October 31st in the second year of the Bearer’s Reign
Her Grace walks in on the weekly Ministerial Meeting, all rise and bow to hide their puzzled faces. Irene hides her surprise quickly, ‘it will not do to seem out of touch with Her Grace...’
Calm and with complete grasp of all subjects and content, the Bearer presides over the meeting, the first she has attended to in months. Though they are by now well versed in knowledge about STATE powers, the Ministers find themselves astounded at the level of Her Grace’s information. As if she had not been away at all, she addresses the most pressing matters in perfect order.
As data flows in the white and the meeting progresses, STATE double-checks the pasts of all potential jury members for the Committee investigating into Crimes Against the People and compiles the jury. Finished with the Committee members, STATE checks into the pasts of the Ministers while the meeting ambles along. When the Ministers are finished and getting ready to stand, she lifts two fingers. “One moment. STATE will activate the Committee investigating into Crimes Against the People on short notice. You all have a past with the President, gentlemen, in one way or another. As civil servants, you will all testify.”
“But, eh... Your Grace,” STATE is not surprised to find Johan Delaware speaking out. Though no one at the table knows, he is considering candidacy; and the last thing he needs is exposure of his role in the President’s regime, however small his role had been. STATE will need him in the future, when all is said and done, so she will make him see now and she enters his mind: ‘Johan. What you do not tell the people, the people will make up for you. They will make you a past more gruesome than the one you have had. You will testify - or you will be finished. There is no room for you in this Parliament if you refuse.’ He swallows and bows his head for a moment. Then, he looks up with a stern face: “Your Grace, as STATE commands...” The others Ministers, who have much more to be afraid of, remain silent and try to master their thought voice into silence, often in vain. With a palpable dejection, the Ministers file out of the room.
Irene only looks at Her Grace, her face radiant. ‘Oh... S., thank you... Hail STATE!’ Only now she feels how much she had worried about the CCAP, wondering if this prove to be an empty promise, something which she abhors to the extreme. ‘It’s hard to have to wait for STATE, sometimes... But hail STATE! She came and did as she promised... Thought I had lost her, but here she is again!’
2nd November in the second year of the Bearer’s Reign
Now Master Casper Damian is finally getting his sleep and nutrition, Doctor Jan can focus on Her Grace again. When he finally gets admitted to Her Grace’s chambers, he, to his surprise, finds her naked, just stepping out of the Bearer’s Bath, oil dripping on the soft drying cloths. He averts his eyes automatically.
‘You have come to see my body shell, Doctor. You can,’ the Bearer’s voice says. He tries not to hold his head as a headache starts. “Er, Your Grace, could you please” he starts to plead. ‘No air, to,’ she says shortly, while she remains standing. Mr. Daveaux can be heard moving in the other chamber, so Jan tries to be professional about it. ‘Anyway, hers is a female body, uh’ Though he tries to stop himself from thinking, he does not fail to notice there is hardly anything female about the Bearer’s body. ‘She wasn’t at the beginning, come to think of it... Uh,’ The breasts have shrunk to empty flaps of silicon skin, STATE seems to have grown and branches out over a larger belly surface... ‘No body hair and the hair on the scalp is still short and spiky... No breathing, and only a faint pumping noise... And a below-normal body temp... No fever, no wounds, no light,’ There is nothing he can do for her, he sees, and he wonders why he is still in service. ‘STATE will need you in the near future, Jan!’
He bows his head as pain explodes behind his eyeballs, migraine which will last for a day at least, again. ‘Why, why does she insist on doing that all the time?’ Walking out of Her Grace’s chambers, he withdraws to his own, telling his servant he cannot be disturbed for the rest of the day. Rummaging through his medicine cabinet, he locates the strongest opiates, takes a dose and sinks onto his bed.
‘Again,’ his manservant thinks when he sees the flaccid figure lying, the eyes searching for some prettier world. ‘Man, if I could have his life... Rislers is right, what ARE we doing here, in this stupid Palace of STATE? Even the Doctor is a druggy, and he is one of the most sane here, I must say. Uh... no thinking.’ Hail STATE
Hail the Bearer of STATE
“And then she walks in and activates the CCAP just like that! Oooh, people will hate STATE for this, I am” Mrs. Grezner’s voice is confident but Blake interrupts impatiently: “People will LOVE her for this, don’t you see? Finally STATE is doing something for the well-being of us all. Bad timing, for us. You have no history, now, do you?” He fires his question at Martin, who was fiddling with some paper. ‘Really, he still can seem a sullen child, though I know he is listening all the time...’ Blake thinks. Martin looks up and his glance catches on Rosie, who just enters with a tray of tea. They all fall silent as she pours the tea, composing their thoughts.
“No, Blake, I have no history with that bastard, I am happy to say,” Martin delares as she is leaving. ‘Talking to her hips and thighs, he is, and I’m getting fed up with that,’ Blake thinks, while he says drily: “Well, one worry the less, at least. But we will have to wait until all that CCAP and Symphony press flurry has passed, I can tell. Ah well, we are ahead in all clandestine polls anyway; and it is always good to build in a bit of anticipation. You can take a not too expensive break, Martin, the last one you will have in all probability. ‘Cause campaigning will take all your time and all your energy if we want to do it right. And we will,” he says, filling his pipe, content with having solved two irks in one go.
In the Palace Office, Alexander has neatly squared the piles for Her Excellency and starts to clear the table for breakfast. STATE has just finished contacting the CCAP members for the first meetings of the Committee on the 11th of December, when the Captain enters in response to Her Grace’s call to come for breakfast. They take it together, Irene, the Captain and the Bearer; and at times with Jan as well, but he is indisposed this morning.
In the respectful silence, with only Susan moving quietly, they sit on their golden chairs and take their meal. For the Bearer, it is more a symbolic affair, while Irene keeps to her daily portions, still afraid that her position will make her as fat as all those in power. The Captain eats his usual, critically checking the crispness of the bacon with his fork.
STATE observes him and his past, knows how it still hampers his sleep, how it is canalized into physical explosions in his gym, how much time and energy is spent in rationalizing his guilt away. He is tainted by his actions and he knows it. He is one of the most ardent opponents of the Committee of Crimes against the People. “You will have to testify,” she says without any preamble.
Immediately, he knows what Her Grace is referring to and stops chewing his mouthful. He has to catch himself from spitting out his food in expressing his refusal. Carefully, he swallows the bite, which suddenly tastes of nothing. He is happy Her Grace still ordains them to eat with almost no servants allowed in. Only Irene’s personal servant Susan is here, just pouring them some coffee. She finishes quickly and leaves the room. He voices his answer, which she has heard already: “No.”
“You will damage yourself and those around you if you persist in refusing, Captain!” the Bearer says.
He hates this discussion already. ‘Oh yes... Her Grace knows all my cards, there is no way you can outsmart someone who can read your mind... Uh...’ He refuses to say anything more and tries to block his mind against her.
“Captain,” Irene’s calm voice forces him to look at her. ‘Argh. The intimacy of these breakfasts is difficult enough!’ He cannot help but see how the line of her shoulders comes out in her dress. Trained to not look down to her breasts, he cannot escape the curve of her neck, the curl near her ears... Without ever being anywhere near overtly sexy, Irene holds her spell over him. ‘And still, she does not allow for any more personal contact than that between Captain and Secretary of STATE. For how much longer do I have to endure this?’
“Please, Captain... STATE is right, you know…” Her soft words hit him although he was aware that her opinions tallied with Her Grace’s, especially on this point. ‘I had hoped they would just forget about that whole CCAP-thing, but they haven’t, obviously... Have been working at it together, probably, keeping me out. Women!’ He glares at Irene, but she does not look like she had been double-crossing him, her eyes are blue and friendly as always: “Oh, Captain... It’s just... Your past is hurting you; and in eight months we in all likelihood might not be living in the Palace anymore! It is much better for you to get it out and escape the future wrath of the people! Please” Without a word, the Captain pushes back his chair and strides from the room. ‘Not from both of them! I don’t have to take that! NO!’
“And now it is over, Rosie! OK, he is a great politician and yes, I will make him the best, but why you do allow him to use your body I have no idea. You are mine, Rosie, and I want you back.” For a moment, Rosa is too surprised to react. Though in the beginning she was worried about Blake discovering her affair with Martin, she feels no shame that he knows about it now. She has known about his affairs always, and after all he kept her on the side next to his unfaithful Mrs., so he has no call to claim her faithfulness. But to have him behave possessive like this is something new, something interesting. He fidgets with his pipe, cleaning it and filling it with new tobacco. She almost smiles at his transparency, ‘he knows I love he smell,’ but manages to remain standing and aloof. It has the desired affect.
“After that filthy bearer was here you have refused me, always, Rosie: she must have fucked with your mind,”
“My name is Rosa, Blake,” Rosa tells him sharply; and he looks up. She adds: “You were the one to rape me in front of STATE, remember? I have not forgotten.” He suddenly needs all his attention to stuff some realTobacco in his pipe, hiding his face though to her contentedness his ears have reddened. She allows the silence to stand, then turns to walk away. “Rosa... I – I apologize. She fucked with my mind, you are right. I was totally fucked up after even a day of her presence. I used you to try and shame her away – with no success as you know...” She stands for a moment, listening to his voice. His warm and vibrant voice, pleading to her. She savors the moment and then walks away, knowing that he will call her, knowing that she will hesitate, knowing that maybe she will give in to him, or maybe not, knowing that from now on, even if she does give in and even if she doesn’t, he is hers at last.
November 3rd in the second year of the Bearer’s Reign
S. turns on the Bearer’s Bed. Human thoughts tumble in her mind while she tries to sleep, watched over by her Guards. The Captain’s mind is in an endless repetition of why he should not testify, why he cannot, how it would destroy everything he has when he would, destroy not only him but everything, the whole balance of state, everything, but of course he never would, obviously, the whole idea is ridiculous, someone with his responsibilities cannot present his past just like that, it would be naï¿½ve to think that would even possible, and well yes of course Irene is naive, naï¿½ve to the extreme, though not stupid, mind, but on this one thing...
Roughly, the Captain’s thoughts mirror those of the Ministers’, of Johan Delaware in particular. Round and round in a self-fabricating web of reasoning why they of all people should be exempt from this trial. Cowardly humans! The thoughts irritate her, and so do the Guards’, so she sends them off, but still sleep does not come.
Casper Damian is still working and he should be stopped before he destroys what they have built. It is time.
‘Again, again the same dream!’ The Captain struggles to wake up. He is naked, and he is hot. The realSilk covers cling to his body, and his body is slippery with something more than sweat. He gropes around him and then his hand cups around this soft, gorgeous breast. He cannot help himself, his hands explore the perfect body, the satin skin, the short hairs in the nape of the neck, the stiff nipples, the damp armpit, the breastcage and down the slope of the belly... The body is warm and seems covered in oil. Oh... It’s you... It’s you! You’re here. You’re with me, finally! When he tries to see her face he cannot, there is only a tangle of long blonde hairs. He strokes and strokes the perfect body, and his body heats up even more, his penis large in anticipation.
And then he opens her belly as he did for the President, and he covers her in the blood that keeps on flowing from her without much further thought. The blood makes the flesh warm and dark and slippery, makes her smell of metal, warm pulsing metal. His lust grows and grows, until he finally pulls the flesh close. Just as he presses his hard-on into her, her body deflates, and as he presses the damp bedcovers against him he comes, waking shamefacedly.
While he drinks a midnight brandy to calm himself, he tries to weave meaning of his dreams. ‘Who is she? Irene? But the blood? Or is there no blood, is that just something I suppose to be there? Or is she the Countess..? Oh, but I never, I would not have dared in my previous position, to even think... What is happening to me? Why does Her Grace not explain her gruesome murder to me? Why doesn’t Irene care about this? Why doesn’t anybody care what this state is coming to?’
Mr. De Brown frowns as he reads the face of the person opposite him. He would have expected a more positive reaction, she has done so well for the country all this time. ‘Why do they react so lukewarm? Has Blake already captured their minds and votes for Martin, already, so soon?’ It is frustrating to encounter his adversary’s head start in every meeting he has. ‘Martin really has not been sitting still all these months, seems they all have made up their minds already... But things can change, and I will not give up so quickly.’ He smiles amiably and turns the subject to a more general topic; and soon they are discussing Stock Market deals. ‘Time will tell,’
November 3rd in the second year of the Bearer’s Reign
Startled, Casper looks up when the Bearer enters his chambers. Comfortably ensconced there, taken carefully care of, he had been writing and rewriting the White Symphonies, deleting and altering and adding parts again and again. A vague intuition bugs hum that he is getting further and further away from the true form, but he cannot stop himself, cannot make himself decide to finish this piece finally. ‘It is my first composition of this length, I have to make sure it is perfect. It is my first achievement... I have to show what I can, I have only this once to make a first impression! And, well: noblesse oblige, I have to prove my talent once and for all! I will show everybody the spread of my capabilities, the width of my sensitivities, the depth of...’
Of course, he does not admit to himself that he has no clue on how to start another composition, how to start again. And as he subconsciously dreads to do nothing, he breaks down what he has to be able to, to build it up again, and again, and again, escaping his own judgment. Although they had worked together intensively for some months, his old aggravation with the Bearer returns when she suddenly stands in the middle of his space and gestures to a servant to open the velvet curtains. Cold dawn light floods the room. ‘Who do you think you are! I do not need you with this! Where were you all this time?’ he thinks, unaware of the contradiction, but his mind flashes a warning. He has something to lose. He cannot stand the thought of having to leave the Palace, but he fears even more to have this project aborted.
Taciturn as always, the Bearer looks at the jumble of papers, her hand moving around over it towards a pile of recent additions and paging through them rapidly.
‘These versions are thwarting the powers of their original.’ The Bearer’s voice is uncomfortably clear inside his head. ‘Why can she not speak as normal people do?’
Bearer of STATE for 1 year, 7 months, 3 weeks, 0 days, 20 hours and
S. turns and STATE connects to the digital copies, retrieving the version they did together, reviewing all new material on improvements, and substituting some passages where necessary.
‘Paper.’ One Guard quickly fetches a new sheaf of paper and hands it to Her Grace.
Unblinking, she starts to press the white paper against STATE and it comes off printed with the last and definite version of the White Symphonies. Each page is branded with an ‘S.’, discerning this copy from all others. STATE removes all files which corrupt the essence of STATE of all dataCorders, but allows 8 divergent versions to remain, ranging from clarinet solos to chamber orchestra versions. Casper as yet does not notice, though STATE previsions his despair at the loss of what he considers his material.
“The White Symphonies will premiere in five weeks in the STATE Concert Hall,” she states. The date will be December 10th. You will play the lead solo and instruct the conductor. The Orchestra of STATE will start practicing on your indications from tomorrow. The manuscript will not be changed.”
Casper stands tense with anger, preparing to contradict Her Grace, his elegant hands clenched, when he is aware of the relief pouring into him. ‘Finally, perform! At last I will show the world my greatest achievement and win everlasting praise... At last she allows me to take the credit which is mine! At last!’ He takes the official version and studies it. The Bearer nods slightly and leaves his chambers.