A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.
(Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley)

The big circus had moved on – to Duala. Heine had stayed behind, together with Doctor Eckhard Abiwenga and three other students. One had to scour the environment – and find the animal host of Aruwimi. That, hard to believe, still wasn’t known. Yeah, it was a consequence of the super scientific approach, Heine had quickly understood. Doctor Schabunde and his team had identified the virus – with their electron microscope. So, why waste time with searching the host? The enemy was known; one could fight him; screw everything else.

Heine was sceptical. Fighting a virus was a tricky affair. The theory said that those folks not killed by it would then possess antibodies – which, once isolated, could be used to battle the pathogen. Vaccination meant inciting the body to produce those antibodies – by inoculating virus fragments, or a mild dose of the virus. But was that really true in this case? Doctor Schabunde had found several new antibodies. However, were they connected to the virus? One didn’t know yet.

The virus was living – well, were viruses living at all? – inside some animal hereabouts. And it wasn’t killing that animal, obviously. So, that animal must have what one was looking for. Therefore, the professor had been right. This environment might indeed provide the answers needed. The bad thing was that you had to kill the poor beasts. It was a pity, but it had to be done. One knew what the virus was looking like. One ought to find its host. Doctor Schabunde’s team had left behind the transportable electron microscope.

It wasn’t a monkey. One had checked all kinds of monkeys already. Heine thought a bat was the most likely host. But bats were much more difficult to hunt than monkeys. One had to find their sleeping places. And one had no clue how many species of bats were living in this area. Thank goodness, Doctor Abiwenga was a systematic scientist. Hence, one was cataloguing the entire local fauna. It was great work, yet very demanding. Heine was surprised that the environment was still so multifarious. The plantations and the railway had done some damage, undoubtedly, but nature seemed to have recovered. That was cute.
I do not what to say in a case so surprising, so unlooked for and so novel.
(Galileo Galilei)

Twelve moons, uh-huh… The navigators were counting them each day. Today the count was at forty-seven. Well, they said there ought to be more. One surely would spot them soon. Current bets were at a total of sixty-six to seventy-seven.

Who would have thought that? Twelve had been the number Jochen Zeislitz had learnt at university. But that was old news now. Okay, most of these moons were nothing but boulders – or fragments of boulders – that Jupiter had caught with its gravity field, stray asteroids, small game.

There was an inner group – Amalthea, which had been known since 1892, and three new ones. They were part of – surprise! – a Jovian ring system. The rings, there were two of them, were fairly faint. But their existence meant that there was more bitsy debris flying around. Then followed the good old Galilean moons – Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. They were really huge and impressive.

Outwards, after some distance, clouds of small moons were circling Jupiter. Only few of them – Himalia, Lysithea, Elara, Ananke, Carme, Pasiphae, and Sinope – had been known before. Okay, they might excite the astronomers, but not Jochen – and none of the other kosmonauts. These chunks were too small to be of any interest.

Jupiter itself was magnificent, seen through the telescope. The admiral said one would focus on the four large moons – and observe a healthy distance to the big whopper. But one had several sondes that one would drop on it.
Perfection of planning is a symptom of decay. During a period of exciting discovery and progress, there is no time to plan the perfect headquarters.
(C. Northcote Parkinson)

The situation had to be serious. The general staff course had been suspended. Kaleu Karl Sikuku had been ordered to report on board SMMAS Weme. The destroyer was in port at Duala. Karl and seven comrades also detached to Duala were travelling by rail. The Transafrican was still in operation, but not for the general public. The passengers were soldiers, policemen, medics, folks of the technical emergency service, and the like. And the train was transporting material, something that normally didn’t happen.

What did one know? A jungle fever was on the rampage. It had spread along the railway lines. There were cases in Duala, Usumbura and Tabora. The capital had been closed off. The disease was dangerous, killing one out of five infected. And it was highly contagious. At Usumbura and Tabora the situation was under control. – Okay, if one translated the official hokum: hell was loose. And Duala was a hotspot.

The Weme was on older vessel, but had recently received the new Rumpler Rüttelfalke heli. That was fine. Karl was qualified to fly the bird. What might be his tasks? Recce? Hardly… So, most probably liaison duty – and VIP transport. That put you straight in the middle of events – and you could gain important insights. He was looking forward to it.

The family was very much engaged in fighting the pest. Paula was somewhere in the Rift Valley, working at a hospital. Heine was assisting the famous Professor von Misuku in finding a remedy. Dad was in Daressalam, toiling to pass the legislation required. – Mom and Otti were at Edea. Were they in peril? Duala was just twenty-five kilometres away from home. Well, he could give them a call, once he had arrived.

All right, the Rift Valley Bridge was ahead. Time to move to a window place. It was early afternoon and visibility was good. Riding across that bridge was like flying.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
(Marcel Proust)

Silly season, no workable news, one could only wait for better days. The Hammer’s quest was uninspiring; neither Hammerstein nor the multitude of Jovian moons could rivet the public at large, even if the scientific community was rejoicing. Mondstadt didn’t move forward either; they were waiting for the Feuerdrache to hoist the heavy stuff in place. Helga von Tschirschwitz had asked for leave; it was important to be ready for action when the Hammer arrived in the Jupiter system next month. Right now, a fortnight spent in the Alps could do no harm.

Well, even the Hammer in the Jupiter system could only serve for placing some short headlines. There was nothing one really had to show to the people. When the ship was back, one would have movies and photographs galore. Until then, one only had words – not too many of them – and poor quality pictures that might show everything or nothing, depending on one’s imagination. Okay, one was still receiving the Hammer’s broadcasts; the vessel’s radio was powerful enough to bridge the void. That was at least authentic, but not enough to flood the newsreels.

Yeah, and there was this disease in Middle Africa… Helga had picked up enough information about it to be worried. Only too well she remembered how NED, the English pest, had cast a pall on her moonfall. All of a sudden, capers on the Moon had become utterly stale. One could only pray the Negroes were capable of getting the fever under control…
There are alternate explanations for everything.
(James Cook)

The scouts were back. They had met nobody – but they had found traces… Abandoned camp sites, not older than some weeks… Primitive camp sites, moreover, nothing that Ami explorers might possibly leave behind. Someone was living on Hispaniola. The camps encountered had accommodated a group – or groups? – of twenty to twenty-five people. That was quite a ballpark figure, not just a straggling immune or two...

Teniente de Navio Julius Nyerere, however, was wondering why the Amis hadn’t shown up. S-17 had been flown over several times; Fumeo had detected the high-flying aircraft. But no vessel, none of those rakish destroyers, had visited the Bahia de Neiba, although S-17 had been floating there, surfaced, visible to everybody. Why was that so? Were the Amis knowing something – something that one better should know as well?

Was there a connection? No Amis on Hispaniola – but groups of unidentified primitives… No one to challenge S-17 in waters claimed by the Amis… It was highly dodgy. Well, there was only one way to find out. One had to find the folks roaming around on the island. – But that was not part of the current mission. One had to return to Curaçao. Yet, Nyerere was sure his superiors were going to find this riddle rivetting too.

It would be a task for army folks though, not for navy personnel. But he might still volunteer to transport the beetlecrushers. Even if his Kaleu comrades all could be trusted to do the same…
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From a real antagonist one gains boundless courage.
(Franz Kafka)

Duala was a godawful large-capacity sauna. One had to admire the Middle Africans for their ability to work – work hard, indeed – under these stifling conditions. How did they do that? Professor Ramsauer felt like a sucked drop. Heat and the humidity were truly crushing. Yeah, he could understand now why Ebert, Noske, Erzberger and the rest of the postwar leaders had arranged for swift riddance of these abominable lands.

The Kongo area had been bad already, but still bracing in comparison to this metropolis. It was quite a modern city, the west coast equivalent to Daressalam, he had been told. But it was insufferable for Central Europeans. Taking a shower was no help; it didn’t stop the sweat. At night, you couldn’t sleep – and during daytime you felt absolutely whacked.

Well, Aruwimi was still on the rampage hereabouts. But the Negroes were good – and getting ever more efficient – at finding and cordoning off infected folks. Ramsauer estimated it would take another week – or two, at the most – until they had everything under control. In fact, it was a neat lesson on how to check a highly contagious disease. They were fairly ruthless; that was making a positive impression on Ramsauer, who was vividly recollecting the rough struggle against NED.

Yeah, curing didn’t work, at least not yet. Aruwimi seemed to be pretty much impervious. That was making the fever attractive to Ramsauer, who always was looking for new germs to be used as bioweapons. However, viruses weren’t ideal for this purpose; they tended to mutate rather often. That made them unpredictable – once released. Therefore, he normally preferred working with bacteria.

Von Misuku’s young men, though, seemed to be quite adroit in handling viruses. That was strange. Normally, they should be busy battling bacteria – like the pathogens of malaria and sleeping sickness, the scourges of tropical Africa. Was he missing something here?
I have no faith, very little hope, and as much charity as I can afford.
(Thomas Huxley)

The Lithuanian Republic was a frugal country, but not a land of the poor. In 1922/23, a radical land reform had abolished the former Russian crown lands and the large estates. As a result, the country had become a country of peasant farmers, of very successful peasant farmers moreover. One was exporting agricultural products and processed foodstuffs – and one was living quite well of it. The farmers were conservative, conservative to the core – and their party, the Lietuvos valstiečių sąjunga, the Lithuanian Farmers’ Union, was ruling fairly uncontested ever since 1925.

In Vilnius, therefore, one had sincerely regretted the demise from power of the Russian Farmers’ Party, the good old KP, with which one had entertained cordial relations ever since Matutin’s days. Despite the fact that one belonged to the COMECON and thus the German sphere of influence, one had throughout maintained special ties to Moscow. – However, presumably because Lithuania had no appreciable Russian minority, one had soon discovered that one could get along quite well with the new rulers in the Kremlin, the Rodinyadniki, too.

Not unsurprisingly, the other Baltic countries, the Heymshtot and the Ukraine were now turning to Vilnius for intermediation. Estonia and Latvia had sizeable Russian minorities, as had the Ukraine, hence they were interested in mediation – without appearing weak at home. The Lithuanian link promised to accomplish that. The Jews of the Heymshtot were dreading the anti-Semitism of the Rodinyadniki. Being caught between the Jew haters of the DVP, who almost had moved in at the Wilhelmstraße, and the Rodinyadniki was not an enviable position indeed.

Even the Finns were showing interest. Officially, their country harboured no Russian minority. But in reality, many of the ‘Karelians’ they had liberated during the Russian Civil War were still feeling Russian. Achieving an understanding with the Rodinyadniki hence couldn’t hurt. – It were busy days for Prime Minister Evaldas Kernagis and his foreign secretary Algimantas Skvernelis. Yet, the Russians were obviously preferring this kind of unobtrusive diplomacy over the patronising attempts of the Germans to rule them in.
All interest in disease and death is only another expression of interest in life.
(Thomas Mann)

Lockdown in Duala, it was unbelievable. The army had moved in and was enforcing it. General Abeku had won through, although Duala was a navy town. There were the Western Approaches Command, led by a full admiral, and the commanders of port and fortress, both Konteradmirale, but Abeku had brushed them rudely aside. He had governmental authorisation – and troops at his disposal, in boundless quantity.

The navy dudes had been roped in for performing various emergency services, but they were not involved in the enforcement business. That was done by infantry – and engineers. They had the proper spirit, Abeku was reported to have said. And he seemed to be right. Curfew was working. – Okay, at the outset some people had been shot. But that had helped the population to realise it was serious, according to Abeku’s staff.

Konrad Schabunde was glad to be back at the university. Working was much easier here. The virus had been isolated, but the cure wouldn’t come forth. One had already tried out various attenuated concentrations – either nothing happened or the vaccinee became seriously ill. Konrad was now attempting to smash the viruses. Perhaps that resulted in commingling a working vaccine.

The antibody business was moot. One couldn’t correlate them correctly with Aruwimi. Not three convalescents seemed to have the same set of antibodies. Hence, Konrad had decided to continue with the virus proper. Or rather with the original version of it, because the little buggers were mutating like crazy. – In the meanwhile, the fever should play itself out, at least here in Duala.
There is always a risk in being alive, and if you are more alive, there is more risk.
(Henrik Ibsen)

The journey to Jupiter was… had been… well, uneventful, utterly uneventful, at least for the lander and dinghy crews. One couldn’t do anything, except mounting the vehicles from time to time. It were dry runs, of course. No boat could match the speed of the travelling Hammer. And there were no facilities that would allow simulation. It was unsatisfactory. What remained was the gym – and certain ancillary duties. However, the boat crews were core personnel for exploring the Jupiter system; they shouldn’t be engaged in anything else on a permanent basis.

But now, as Jupiter was getting larger – on the screens – each day, the time had come for the final preparations. The landers were not those that had been used on Mars. Mars had an atmosphere, the Jovian moons had none, most probably. Hence, the new landers wouldn’t glide; they had do come down on their rear jets – like ordinary moon ferries. It was quite a different approach, but it could be practised in advance – on the Moon, which one had done intensively, prior to departure.

Therefore, the crews were quite confident to be able to accomplish their missions. A decision had not been taken yet, but it was thought Ganymede, the largest moon, was to come first. It was large, much larger than the Moon, even larger than Mercury, the innermost planet. What would be its gravity? It ought to be larger than the Moon’s, by about a factor of 2. That alone should pose no major problem for a landing operation, one had calculated. One had, however, first to see the surface. And of course, one would drop some sondes first…
I shall have to believe even though I cannot understand.
(Edgar Rice Burroughs)

As Jupiter was becoming larger and larger on the screens, Konteradmiral Carl Emmermann was becoming nervous and nervier. He had been let in on the suspicion that “Wolpertinger” had been sabotaged. There was no proof, but the possibility couldn’t be excluded. In fact, it was the only reasonable explanation for the total failure of all control systems one had been able to figure out.

Was the Jupiter mission also threatened? All personnel that had had access to the landers during the voyage to Mars had been substituted. That was no warrant, but what else could one have done? The crews were now readying the vehicles; anything could happen, as also the chief engineering officer and his technicians were involved in the process. And eventually, scientists were going to board the landers as well.

No, another catastrophe couldn’t be ruled out. Even without sabotage, one of the landers might come to grief. However, the loss of a lander – and its crew – was manageable. Should the Hammer be damaged though, it would mean death for all. No external help would come forth. Even if the Feuerdrache was ready, which it wasn’t, it would still need six months to arrive near Jupiter.

There was no time pressure. One had to be extremely careful. Braking was due to begin in six days, which meant the turnover manoeuvre was due in five days. That was a critical moment. Well, Oberst Zeislitz was a whiz. There was no doubt in Emmermann’s mind that turning and braking were going to go smoothly. It would, however, move the observatory into a position where observation of the Jupiter system became near impossible. That was inopportune, because hereabouts there was much more movement than near Mars.

Yeah, the Hammer was far from perfect. It was – after all – a prototype…
The nearer the dawn the darker the night.
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

The Russians had finally made up their mind: they were going to stage the great rebellion next Monday. Should one let them do it? Or should one arrest the lot right away? The Kazakhs were for instant arresting; they were loath to have their country devastated by combats. But convicting people who had done nothing was a very difficult undertaking. After all, the KR was a nation of the law, even if sharia was an integral part of this law.

Hence, one would let the rebellion begin – and strike after some few hours, when the facts had become conclusive – but before any real combats could erupt. The Turkish side had pushed through this approach – by promising sufficient reinforcements. These were arriving since yesterday. It was an ambitious operation because the Russians must not get the scent of it.

The Air Lift Command had made available all helicopters it could get, even rented civilian machines, and the Parachute Corps was settling in the desert between the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea. It was hoped this would go unnoticed. Well, the helis were starting in Southern Azerbaijan and flying over the Caspian Sea. It should work. Certainly, the EVEG Countries would notice the commotion, but they were not known for snitching to the Russians.

Once the Kazakh security forces started their action against the insurgents, the Parachute Corps would begin to deploy to the border to Russia. That ought to deter the Russians from violating Kazakh sovereignty, it was hoped.
A rich and varied menu is for people who have no work to do.
(Roald Amundsen)

The Danish colleagues were reporting that the 1962 ice melt on Greenland had been at a minimum. Never had one observed less melt in summertime. Well, observation had only started seven years ago. Hence, the data was very interesting, but only of limited validity. Nevertheless, it was fitting the mould. The new cold stage was evolving. The geographic combination of North America and Greenland was actively advancing in the cold direction.

What about Europe? The Scandinavian glaciers were back, but not – yet? – showing alarming growth. On Novaya Zemlya, however, the Russian colleagues were signalling, the glaciers had not only formed again but were – at a very slow pace – advancing. The same had been established for the Iceland glaciers. In the Alps, though, no change was observed. How to match all this together? – But this was the first cold stage mankind could monitor scientifically while it evolved.

Hermann Wölken had already arranged data transfer with the colleagues in Daressalam. Middle Africa would not suffer much from a new cold stage. The climate should become dryer, the jungles recede and the savannas spread. But the KWI Met here in Stettin might be razed by advancing glaciers, as might be all of Berlin. Therefore, the data was best transferred to Middle Africa, so that no loss occurred. – Okay, the glaciers still had to form. It was a slow process still, everywhere. Would it accelerate? And when would that happen?

One didn’t know it, like so many things concerning the mechanism of a cold stage. But one was going to find out… Wölken had conducted a special study about the end of the last warm stage and the start of the Weichselian cold stage. Pollen analysis indicated the transition had been a fast one. But “fast” in this context might mean one hundred years – or five hundred – or thousand. And cold didn’t mean glacial advance by default. These had to form and grow, before they could advance. That might take several thousand years.

In the Weichselian, the first major glacial advance seemed to have happened about forty thousand years after the end of the warm stage, the Eem interglacial. It appeared thus that he, Hermann Wölken, would not see the glaciers advance on Stettin in his lifetime. It was a pity…
Yes, from my understanding the little Chinese miscalculation (a ground-level gigaton scale blast) basically set in motion a self-reinforcing cooling cycle. Oopsie.
Which probably will brake the CO2 global warming which should soon become apparent, with Russia, China and Africa producing much more CO2 than in our sixties.
@rast what has happened to the Olympic Games ITTL? Are they still around or have they been terminated?
The 1952 Olympic Games had been scheduled to be held in the US, but were cancelled in late 1951 because of the ramifications of GQDD. Since then, all attempts to restart the event have proven unsuccessful.
Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
(Lewis Carroll)

The army had axed like fury in Duala. More than fifty citizens had been shot. Uproar had rocked parliament. Well, Max Sikuku had been shocked too. But how do you enforce coercive measures? Would police have acted differently? Under the threat of a mortal disease? Opposite violent urban mobs? Perhaps… The military was training to kill or maim, the police was training to disable and arrest. Or so went pure doctrine, at least…

Anyway, the situation in Duala had been brought under control. The Aruwimi Fever seemed to be defeated. That was the good news. One could breathe easily again. Until the next moron ate a bat… Seppel Mobutu had got his StaPo bill; so, perhaps, next time one was going to have a specially trained police force at hand. If Mobutu kept his promises…

Max had interviewed Hermann Kizwete via telephone. The man was an expert on police matters after all. Yes, he thought the law did make a lot of sense. But one had to pay attention, though, that Mobutu didn’t build an empire of his own. The law was regulating responsibilities and cooperation with the regional police forces very well, but it didn’t clearly limit Mobutu’s authority.

Okay, Mobutu had three more years in office – until the 1966 election. Therefore Max didn’t apprehend much empire building from the bloke. A putsch? Hardly. You couldn’t putsch without the armed forces – or against them, even if you commanded a legion of policemen. And, knowing how things used to work out hereabouts, the StaPo could hardly be ready by 1966 already.

No, things could be trusted to take their normal socialist course. There was no peril…
Nothing remains interesting where anything may happen.
(H. G: Wells)

Preparations for turnover had all been met. Jochen Zeislitz was waiting for the clock to move on. He himself was going to perform the manoeuvre, with Fritz and Werner watching closely. For the crew in general, turnover signified the first major event of the mission, the initial phase of arrival in the Jovian system. And braking would produce gravity, something a lot of folks were graving for.

Space sickness had ebbed away ultimately, but a palmful of blokes had never truly managed to adapt to zero gravity. – All right, they were due for a respite. Indeed, having a sense of up and down again should be cute. Jochen reclined in his seat. Fritz and Werner looked up from their screens. “Okay, break. Let’s get some coffee. There’s nothing else to do…“

Phut! Phut! – Phut! What was that? – Impact! The Hammer had been hit! And the horn started sounding. Jochen scrambled out of his seat, dived for his spacesuit. Fritz and Werner did the same. Yeah, a lot of debris was circling around Jupiter. Fudge! – Getting into the spacesuit seemed to take an eternity. Was one losing air? The Hammer was only crudely compartmentalised.

The horn was still chiming. All right, suit was tight. Fritz and Werner were also okay. The Admiral was just arriving, with suit on. Which section had been hit? Observatory was fine. Reactor and generators as well. Crew quarters? Nothing to report. Dinghies and landers? Only two were manned – and reporting no impact. – It took several minutes to identify the impact zone.

The missile launcher had been hit. That section hadn’t been manned. It was situated between observatory and crew quarters. Captain Patock, the chief engineering officer, was leading the repair crew. Yes, clean through-and-through shot, no major utility hit, easy to repair. Lucky you! – But one better kept suited from now on. There might be much more stuff to come…
The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps.
(Benjamin Disraeli)

The bloody Musilmánye had smashed the insurgency hardly that it had begun. It was downright unnerving, thought Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov, the Russian foreign minister. Nothing seemed to work. The whole Kazakh enterprise was accursed. Sudoplatov, the Okhrana head, was sitting there red-faced, while the rest of the Zademidko cabinet was glaring at him.

The question how the scoundrels had done it was moot; they had done it; Operátsiya Yúzhniy Krest had failed. What should one do now? What could one do? Turkish troops were reported near the border at Tsaritsyn and Orenburg, allegedly part of a joint Pan-Turan manoeuvre. Could one keep the failure under the wraps? Indeed, nothing had happened…

Of course, all insiders knew what had been going on, regrettably. But for the general public it might do… Nevertheless, the Rodinyadniki were in deep trouble. One had promised to restore Matushka Rossiya to old greatness – and nothing had come of it. Would the big money continue support of the party – or would they turn away? The accursed Neo-Liberals would embrace them at once…

The Zhyoltozhopi were upgrading their armament like mad. The Nyemtsi were providently threatening with total annihilation. The Musilmánye had just casually brushed off a serious assault. The Ukrainians were buying off their ethnic Russians. Even the small countries were clubbing together against Russia. It was enough to make you weep – or get drunk...

A success was needed, urgently. What about space? Dead loss again… God must have turned away from the Rodinyadniki too…