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For All Nails #84b: A State of Shock

Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
28 June 1974

King Frederick of Poland nodded politely to Hans Steiner and Joshua Merkel as
he passed them in the corridor.  The two men gave functional, though
undeferential, bows in response.  Entering the cabinet room, Frederick turned
to speak to President Vieira of Angola, who was following close behind.
However, he never had a chance to speak because just then General Eric von
Gellmann collapsed in the doorway the washroom, and a faint sound like a
rifle shot came from the open door.

For Frederick, it was just as if three years had dropped out of his life.
Once again, he was back in his locomobile in Warsaw, watching his driver's
head come apart.  Gellmann lay on the ground, blood pumping from his right
leg, and Frederick was unable to do anything to stop it.

It was with a sense of relief that Frederick saw President Vieira stride past
him and kneel down next to Gellmann.  A jerk of the Angolan's hands tore open
the leg of Gellmann's uniform, exposing the terrible wound and the blood that
spurted out, presumably (it dimly occurred to Frederick) in time with the
beating of Gellmann's heart.

Vieira turned to look at him and said, "Frederick!  Your sash!"

It took a moment for Frederick to work out what Vieira meant, then he had his
red-and-white sash over his head and in Vieira's hands.  In seconds the sash
had become a tourniquet, and the flow of blood from Gellmann's leg was
reduced to a trickle.

Frederick noticed Chancellor Markstein's aide, Michael Schroder, talking into
the cabinet room's telephone.  He must have been calling for a doctor,
because one quickly arrived, though Frederick forgot his words just as soon
as he spoke them.

Time seemed to be passing in slow motion, and yet events were moving so
quickly that Frederick couldn't keep track of them.  The cabinet room was
full of people, Gellmann had been pulled out of the doorway and the doctor
was seeing to him.  Then Steiner and Horst Voth were carrying something out
of the washroom, and it was Chancellor Markstein.  His clothes were covered
in blood, but his face was horribly pale, and his open eyes weren't moving.
The doctor took one look at him, then reached up to close the Chancellor's
eyes.  More men came and carried Gellmann and Markstein away on gurneys, the
latter covered by a sheet.

Frederick found himself standing next to Cousin William.  "Willi, who could
have done this?"

"The police say it was a Serb terrorist," his cousin answered.

"Have they caught him?"

"They didn't," said William.  "I did."

Frederick had thought himself incapable of further shock, but his cousin's
assertion proved him wrong.  "You did, Willi?  How?"

"With my loke."

Frederick shook his head and said, "I wonder what happens now."

President Vieira, who stood on Frederick's other side, said, "Now I suppose
the cabinet has to choose an Acting Chancellor.  Unfortunately, the Imperial
Consitution doesn't say who should succeed a dead Chancellor." [1] He
motioned towards a knot of cabinet officers seated at the head of the table.
The Chancellor's seat, Frederick noticed, was empty.  "That's probably what
they're deciding right now."

As if in response to Vieira's words, Herr Merkel got up from the table and
approached the three men.  Bowing to William, he said, "Your Imperial
Majesty, could you join us, please?  We need you for the investiture
ceremony."

"Of course, Herr Merkel," said William with suitable solemnity.  He followed
the Exterior Minister over to the group, and the room fell silent as William
began to recite the words that would name a new Chancellor for the German
Empire.

Notes:

[1] A manifestation of Karl von Bruning's megalomania.  There is no need to
create a line of succession for the Chancellor, because the Chancellor is
invincible.