Chapter 26: Hotel and arms
18:03 p.m. on the Second Day of the Bearer’s Reign
Together, the Captain and the Bearer of STATE enter the Hotel through the restaurant. Accustomed to the President never sleeping anywhere twice in a row, the Captain had proposed the Bearer would sleep at the Hotel tonight, and Her Grace had not objected.
Dinnertime has not yet started, so the large restaurant is relatively quiet. Using his in-ear securiPhone, the Captain contacts the limo to say they are inside, and that Her Grace fears an assault on her life so they should be careful.
The waiters in their impeccable suits look at the tiny woman’s raincoat and frown, until they recognize the Captain and let them through.
---Bearer of STATE for 2 days, 7 hours, 56 minutes and---
They pass through the restaurant and into the foyer. Instinctively, S. analyses the situation, making note of the escape exits, possible entrances and assessing potential enemies in 28 seconds. Old habits…
In the central hall, the Hotel Director awaits the Bearer of STATE, looking a bit nervously in the direction of the limo that is just halting before the entrance. He straightens himself, pulls at his tie, trying to be imposing in his best suit. He does not notice the Bearer at all. The Captain, dreading another scene like before, stops behind Her Grace and announces in a commanding voice: “Her Grace, the Bearer of STATE!”
The Bearer opens her coat and drops it in the Captain’s arms. STATE shimmers in the chandeliers’ lights, attracting the attention they had expected. The Director swivels around and exclaims his welcome to the Bearer of STATE. All people in their vicinity retreat hastily, leaving a respectable distance around the Bearer of STATE. One servant, carrying a soft towel on a golden plate, approaches carefully and Her Grace takes the towel and dries her hair and her face with it. Another takes the chocolates and the coats from the Captain to bring them to their suite. The rest of the Guard and her retinue enter and surround the Bearer and the Captain.
The Director opens his mouth, but S. certainly is not in the mood to listen to a welcoming speech. She lifts two fingers and says: “The Bearer of STATE cannot stand here in the open, unless you fancy an assassination on your doorstep. Let’s go.”
“Ah... Of course, certainly, naturally, Your Grace… If you would follow me to the elevators…”, and he gingerly indicates them to the Bearer’s left. They are huge and have gold-plated handcrafted grilles. The elevators are called for, the Director pushing the button repeatedly.
S. steps towards the elevators and the retinue moves as the Bearer does, but then again S. has a flash. If only she could move about incognito; STATE is too visible this way, while B. Matil is so invisible that he is potentially everywhere. “You take the elevators. See you upstairs!” She turns swiftly. Though the Director starts to object they will be going to the fourteenth floor, he dares not shout after the Bearer.
Without hesitation, S. walks towards a pair of inconspicuous flapping doors and pushes the rubber open. And while the retinue halts obediently to wait for the elevator, she reaches the white castStone emergency stairs and starts ascending. The Captain and one Guard follow her.
Smoothly, S. keeps going. Walking is so much better than being inside a metal cage! While the Captain and Guard start to fall behind, S. walks stair after stair effortlessly.
The fourteenth floor. In the lavish wide corridor, the quiet accentuated by very subtle wallpaper music, S. waits. Thick carpets in yellow and ochre, elegant gold-plated tables, mirrors with golden frames, fresh flowers arranged in perfect taste.
Ping! The elevator arrives with the Director, the Doctor and some Guards. Out of breath, the Captain and Guard also reach the end of the stairs. Flanked by them, the Bearer of STATE is led to the Presidential Suite.
A servant carrying a huge golden vase with fresh flowers comes up from the other side of the corridor and reaches the door first.
“Wait!” The Director says. “You! Don’t you dare go before the Bearer of STATE!” The servant totters backwards, only just holding the vase, not seeing much. The Director with a grand gesture points to the open door. “After you, Your Grace…” He curtseys backwards, away from the entrance.
---Bearer of STATE for 2 days, 8 hours, 3 minutes and---
Something clicks in STATE and S. stands very still. “No, you go in first, Director!”
The Director becomes white and draws back from the hole of the door. Thinking someone must have entered by now, the servant with the vase, only just capable of holding the weight, enters the brightly lit and spacious suite.
Nothing happens, but S. knows a sniper can very well see whom he is aiming for. At that moment, something else starts to tug at her. The whole scene shifts focus, the sniper irrelevant. A connection to Maatiwel is here. Close by!
STATE uses her body to attune to someone who is very near, someone she has met before, someone who deals with this Matil.
Finally! A strand of his networks has become visible for STATE... And she rushes to meet the connector. STATE pulls her forwards and very quickly she passes the door, the Captain gasping. Directed by STATE, S. walks down the corridor and around the corner at the far end.
The Director is behind her, saying something, and being told off by the Captain. “Go back both of you, and make sure no one enters our suite,” the Bearer orders. Reluctantly, the Captain turns.
S. opens the door of Suite 1403.
Sure enough, three heavily armed men guard the inner chambers of the suite.
They look up surprised at the small solitary woman trespassing into the privacy of the suite. “I have to speak to Waldo. Now.” she says.
“No you won’t! Nobody disturbs him tonight!”
Two guards grab their guns, but the third, recognizing STATE, throws his gun on the floor. Almost gently, he puts his strong hands around the Bearer’s throat and presses, gradually increasing the pressure. The other two see the woman gasp for breath and start to laugh.
The guard squeezes harder and harder, and S. feels the tube of her windpipe cave in. ‘I am nothing. I am no one. I am’
There is no more air.
This is it. This is
where it ends, she thinks, but everything is still so clear.
Bang! The Captain suddenly opens the door from the corridor and coincidentally hits the guard strangling the Bearer on the head. The man lets go for a second and she slips free. She walks to the door to the inner chambers and slams it open.
On the huge bed, Waldo sits naked, hastily pulling a satin bedcover over his loins. Two escort ladies dive off the bed. ‘You can expect anything to happen to an arms dealer attacked unexpectedly like this...’
The guards jump for the Bearer, trying to pull her out of the room, the Captain after enters after them, but Waldo smiles broadly. His broad chest, covered with damp curly hairs, is red from the excitement, but his business instincts are awake as well. He has recognized the Bearer of STATE instantly.
“Ah, what a surprise, dear S.!” he says, waving the guards away. They stand at the door, the Captain next to them. “What an unusual time for an unplanned business meeting, I must say! Of course, when we last met, the meetings always were unforeseen, to say the least…”
A few years ago, S. had accompanied the leader of her group to buy plastBombs and grenades from Waldo.
“But now look at you! Bearer of STATE! Well, well! That is a promotion I can hardly top! Maybe you can let an old friend into the secret?” He winks at her.
“You talk too much, like always, Waldo,” S. says.
The guards stir uneasily, but their boss smiles indulgently. “OK then, S., tell me, what can I do for you? Or should I start saying Your Grace, like the others?”
“Skip that, Waldo.
I have come to warn you. Every weapon, however small or however secret, that you sell to B. Matil, or S. Maatiwel, or Bero Matiliwiz or Bernd M., or Mateu Wis, or Boris Wislow, or any other pseudonym the bastard or his allies may be using, is counted by STATE. And any profit you make on them, and the total is reaching a rough…” the Bearer blinks her eyes, “eighteen thousand and three hundred eighty five, will be withdrawn from your accounts with a 10 percent fine. STATE will not allow you to administer to my enemies any more.
Don’t worry, the same will go for your colleagues!”
As soon she voiced it, STATE has effectuated the withdrawal. S. no longer needs a terminal to enter the networks.
“Huh? Wha…? What are you talking of? Are you crazy? How on earth can you withdraw from my accounts, you little bitch?”
“Do not call me names, Waldo, or STATE will punish you. Check your accounts if you will, and see if I lie. Goodnight.”
Waldo is so taken by surprise that he does not know what to do, and sits dumbfounded on the bed. His sex drive has evaporated, and he turns to send the disgruntled women away.
“You.” the Bearer turns to the guard who almost strangled her. “Come with me.”
With no counter-reaction from Waldo, the man does as told. Together with the Captain, they walk back to Suite 1401.
“You, enter the Presidential Suite and close the curtains.”
Waldo’s guard starts to understand the potential danger and tries to pull back. But with the Guard of STATE standing around, he has no choice but to obey. Nothing happens, again, but there is at least one person leaving the roofs opposite, disappointed.
---Bearer of STATE for 2 days, 8 hours, 49 minutes and 10, 11, 12, 13, 14---
S. frowns. She will have to unearth more information before the attacks against her will be brought to an end. Who is this mysterious second in command? Again, S. attempts to push STATE to give more information about this B. Matil, but again, STATE only offers the list of names. However much S. tries to focus, only a slight nausea and uncertainty is the result. STATE yields no answers, nor even hints. Is there no information there? Or is she asking the wrong question?
Or is STATE hiding him from her? Why?
She and her retinue settle in the luxurious suite. There, Her Grace takes a light supper with Doctor Jan and the Captain, before they all go to bed exhausted.