The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

Par Ardua ad Astra by DrunkenWombat

 

October 23rd 1946.

Kapustin Yar Test Range, USSR

 

 

Stalin removed the pipe from his mouth.

“Well Comrade Korolev, it looks like I won’t have to send you back to the Gulag after all. Your rockets will keep those American bastards in line! And you are sure it can hit Washington, all the way from the Motherland?”

Sergei Korolev, the Soviet Chief Rocket Designer’s ears were still ringing from the launch of the Cossack I rocket 45 minutes earlier.

“Indeed Premier Stalin. And with a far greater accuracy than anticipated. We can put the atomic warhead right in Roosevelts tea cup!”

 

In his hand on the screen of the flexipad was the range data from the launch.  The payload had landed less than a kilometre from its target on the north most Island of Japan.

5,950 kilometres.

Continental USA.

 

These computing machines from the future still amazed him and his engineering team, but this was only the beginning of what Korolev hoped to achieve.

“And how many Cossacks can you have ready to ride into the sky by next summer, Comrade Korolev?” Stalin asked gruffly.

 

January 1947

 500m above the Berlin Restricted Zone, Germany

 

Dr Werner Von Braun’s heart sank as he saw the charred remains of his city below. A part of him had died when those 3 balls of nuclear flame had scorched his child hood home out of existence. Even the woman he would have one day married had perished in the nuclear inferno. Occasional pieces of rubble jutted from the blanket of snow. There was no movement to be seen, no colour. Just silent death. He could clearly make out the Berlin Wall though. Even with the arrival of the time travellers, Berlin still got its wall. Except now the 5 metre concrete barrier went around the perimeter of the city instead of through it.

 

The voice in his headset broke his thought.

“Ok Dr Von Braun, we have collected the data we need. The ground down there is still too hot to walk on. We’ll make a turn to the left and return to Wiesbaden.” Flight Lieutenant Ross informed him.

“Very well. I just had to see it for myself.”

The plane banked away. 

 

 

 

December 19th, 1948

Presidential Dacha, South East of Moscow

 

Premier Georgy Zhukov stared into the flames of the fire blazing in the hearth. Only 10 weeks ago he’d been crushing the insurgency on the Baltic coast of the Soviet Protectorate of Germany. And now he was here, in the Presidential Dacha, sitting in Stalin’s chair. Already 2 months had passed since Beria had poisoned Stalin. But that fat little bastard had grossly underestimated the Red Army’s loyalty to the General that had led them through the darkest hours of the war. There had been little pleasure pressing a Tokarev pistol to Beria’s balding head and firing. But it was a start.

 But after all this brutality of a life at war, he couldn’t get the faces of those soldiers who’d died in the gas attacks out of his mind.

 Never again would this happen to the sons and daughters of the Motherland he thought.

 

Never. Again.

 

In the quiet hours, one question gnawed at his mind: “What now for the Republic?” The Motherland was still weak from the war, and it was held together only by the iron fist of the Red Army. From the Baltic to the Caucases to the new territories in western Europe, the Peoples Soviet was unstable and fragile at best. And the briefings from the ‘historians’ on the Pre-Emergence time line had not brought good news. That idiot Beria had murdered virtually everyone who had been potentially useful lest they threaten Stalin’s position. Fucking narrow minded, blood thirsty fool. His country had plenty of muscle, but a lot of the brains had been lost so needlessly.

 

A knock at the door and his aide entered.

 “Premier Zhukov, Sergei Korolev of the OKB-1 Rocket Design Bureau to see you.”

 “Very well Jerzei, send him in.” Zhukov was in awe of these new machines, and did not pretend to understand their workings. But knowing how to exploit a new technology was a skill that had kept him out of a grave for a long time. Korolevs Cossack I Intercontinental Ballistic Missile had given the Soviets an effective deterrent from attack, buying valuable time to stabilise the new Soviet Union.

 

“Good afternoon Premier Zhukov, thank you for your time.” Korolev was instinctively wary of his political masters. So many good scientists and engineers had been lost to Stalin’s whim. But was starting to trust Zhukov, and hoped he would agree to at least consider his proposal. Zhukov gestured to the lounge behind him. The Premier took to his own chair.

 “So, Comrade Korolev. You have achieved many things with your Cossack Rocket and the Motherland is proud. The Americans fancy future toys may stop a plane, but they cannot stop our missiles. You have made our Republic safe and we thank you. It is a pity we can only afford the strategic missile program right now, the historians speak highly of your achievements from the future.”

 

The Chief Designer felt embarrassed. “Thank you Comrade Premier, but equal praise must go to my engineers and staff.”

 “Indeed, Sergei. You are most humble. Now what is this proposal you have for me?”

 Korolev took a deep breath and began to speak.

 

 

January 24th, 1949

Special Administrative Zone, California.

 

Admiral Kolhammer was busy, but it wasn’t every day that the National Aero Space Agency Director walks into your office and says he’s got something interesting to show you. Phillip normally found Von Braun quite cold and aloof, but this morning he was electric.

 

“Good morning Herr Admiral, you must read this!” Von Braun thrust a letter into his hand and sat down in the club chair in front of Kolhammers desk.

 Von Braun sat expectantly as Kolhammer’s eyes flicked across the page. His eyebrows suddenly lifted and he stared over the top of his glasses.

 ”Werner, is this for real?”

 

Werner’s eyebrows lifted with a heavy shrug.

 Kolhammer was stunned so he read it again, out loud to make sure. Clarity and understanding usually came from the words being aired.

 

Dear Doctor Von Braun.

 

In another lifetime before the “Emergence”, you and I spent our life times working to achieve our dreams of space travel. From opposite sides of the world, we competed to be the first into the heavens and the history books. And decades from now, you would have only learned my name after I died. Learning of my own demise, I longed to make even faster progress to the stars with the added knowledge we have from our time travellers. Our Political Masters seem keen to squander our respective countries fortunes with rival machinery and weapons. I, and my fellow colleagues, wish that our countries could make the journey to space not as rivals, but as partners.”

 

He flicked a glance at Von Braun and continued.

 

”But, if it is the wish of your country to endeavour to conquer the cosmos alone, so be it. We too will continue tirelessly.  But when I think of what we could achieve together, the new history books will be written with even more excitement and triumph than the old ones.

 

In summary I propose an alliance between our two countries for the purpose of space travel. This may take many years to come to agreement, but progress together will not occur without a first step.

 

I look forward to your reply

 

Signed

 Sergei Pavolvich Korolev, Chief Designer. OKB-1 Rocket Design Bureau. United Soviet Socialist Republic

 

Phillip lowered the letter. He saw the exasperated smirk on Von Brauns face.

  “Well Werner, that is some crazy shit. But why?  You know what a hard time Zhukov gave Roosevelt over the Europe cease fire. The guy wouldn’t agree on the colour of shit, let alone something like this. And he’s still pissed that we’re allegedly supplying the Polish insurgents.”

 “Well we are supplying them aren’t we?”

 

“No, the British are, and we’re supplying the British, but that’s besides the point. So what about this space proposal. Why? Why now?”

 Von Braun furrowed his brow.

 “Firstly Admiral, let us consider our current situation. The Soviet Cossack I rockets we’ve tracked are more than capable of delivering nuclear payloads on the US. Likewise our own Peacemaker delivery system has been in service for 15 months now. The Nuclear Stalemate of your time is upon us. Korolev and Zhukov know this too.”

 “So why the co-operation? He has the same archival material as we do, he can go into space with whatever he chooses to build.” Kolhammer countered. He wanted to see where Von Braun’s logic would take him.

 

“Of course Herr Admiral, but the Soviets have several problems, similar in many ways to our own. Firstly, their archives are just as incomplete as ours. You can see a picture of an aeroplane for example, maybe watch it fly around and so on, but are there plans on how to construct the precision dies to cast the turbine blades? Or build the mills that produce carbon composites? We are still struggling with developing the precursor technologies to get anywhere near the levels needed for integrated circuitry for example. I have tried to secure funding, but Congress cannot see the need for it. They have all seen the footage of the moon landings, and of course that APOLLO 13 movie. Opinion seems to be that we’ve already achieved such great feats of technological advancement, evidenced by your arrival here. The public purse is stretched very thin with so many new technologies being developed. We have many pains from growing so fast, so satellite communications, reconnaissance, weather monitoring, and the precious Global Position System that your people miss so badly all seem like extravagances the nation cannot afford at the moment.”

 

Von Braun drew a breath and concluded with a breath.

  “I imagine Korolev has a similar set of circumstances, probably even worse than ours. And of course, there is pride.”

 Kolhammer knew the GPS story very well. Some of his staff seem to miss GPS more than their loved ones they left behind.

 “Do you think he is acting alone? Its very brash for him to just sribble a note, lick a stamp and mail a letter to the Arch Rival of his country.”

 

“Nein, Despite the wording of the letter, I think the leader ship must be in on it. That letter would have been opened a couple of times before leaving the Soviet Union. If it wasn’t approved, Korolev would be back in his Gulag by now.”

 “Okay Werner. What do you want to do? “

 Von Braun smiled.

 

“I say we embrace this opportunity. Having common technology will not affect our strategic capability, and your people can get your satellites. And, of course, man still hasn’t orbited the Earth yet. And if we don’t at least open a dialogue, the Soviets may go elsewhere. The Chinese Dragon is just hatching, but it knows how mighty it became in your time.”

 Kolhammer was impressed. China’s Emperor was still in power as Mao Tse Tung’s Revolution had been nipped in the bud, and a thin sliver of diplomacy held them back from crossing the Sea of Japan to stomp the remains of Japan into the ashes.

 

 “Werner, you don’t really care who pays for your space program, do you?

 Von Braun’s mouth curled into a wry smile “Well Phillip, funding is not my department!”

 “Ha! You know, this is going to be a bitch to sell to Truman” Kolhammer snorted.

 

September 25th, 1949

Soviet Airspace

 

Lonesome Jones was for the first time in years was actually enjoying a flight. Finally, after years of being squeezed into noisy cramped buzz boxes, the new Air Force One, had something resembling business class. The Presidents personal jet was a simplified version of the Boeing 767. The 767 that Jones remembered seeing flying into those Towers when he was in Senior High. He’d enlisted the following spring.

 

Kolhammer always stirred him about his yearning for airline luxury, but Jones had spent his fair share of time sitting in cold wet puddles of rain and mud while being shot at. Nothing wrong with a Marine getting a nice ride once in a while. And a bit of champagne.

 

“So Phillip, tell me about this new woman of yours, you old dog. “ Lonesome jeered Phillip as he set down his glass. Much to his surprise Phillip started to go a bit red in the face.

 “Nothings a bloody secret around here is it? Who the hell told you? That’s classified information.” Phillip tried to sound like a big gruff Admiral. It didn’t work.

 “Lt General Lonesome Jones, Serial number ABC123-Name, Rank, Serial Number is all I have to tell you!” Jones laughed.

 “Bloody Duffy. She couldn’t help herself could she?” Phillip knew the cat was out of the bag and surrendered the gossip.

 

“I was introduced to Olivia about 6 months ago when I was down at Marie’s grandparents. She’s a friend of the family who works at the hospital where Marie’s grandmother works. Her husband died during the first attack on Pearl Harbour in ’41. Great woman, with a strong spirit. Her two boys, Adam and Ben are ‘growin like bean shoots’ as she says.” Phillip handed him his flexipad with a slideshow of photos of the two of them.

 

“…..aaaaaannnddd….???” Jones pressed for details.

 

“Oh knock it off Britney! An Officer is a gentleman and a gentleman never tells!”

 He paused. The redness in his face faded.

 

“We don’t see each other as much as we like, but it’s the closest I’ve felt to normal since we got here. She and her boys are going to come out to California for a couple of months when I get back. Adam, the eldest lad wants to try this surfing thing he’s heard so much about. “

 Jones nodded. Now that he thought about it, the old goat had seemed less grumpy over the last few months.

“Good for you Phil. Good for you.”

 

The Kremlin, Moscow

 

As President Harry S Truman and Premier Georgy Zhukov stood for the cameras and the flashbulbs Lonesome Jones still was in awe of The Soviet Union’s greatest general. Zhukov even looked like a T-34 tank. And he had skin on him like one too.

 

Jones dreaded the idea of being dragged along to yet another diplomatic junket, but being here to see the US President and the Soviet Premier sign the International Space Agreement actually turned out to be quite a thrill. And the first meeting of the two greatest rocket scientists and the first two Astronauts in history would be on front pages around the world. Yuri Gagarin’s hand shook firmly with Chuck Yeager’s and they both smiled for the cameras.

 

 

 18th September 1954

    Columbus International Spaceport

Near Catalunya, Spain.

 

“Doctor Strangelove, I see you are walking better! Da!” Sergei Korolev, the Soviet Chief Rocket designer bellowed across the tarmac as his old friend limped down the stairs from the plane.

“Ah, Sergei Pavlovich, you get three quarters of a century of knowledge and that’s still the only joke you can come up with, you Communist Stooge!” Doctor Werner Von Braun laughed as he replied to the joke both of them had shared for the last 5 years. Von Braun met his counterpart’s rough, meaty hand with a warm hand shake. He was rather sore from the long flight from Florida, and his hip had never been the same since Prince Harry had crash tackled him out of Germany.

 

“So Sergei, how goes the preparations for our launch?” Von Braun asked as they settled into the back of the car.

“Well comrade Von Braun, we should be ready within 2 days, To think of all the ulcers we missed out on getting when we didn’t have these computing machines.”

 

The five years since the signing of the International Space Agreement had been even more prosperous for the two men that it ever would have been in the other time line. Sergei was especially grateful that he’d been pulled out of the Gulag 3 years earlier than he’d been destined to spend digging holes for other dead dissidents.

 

Their car rode quietly over the smooth tarmac to the main building. In the distance the COSMOS-1 Rocket towered into the sky against its launch tower.

“And how is your boy Gagarin getting along with his counterparts?” Von Braun asked.

“Your Mr Yeager is not so good at tennis, and Yuri beats him over and over again. But Chuck try very hard to beat him. It is very funny da! But yes. They work as very good team.”

“And the operations team?”

“Of course there is still the odd language problem, but I think we will be ready. The British complain about the heat, but complaining is their hobby Da! Good Soviet boys show them how to drink.”

The two of them entered the command center and all the staff rose from their consoles. The 21C technology was spliced in very odd ways into the control equipment and it didn’t look pretty. But the data they could gather with all this was brilliant.

 

20th September 1954

0600hrs

 

A hundred pairs of eyes scanned across dozens of screens and muted chatter mixed with the clatter of keyboards. The large digital clock above the main display on the wall counted down, the large yellow digits taking an eternity to change. Kolhammer stood quietly while his people worked intently with the best engineering minds the world had mustered. A dozen different accents in within earshot. To his left, Korolev and Von Braun conferred quietly as they monitored the final stages of the launch preparation. Fingers followed checklists and pens scribbled figures into columns. Above him he could see Duffy, her camcorder pointed to and fro while the rest of the limited media contingent recorded details furiously. Julia was normally running the New York Times newspaper, now, but she sure as hell didn’t want to miss this gig.

 

The COSMOS-1 glowed a brilliant orange as dawn broke over the space port. Clouds of gas bleeding off the rocket wafted away in the light breeze.

 

Phillips thoughts were broken one of the two helmet clad faces spoke on the monitor. Chuck Yeager’s Virginian drawl came over the loud speaker.

“Sure looks like a good mornin’ fer flyin eh Yuri?”

“Da Chuck. Good morning to fly, yes!”

 

And the two of them broke out into big smiles. Chuck opened his mouth.

“Ahh gentlemen, Captain Gagarin and myself would like to say a quiet prayer if y’all like to join us”

 

The room hushed.

 

The two astronauts spoke in unison, but in Russian. The room filled with the bellowing laughter from the Russians, the rest of the room looked in bewilderment and Yuri and Chuck repeated their prayer, in English.

 

“Dear Lord, please don’t let us screw up!”

 

The rest of room got the joke and roared along with the Russians. The same prayer that Alan Shepard had made famous in the previous time.

 

Soon enough the room hushed again as the launch sequence began.

 

Two minutes and counting.

 

Von Braun and Korolev barked out in turn to each console.

 

Systems- GO FLIGHT

 

Engines-GO FLIGHT

 

Fuel- GO FLIGHT

 

Comms-GO FLIGHT

 

And the list went on until the room fell silent.

 

“All systems are go for launch, Comrade” Sergei said to Von Braun and motioned to the silent launch engineers. Von Braun took a deep breath.

 

“Very well, prepare for launch!”

 

A neutral British female voice the 21C engineers called ‘Posh’ filled the control centre 

 

 

“Ten”

One television screen filled with an image of sparks beneath the main engines.

 

“Nine”   

 

“Eight”                               

Another screen filled with a cascading cloud of boiling liquid oxygen.

 

“Seven”

 

“Six. Start ignition sequence”

 Another showed a wide angle shot of the rocket in stark relief against the sky.

 

“Five”                                   

  

“Four”  

Screens filled with gantries swinging away from the the rocket.

 

“Three”

 

“Two”  

The stares of Chuck Yeager and Yuri Gagarin turned icy on the main screen

 

“One”

 

“Ignition”

 

EPILOGUE

 

March 4th, 1962

Whitsunday Islands, Barrier Reef, Australia

 

 

Admiral Phillip Kolhammer USN (Ret) sat on the spacious cockpit of the last vessel he planned on ever commanding. The sleek white hull of his 64 foot yacht Ave Maria lay quietly at its berth. Below decks, his wife Olivia and his daughter-in-law Lucinda put away the food that the providore that just brought down to the jetty. She was disappointed that young Ben hadn’t been able to come on this trip. But she understood that you can’t just jump off active flight duty any time you feel like it, even if your step father is Phillip Kolhammer. And he’d worked so hard to get into the cockpit of the ‘new’ F-22 Raptor.

 

“Hey Adam. Come check this out.” Phillip called to his son in law, who was nursing his baby daughter.

 

Phillip gestured him to switch on Kolhammer’s old flexipad. It now sat in its custom made cradle to receive supply from the yacht’s batteries. After all, it was almost 25 years old.

 

“Okay Phil, what am I looking at?”

 

“Touch the START button on the screen.”

 

Adam’s finger touched the pastel red square in the top left corner. An image of a curved surface with the outline of the Earth appeared. Above it small outlines of what looked like bow ties. One by one they went solid in colour.

 

“What are those little bow ties?”

 

“Satellites. This is how we navigate 21st Century style.”

 

A message appeared on the small screen.

 

<<<GPS POSITION ACCURACY 3 METRES>>>

<<<READY TO NAVIGATE>>>

 

 

******NOTES******

 

-Joint Space Agreement brings the International Space agency into being.

-Werner Von Braun’s letter to Korolev suggesting dialog between US and Russia on Space exploration starts it off.

 -US and USSR come to SALT type treaty. Both have ICBMs and countermeasures.

 -In order to show cooperation between the two super powers, Yuri Gagarin and Alan Sheppard are both sent on the first trip into space on a modified R-7 Rocket.

 -USSR wants to avoid all out arms race and knows that for its economy to survive, it must avoid huge defence spending. Adopts more 21 Century China like policy of ‘Commie lite’

 -The International Space Port is built west of Bundaberg, QLD Australia during the reconstruction/resettlement of the area during the war. Better weather and equal access to both main countries. PM Chifley gives the land.

  

http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/ArticleDetail.aspx?ArticleID=21894&vf=22

 

 

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14 March, 2009 - Posted by | Axis of Time

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