Old faces, new faces

Back at Zeppelin Base Friedrichshafen, Captain von Kober's home base, the crew was greeted by Admiral von Köpitz who set a meeting with the officers at three o'clock in the afternoon the same day.
At this meeting, Admiral von Köpitz  promoted Vogel, von Kober's first officer, to captain and gave him command of LZ-X1 Württemberg, which would return to Africa within a few days.
Albrecht von Kober, Lieutenant Gruson and Petty Officer Dusterman were re-assigned and were to fly to Berlin on board LZ-29 Leipzig.
The new assignement was no surprise for the three men, they were to join the special field-testing unit, von Kober had served with just before taking command of LZ-X1 Württemberg half a year before.
On board LZ-29 the men from the Württemberg were greeted by a gaunt man wearing the uniform of a colonel of the artillery. He was accompanied by an elderly and learned looking gentleman who spoke little but was introduced as Professor von Bergmann, one of the Kaiser's surgeons and one of the leading specialists in the field of artificial body part development. The professor would also be part of the research group working on the salvaged advanced automatons.
The colonel himself was Colonel Kerber, a name well known in military circles. He was the official face of the Kaiser's military intelligence service. The one who did the talking while his superiors remained in the background.
Meeting him on board the Leipzig was only a minor surprise. Given the nature of the whole affair, the men from the Württemberg had expected someone of this special miltary branch to be present during the flight.
The Colonel and the Professor briefed von Kober, Dustermann and Gruson on a few crucial details regarding their new assignment. Enough, they felt, to enable them to think of some possible ways to begin their respective tasks but not enough to be able to reveal much to others.





 



The special assignement -
Captain von Kober on the Trail of the Automatons

From the Diary of Kapitän Albrecht von Kober, commanding officer LZ-X1 Württemberg:

October 20th

So I am assigned to my old unit again. Oh how I envy Captain Vogel, now that he is in command of the Württemberg, my fine Zeppelin. Tomorrow I shall be in Berlin, together with Gruson and Dustermann. Let's see what we can find out about the automatons. The equipment we will have at our disposal there should be sufficient.
The presence of Professor von Bergmann worries me. There is more at stake here than meets the eye. This is the man responsible for the recovery of Friedrich III. The very fact the Kaiser sends the man he owes his life to. Well, I guess I shall find out more soon enough. For now, I shall enjoy this fine autumn day and the sunny landscape below us. Also, my men and some fine cigars are waiting for me.


October 21st

Back at the place I left almost exactly seven months ago. I even have my old room back. Old Braun is still in his book-filled hideout three doors down and good Mrs. Olbermann was most delighted to see me again. It is just the same as it was the first time I came here, fresh from my first tour of duty in Africa.
As much as I am happy to be back here, I already long for the vastness of the cradle of humanity and the oceans.
Oh well, the longing faded back then and it shall do so again. Tomorrow, we meet for the first time and decide how to tackle our task.



October 22nd

Right. Interestingly enough, for now I have little work. The engineers are busy with the ætherbrains, von Bergmann is analysing the mechanics of the automatons, especally their more intricate details. All there is to do for now is paperwork. I will not even be able to write a proper report for some time, at least two weeks.
I spent some hours at the shooting range, just to pass the time. It was quite disappointing. Well, at least I have some time to improve my skills in the coming weeks.
I also wrote a letter to Doctor Wentworth and one to Gwendolen. I am hoping for a quick answer.
Also, since there is not much for me to do right now, I have Sunday for myself. I shall go and spend some time in our capital.


October 23rd

Absolutely boring, rainy day. Nothing at all happened. Gruson actually visited me in my office to help me pass the time. If this continues I shall start collecting tin soldiers again.


October 24th

Marvelous surprise today. Was picked up by some officers from the fixed-wing research devision and had the pleasure to see one of our newest machines in action. The demonstration would probably been longer if it had not been for this terrible weather. Rainy and cold. No weather for flying at all. At least not in an open cockpit.


October 26th

Volunteered for guard duty this morning, there was nothing else to do. Not even paperwork. I informed von Bergmann and Gruson where to find me. Dustermann is off sick. Poor soul came down with influenza, no surprize in this weather. Ah well, tomorrow I shall enjoy time in Berlin. I am leaving early.


October 27h
I would have liked better weather for my visit to the capital. It was nice enough, though. Went to watch the 13:00 show of Charlmagne at the Palast Kinematographentheater. Very good film in deed. I wonder how much artistic freedom the director took for the battle scenes. Later had a coffee and dinner along the Kurfürstendamm.
On the train back I had quite interesting company. An Irish gentleman by the name of Orne. I got the opportunityy to practice my English again.


October 28th
Excellent news! Received an æthergraph from the Württemberg today. They are still investigating these strange occurences. At least now a French airship has joined the flotilla, too, FAF Salon.
Vogel is really enjoying his command. He has also finally received permission from his future father-in-law to marry his Agathe.
The date has not been chosen yet but he asked me to be his best man. How could I refuse?


October 29th
Apparenly, Gruson is getting somewhere. He is still not sure how some things work but he can at least get the automaton to do certain things. At least I have something to put into my reports.



October 30th
Was quite surprised this morning to find a respectale amount of snow outside. The whole phenomenon was explained later. I wish some people were less enthusiastic about testing their new toys.
And I have to come up with a meterological explanation now what was going on. If we have any spies here, I guess every monarch in the world knows by know what was going on. I am sure Napoleon III has had quite a hearty laugh, and I wonder what Queen Victoria has to say when she sees her daughter and son-in-law next time.


October 31st
The snow has turned into slush. Oh well, another few days and it will have melted completely. I have not seen Gruson the last two days. Tomorrow I will see how he is doing and what he is doing.


November 1st
Gruson and Dustermann have been in Gruson's laboatory for the last two days straight. He had compltely lost track of time. But it was worth something. I will take Gruson and Dustermann to Berlin tomorrow afternoon. They both deserve a break after this marathon.

(to be continued)








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The First Expediton of LZ-X1 Württemberg

The Second Expedition of LZ-X1 Württemberg

Captain von Kober's Errant

The Zeppelin LZ-X1 Württemberg in Africa Part 1