A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

It has been trending towards 1984 for ages, rast had fun with references since very early in the timeline. What's surprising is that this timeline has found ways to somehow even surpass Airstrip One levels of decline and misery on some metrics...
The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires, is like cutting off our feet, when we want shoes.
(Jonathan Swift)

Lack of loo paper and soap was the least, having no water was far worse. This was not a fucking cruise trip, although the ship was the Mauretania, the sister vessel of the infamous Lusitania. Well, the tub was wholly obsolete and seedy. She was almost fifty years old today, wasn't she? Built for carrying how much? Two thousand and some passengers, perhaps, and a crew of a thousand, or so. And now, they had crammed ten thousand folks into her worn entrails. Ten thousand slaves, maybe, plus a cohort of watchdogs and the crew.

Tack was horrible. Rotten biscuits and a bowl of stew once in forty–eight hours, stew without fat and meat. Yeah, the stew was all the liquid you were getting. Water supply had collapsed almost immediately after departure. – The journey across the Atlantic had taken five days at the time when this tub had still been shiny and new. That crappy trip here was taking two weeks already. It was hot, unbearably hot, as thousands of bodies were heating the wards. People were dying. Each day, a couple of corpses were thrown overboard without any ceremony. At least, the engines were working properly, even if with quarter speed only, and the Mauretania might arrive at her destination sooner or later.

Destination was Halifax, without any doubt. One was being sent to Canada for mining ore and cutting wood. This fact was plain. – Oh, there had been rebellions, before leaving Liverpool harbour and after. All mowed down without mercy by the watchdogs. That was a tough bunch, if Ted had ever seen one – and he had seen quite a lot, having fought the bastards in the Slater Insurgency. Well, they had grabbed him at the farm camp, put him into a railway wagon and shuttled him to Liverpool. He hadn't revolted, seeing the toughs and their weaponry. That had been the innocent, ordinary folks, who had no clue of modern combat.

No, Ted was quite keen to get to Canada. It was a large country. There ought to be many opportunities for eloping, once one was working in the woods or the mines. The USA were close by. It would be far better than planting potatoes in the Midlands. – Hence, he was lying on his bunk, which he was sharing with one other guy, and trying to save energy. His time would come once one had arrived...
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And once again communist Britain endures XD

And so long as the communist system endures, its people suffer.

It tells you how bad things are in England when there are people talking about being keen to get to Canada. I suppose they would have a point though; its a lot easier for them to escape across the US border compared with remaining in the island prison which is England.

As other posters have mentioned, I don't think even in George Orwells most dystopian fantasies could have remotely compared to how terrible the TTL reality of Communist Britain has turned out. Its getting to the point where people in England with each passing year have little recollection what it is like to really live in a prosperous society. They literally would not be able to comprehend it.
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And so long as the communist system endures, its people suffer.

It tells you how bad things are in England when there are people talking about being keen to get to Canada. I suppose they would have a point though; its a lot easier for them to escape across the US border compared with remaining in the island prison which is England.

Plus they don't know how bad it is in Canada. It's not like they made public that most of the Canadian population ran away or starved to death.
Nothing essential happens through death, only through birth and that is the whole trouble. – But shouldn't we speaking of something more important than life and death?
(Gustav Meyrink)

The demise of Professor Doctor Doctor Karol Sobelsohn was a major event for the academic circles of Bialystok. The deceased had been, without doubt, the foremost philosopher of the Heymshtot and one of the leading European thinkers. Aged sixty–nine, the great man had eventually succumbed to the cancer that had been ailing and disabling him for several years. But even if he had been wheelchair–bound, Sobelsohn's transcendent mind still had soared high – and his last opus, "Purpose and Intention", was considered the capstone document of post–modernist reasoning.

In his early youth, the doyen had been a socialist – and been associated with people like Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg. But the ghastly end of the Bolshevik experiment had caused him to rethink – and his shrewd intellect had soon led him to new horizons and eminent cognisance. – The establishment of the Heymshtot had seen him help found the university of Bialystok, where he had become the holder of the prime chair of philosophy. Learning Yiddish – he had been raised with German as mother tongue – had introduced him to the scriptures of the ancient rabbis and had opened additional strands of thought for him.

Hence, the rise to power of the religious parties had seen him remain cool and unperturbed. And the bigoted folks from Frum Leitelech and Rechts Weg had never undertaken to expurgate his elaborations – or curtail his publications. In fact, they had been grateful for his noble restraint and unstinting exegesis. – But also the Bundists, ruling the country prior to and after the religious dudes, had esteemed him as mastermind of the present age. Yet, the Great Qing Doomsday Device and subsequent events had witnessed Sobelsohn perplexed – for a considerable length of time.

However, he had resolved the issue eventually – and had arrived at discernments that denounced science and technology and asked for a turn towards a sober life. Conquest of space was not the answer; it was going to cause many new jeopardies. Man had to take the inward turn. Progress wasn't bad in itself, but it couldn't solve man's basic problems, it inescapably added new quandaries. One had to remain austere and sound. The current space hype was as dangerous as had been the rush towards nuclear weapons.
Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense.
(Lewis Carroll)

Nzida naval base had grown considerably over the years. Fregattenkapitän Samuel Lee Gravely Junior still remembered the early days, when only tents and wooden jetties had lined the muddy waters of Bandama River. He had been a young Kaleu back then, chafing to be given command of one of the bathtubs they had called submarines: antiquated Japanese junk bought on the Philippines, Middle African wrecks from the Trans–Atlantic War, obsolete US boats of the same vintage.

Well, things had changed fundamentally. The new boats were absolutely state–of–the–art, made in USA, built to the specifications drawn up in the WAU. Gravely had just come back from Richmond, Virginia, where he had accompanied – that was the term the Yanks were accepting for supervision – the construction of the two final boats of the current programme. The submarines, the "Porpoise" and the "Quillfish" were now cruising the Atlantic, while Gravely had flown home in one of the luxurious Lockheed passenger aircraft, which were serving the air route New York – Deygbo every third day, normally.

Actually, he had been lucky to get out. For weeks, the Canadian Refugee Crisis had paralysed public life in the US – and had even slowed down completion of the subs. He had obtained a seat on the first flight resuming the normal schedule, because Admiral Abasi had applied some pressure. Gravely was to take command of the Second Submarine Flotilla. – Eight boats, 550 men, one third of the WAU Navy's subaqueous punch. It was an important promotion, but – characteristically – his knowledge of the new boats wouldn't apply. Someone else would have to train the Third Submarine Flotilla...

It didn't matter. The military just was like this. And he once had captained one of the boats he was now going to command. Everything was fine. – Good to be back in the WAU. Richmond had become a very nasty place: martial law, curfew, riots, even occasional gunfights. The naval base had been safe, of course, but had been used as staging area for army and national guard units. And the Yanks had eventually mastered the situation. The lost states were now being reconquered. Gravely had watched proceedings in TV. Quite a ghastly scenario, these cleaned out towns and villages, where no living being had remained.

Here in the WAU, everybody expected the Yanks to invade Canada in the process. It was the logical thing to do, fuck the British nukes. The Old Man wouldn't hesitate to give the go, and Field Marshal G'Norebbe would be the first to dash into Ottawa and plant the flag of the WAU on Parliament Hill. – Gravely had discussed the issue with a number of Yankee officers. They were of the same opinion, but they didn't think it was going to happen. The ruling madman in London was known not to shy away from using nukes. The politicians in Washington wouldn't risk a British nuclear strike.

Now, Gravely could understand the argument, and he wondered how the Old Man would solve the problem. Well, he had wrested Sierra Leone from British rule – without that Deygbo had been hit by nukes. That had been so because Middle Africa had threatened to invade Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda, if the Brits used nukes in Africa. – If the Old Man was in President Patton's place, you could bet he would threaten Britain with total nuclear annihilation – and invade Canada. The British Isles would glow by night for centuries, if Wintringham insisted on using nukes. Better to make a painful cut than draw out the agony...
It doesn't matter what you do, so long as you don't frighten the horses.
(King Edward VII)

Travelling to Germany had to be done with utter care and privacy. The good Russians were rather squeamish regarding the identity of their tsar's consort. The Tsar was the husband of Mother Russia, that was fact. The Tsarina, however, was a potentially unsafe figure. If she was true Russian, faithful and submissive, she wouldn't stand out. But if she was an alien, one had to monitor her closely. She might excel – like Yekatarina Velikaya had done – and propagate Russia's glory, or she might be an agent of the enemy – like Aleksandra Feodorovna, the wife of Nikolay II Bésdar – and contribute to Russia's doom.

Normally, Tsarina Sisiliya Vilkhelmova didn't travel alone – and not to Germany. But in May, Dowager Empress Cecilie, her mother, had suffered a serious stroke. That necessitated frequent trips to Potsdam. Cecilie's right half of the body was paralysed, her speech was pretty much impaired – and her cogitation seemed to have suffered as well. The physicians thought another stroke might hit her any time; actually, she had been lucky to survive the first one. The quick reaction of the staff at Cecilienhof Palace undoubtedly had saved her life. – Sick bed visiting Cecilie was an opportunity, however, to meet her siblings.

Wilhelm, the German Kaiser, aged forty–eight, had come lithe and lissom as ever – and exasperatingly sober as ever. Yes, mom was going to die, no doubt. It didn't matter that she was only sixty–seven; her body was failing. He had talked with the doctors, who were the cream of the medical crop. There was no hope. – Well, that had been in May. It was September now, and mom was still alive, counting sixty–eight years... So much about medical experts. – But at least, Willy could brief her on the German little sun project. Even if he had no say in anything, he still was kept appraised of everything. Yes, it was going to work. The world would be saved. – Hopefully, the nuclear scientists were better in foretelling than their medical colleagues...

Louis Ferdinand, prince consort of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, had grown a belly recently. He was good and upright as ever, and far jollier than his prim elder brother. Since his wife had acceded to the throne in 1948, his life had become sedentary, too sedentary, he was complaining. Charity made you go fat; the Dutch were fond of sweets. – Yes, it was a pity. But at least mom had all the care imaginable. – The Netherlands had suffered horribly in the Big Thaw, one could only hope that Weizsäcker's little sun wouldn't melt the Greenland ice – or the country would be done...

Hubertus, Fritz and Adini were also frequently milling around. It was nice to be together with all of them. In fact, Sisiliya was the youngest of the siblings, and the one most remote, normally. – Well, there was one issue she had to warn Willy about: Vatutin was gone, his peaceable strategy as well. The new man, Shepilov, was an idiot. Those in the peasants' party, who wanted the pre–1914 empire back, were about to gain ascendancy. Once the ice age crisis was over – thanks to the German space effort – they would start honeycombing the Ukraine...
Blessed are the weak who think they are good because they have no claws.
(Baruch Spinoza)

It was going to be a spectacle, a spectacle of the special kind, thought Leutnant Jochen Zeislitz. And he would sit high in the bleachers. Well, yes, he was expendable, that was the prerequisite, evidently. The voice in his ear, a female voice today, said everything was fine, the tandem was on the right track. – He had been chosen to jockey Raumpunkt 1 into a very high orbit, far away from the sphere that soon was to become the Weizsäcker Sun. His special space craft, Raumschrat–124, had carried a package of rockets for payload. The same rockets were now ponderously propelling the station and the space boat to their new destination.

Zeislitz' mission was to be on guard, watch and document. He had seven dissimilar special cameras, which he was to install on Raumpunkt 1 for filming the eruption. In addition, three testing probes and two Geiger counters were to gauge the emissions of the little sun. And, yes, he himself was also going to gauge the stuff... But the eggheads said he should be safe. At the distance he was going to be away from the little sun, he would be receiving far more radiation from the big thing than from the little one. And after the event, he was to bring back Raumpunkt 1 to the 600 km orbit.

The initial plan had been to sacrifice Raumpunkt 1. But because one had to monitor and document the eruption anyway, it had been decided to utilise the space station for this purpose. However, Zeislitz did not trust the assertions of the boffins. If this really was going to be a cake–walk, why was he all alone? Scientists ought to stand in line for watching the event... But he was going to be the only person in space. The Russians had already evacuated their station. At least, they had promoted him before shooting him up... He started whistling. Whistling in the dark might help...
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It is inexcusable for scientists to torture animals; let them make their experiments on journalists and politicians.
(Henrik Ibsen)

While in orbit the clock was on, people on the ground were scrambling to shelter from the eruption of Weizsäcker's Little Sun. It would shine straight above the Barents Sea at 74.76 northern latitude and 37.43 longitude. Hence, Scandinavia and northern Russia would be most affected. Novaya Zemlya was not a problem, it had already been evacuated when the Russians had attempted to fight glaciers with fusion bombs. Mercifully, neither northern Norway, nor northern Finland, nor the adjacent Russian lands were anything like densely populated. However, it was anticipated that the ubiquitous forests were going to burn.

Reaching all roaming nomads, mostly Saami, had soon proven impossible, even if serious attempts had been undertaken in Norway, Sweden and Finland. The Russians, in contrast, were claiming to have everything under control. Modern technology had made it possible. But one did understand that grinding poor Finnish Saami couldn't afford state–of–the–art radios. – All mining and fishing personnel and sensitive equipment had been secured, of course. And villagers and town dwellers on the littorals had been evacuated, because there would be major storm tides.

The Gulf of Bothnia, solidly frozen even in summer since two years, would fall dry, as would most lakes in Finland and Sweden. The Scandinavian glaciers – and those of Novaya Zemlya – were going to vaporise. – It was thought that neither Sankt–Peterburg, nor Helsinki, nor Stockholm would be destroyed by fire, but the cities might suffer considerably from water. In fact, all residents around the Baltic could be heavily affected. This meant Prerow would – most probably – go out of action for a considerable timespan. Meckenbeuren would take over and launch the new crew for Raumpunkt 1, if the space station and Leutnant Zeislitz were still there after the eruption.

On higher ground, folks ought to be safe in deep dug shelters – or tunnels. The event as such would be short; the aftermath, however, might last for several days. Hence, stocking up was advised. – There were grave problems in Norway, where digging was almost impossible – and evacuation a major challenge, but the government in Oslo eventually signalled readiness on October 3rd, 1954. Europe and Russia were now poised for the Weizsäcker Event.
The anticipation is killing me. One of the things I really enjoy about your writing Rast is that I can seldom guess(correctly) what it going to happen.

Keep up the very, very good work!
So... the long buildup to the pivotal moment is almost complete. Let's see if the weird science will go horribly wrong as feared, or if it will merely go horribly right as described above.

I'm definitely feeling the suspense, rast. Kudos. :)
But to find, all at once, right before your eyes, that the impossible had been mysteriously achieved by man himself: this staggers the mind.
(Jules Verne)

Ready! Leutnant Jochen Zeislitz was hunching inside the lead foil compartment he had erected inside Raumpunkt 1. The voice in his ear – male today – was counting down. The cameras were aligned and in operation. – All right! He closed his eyes to narrow slits and peered through the small oval of filter glass inserted in the lead foil. "Eight," said the voice, "Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Zero."

Nothing... Zeislitz blinked. Silence. "We have a problem." said the voice after what seemed like eternity. Zeislitz clicked his tongue. There were two firing circuits, main and reserve, both fired simultaneously. They were considered failsafe. – Holy shit! What now? "Raumpunkt, stay in readiness. We've a conference going on down here. Await decision."

Zeislitz grunted. What else could he do? But he voiced confirmation. And waited. – Would they send him down to the sphere? Hardly; he had no clue of the intricacies of the thing. Specialists were required now, not laymen. He had only worked on the outer hull and the hydrogen tank. They would have to shoot someone up. Definitely no walk in the park.

It would take time. It even took them four hours to announce the contingency plan. – Was he allowed to leave the foil compartment? Yes, all–clear. Stay tuned... – So, a Große Schwester would be send up tomorrow, full of specialists and special equipment. Zeislitz sighed: Himmelfahrtskommando – commando for ascension to heaven, forlorn hope.

He couldn't see the sphere, although he knew where it was. And he wouldn't be able to see the Große Schwester. He could only wait – and do some physical exercises. A workout with full view of Earth and Moon, that was cute. And down there, they were now identifying the poor blokes that had to mount the space bus...
Finally we shall place the Sun himself at the centre of the universe.
(Nicolaus Copernicus)

Whoever was responsible for stocking the supply of films, seemed to have anticipated severe problems. Although he had wasted a good deal of the stuff yesterday, there was a reserve sufficient for today, for tomorrow – and for three more days. All cameras were loaded. Zeislitz was only waiting for the order to switch them on.

The voice – male once again – said Brüderchen had lifted off, ten minutes ago. Okay, they were climbing now – for the next three hours, until the Große Schwester was to be released. There was nothing he could do right now. Perhaps he should take a nap. Normal missions were packed to capacity with scientific tasks for the space farers, but this time they had forgotten to hand him a list.

He could understand that because of the emergency nobody had thought of those silly little games. Well, he was no scientist, he was just a dumb Raumschrat jockey, hired straight from the induction station. For him, taking a nap was preferrable to playing along with funny gadgets anyway. The voice was going to warn him in time...

Three hours later, the voice indeed woke him up with howling noise. – The Große Schwester had been successfully released and had just entered orbit. They were now approaching the sphere. He had to get ready, switch on the cameras and take cover inside the lead foil compartment.

Jolted, but still floating free in the middle of the cabin, Zeislitz used the cables connecting him to the radio to pull himself to the camera controls. Yes, they were focused correctly. "Starting record!" he reported und flipped the breakers. And now into the compartment. The filter glass was still in line, but the telescope itself had to be readjusted. The radar screen showed the sphere close to the upper rim.

Zeislitz cursed. He struggled out of the compartment again. "Hurry up!" said the voice. "Bus rapidly closing in." But it wasn't that easy. The controls were outside, but the radar screen was inside the compartment. Thus, he had to alternate until the sphere was in the centre of the screen again.

Panting, he finally was crouching inside the compartment again. "Ready!" he wheezed. The voice had already begun counting down – but was still in the five hundreds. There was no need for panic. Everything was under control. – The frigging sphere was armed since yesterday. Obviously, everybody was expecting the worst once the crew of the Große Schwester made contact with the beast...

But nothing happened. The bus closed in – and the specialists went EVA, after about two hours of preparation. "Remain in readiness and wait!" said the voice. Zeislitz waited. "Defect identified." said the voice, three hours later. "Starting repair..."

And the sky went bright...