was frustrating. But it couldn’t be helped. Once the decision had been taken to build only a single NPP ship – and that decision had been reached in the Kremlin, mind you, the course had been set. Indeed, it would have been smarter to build three or four vessels simultaneously, but that was yesterday’s chip paper. Dorodnitsyn knew that the Nyemtsi were already working on a fusion drive ship; the scientific aspects were openly discussed in the specialised press.

He had written letters to Yulii B. Khariton, Andrei D. Sakharov and Georgiy A. Gamov. One mustn’t let the Nyemtsi gain another headstart – only because the men in the Kremlin didn’t understand the physics involved. True, one didn’t have the knowledge and experience two Weizsäcker Suns had provided the Nyemtsi, but that was no reason not to embark on developing fusion drive.
 
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