A Shift in Priorities - Sequel

Well space exploration seems is not the answer and i would not like germany as world police, so besides tensions with the russians(again) what is the future?

Inventing this world's equivalent of the internet, PCs, cellphones, in the name of connecting the entire world and bringing it together. Is Turing still alive? If so, perhaps he emigrates to Germany and plants the seeds for the next great technological advancement in this universe.
Even a fool may be wise after the event.

That Ulrike Freifrau von Drosedow should be drunk at noontide was not news to Luigi Esposito. The chick had evolved into quite an avid toper. You seldom met her without a glass of wine or champagne close by. However, today she was not cantankerous or pushy, as was often the case, but in need of a lot of love. It was a true pity that Luigi had to attend an important business meeting, a meeting he couldn't miss.

Getting dressed was a challenge indeed, with an unbridled wanton lass trying to drag you back to horizontal action. And Ulrike was quite a valkyrie, taller than Luigi – and surprisingly strong. When she finally realised he wasn't going to oblige, she grew scurrilous, bad–mouthing him obscenely. What a mess! A real shame, when he would come back home after the meeting, she would be too drunk to remember the row – but also far too drunk for some more jolly sex...

But this meeting was truly important. A new player had joined the game, eager to buy foodstuffs and fuel – and offering unconventional payment. The Camorra was bewildered. At first, work gangs had been offered. But here in the Mezzogiorno, there was absolutely no lack of cheap labour. Next, ammunition and explosives had been tendered. That had been a little bit more interesting, but the Mafia was no underground army; one was a business corporation, doing underground business sometimes, but also a lot of normal business...

Then, steropium had been offered. Now, that was alarming, wasn't it? The stuff was valuable, no doubt. But who the fuck would sell it? – The answer was obvious: the fleet that had taken possession of Malta. They were in dire need of fuel, foodstuffs and spare parts. And their ability to pay for it was strictly limited. – One could accept the steropium, Luigi had been told, and sell it to Hungary or Bulgaria, that was a serious possibility. But what would come next? More steropium? Hardly probable, they wouldn't sell all of their warheads.

What had been offered were probably parts of one or two damaged warheads. – Once that stuff was gone, would armed gangs arrive and take what they wanted? Or would there be a threat with those warheads still serviceable? That were the questions to be discussed today. It was a big problem for the grandees of the Camorra. Should one deal with these English gentlemen? Or should one – hard to think of it – call the police?
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The earth does not need new continents, but new men.
(Jules Verne)

Dijon had been a horror to tidy up. The town had seen heavy fighting, evidently, between government forces trying to maintain a no–move zone – or something in this vein – and people fleeing in panic to the south. In the end, the pest had overrun those still alive. Damn, this once had been the capital of Burgundy, a centre of culture and savour. Thank goodness that at least Lyon, France's second metropolis, had been spared.

Jacques Hublin had been conscripted to the cleaning force. As a skilled mechanic, he had ended up in a maintenance platoon. That was okay, it saved him from handling rotting corpses. But the vehicles he got for repair were reeking like... well, carrion... – as were his comrades, when coming back from work. Showers and soap were all important these days...

Mercifully, Toulon had not suffered, Jacques'' family, his wife Camille and the kids, were hale and safe. But instead of giving him a good job, now that so many workers and employees were missing, the Pflimlin government had put him in uniform. Gosh, the emergency wouldn't last forever. Right now, almost everybody seemed to have been conscripted, except those still rich and powerful, of course.

Yeah, Jacques was convinced that even in this calamity, there were still people relaxing and feasting at the French Riviera. If you were rich enough, even the pest wouldn't change your life. – Well, there were rumours about getting rich – by finding valuable things. France had not been a poor country. There had to be jewellery, money and other precious stuff virtually everywhere, prêt–à–porter.

It was an interesting notion. The trinkets didn't belong to anybody, did they? But just taking some clobber wasn't promising. It had to be organised properly. One needed vehicles and storage. In his outfit, he hadn't yet noticed any structures... He had to think about it... It wasn't wrong. One couldn't just humbly leave the trumpery for the government to grab, impossible...
I think what the last few updates shows, with the near collapse of Western Europe to disease and Britain becoming a failed state beyond reckoning, is the failure of the German-led COMECON. It failed to expand its influence beyond the immediate countries it gained influence with post Great War, and it became powerful enough to keep everyone else in Europe in check, but also weak enough that it didn't enable the rest of Europe to develop economically like an EU had, despite its problems. The COMECON always took a rose colored view of communist Britain for the longest time, shaded by their hatred of the Churchill regime and how that enabled them to shape their foreign policy for the past three decades, and those are the results.

I think the best way the Germans could have managed the Red British problem is establishing a long term partnership with the United States, who could have really helped in coordinating to put pressure on the British via Canada, but I don't think I ever saw a single instance of those two countries having a meaningful moment of joint international cooperation. When the Brits shot at nuke at New York City and had it explode 30 miles from shores, the international community should have acted immediately but Germany sat on its hands and again tried to turn the other way. That's also an indictment on the US, in that it should have done more to reach out internationally for help to deal with Britain, or also help in bringing China back. There also did not seem to be the development of any sort of meaningful international organization, like a UN equivalent, that could have pushed international pressure on Red Britain; things like international economic sanctions but also incentives like food aid that could have provided them a means behave more rationally like a member of the international community, and tone down the crazier folks in Britain. That doesn't mean that Britain wouldn't still be miserable, but at least they could have maintained a North Korea-like existence.

Germany never had a focused goal after the Great War. I always had the sense that it was content to sit on its laurels and increase its scientific achievements while sitting on its hands internationally for 20 or so years after WWI. They did little in terms of mediation to try and resolve the Russia/China conflict, and always believed it was a scientific solution that would solve the freeze. That's only solving the symptoms, but not the cure, which was engaging more with other countries internationally, in concert with others beyond Europe, to say... have limits on nuclear weapons for instance.

Now, we see Europe being thrown back for the next half century as half the population has been wiped out from disease. Asia has atrophied, as China is still trying to rebuild after it lost half its population and while Russia seems to be liking the new space that it has I wouldn't call them a responsible international actor either. The US is comparatively strong, but it never fully reached its full potential because of the troubles of the 30s and the fact that Canada and Red Britain caused so much problems. I guess the Ottomans are the ones who came out of this the best actually; them and Middle Africa.
@Bmao You think in OTL Terms, this TL is anything but and yeah this world is so much how the world become so much actors but those without a lot of power besides local... And yeah the ottomans and Middle Africans were the big winner here.
A common economic zone is not a failure just because it was excessively hit by a modern re-enactment of the Ten Plagues due to no fault of its own.

I think the best way the Germans could have managed the Red British problem is establishing a long term partnership with the United States, who could have really helped in coordinating to put pressure on the British via Canada, but I don't think I ever saw a single instance of those two countries having a meaningful moment of joint international cooperation.
That's because they are recent belligerents and rivals in this timeline. While the Troubles reset the diplomatic board for the US, expecting them to be best buds is hardly the default assumption. Especially in the face of the terrifying menace of the communist revolution as practiced in the total number of.... one decrepit hermit kingdom.
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I try all things, I achieve what I can.
(Herman Melville)

Only by the skin of her teeth, reflected Victoria Keller, had she escaped death. Had she been infected? She couldn't tell, but... yes, most probably the bugs had been in her body, working silently for their heyday. The antidote had killed them in time, yet, had almost killed her as well. High fever had felled her for days. No doubt, without the care of the Handmaids of Santa Margherita and the Poor she would have perished.

Yeah, the kind nuns had saved her life, strange to say. She, the Panchist activist, had been saved by the praying and rosary–brandishing faction. Okay, they had fought the pest together, but nevertheless she felt enervated because she owed her life to the religious types. Well, three quarters of her brigade hadn't survived the plague. In fact, the battle had been all but lost...

Then, the Yanquis had arrived with the antidote. The Yanquis! Of all people! Panchists didn't like Yanquis. They were the enemy of old. But Victoria, born in Canada and well–travelled, had welcomed them – and had been detailed to work with them, because she was one of the few capable to speak their language. Until the antidote had quashed her...

Mexico's population of previously thirty million had about been halved, said the government. It hadn't been possible to shield the population centres. The antidote had arrived just in the last instance. But one was going to rebuild the country. Having children would be rewarded. – That ought to be fine for her brother Tommy and his twee wife. But she, Vicky, had no intention of having kids in the near future.

Hell, the pest had opened windows of opportunity. In this macho country, she never would have had a chance. But now... They had asked her to become brigade secretary. That was something. She was going to get a good salary. And she could coin decisions... It was a new beginning indeed.
How 'communist' are the Panchists?

"The people working the land should also own it." That's the core mantra of the Panchists. But because grinding poor and illiterate farmers are still grinding poor and illiterate when they suddenly come to own the fields they are tilling, the Panchists have become a movement favouring emancipation by education. They are very popular among the indigene population. But they do not preach revolution, hence are more social-democrats than communists.
All interest in disease and death is only another expression of interest in life.
(Thomas Mann)

Egon had been in a bar fight. His lips were smashed and one incisor had come loose. Joseph Grzeskiewicz thought he should see a dentist, but the lad didn't want to go. He maintained the tooth would get tight again on its own. Hell, this hadn't been his first brawl; he knew how such things worked out, no reason to panic. Well, Joseph wouldn't argue, and Hanne wasn't here. She was attending an AFV meeting in Bielefeld. So, eventually, armed with a bottle of booze, just to slow him down, Egon retired to bed.

Joseph went outside and took a seat. It felt good to be able to do so again. The no–move time had been gruelling. Being caged in his hovel together with Hanne and Egon had been borderline. The market hall had been used as billet for troops. Silesians, tough guys from Sagan, had covered Dortmund. They had brought about a bloodbath. About three hundred and seventy citizens of Dortmund had been killed by them. And one was still searching for twenty–odd missing folks...

Yeah, the Dortmunders had had to learn it the hard way. There had been no warning time. The soldiers had shot to kill from the start. – While Joseph could understand the necessity of the procedure, he nevertheless was horrified still. As were most people he had talked with since. The shooting – and the gassing – had killed something in him. There had been a basic trust – that the nation was protecting him from harm. Yes, they had protected him from the pest, it was true. But only by happenstance...

Without any remorse, they would have shot or gassed him, if only a small detail had been different. That was unsettling. The gas didn't kill you at once. It disrupted the transmission of nerve impulses. After a time, you died because you couldn't breathe anymore. Until then... Not nice. But being shot wasn't any better. Because nobody would come close. They would shoot until you stopped moving. Then, they would fire two or three more bullets at you, just to make sure you had it – and would let you lie...

No, you were mullock. It was an unpleasant insight. – Joseph knew that Hanne and Egon had felt it too. That was why Egon was drinking and looking for punch–ups. And Hanne was desperately trying to find salvation in Herbert Weller's AFV. – How did people feel and think, who had been outside the no–move zone? Joseph didn't know. Perhaps Hanne could tell more, when she came back from Bielefeld, which had been outside the kill zone. What did Weller have to tell? The man was Minister–President of Prussia, after all, the father of the country – and of all those that had been killed...
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I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow.
(Edgar Allan Poe)

Ponderously but steadily, RFA Fort Charlotte was approaching the home islands. The ship's master, Captain Jonathan Creel, was standing on the bridge, waiting for the inevitable. They had already been spotted by an airplane, meeting a vessel of the German navy was now only a matter of time. What would Fritz do? The question had been hotly debated in Malta. This was a British ship, would the Germans really prevent it from steaming into a British port? – Most probably not. – No, leaving the home islands was going to be the trouble.

The German blockade was still active. Nothing and nobody was allowed to leave the islands. But RFA Fort Charlotte had been sent out to fetch vital spare parts. It was Creel's job to talk the Fritzes into accepting the steamer's mission. One had bought a stock of antidote, sufficient to treat the crew and the working parties. Well, Creel thought the Germans would insist on a fortnight of quarantine – if they accepted the deal at all. One had not asked in advance, that would only have resulted in a flat denial.

Nay, one simply would try to get to Portsmouth. The naval base there had been out of reach for the fleet, when they had left for Malta. Of course, the Fritzes were going to search the ship, several times. But the spare parts were just that: no secret weapons, no gimmicks, only plain machinery spares. One had coined the mission to be inoffensive. One had to habituate the Germans to such forays. The fleet couldn't survive without them. Buying the stuff was far too expensive. But the stores at home were full, or at least ought to be.

Vessel approaching fast from east–northeast, said the radar mate. Fritz was coming. Creel braced himself. Don't show fear, don't show panic. – Churchill's accusations had been heard on Malta. But that remained a moot point right now. One had to appease and sway the Germans. They were the masters of the situation. It was humiliating, for sure. But it couldn't be helped. – All right, Johnny, keep smiling... The Fritzes are only the first ordeal. Don't think of Portsmouth... Will there still be corpses?
Force has no place where there is need of skill.

Mirliva Reşat Çokbilmiş, the new head of Istihbarat and Teşkilât-ı Mahsusa, wasn't happy at all with the situation in the Mediterranean. These Englishmen on Malta were stirring up everything and spreading imbroglio. One should expunge them pre–emptively, he had proposed, before they truly became obnoxious. But the Grand Vizier wouldn't have it. They were a nuclear power, might strike back pitiless and cause great damage. No, leave them alone and wait. Their stuff is outdated and will fail rather sooner than later. Without a national economy in support, the venture is doomed to fail.

Yes, this was certainly true. But... He couldn't read them. They were an alien element. There were agents on Malta, sure, quite a number of them. But none of them had access to the internal dealings of that fleet; their decision process was obscure, and their actions came as complete surprise. – Over time, one might learn to read certain signs and hence be warned that something was brewing. However, right now, one was clueless in regard to their planning and scheming, a situation Çokbilmiş didn't like a particle.

Well, they were short of many things. Some of the gentlemen hence ought to be receptive for money. One had to try... Again, though, building such structures was going to take time. And the buggers were already hawking steropium to the Italian mafia. Who knew what else they might be wreaking... The frigging Italians were doing nothing – as ever. The Germans were busy elsewhere. The Hungarians were said to be keen on buying steropium. The Spaniards weren't interested. They had taken Gibraltar – and the British fleet wasn't objecting. ¡Se acabó!

Only the Egyptians were ready to co–operate in the full. They were wary about the Suez Canal. Seizing the canal – and the revenues it produced – would make the fleet's venture viable for a long time. Therefore, Cairo was looking for Ottoman support. But they had no navy worth the name, nothing that could oppose the English men–of–war – or at least monitor their activities in the central Mediterranean. It would all get stuck with the Osmanlı Donanması... – and the Istihbarat...
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To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.
(Charles Darwin)

This wheelchair was a true instrument of torture. Charles Thomson Rees Wilson moaned in pain, while the nurse and the chauffeur were labouring to get him and the chair up the ramp and into the van. The motor vehicle had been specially modified for his needs. Once the wheelchair was inside, it could be arrested in a spring–suspended mount – and he was going to have a half–way decent work station during the long journey. It was quite a trip from Boston to Washington.

They had invited him to a hearing in Congress. The glacier on Baffin Island was worrying them. – Well, yes, it was a disturbing phenomenon. It was contradicting his theory that the cold period after GQDD had been a short–term occurrence. He had declared the Weizsäcker Sun a waste of effort. But the Europeans had got rid of the glaciers in Scandinavia and on Novaya Zemlya, while the beast on Baffin Island was still there.

However, it wasn't growing. That was the good news. Wilson had monitored and analysed the data collected. The glacier seemed to be stable. The summer shrinkage was compensated in winter; that was about all; no growth. Nevertheless, the thing was influencing the climate decisively. The Great Plains were no longer supporting agriculture, and central Canada had already become uninhabitable.

There were voices calling for a US Sun, an artificial little sun à la Weizsäcker's, to get rid of the Baffin Glacier. Fedrock were claiming they couldn't do it. At best, they said, they could stage something like the Russian mirror approach, which hadn't produced any noticeable effect though. – Wilson still thought a little sun wasn't required. As long as the glacier wasn't growing, there was no imminent danger. It might start shrinking next year. Things never remained stable for long, change was a constant fact in nature.

He could find no reason why it should grow at all. In fact, the present stability was baffling him. The ice bridge to Greenland was crumbling away. The Greenland glaciers also had stopped growing. Things ought to improve soon. There was no need for panic. – He hoped he could convince the politicians... The Midwest wasn't lost. It could be retrieved, hopefully...
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Seems the Chinese enviorement disaster still linger in NA.... Charles Wilson did make right but still the best way to melt that is...well more CO2 but that still a double edge sword...
What really matters is what you do with what you have.
(H. G. Wells)

Kharasho! The Nyemtsi had landed on the Moon, even if the great event had somehow fallen through public attention because of the plague. What should one do now? Also land on the Moon? Or rather stage another coup? – General Tikhonravov thought the Moon was the most rewarding target – and the one easiest to attain. But his staff didn't quite agree. The Moon was stale. One shouldn't and couldn't ignore it, but the prime target ought to be something else.

It were Boris V. Rauschenbach and Mikhail K. Yangel, who came up with the Venus–orbit–station proposal. Inferior conjunction was in June, when the Morning Star was going to be closest to Earth, only one hundred times the distance to the Moon away. – What if one launched a series of missiles and assembled a new NSÓ in orbit around Venus? A manned station, of course, which would travel around the Sun together with Venus. In less than two years, in January 1958, with the next inferior conjunction, the proud explorers should return to Earth.

Venéra–2, which was circling around Venus since March, had produced some good data. One knew that the clouds that were covering Venus were hellish hot, at least on the outside. And the carbon dioxide atmosphere seemed to be rather hot as well, more than 300 degrees Celsius on ground level. One had also detected some ground structures, but was still missing a complete picture. – Yes, Venus seemed to be hostile to life. But that was no reason not to explore Earth's sister.

It was a daring plan. The space station elements, however, were in stock, as were the carrier missiles. And the spacers were well trained from the various missions to NSÓ. – But could the spacemen survive eighteen months in outer space? Did Venus have a Grigoryev Belt? Venéra–2 had no instruments to measure it. But yes, there should be one, as Venus was very similar to Earth. The Grigoryev Belt would protect the spacers against solar radiation. Without it, only corpses would be circling around Venus after a short time.

The politicians, it turned out, were enthusiastic. The Shepilov government was urgently looking for a spectacular stunt to distract the public from the worsening economic situation. The death of western Europe was now also hitting the Russian industry as demand for consumer goods was plummetting. – Hence, NASA was tasked to execute the Venéra Ostrova project. One would launch the cluster of probes already prepared for inferior conjunction – plus the elements for the manned station, Achinsk was going to be very busy.
... Venus has no strong magnetic field. 18 months in an unshielded station in direct solar radiation, and ~30% closer to the sun, is going to give them all cancer.

This won't necessarily be catastrophic to the space program, because the cancers will take longer to develop than their flights, they are probably not even going to be diagnosed before years after they land back on earth. But poor kosmonauts...
I sometimes think if we knew all, we should be more glad to get away.
(Robert Louis Stevenson)

This was an awful place. Prime Minister Deng Xixian looked around uncomfortably. How deep down was this? Twelve hundred and fifty metres below ground, he remembered from the dossier. It was hot. He was glad to be a small man, as this was a place apt for dwarves only. Professor Wú Jiànxióng, who was accompanying him, seemed to be quite at ease. Well, she knew the site since many months, was at home here, sort of.

"Here we are, Sir." said Wú. "That's it: Pénghóu, the Drumbeat Marquis."
Pénghóu looked like a very big ordinary bomb to which a lot of cabling had been added. It was of an indefinite greyish colour, and was fixed in a massive cast aluminium frame.
"Twenty–two kilotons?" asked Deng. "As promised?"
"By all means. We are quite proud of it. Only 6.25 kilograms of weapon grade steropium, positively up to contemporary standards."

"And you are sure the blast will be indistinguishable from a normal earthquake?"
"Well, to seismic stations in the Indian Federation, the Pan–Turan Commonwealth and Russia, it will look like a very minor earth tremor, something we have in these mountains every second month."
Deng gulped. Earthquake? Down here, in this frigging stifling shaft?
"Okay, Professor, let's go up again, I've seen enough."

Fifteen minutes later, Deng could breath fresh air again – and see the open sky. That felt much better.
"All right. Tuesday next week?"
"Yes, we'll meet the deadline, without fail. The Great Qing Empire will be a nuclear power."
"But a covert one, Professor, never forget. Neither our friends, nor our enemies must know about this. – I'm sorry, but your well–earned international scientific reputation will have to wait..."