Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 129, Chapter 2196
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Six



13th January 1973

Tempelhof

Sprocket knew that it made his people happy when he responded to the name which they called him. Usually that was when he followed his nose towards something interesting or was interfering with the other that existed within his territory, the feline they called Cheshire who hissed at him when he got too close and wasn’t above swatting him across the nose, Which he didn’t like. He had gotten to know the garden quite well when he lived in the shed during the first weeks, but more recently he had moved into the house and found himself with a far larger set of people.

First there was his girl, whose bed he slept in most nights. As a dog he relied mostly on observing the cues and smells of his people and the girl occasionally slept fitfully, and the smell of fear was on her when she awoke on those nights. He was there to protect her though, so she had nothing to fear. Then there were the other times when the girl came home smelling of exertion, she just hugged him as she fell asleep and was still for the night.

There were the other girls who often played with Sprocket but weren’t as close. There was the older one who never smelled the same way twice. The one who was the same age as his girl, but whose right leg smelled odd and was cold and smooth as he had noticed the few times that he had licked it. Finally, there was the youngest girl. She frequently gave him a tidbit off her plate when the family were having meals and sang in a language that wasn’t what the others spoke. There was a young man who could throw a ball far further than the others, which was why Sprocket liked him. He had once told Sprocket’s girl that Sprocket was probably a Yorkshire-Poodle mix, among other things. That didn’t mean anything to Sprocket.

Beyond them, there was the young woman who came and went. Sprocket noticed that there was a great deal of tension in the house whenever she was around. There were the three women who were found in the kitchen, laundry room or the top floors of the house. Two were old, one was young. They smelled of spices and food. There were the two men who were with them most days who carried the interesting smells of alcohol and tobacco on them. Then there was the older man who frequently smelled of chemicals. Lastly, there was a woman who Sprocket occasionally encountered who came across with a great deal of authority, he had realized among his people, she was the one in charge and that the chemical man was her mate.

Today, things had changed again. Sprocket was sitting up in the basket that his girl had put on the front handlebars of her bicycle. The wind in his face brought a wealth of smells and there was all manner of movement in the bright winter day…




Sophie could see that Sprocket was excitedly watching the world from his basket. This had been Doug’s idea when she had gotten the rack that went behind the seat. He had suggested that she get a wicker basket for Sprocket that she could strap to the handlebars and how to fasten his leash to the inside to keep him from trying to jump out. His reaction seemed to be one of glee as he was wagging his tail furiously as Sophie pedaled up the street.

It was Sophie’s intention to run errands when she was free on a Saturday afternoon. That included stops to pick up a stack of used records from the music shop she frequented. The owner had been holding them for her until she had the money to pay for them, but not forever. She had finally gotten to that this afternoon. Then came the stops at the Bakery and a couple different shops to pick up items on the list that Petia had given her. In the process she filled the bags hanging off rack having to take care to balance the load. Everyone seemed happy to see Sprocket, that was, until she entered a Market that was her last stop.

Sophie had just locked up her bicycle in front of the Market, Petia had acquired the stout chain and lock for her. The Russian woman had made a point in telling her that it would be difficult to cut and if any man ever gave her some unwanted attention it made a great weapon. Entering the Market, the Clerk had noticed Sprocket and was not welcoming.

“You can’t bring your dog in here!” The Clerk yelled at her, forcing her to take Sprocket back outside.

“Can you at least keep an eye on my bicycle?” Sophie asked as she clipped Sprocket back into his basket. The Clerk made an indifferent noise that didn’t fill her with a whole lot of confidence. That made her move as quickly as she could as she grabbed the items and headed back towards the sales counter. No sooner than the items had been rung up and paid for, Sophie heard Sprocket going nuts. She left the counter as the Clerk was bagging and rushed out just in time to see a young man a couple years older than she was backing away from her bicycle. Sprocket wouldn’t have reacted the way he had unless he had been up to no good.

“What do you think you are doing?” Sophie demanded.

“Your dog tried to bite me.”

“Good” Sophie replied as the Clerk stepped outside and handed Sophie her bagged groceries. She couldn’t help but notice the Clerk had a smirk on his face suggesting that the young man was known to him.

“It would have been just deserts if your dog had gotten a piece of him” The Clerk said as the young man fled.
 
It should hardly come as a surprise that mutts along the lines of Sprocket are actually quite common.
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Part 129, Chapter 2197
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Seven



20th January 1973

Los Angeles, California

While Richard Nixon was getting sworn into office in Washington D.C. Ritchie and Mike were getting treated to a different kind of patriotism. Probably not the sort that the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Bill of Rights. Of course, the Founding Fathers were mostly wealthy slave owners who couldn’t have imagined “Rights” being extended to anyone who didn’t look like them. California might as well have been China or the heart of Africa. And they would have found the idea of the Bill of Rights applying to Chicanos like the one who Ritchie and Mike had just nabbed preposterous.

“I know my Rights under the Constitution you motherfuckers!” Tony yelled as Mike had him on the hood of Frankenstein with his hands cuffed behind his back. “You had no reason to stop me! No probable cause!”

“So now you’re a Lawyer, Tony? Ritchie asked mildly.

“He probably thinks that the State Bar exam is something they beat you with” Mike said with a chuckle.

Tony was not happy with direction of the conversation because he was actually quiet for a minute or two as Mike was searching his pockets for contraband.

“Care to explain this?” Mike asked as he pulled a plastic bag from the pocket of Tony’s coat.

“That’s for personal use” Tony said. Mike had his eyebrows raised as Ritchie saw that there was a lot of weed in the bag. If that was indeed for personal use, then Tony would be taking up mental residence on Mars while his feet were still in Los Angeles.

It was at that moment that Tony noticed that they had drawn a crowd and he started singing.

“José can you see, with how they got your Mexican ass in the bad seats…!” Was the first line in a song that was an odd mixture of the National Anthem and Take me out to the ballgame. Ritchie could hear the crowd laughing at the song and some even applauded as Tony was shoved into the back of the Patrol Car.

It wasn’t until they got around the corner from the stop and were driving out of Skid Row that Tony’s whole demeanor changed. He had stopped complaining about his rights and was laughing.

“You laid it on a little thick back there, don’t you think?” Ritchie asked as he turned Frankenstein onto the Freeway.

“Always leave the audience wanting more” Tony said, “Now, if I could have the keys to these handcuffs?”

“I think we can wait until after we get back to the Station” Mike said, “Wouldn’t want to risk your cover being blown.”

“What?” Tony asked. By now he had to be aware that they were going north on the Freeway. This was not the way to get to the Central Division.

“Me and Ritchie are grabbing lunch” Mike said as they turned off the Freeway and were headed down the road that led to the Ralph’s where Lucia worked. They found a parking spot right in front of the store, it being mid-afternoon they sort of had their pick.

“Don’t go anywhere ‘till we get back” Mike said as he got out of the car.

“Really funny” Tony said, “You are not really going to leave me out here guys?”

“Don’t worry Tony” Ritchie said, “We’re leaving the windows open a crack.”

Tony watched with dismay as Big Mike and Ritchie disappeared into the Ralph’s as a mother in her early thirties with a little boy walked out. The boy looked at the Patrol Car in amazement until he noticed Tony sitting in the back.

“Stay in school kid” Tony said with a smile as the mother pulled her child away with a horrified look on her face. If only she knew the truth.

----------------------------------------------------------------

“He’s an LAPD legacy, like for real” Mike said as they watched their sandwiches being made. “Do you Know Oscar Marin, a Captain out at Hollywood Division?”

“Only by reputation” Ritchie replied. “That’s his kid?”

“One of them” Mike said, “The Counter Narcotics taskforce has him hustling in Skid Row. Having us pick him up and the little show he put on will do wonders for his reputation around the neighborhood.”

“Odd thing to have him be up to” Ritchie said as he was handed the bag that held their lunch.

“Not really, most Officers of the Latin persuasion get recruited by the Drug Squad” Mike replied.

“I never was” Ritchie said.

“That’s because you’re the invincible Army Man” Mike said, “All the headlines you’ve been getting the last couple years have given you a very recognizable face. The Mexican gangsters ain’t stupid and they pay attention to that sort of thing.”

It was a reminder of what William Wilkinson said about how his reputation would follow him for his career. Wilkinson himself had a reputation as a gunfighter from back in the day when he had survived a shootout with some high-profile Mafiosos from back East. It had been noticeable that Wilkinson had found that reputation to be problematic at times with stories about “Wild Bill” floating around. Ritchie having the reputation of likely being the toughest guy in whatever room he was in wasn’t that bad.

Getting up to the check stands, Ritchie saw that register that Lucia was working today had a line. He didn’t mind waiting if he got a chance to talk to her for a minute or two. When Lucia saw Ritchie and Mike standing there she smiled.

“You know that there are a whole lot of other places we can go for lunch when they got us on days” Mike said.

“We could always go visit Clair over lunch” Ritchie replied.

“She works for the School District” Mike said, “Even if we could get lunch from there, I doubt we would want it.”

Ritchie just shrugged in reply.
 
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Part 129, Chapter 2198
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Eight



26th January 1973

In transit, Tempelhof to Plänterwald

It was a bitterly cold day even for the middle of winter. Clouds seemed to hang just overhead in a slate grey overcast. The cold didn’t bother Sophie though as she pedaled down the road. For her it was a bit of a challenge, wearing heavy enough clothes to keep warm but light enough not to encumber her as she rode. In the pannier bags on the back of her bicycle were the books and records she had borrowed from Nella and Nan. She had promised that she would return them today as soon as she got free and had just enough daylight to make it to Plänterwald and back.

Stopping at an intersection, Sophie saw a bit of movement in the basket attached to the handlebars. Sprocket stuck his nose out from under the blanket that covered the top of his basket, it vanished very quickly. That was in keeping with it feeling like everyone was a critic today. Even Sophie’s dog who normally loved going on these rides with her.

Ziska had not been interested in making this trip either. When Sophie had called her, she had asked if Sophie had seen the latest weather report. Not only was it cold, but there was a storm predicted to arrive that night. It was only afternoon with tonight was still a way off. She said that this was one of those times when friends would understand it if she couldn’t fulfill whatever promises she had made. It was something that she didn’t want to hear, to Sophie, a promise was something that she couldn’t break on a whim because that had happened to her too many times.

It started snowing as she crossed a bridge over a canal and took a righthand turn onto an avenue, just a few flakes at first but it picked up as she pushed on. At least the traffic was light as she rode until she needed to make a left turn onto a different avenue. Eventually, she came to a gate and had a man from the First Foot giving her a quizzical look from inside the heated guard shack as he opened the window. He looked like he was in his early twenties and the sort who hardly noticed Sophie unless he had no other choice.

“Can I help you Fraulein?” The Guard asked.

“I am on the approved list” Sophie replied as she handed him the booklet that contained her identification card, annoyed that even with the knit gloves her fingers were getting numb now that she no longer was being kept warm by exertion. “Antonia and Annett are expecting me.”

“We are not really expecting anyone, Freknur” The Guard replied with a chuckle as he looked at her identification. “Not with the weather today. And it is sort of odd to see a thirteen-year-old with one of these.”

What had he just called her?

“My Aunt Katherine said that I would need it if I was going to be entering restricted areas” Sophie said.

That caused the Guard to pause for a second. Everyone in the First Foot knew who Aunt Katherine was and had apparently been warned about those under her care. Oddly, they considered “Kat’s girls” to be something of a threat to them.

“I need to make a call” The Guard said.

“If you could just let me through” Sophie said, “I know the way.”

“This is out of the ordinary.”

“I’m here all the time, Nella and Nan are dear friends.”

“I don’t doubt that” The guard said, “But with the weather closing in…”

Sophie looked around. The snow had increased, and visibility had dropped to no more than a hundred odd meters. It meant that she needed to hurry up and get where she was going as opposed to waiting for this Guard to doublecheck things. The guard opened the door at the back of the guard shack.

“If you could step inside” The Guard said, “Get you out of the cold.”

Sophie was a bit reluctant to waste more time but was grateful for the warmth as she sat on a folding chair with Sprocket on her lap. The Guard was talking with someone on the other end of the phone. A few minutes later, the sound of an engine was heard outside as an Iltis pulled up to the shack.

“This is what you requested help with, Wulf?” A Noncommissioned Officer said as he poked his head into the guard shack.

“Hardly” The Guard, Wulf, replied, “She says that she is expected here this afternoon.”

“In this weather?” The NCO asked.

“That is why I stopped her” Wulf said, “She seems to be ignoring these things.”

Sophie was a bit annoyed by this. She had been doing fine until Wulf had stopped her. “I made a promise to Nella and Nan” She said, “That I would return some things that they lent me today.”

“Just how were you planning on getting home?” The NCO asked.

“I have my bicycle” Sophie said, and she had both of these men looking at her like if she were insane.

“No matter” The NCO said as he picked up Sophie’s bicycle and sat it in the bed of the Iltis. “We can get this matter sorted in the Residence where we are not freezing. I figure your Aunt will not be happy to learn about your lack of planning and that you’re going to be a guest of the girls tonight. They will probably be thrilled though.”
 
Just in case no one has figured it out, it was Wulfstan Auer and Christian Weise who Sophie was dealing with.

We'll go into a little something called ignorant arrogance later.
 
Freknur (for those who were curious like I was) means freckle in Icelandic/Old Norse. So I reckon, Wulf was using it as a term of endearment.
 
Sophie is of course is going to get in trouble for ignoring the weather but the punishment shouldn't involve taking away the bike for any length of time because that will just feed in to her insecurities about being given things only to have them taken away.
It seems that Sophie has a thing about keeping her promises but no one would held it against her if she was unable to return the items she borrowed from Nella and Nan because of the weather.
This leads me to a question is the former Kaiser of the German Empire living at the New Winter Palace?
From previous posts it looked like Louis Ferdinand liked living at the penthouse apartment that was used as a temporary residence until the new palace was built.
If that was so are Louis Ferdinand and Charlotte still using the penthouse and when they travel are Nella and Nan staying with their brother and his family
?
 
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Sophie is of course is going to get in trouble for ignoring the weather but the punishment shouldn't involve taking away the bike for any length of time because that will just feed in to her insecurities about being given things only to have them taken away.
It seems that Sophie has a thing about keeping her promises but no one would held it against her if she was unable to return the items she borrowed from Nella and Nan because of the weather.
This leads me to a question is the former Kaiser of the German Empire living at the New Winter Palace?
From previous posts it looked like Louis Ferdinand liked living at the penthouse apartment that was used as a temporary residence until the new palace was built.
If that was so are Louis Ferdinand and Charlotte still using the penthouse and when they travel are Nella and Nan staying with their brother and his family
?
It's not as though Sophie will be 'punished' punitively by Kat for doing what she did because in the end, she did the right things: found the guard post, told them what she was there for & told the guards who's her guardian. No-one's gone missing in a blizzard, everyone knows where everyone is and there's an extra place for dinner and a surprise sleepover at Plänterwald tonight. So Kat will probably have a few stern words to Sophie about listening to the weather report on the radio before going out and the courtesy of calling ahead when visiting friends - Sophie's loyalty, integrity and determination to be a good friend is an admirable quality that Kat will recognise and nurture.
 
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Why do I suspect Kat's punishment will be to send Sophie out with a KSK survival specialist to learn extreme cold weather survival techniques?

Something that will have no bearing on anything until some time in the early 1980's when Sophie and friends will get stuck in a blizzard at severe risk of death until Sophie saves them with what she learns as punishment for this.

And Kat gives another wry smile.
 
Why do I suspect Kat's punishment will be to send Sophie out with a KSK survival specialist to learn extreme cold weather survival techniques?

Something that will have no bearing on anything until some time in the early 1980's when Sophie and friends will get stuck in a blizzard at severe risk of death until Sophie saves them with what she learns as punishment for this.

And Kat gives another wry smile.
Sophie: "Why do I have to do this again?"
Kat: "Because you insist on cycling half way across Berlin in blizzards to visit friends, I think it's appropriate for you to learn about winter survival techniques. Just in case."
Sophie: "Oh. Can my friends join too?"
Kat: "We'll see."

Meanwhile, every single intelligence asset, domestic and foreign, tasked with keeping an eye on Kat and her "kittens":
"Update the dossiers. Again. Make sure that you include 'extreme cold weather survival training' to the known list of skills for this subject. Surveillance photos will follow."

German intelligence assets tasked with keeping an eye on those keeping tabs on Kat:
"Damn, there sure are a lot of them. Oh! There's a new one! Another American, I think. They really are obsessed with the Tigress, aren't they? And there's another new face. Oh, never mind. It's just my cousin Dietrich. He's the local milkman."
 
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