Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Oh dear, this could result in Sophie being told a lot of "When Kat was your age..." Stories.

How Sophie responds will be interesting. Although it will probably turn into hero worship.
 
Part 128, Chapter 2181
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Eighty-One



29th September 1972

Mitte, Berlin

An ancient castle on a lake surrounded by forest. That was how Mathilda had described the school that she had been sent to in her letter to Wulfstan. Mathilda had also described being sent to assist Katherine von Mischner as she had carried out her tasks as a Veterinary Technician. How she had stayed on the vast estate of a man who Mathilda and all the other children called Opa. There had been two boys and three other girls. The two boys; Niko and Bas, had been much older. Mathilda described them being loud and smelly. Two of the girls were her age and one was much younger, still a toddler. There had also been dogs, cats, and horses on the estate. So, she had an enjoyable holiday, now that she knew what a holiday was.

Those sounded like idyllic places for Mathilda to have landed after all the trouble she had caused early in the summertime. Wulfstan had been able to pass along to their mother that she was being well cared for, even if his father was still being an ass. There were a whole lot of questions raised about just what had been going on with just how they raised Mathilda. Wulfstan’s father being who he was had stonewalled the entire process while his mother insisted that it was all one big misunderstanding.

Wulfstan struggled to keep his expression blank as he walked the fifteen paces required for him to patrol his post. A few meters away, a handful of tourists who were not deterred by today’s rain watched.

“He looks like he is hardly out of High School” A woman said to her husband in English with an American Southern accent.

“He’s a Buck Sergeant” The husband said, “And with those medals it means he’s been in a fight or two.”

Wulfstan didn’t look at the Americans, but the man had just revealed that he was a either a present or former soldier who was knowledgeable of the Heer’s ranks. That meant that he was potential enemy, it was interesting to know.

Turning on his heel, Wulfstan marched thirty paces in the other direction. Then he marched back to his post that was mercifully out of the rain and placed the butt of his rifle by his right foot. There was the flash of a camera as he settled in. He knew the damp was going to do a number on his rifle, and that the Oberleutnant had been threatening a weapons inspection. The version of the G44 that the First Foot used while on Guard Duty was similar to that used by the Heer in the field, except it had a blue finish and walnut stock. Both were maintenance heavy. That was why the regular G44 had a pickled manganese phosphate finish and a composite stock as a direct result of the experiences of the Second World War.

The other complaint that Wulfstan had was that the wool cap worn by the Enlisted of the First foot didn’t have a visor, so it didn’t do anything to keep the rain out of your face. Still, it was a whole lot better than some of the hats that the old-timers in the Regiment said they had worn in past. Even if you felt like you were wearing a sodden sock on your head, at least it didn’t weigh much.



Plänterwald, Berlin

It was her brother who had authorized the release of the family photographs, much to Kiki’s annoyance. “I want people to see us as human, Kiki” Freddy said, “Not remote figures living in ivory towers and a picture of my niece, your daughter, with the family dog is very relatable.” While that did make sense, Kiki wished he had asked first.

Kiki had had plenty of time to think about these things since they had returned from Argentina. With Autumn settling in, it was time to put the Epione into storage and move into the cottage near the Winter Residence in Plänterwald. While Kiki had taken an assignment as a Surgeon in the Emergency Department of the University Hospital in Tempelhof, Ben had finally knuckled down and was writing his manuscript about his experiences in Korea and Argentina after months of procrastinating. Living here also came with having Nella and Nan around all the time. This time though, they were joined by Mirai and Alexandrine, so the common room of Kiki’s cottage felt very crowded at times.

This afternoon though, Kiki’s younger sisters and nieces hadn’t come home from school yet, so she was enjoying a bit of peace, listening to the rain drumming on the roof of the cottage. Weisse, Nella and Nan’s dog and part of the Swabian Windhund project and whose sire was Rauchbier, was here because he got lonely when the girls weren’t around. Having him here to play with Rauchbier was a joy, even if they were sleeping in front of the fireplace enjoying the warmth from the coal burning in the grate. Nina had been playing on the floor with Kiki keeping an eye on her. She had debated taking her upstairs for her afternoon nap, but Nina had snuggled up with the two dogs and had fallen asleep there too. So, Kiki just sat on the sofa and sipped her tea. Happy that her daughter had two overly friendly dogs to enjoy the day with.
 
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This is one of those chapters that are just, for want of a better word, "happy". Sure, we all like a bit of grim and darkness, some action and conflict, but it loses it's impact without chapters like this.
Besides, some days it's good to just read something happy.
 
This is one of those chapters that are just, for want of a better word, "happy". Sure, we all like a bit of grim and darkness, some action and conflict, but it loses it's impact without chapters like this.
What you call a happy chapter is the connective tissue of the story. They give context when a major event happens.
 
Part 128, Chapter 2182
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Eighty-Two



2nd October 1972

Tempelhof, Berlin

This was Kat’s idea for how Sophie could “earn” her money back as well as enough to buy the bicycle she wanted. Spending almost every afternoon enjoying awkward moments as she helped Aunt Marcella go about her afternoon routine. She had gotten to know Marcella fairly well over the last five years. How the elderly woman was stubbornly clinging to her independence despite failing health. It was Kat’s hope that she would accept help from Sophie because she was family as it were. Sophie had pointed out that she wasn’t actually family, but Kat had told her that hardly mattered to Marcella.

Standing in the kitchen Marcella’s small flat, Sophie was reminded of that as she watched the elderly women seated around the table. Three of them were playing a game of skat with the others watching. The conversation was animated with the topics mostly being gossip or whatever their children and grandchildren were up to. The tenants of this building were not allowed to be under the age of sixty, so they had a whole lot to talk about. Sophie found herself being run all over the building so that she could keep the drinks flowing and food on the plates.

“And just who are you?” Sophie was asked and she tried to think of an answer.

“Sophie is one of Katie’s girls” Marcella answered for her.

“Another of the Tigress’ cubs then” Another voice replied, “There are what, a dozen or more of them?”

“You know that Katie hates it when people call her that” Marcella snapped, “And she takes in these girls because she sees something special in them as well as a bit of herself. Sophie has had a rough start and was hurt by those she should have been able to trust. Sound familiar?”

That gave Marcella’s questioner pause. Sophie didn’t get it though. She knew that there was nothing about her that was special.

“She also loves animals like Han’s little girl” Marcella concluded.

It took a second to remember that Han’s little girl was Ina, who was in her twenties.

“I don’t love animals quite like that” Sophie said, she was aware that with Ina it was practically a lifestyle choice. “I just have my dog Sprocket.”

For some reason they all found that funny.



Danzig

For Louis Ferdinand Junior it was odd to see how the Marine Sentries snapped to attention when he approached the gangplank of the 1970 Class Corvette SMS K24. She was so new that she hadn’t been given an unofficial name by her crew. Her construction had started prior to the Chilean Argentine War, but the plans had been radically changed because of it. Originally designed as a fast U-Boat hunter that would fill the gap between the smaller, less capable, Torpedo Boats and the larger Destroyers after a need for a far more effective counter to the Russian and American Submarine Fleets was recognized. Things had changed due to wartime experience and months spent trying to enforce the blockade off Chile. There was a pressing need for a craft with the range and speed to operate in distant waters as well as the ability to engage surface and aerial targets, that was reflected in the armament. Also, the value of operating closely with other surface units had been reinforced which had led directly to improvements in her communications array. There had also been substantial upgrades to the radar and fire control while she had still been in the slip, basically requiring a refit of those systems before K24 had even been launched.

Louis remembered how devastating the “Battleship Lines” had been with a dozen or more Destroyers and Torpedo Boats launching raids on facilities near the shore. In a place like Chile, nearly everything had been within range of their guns in the area of operations. 12.8- and 10.5-centimeter rapid fire guns did a great job of tearing up the landscape relatively cheaply. K24 had a single turret with a 12.8-centimeter gun on the bow deck. Z66 Schwertwal had mounted six of those, but the old Destroyer had been built in a different time. Back in 1949, when the Schwertwal had been laid down, the technology behind guided missiles, advanced fire control systems, and radar had been in their infancy, the capabilities they would later enjoy had been the stuff of Science Fiction. Louis remembered when the guns were fired all the sensitive computers would often be knocked offline and the crew would be left scrambling to get those systems fixed before it became an issue.

The other feature that wasn’t so obvious was one that Louis had only read about. K24 used Daimler-Benz turboshaft engines, a controversial move by the Navy. They had been using steam driven geared turbines for decades and there had been a time when those had been just as controversial. So, Louis was going to withhold judgement until he saw how the new engines performed after they put out to sea. Louis had a single suitcase and a garment bag to drop off in his quarters, the remainder was due to arrive later that afternoon. For lack of anything better to do, he decided to take a look around.

“Captain on Deck!” One of the Sailors shouted as he entered the multipurpose room that was currently the enlisted mess. The other Sailors paused what they were doing and snapped to attention. It took a second for Louis to remember that they were talking about him.

There was however one very notable exception.

“Well, look at what the cat coughed up” Borchardt stage whispered as Louis came near. He was the Deckoffizier who Louis had served with aboard Fast Gunboat 12, dubbed Windhund when they had been trying unsuccessfully to keep the war on the Adriatic Sea from escalating. Now, six years later, they were back serving on the same ship with Louis in command. Despite his outward appearance of doing everything correctly when a new Captain came aboard, there was a subtle insolence that he had practiced since he was one of the Junior Enlisted some three decades earlier.

“If you could come with me Oberdeckoffizier Borchardt as I get to know the ship” Louis said, “It would be helpful.”

With that, Borchardt gave him an evil grin as he fell into step with Louis. There were few things that a Senior Petty Officer or a Warrant Officer like him liked more than the ship having a Captain that he already had an “in” with.

“Welcome aboard, Sir” Borchardt said, “Though having you in charge of this tub means that we ought to have an exciting time.”

“You say that like I’ve not seen what happens when you get bored” Louis replied, “Now what can you tell me about the Executive Officer ahead of his introduction?”
 
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Skat, always one of my favorites. And funnily one of the games where even a slightly skilled player still beats the best AIs that are around.

Though I think that is more due to the people in silicon valley not having really tried than the complexity of the game.

Kudos for PM for knowing that game (then again, everyone who has read „all quiet on the western front“ should have heard about it) as it is extremely German.

And lest anyone asks I played it up to second German league and on that level there is no more small talk.
 
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Oh and I hope that finally the world has now understood two important points.

1) If you mess with a friend of Germany you are toast

2) The USA is not coming to help you

Meaning that if they did Louis and Borchardt are in for boring times.
 
Oh and I hope that finally the world has now understood two important points.

1) If you mess with a friend of Germany you are toast

2) The USA is not coming to help you

Meaning that if they did Louis and Borchardt are in for boring times.
That may be the case at this point ITTL but after nearly 30 years since the end of WW II Germany has been fighting wars in South Africa, Mexico, Korea, A civil war in Poland, and the now finished war in Argentina the German people may be tired of fighting all these conflicts around the world and having nothing to show for it except their children, spouses, and parents returning home with missing limbs or in caskets.
The American approach is basically Arms, Aid, and Advisors with very minimal casualties for the Americans and after the debacle by Chile the United States may offer Arbitration as a way to defuse any potential future conflicts.
If in the upcoming elections the Democratic Ecology Party make substantial gains the American approach may be more favorable over the current policy
One of the reasons that the Patagonia War became hot was probably because Argentina knowing that Germany had its back rejected all possible peaceful solutions and baited Chile to attack them.
 
Oh and I hope that finally the world has now understood two important points.

1) If you mess with a friend of Germany you are toast

2) The USA is not coming to help you

Meaning that if they did Louis and Borchardt are in for boring times.
Somehow I get the feeling Louis and The Buffer will see action in Operations Other Than War, more like their past exploits on the Adriatic than South America. For example, the Middle East’s been quiet lately, similarly the pirates in the South China Sea. Always room for a well handled German frigate to show the flag and take the odd angry shot.
 
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The quote marks around "earn" need to come off as Sophie will really be doing actual work for Marcella and her friends.
Marcella will also help Sophie realize that she has a real family with Kat as Marcella tells stories on how she took Kat and Hans in after the death of their mother.
A lot of Marcella' stories will be about an orphan 12 year old girl named Gia that Kat brought home with her from Canada who became Kat's sister and then Sophie will add two and two together to realize that Gia is Grand Duchess Jahane "The Last Romanov" one of the most beautiful, glamorous, richest woman in the world.
Other stories include a teenage girl named Kiki who just lost her mother that Kat took in and Sophie knows her better as Princess Kristina, the doctor who gave her chocolate milk at the castle after she scraped her knee one time which indirectly led to Sophie coming to live with Kat and family.
 
Part 129, Chapter 2183
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Eighty-Three



14th October 1972

Danzig

SMS K24 was ready to begin her active commission in the Atlantic Fleet, but before that could truly happen there was one key thing that had to be done before they could set out on their first cruise. Tradition demanded that the crew of a Light Unit settle on an informal name for the ship beyond the Hull Number.

It was one of the few things in the Navy that could be considered democratic in nature. Everyone put forth their ideas and it was put to a vote after much debate. Then the process repeated itself until a consensus emerged. Normally, the Captain just observed, he could however make suggestions of his own. Occasionally, he needed to play the role of referee in the event that the debate between two factions grew too heated. That was the roll that Louis found himself as he presided over the meeting of the Ship’s Company, all one hundred and forty of them, that was taking place on the helicopter pad located on the fantail. Just the fact that he now commanded a ship large enough to have a helicopter pad and a hanger for a small reconnaissance helicopter spoke volumes. As the debate continued, drink flowed freely, and it had a partylike atmosphere despite the seriousness of the matter.

The importance of this went beyond a mere name. It was how the crew would take ownership of K24 to a degree. It would be embroidered on their caps so that everyone would know which ship was theirs while they were on liberty and if a crisis situation arose and they acquitted themselves well, it would be the name that would appear in the papers back home and be read aloud in a dispatch before the Reichstag. If the name grew legendary enough, there was a chance that the crew would be honored by having it added to the registry beside the hull number.

There were a few men in the crew who had been with Louis in the Adriatic who argued that the name Windhund had been lucky for them, and they had the same Captain. Another faction was arguing that name had not only already been done but had grown in popularity in the years since Louis’ crew had used it in the Mediterranean. They had coalesced around the name Grindwal. Louis understood the reason for that selection. K24 was relatively small and fast, just like the whales in question. They were a common sight throughout the North Atlantic and had even been dubbed “Leopards of the Deep” by those who observed them. Louis had taken a glance through the binder that had the pages listing the unofficial names of light units. There had been several prior ships with the name Grindwal, the last one being Minesweeper R284, who had run aground near Pøl Strand a few years earlier.



Plänterwald, Berlin

The rabbit cut sharply to the right, neatly avoiding Blue. It was hardly a surprise. Blue had spent her life as a pampered house-pet, so while hunting came naturally to her like most of her breed, she didn’t have a great deal of skill in it. Rauchbier had spent a lot of time coursing and ferreting though, so he had hung back slightly and when the rabbit made the sharp turn he put on a burst of speed and cut inside it. Kiki heard the screaming sound that rabbits make before Rauchbier shook his head and the noise cut off abruptly.

Rauchbier looked rather pleased with himself as he brought the rabbit back to Kiki who had been observing. Blue followed closely on his heels. They had been playing, in the getting to know you sort of way, when the serious business of chasing rabbits had come up. It was obvious to Kiki that Blue had just learned a great deal from this incident. Her owner though, a middle-aged woman named Bianka, she looked like she was about to be sick. To her, Blue and Rauchbier were sweet loveable dogs. The thought about what exactly they had been bred to do had never entered her thinking until she found herself confronted with it. She looked relieved when Kiki shoved the rabbit into a bag so that it would be out of sight, though she probably wouldn’t be thrilled to learn that it would be Rauchbier’s supper later that afternoon.

“The Groundskeeper will be happy that Smoke finally got that one” Kiki said as she walked across the vast meadow that surrounded the Winter Residence.

“He does that regularly?” Bianka asked.

“If I let him” Kiki replied, “Normally, he likes ball on a rope if I can throw it far enough.”

Bianka seemed relieved to hear that. It was something that she would regard as normal.

“Good boy” Kiki said as she gave Rauchbier a scratching. He then ran off with Blue chasing after him.

Kiki gave the Blue an appraising look. She had the long lean body of a Whippet as well as similar markings to Rauchbier except she had beautiful grey-blue & white fur where Rauchbier was black & white. Her family tree was heavily documented going back generations. Bianka’s interest was that Rauchbier not only had an excellent pedigree, but he also had the cachet of being a dog belonging to a Member of the House of Hohenzollern. So, Bianka was offering Kiki a generous stud fee. Kiki wasn’t about to say so, but she would let it happen for free if any of Rauchbier’s offspring looked like Blue. Of course, with a social climber like Bianka nothing could ever be that simple, so Kiki involved herself with the protracted negotiations.

Besides, it would be nice to have an adult conversation over tea, Kiki thought to herself. Spending all of her spare time with Nina was nice, but the prior winter she had found herself only interacting with her infant daughter or dog for weeks at a time. It was a pattern she didn’t want to repeat.
 
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And thus the "Royal Blue" whippet line was born...
Blue Whippets were a thing long before this. Kiki might be somewhat disappointed in that to get a blue Whippet requires two recessive genes, whereas a B&W Whippet needs only one dominant gene. So, Rauchbier's offspring are far more likely to be born with black fur.

beautiful-standing-whippet-260nw-715892677.jpg

This is what a blue Whippet looks like.
 
Rauchbier looked rather pleased with himself as he brought the rabbit back to Kiki who had been observing. Blue followed closely on his heels. They had been playing, in the getting to know you sort of way, when the serious business of chasing rabbits had come up. It was obvious to Kiki that Blue had just learned a great deal from this incident. Her owner though, a middle-aged woman named Bianka, she looked like she was about to be sick. To her, Blue and Rauchbier were sweet loveable dogs. The thought about what exactly they had been bred to do had never entered her thinking until she found herself confronted with it. She looked relieved when Kiki shoved the rabbit into a bag so that it would be out of sight, though she probably wouldn’t be thrilled to learn that it would be Rauchbier’s supper later that afternoon.
Well that will make for one happy pupper!
 
Part 129, Chapter 2184
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Eighty-Four



20th October 1972

Baltic Sea, off Bornholm

It was a rare, nice autumn day on the Baltic, though there were dark clouds visible on the western horizon. That meant that the ship might get tossed around a bit before they made port in Kiel.

SMS K24, newly named Grindwal by her crew, was racing west at two-thirds speed ahead. Louis was tempted to order them to flank speed, but the crew was still getting to know her habits. That included getting to know just what would stress the Grindwal’s engines over the course of a nine-hundred-kilometer voyage. So far though, the Grindwal was like a dream as they made good time on the journey from Danzig to Wilhelmshaven. Louis had spent as much time as he could on the bridge just enjoying it. His understanding was that once they joined the Atlantic Division of the High Seas Fleet, they would be spending a great deal of time training for their primary mission. That would involve a great deal of plodding around hunting for errant submarines in the North Atlantic. Louis remembered how the old American Destroyer, the USS Blue, had not minded a break from that mission to keep an eye on what he was doing. Last Louis had heard the Blue had been decommissioned and her Captain, Jimmy Carter, had taken command of a different ship based out of San Diego. He knew that it would be nice to run into Carter again. Despite his being tasked with spying on Louis, the American Captain was someone who hadn’t allowed national or professional rivalries to get in the way of friendship.

Looking out at Bornholm, Louis was reminded of the speculation about his sister’s involvement with Lars Vangsgaard over the last year. There was a bit of confusion for the tabloids as a result. They had wrongly assumed that Rea was gay for years, mostly it was because as an adult she was far worse than Kiki as far as not looking like anyone’s idea of a Princess. She preferred men’s suits and wore her hair cut short, not because she was a lesbian but because she liked to be practical. Rea also considered her role as the Queen of Galicia-Ruthenia to be a complete load of manure. So, her taking up with a fake Prince was perfectly in keeping with that.

The truth was that Louis considered almost all Titles of Nobility to be fake to a greater or lesser degree, not just the one that his younger sister had found herself in. His role as a Ship’s Captain, couldn’t be more different. He had earned it over the twelve years he had spent in the Academy or at Sea and the Navy made a point of not playing favorites. Receiving a position because of who your great, great grandfather had been, wasn’t nearly as tangible. There were exceptions, those like Kiki’s husband who had earned his title behind the controls of an airplane. Most of the Princes, Dukes, and other Grand Poohbahs he had met were people who he figured couldn’t manage to wash dishes for a living much less fly a fighter-bomber.



Tempelhof, Berlin

All of Aunt Marcella’s friends were elsewhere this afternoon. It was much to Sophie’s relief, not that she could enjoy the quiet too much. She had her studies spread out on the kitchen table and it was a source of increasing frustration for her. She had always found school to be easier than the rest of her life. This year though, things had grown more difficult as her school’s stated aim was to challenge her. The trouble was that she had several teachers who had taken that to heart. It had left Sophie feeling like she was treading water with just getting passing grades.

“Why don’t you take a break from that” Marcella suggested as she sat down across the table.

“And do what?” Sophie asked.

“Tea” Marcella replied, “A chance to talk for a few minutes.”

Sophie noticed that Marcella had put out a plate with biscuits on it as well as a pair of teacups. It seemed that she was really taking this seriously and she owed her to take part.

Sophie put her books and papers aside as Marcella poured them tea. It was bitter, but Marcella seemed to like it. Tea was one of those things that adults liked, but left Sophie cold.

“Katie told me that she is paying to come here” Marcella said, “I find it a bit odd because she would just give you the money if you asked.”

“Why would I ask for money?” Sophie asked in reply.

“Because you are a thirteen-year-old” Marcella replied, “Most girls your age always have their hand out.”

The memory that came immediately to Sophie’s mind was of her mouth filling with blood as her lip swelled. She had asked for money, she couldn’t remember what it had been for, but she had been hit for having asked.

“I would never do that” Sophie said.

“I know” Marcella replied, “That is why Katie worries about you, she knows you don’t trust her. That really does bother her.”

That gave Sophie pause. She was unaware that Kat did anything more than keep an eye on what she was doing and providing a roof over her head. Kat worrying about her seemed unlikely.

“Why?” Sophie asked.

“Because she welcomed you into her house and made you a part of her family” Marcella replied, “Part of being a mother is worrying over your daughters as they reach a certain age where they are no longer children anymore.”

Marcella paused for a moment.

“Or at least that is how it should be” Marcella continued, “Katie isn’t like that other woman, not at all.”
 
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Well Louis is all so right. Just have a look at Spane (at least that guy had himself grow a pair once) the English royal family and what the Hohemzollerns did OTL 1925 to 43.

And and do not forget Albert of Hannover…
 
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