Stupid Luck and Happenstance, Thread III

Part 129, Chapter 2199
Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Ninety-Nine



27th January 1973

Plänterwald

Girls like Annette or Sophie presented a lot of challenges, not the least of which was that for a parent they were almost impossible punish. What was the worst you could do to them? They had already endured starvation and beatings. Compared to that, a week or two without television or a few hours confined to their bedrooms was nothing. It was particularly difficult with Sophie because she could be so fatalistic at times. She was expecting what she had to be taken away from her at any time by those in positions of authority. So, that meant that any move to do that by Katherine would just be negative reinforcement.

When Charlotte had spoken to Katherine on the phone, she had heard the frustration and worry in Katherine’s voice at Sophie having taken off on her bicycle in the face of a blizzard while not equipped for it. Charlotte had seen the clothes that Sophie had been wearing and it was a wonder that she hadn’t become a popsicle long before she had made it to the outer gates of the Winter Residence. That had been extremely reckless, but other than telling Sophie that it had been a foolish thing to have done, Kat was at a loss for exactly what to do about it.

If Louis were in town, Charlotte would get him to try to talk to Sophie, but he was in Spain getting the support of King Juan III for his so-far unnamed International support organization. Louis had fairly good track-record when it came to getting through to self-destructive adolescents. Though it was certainly debatable if that was something that his older children had ever really grown out of.

Friedrich clearly envied his younger siblings’ relative freedom in that regard. Michael seemed to want to revive the Knights of the Round Table. Kiki seemed to have settled into her life as an Attending Surgeon at the University Hospital in Tempelhof but was always volunteering to go out into the field. Louis Junior commanded a ship on the North Sea, something that was not for the faint of heart even when the Navy was not at war. Charlotte was surprised by Rea, who was playing a key role in shaping what Galicia-Ruthenia was in the process of becoming. Vicky’s life was just as strange as it had ever been. She was presently in negotiations with King Albrecht of Bavaria and her husband, Prince Franz, over whether or not they would attempt to have another child. It was an awkward situation to say the least, mostly because Vicky was holding all the cards this time. Charlotte was aware of how Vicky and Franz had entered into this arrangement to avoid scandal, any unreasonable demands by Albrecht would be inviting exactly that.

That circled back to Antonia and Annette. They had been friends with Sophie since they had all shared a room with Marie Alexandra von Mischner-Blackwood years earlier over a Summer Holiday spent at Hohenzollern Castle. Apparently, Sophie had borrowed some records and books from them and had decided that they needed to be returned immediately after Nella had asked about in earlier in the day. Apparently, weather had not been something that Sophie had cared too much about, having disregarded several warnings. Charlotte couldn’t believe Sophie’s hubris. On the other hand, Nella and Nan had been overjoyed to have Sophie and Sprocket as guests as they were spending the weekend by the fireplace in the game room.



Strait of Dover

The seas were high as SMS K24 “Grindwal” transited the English Channel. It was a trivial matter after the storm they had ridden out in the North Sea, the same storm that was dumping loads of snow on land. Louis Ferdinand Junior had almost delayed the departure of the Grindwal due to the storm, but by then the crew had been aware that he had received orders sending them to Cartagena on the Mediterranean Sea on a diplomatic mission. Any delays would have been met with outrage and Borchardt had told Louis that “Give the babies their bottle” was exactly what he should do in this case, just make sure that he battened down the hatches as it were, first.

Predictably, many of the Junior Enlisted had gotten seasick and Borchardt had hardly batted an eyelash as the Grindwal had been thrown around by the storm. Louis had been there years earlier, aboard the old Super Dreadnaught SMS Brandenburg. Being so ill that he had been unable to get out of his bunk while even a ship that size was tossed around as she had made the long journey in radio silence from Kiel to the Yellow Sea. It was part of the process of becoming a proper Sailor and getting your sea legs.

Today, the weather had cleared somewhat, and they were headed south at moderate speed. As expected, they were being shadowed by ships from the British Navy. Louis had seen them through his binoculars, three Destroyers. Radioing the respective Captains of those ships his regards had probably been borrowing trouble, but no more than encouraging the Radar Operators to practice getting a target lock on those ships. With the missile systems powered down and offline, it didn’t do more than set alarms off. They had certainly returned the favor.

Stepping out of the bridge, Louis scanned the horizon ahead. He would be absolutely shocked if the French Navy didn’t make an appearance soon.

“Will look at that, Sir” One of men said, pointing at the water towards the bow. Louis saw black and dark grey figures riding the bow wave of the ship and smiled. A pod of Pilot Whales, the Grindwal’s namesake, had joined them.

“That is what a good omen looks like” Louis replied to the Sailor who grinned back.
 
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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.
In 1980, Sophie is going to be spending a great deal of time in Russia.
 
Few things on the seas match the sight of whales. And I'm talking from a limited nautical experience myself, but from a wider naval experience from relatives.

Honestly I wouldn't be too shocked if the French navy doesn't appear, but a Frenchman does.
 
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The problem with punishing Sophie by taking away her bike riding privileges is that it is the dead of winter in Central Europe and there won't be that many opportunities to go bike riding for a few months and such punishment would be more symbolic then practical.
Petria would probably make Sophie clean and peel potatoes and other vegetables but to someone like Sophie what's a few extra potatoes to peel to her.
Sophie could be grounded and not see her friends but that would hurt Ziska and Kat is not that cruel.
The only thing that would be effective is "Positive Correction" with cold weather training being given to her and her schoolmates by the First Foot and that way Sophie could understand what the consequences could have been, by the way what Sophie did is going to be seen by others as both stupid and impressive at the same time.

Albrecht after the loss of his grandson is not going to make any demands of Vicky but for any new grandchild to be healthy.
The only real demand that I can see Vicky making is for more prominent attention being made for her causes and projects.
 
The next really severe winter would be 78/79 so some time away.

Dolphins are also a sight to behold. I hope TTL the protect the whales movement has started earlier and got more traction.
 
The next really severe winter would be 78/79 so some time away.

Dolphins are also a sight to behold. I hope TTL the protect the whales movement has started earlier and got more traction.
One of the worst enemies of the whales in the OTL 1960s was the Soviet whaling fleet which seems to have single handedly been responsible for killing the majority of the humpback whales in the time - just because they got bonuses for each killed whale, no matter whether they could even process the cadaver, never mind sell the meat.

This will likely not happen ITTL
 
Kat could always make Sophie read the weather report out loud at breakfast for the next month
Given how the streets in her neighborhood are named after cloud types, maybe give her a cloud chart and assign her a Luftwaffe weather observer/forecaster to train her as to what each cloud means, too, and how to read a weather map better.
 
Part 129, Chapter 2200
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred



29th January 1973

Cartagena, Spain

It was the perfect day to arrive in Spain. Warm sunlight and a sky filled with puffy white clouds. Louis Junior didn’t see if there was any reaction from the ships of the Spanish Navy. The men he could see were going about their business, seemingly indifferent to the new ship that had just arrived. This seaport was one of the oldest active Naval bases in the world, with some of the most consequential expeditions departing from here, for good or ill.

While Wilhelmshaven might be their home port, the eternal gloom with it being overcast two thirds of the time left a lot to be desired. This was especially true during the winter when the cold and damp were ever present. That had meant that when Louis got orders sending them to Spain, he had hardly needed to have told the crew to prepare to get underway. Anyone who had dared to get in their way would have probably gotten themselves stampeded.

Picking up the phone for the intercom, Louis thought for a moment about what he was going to say. “I don’t think I need to remind you that we are guests in this country” He said, “I expect that with be reflected in your conduct when you are ashore.”

Louis half expected to hear laughter from throughout the ship when he said that, so he added; “This is a diplomatic mission and whichever of you manage to mess that up had better know that whatever the Spaniards do to you will seem very tame in comparison to what will happen once you are released into my custody.”

Both Oberleutnant Kalb, the Ship’s XO and Oberdeckoffizier Borchardt looked pleased to hear that. A Captain who would allow them a free hand to go after the Ship’s malefactors was always welcome considering that it was their job to enforce discipline. The Captain taking time out of his busy day to deal with someone meant that they were about to receive the full wrath of a man who only answered to God and the Emperor while the Ship was at sea, unless he mercifully delegated that to someone less inclined to keelhaul them.

Minutes later, after the crew finished tying up the Grindwal to the concrete pier, Louis saw the entire reason why he had been dispatched to Spain coming walking down the pier. Louis Ferdinand Senior and King Juan III of Spain were in a deep discussion completely ignoring the dozens of Marines who were acting as their bodyguards. Juan had been a Naval Officer before becoming the King of Spain having volunteered to serve with the Kaiserliche Marine in the Pacific after he had been given permission to join without giving up his Spanish Allegiance. Juan, considering himself a man of good taste was wearing a lightweight suit of the sort that was popular among Spanish businessmen. Louis Senior didn’t even pretend to care about fashion, with black synth-silk windbreaker and brown corduroy trousers, he looked like any one of the German retirees who came by the thousands to Spain and Portugal every winter. Of course, that sort of what he was these days. He had told Louis Junior that he wished that Charlotte could have made the trip with him, but she felt she needed to stay in Berlin to keep a close eye on Nella and Nan.

“Permission to come aboard?” Louis Senior asked the sentries who were clearly in over their heads.

“Let them through” Louis Junior told the sentries who looked relived that he had spoken up and the Spanish King and Former Emperor walked up the gangplank.

“The 1970 Class” Juan said as he shook Louis Junior’s hand. “Your father said that he could get one here but didn’t say that this was family business until your ship arrived.”

“It was just a coincidence” Louis Junior said, not really believing it. “The ship was ordered south, I just happened to be in command.”

“If you say so” Juan replied, “We will have much to discuss later.”

With that the Spanish King wandered forward to the turret containing the 12.8-centimeter gun. All it took was look from Louis to get Borchardt to follow.

“The Spanish Navy is thinking about licensing this ship class” Louis Senior said, “The word of Juan goes a long way with them, so I doubt that I need to tell you how important this is.”

“I thought that you were here to secure funding for your organization?” Louis Junior asked.

“I am, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t represent the interests of the country that I was in charge of for thirty years.”

“It also happens to make King Juan happy and more inclined to open his coffers.”

Louis Senior shrugged. “It will make the respective Navies of both countries happy as well as German industry because the Spaniards don’t have the capacity to do all the construction themselves” He said, “It also improves the relations we have with a long-time ally. Do I need to remind you how important Spain has been to us in the past?”

“No” Louis Junior replied. During the Second World War, the lifeline of materials critical for the war effort had passed through seaports in France and Spain. It had been deemed so important that the German Government at the time had risked intervening in the civil war knowing that the Soviets were backing one side of the conflict.
 
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Apparently, Sophie had borrowed some records and books from them and had decided that they needed to be returned immediately after Nella had asked about in earlier in the day. Apparently, weather had not been something that Sophie had cared too much about, having disregarded several warnings. Charlotte couldn’t believe Sophie’s hubris.
I wouldn't say 'hubris' as much as it is fatalism. Sophie still holds the lessons beaten into her during her early years close: That she is worthless and that the world would be better without her. Ergo, a mere blizzard does not matter enough to her. Intellectually, she is coming to realise that she does have worth, but those scars run deep, something Kat knows all too well.
In 1980, Sophie is going to be spending a great deal of time in Russia.
Are the 1980 Winter Games taking place in Russia ITTL? I mean, Sophie seems to be impervious, or at least oblivious, to the cold. Might be a good idea to get interested in cross-country skiing.
 
I mean, with this TL it is also as equally possible that by the time we hit 1980 the world has been mostly destroyed by nuclear war and Sophie is busy scrounging for supplies on the outskirts of the Moscow red zone.

We'll know when we get there, not a moment before.
 
“The Spanish Navy is thinking about licensing this ship class” Louis Senior said, “The word of Juan goes a long way with them, so I doubt that I need to tell you how important this is.”

“I thought that you were here to secure funding for your organization?” Louis Junior asked.

“I am, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t represent the interests of the country that I was in charge of for thirty years.”

“It also happens to make King Juan happy and more inclined to open his coffers.”

Louis Senior shrugged. “It will make the respective Navies of both countries happy as well as German industry because the Spaniards don’t have the capacity to do all the construction themselves” He said, “It also improves the relations we have with a long-time ally. Do I need to remind you how important Spain has been to us in the past?”

“No” Louis Junior replied. During the Second World War, the lifeline of materials critical for the war effort had passed through seaports in France and Spain. It had been deemed so important that the German Government at the time had risked intervening in the civil war knowing that the Soviets were backing one side of the conflict.
I wonder if one of the KM’s equivalent of a PHOT rating has deployed upon Grindwald and managed to get a photo of father & son together? PR gold and the tabloids would love seeing the dashing bachelor Prince/ship’s captain in dazzling tropical whites. All the nice girls love a sailor after all.
 
Part 129, Chapter 2201
Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred One



31st January 1973

Mitte, Berlin

Having the children back in the house over the Christmas Holiday was a reminder of how Nancy had gotten used to how peaceful it was while they were gone. Putting them on the train back to Silesia had come before Nancy had been at the end of her wits, but it had been a close-run thing.

Tilo was gone much of the time, his career having taken some odd turns in recent months. They have expected that he was going to be appointed to be the Commandant of the Marine Infantry, instead there had been a need for a Deputy Commander in Chief at the Naval High Command. Tilo had said that he had gotten a lot of odd looks when he had walked into the Offices of the Grand Admiral of the Navy in Kiel. That meant that he was splitting his time between Berlin and Kiel, which was good for Nancy and great for his future career prospects. He had told Nancy that he had never imagined that his path would take him so high, but he was interested in seeing just how far it would take him.

By some odd miracle, Sabastian was staying out of trouble. Of course, Nancy suspected that it was because he was keeping a very close eye on his youngest sister. Gretchen was doing well enough, probably having the skids greased for her by constantly having the threatening presence of her older brother hovering in the background. Anna Gertrude was playing still the queen bee of the gymnasia she attended, and Nancy had been informed that there had been complaints about her social conduct this year. She wasn’t exactly sure, but Nancy was starting to suspect that aspect of Anna was the reason for many of the choices that Gretchen had made.

The most bewildering turn was that after Jost had finally been forced to retire from the Heer due to his age he had knocked about for a bit before landing in Potsdam with a script for a Horror movie of all things. While he had not been able to sell the script to anyone, it had brought him to the attention of UFA who had hired him as a consultant for a war movie that was in preproduction. He had impressed the Production Managers with his stories about having personally known Walter Horst and Hans von Mischner among others. They also knew Lenz, the middle Schultz brother from a film that had been made a few years earlier about the air battle that had been fought over Odessa. Later on, when Jost had been asked to help train actors to act the part of soldiers he had fallen right back into his role as the takes-no-shit-from-anyone Noncommissioned Officer and that had resulted in a number of complaints to the Studio. Those complaints had backfired on the actors because Jost was asked if he would do that in the actual movie and he had asked if Nancy could help broker the deal. Of all the absurd things that could have happened, Jost getting paid what Nancy felt was an absurd amount of money to basically play himself had to take the cake.

As always, returning to the Press Office of the Hohenzollern Family was a refuge from the absurdities that abounded when you were a part of the Schultz family. Presently, Nancy was looking over the photographs that had been submitted to her office. After what had happened last year with Kiki being angry over a picture of her daughter Nina with the family dog being released without her express authorization, Nancy had made sure to doublecheck exactly where the photographs had come from.

Today’s batch was easy enough. They had already been cleared by the Press Office of the Navy. They featured Prince Louis Ferdinand Junior in command of 1970 Class Corvette K24, a ship whose informal name was Grindwal. There were a lot of pictures of Louis looking every inch the Master and Commander of the Ship in the white cap of a Captain and the imposing winter uniform of the Navy, looking stern as he stood on the bridge. However, there was also a picture of him leaning on the rail with a smile on his face talking to a Sailor as a pod of whales could be seen in the background. That was a one in a million shot in Nancy’s opinion. Finally, there were photographs of Louis Junior entertaining the Spanish King and Crown Prince. The reaction that Nancy had seem among the women of her staff to a picture of Louis Junior in the white summer/tropical formal uniform of the Navy at an event held the night before with his father, the Emperor Emeritus of Germany. It was the sort of thing that definitely made hearts flutter.

There were rumors, mostly pushed by the tabloids that Princess Margaretta of Romania was a romantic interest of Louis Junior’s. Charlotte had told Nancy that it was about as romantic as any other business deal. King Michael I of Romania didn’t have male issue and there was a chance that upon his death, the throne of his country could revert back to the House of Hohenzollern. That meant in practical term that Margaretta and her younger sisters would be living at the whims of the Head of the Family, presently Emperor Fredrich IV of Germany. The Romanian Government was also less than thrilled with that arrangement and there was a nascent republican movement Margaretta was trying to head off. For her, marriage to a foreign Prince who she didn’t actually know wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It was just a cynical display of realpolitik of the sort that didn’t make into the Disney version.

Years earlier, Kat had visited Nancy at the University of Washington and questions had been asked about what it was like for Kat to work directly for the German Emperor. Kat’s answers had sounded strange to Nancy at the time. Nancy understood far more now than she ever could have imagined back then.
 
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