S./The Bearer of STATE - a book by Karin Arink

Chapter 41: Palace of Pleasures

The President had always been a very careful man. Spread over the city, he kept five Palaces. With his apartment in the Palace of Parliament and the expensive Hotels he was known to frequent, nobody knew for certain where he would spend the night.
One Palace in particular was infamous. The Palace of Pleasures, people called it, as notwithstanding tight cover-up of all that went on in any of the Palaces, people did notice that many of the invitees of the Palace of Pleasures were never seen again.

9:18 a.m. one July day in the 4th month of the Bearer’s Reign
To everybody’s surprise, the Bearer appears for breakfast. Bernston quickly tries to walk from the room, but Her Grace has spotted him.
“What are you doing here?” Her voice is not friendly, and he has to use all his techniques to keep his hatred from showing. ‘Hail STATE... Hail the Bearer of STATE...’
Luckily, Mr. Blas just walks in, and overhearing Her Grace’s remark says: “Er... Well... Your Grace, Mr. Borges has unexpectedly fallen ill... You know, to a man of his age, this can happen... And, well, only Bernston here has the right experience for this position, Your Grace, so I took the liberty...”

Something bothers STATE as S. listens to Mr. Blas’ reasons, but his mind is open and Bernston’s mind is full of STATE praise. S. shakes her head and allows Bernston serve them, so attend to more pressing matters, things she has to say before she forgets to voice them.

Dropping the subject, the Bearer turns and speaks to the Captain and Irene, who has just entered the Breakfast Room respectfully.
“One week from today, at 10:00 a.m., I will destroy the Palace of Pleasures.”
Surprised, the Captain looks at Her Grace, sees her determination and reflects on the possible dangers and organization involved.
Irene thinks briefly, tacitly agrees, and says: “Things will be arranged, Your Grace. What are your wishes?”
The Bearer looks vacantly for a moment. “Empty the building of all valuables and living beings. Keep bystanders at bay. That’s all.”
“But, Your Grace,” the Captain adds, “I do suppose you will need some machines?”
“No. You may inform the press.” And the Bearer withdraws to her chambers, before anyone can voice any objections.

> did you hear?
> hear? read, see, whatever, but I never listen man, I’m deaf
> well it is everywhere, and it proves I was right! We just needed to give Hr Grace some time, that’s all
> SOME time, you say... huh! Months, she took! Months! But okay okay I agree the news is good. Though I never think she can do it
> what Her Grace says is what will happen, I assure you! Hail STATE! Hail the B
> humpf! with her bare hands, her bare Bearer’s hands, bear with me ;-]
never, I tell ya
> wait and see, my friend! Hail the Bearer of STATE!
> yeah, see, right, a NationalTv? trick like the fireball thingy, pfffff
> that was for real, darling, whether you like it or not! but I’ve a better idea: come and see for yourself! let’s g together, might even have a ball afterwards, wha’d’ya say? wink wink
>okay sweety I’m in

On the 1st day of the 5th month of the Bearer’s Reign, exactly one week after her announcement, the Bearer leaves the Palace, walking from her quarters past bowing servants to the front porch, where she halts in the bright July sun.
The Captain and Guards stand near the limo waiting for Her Grace. One Guard holds the limo door open for her, but Her Grace frowns.
“No, STATE will go by foot. You, you and you may follow on the motoBikes. Come.”

Very swiftly, she walks away, and the Captain sees how Her Grace can cover distances so speedily. He rushes after her, motioning the Guards to follow. While they scramble to get on the bikes and start them, the Bearer is already approaching the gates.
The sun is warm, and soon the Captain is sweating in his uniform. He misses the cooled limo. ‘Why does the Bearer insist on walking? It is dangerous as well…’ Nervously he glances at the windows towering over them, rectangular glass eyes glinting. But he has to move, the Bearer is already almost turning the corner.
As she is about to cross a Bridge into the next Borough, the Bearer halts abruptly. Grateful for the rest, the Captain waits in the shadow, not to far from Her Grace.

---Bearer of STATE for 4 months, 0 weeks, 0 days, 23 hours, 52 minutes---
The presence of the bridge’s wiring disturbs STATE, prickles like the discharge she had suffered the first day. Pulling back into STATE, she sees the city: divided by the Borough Bridges. No. This is not how it should be. The capital should be whole, not segmented and controlled this way. STATE shuts down all generators providing the bridges with high voltage electricity. Yes, that is better.
But…
In STATE, still the consciousness of all bridges: the patter of feet crossing them at this very moment, the number of people crossing them, the knowledge if they are armed or not, if they are positive or negative mindset towards STATE …
And if so desired, STATE can still block any of them at will. Even without her wanting to, STATE controls the city, control the state, and S. does not know the extent of her influence on it.
Hmn.
Though the implications make her frown, S. shrugs slightly and crosses the Bridge, the Captain and Guards following her.

The hum of people. Around the Palace of Pleasures, a crowd has assembled, eager for a glimpse of the Bearer who does not show herself often. Swallowing, the Captain tries to keep near to Her Grace, though he has to concede that the atmosphere is peaceful. Even so, he feels naked without the limo, and glances at the motorized Guards’ shiny helmets. Then, he sees Her Grace’s small figure walking away from him, and scolds himself for not staying close.
The Bearer is walking straight into the crowd.
A sudden hush.
All people turn to where the Bearer is, even if they cannot see her. They part to make way for her, for the Captain, for the Guards on motoBikes following slowly.

Not looking at anybody, Her Grace is nevertheless not aloof. People feel they are close to the Bearer, close to STATE, and a rush of love spreads through the multitude. “Hail STATE, hail the Bearer of STATE,” many whisper, accentuating the silence. Some salute her with their hand open on their brow, the palm towards Her Grace.
Never has the Captain experienced anything like this. His love for the Bearer expands, and he is proud to know her, to serve her, in a way he had never been with the President. Now, he fully understands why the insulation of the limo had not been an option.
The sunlight shines on the multitude of heads, quietly craning to see Her Grace, slowly approaching the huge Palace of Pleasures.

---Bearer of STATE for 4 months, 0 weeks, 1 day, 0 hours, 17 minutes---
S. does not see the people. Warmth envelops her, carries her, but the crowd as such is not there, only the Palace of Pleasures, the complexity of its three-dimensional structure. She slightly moves her viewpoint, to see it more clearly.
STATE is assessing it, sounding it out. It is a solid structure, built around a very old tower. That tower has to remain standing, its history should not be destroyed. STATE is bringing the Palace back into its origin.
Faintly, S. is conscious of the pompousness of the words, but she cannot pull out of STATE. Comfortable with what she is going to do, her body vaguely misses the weight of a bomb around her waist. Closer still, STATE, sucking energy from her fibers, has taken its place. The soft thumping pain a well-known nuisance by now.

The Bearer approaches the red and white fences circling the Palace’s grounds. Behind the high ultra-strong glass fence, the Palace’s grey stones look cold, even in the yellow sunlight.
The Captain and the Guards halt, and look with the crowd at Her Grace, walking over the bright white pebbles to the empty Palace. Her dark solitary figure suddenly reactivates the Captain’s fear of attacks. Though he knows no one can aim at the Bearer, he glances around for other forms of aggression. But the air is still and in silence, more people join the huge crowd. People make more room for each other, without words edging sideways to make place.

---Bearer of STATE for 4 months, 0 weeks, 1 day, 0 hours, 25 minutes, 19---
On the pebbles, S. holds still. The Palace looms over her, an open structure etched out in white. STATE has identified the weak points of its construction and a plan emerges on how to deconstruct it. First, she has to disengage the tower from the rest.

The Bearer walks to the left, to where the new wall stretches from the old tower and curves to the front. She lifts both arms and steps closer towards the wall. People catch their breath to see what is happening. Once or twice the Bearer taps the castStone, with both arms stretched above her.
Nothing happens, and, disappointed, some turn to voice this to their neighbors. But most just stand there and watch. Over the chirping pebbles, the Bearer walks to the right. There, the new tower rises high, its pointed shape a warning to the city.

---Bearer of STATE for 4 months, 0 weeks, 1 day, 0 hours, 41 minutes---
Sighing, metal on stone, a loud scream.
S. wants to duck, then knows this is not now. Behind the veil of time, milky figures writhe. Tied at hands and feet, they try to keep calm under the gaze of a man, who is reverently flanked by two Guards while weighing who will be his first victim.
Quickly, S. opens her eyes and forces herself to look at the
p
r
e
s
e
n
t
.
Just outside the gate, an endless field of small heads. They are with so many… And they are here for her. She is small, but she is the pinnacle of all of their powers. She will fulfill what they wait for, avenge what they need to see avenged.
When she turns to the tower, the past is blown from her mind. Instead, a steady rage fills her. What is this thing doing here? Why is this tower blocking the view on the old tower, why is it defiling its history?’
When S. starts walking towards the pointed tower, she is not a person anymore. She is a wave, the white crest of a huge body of mind, a surge of determination.
She is the pressure point of all of their wills. In a straight line, S. walks to the tower and puts two hands above her.
The white thunders, howls, as pressure builds behind her. Carefully, she repositions her hands, inching them to exactly the right place.
There. And there.
Now.
S. draws a deep breath, conscious of all eyes in her back, of all of their anticipation.
The wave gathers force, and its power gathers between her shoulder blades and then is channeled through S. into STATE. People concentrate, and their hate intensifies, force adding to force and pushing into STATE, the focal point of all the hatred against the President. STATE knows what to do. The pure white hate burns through her boundaries, as through the slits her hands direct it into the stone.
Briefly, S. watches the energy channeled through the stone, down to the steel construction pillars.
Yes.
She steps back from the tower and calmly walks back to the crowd.
---Bearer of STATE for 4 months, 0 weeks, 1 day, 0 hours, 46 minutes---

People look at the face of the Bearer approaching them, wondering if she has been successful or not. But the face is empty. Though people try hard to remember it, to describe the Bearer to their relatives and friends back home, they find they cannot. Words are inadequate, too precise for the blandness of the face, the colorlessness of her hair, the simplicity of the frame, the clothes without frills.
The Bearer walks to the Captain and stands next to them, face turned to the Palace of Pleasures.
Silence.
A long silence inflates, the crowd’s expectations stretched.
Just when some jerk to turn away, there is a weird sound, a groan. Flapping inwards like some piece of wet cardboard, the curved wall slowly falls, tearing free from the old tower. It slams against the inner courtyard’s polished brown castStone.
A short silence, some stones falling in staccato. Then, a roar and dust pillowing from the insides of the huge pointed tower as it collapses into itself. The huge stones fall, the roof tiles crash onto the pebbles, the huge glass slates pop from the pressure. It only takes minutes, and the high tower is turned into an enormous pile of debris.
People are thankful for the glass fence protecting them from the bouncing rubble. When the dust clouds slowly tumble to the ground, they all see that the Palace of Pleasures is destroyed.
Only the old tower, built by the 2nd Bearer of STATE, still stands.
A surprised hush, and then the release of a loud cheer, people yelling and clapping their hands. The dark red and white glass fence glitters in the sunlight, the sky is more blue than before. Some birds chase each other through the expanse. The history of the President is washed away, at least partially.
Finally. Finally.
When the Bearer turns, people from both sides applaud her, laugh and smile. Some throw flowers, while step by step the Bearer wades through the crowd.
--- Hail the Bearer of STATE! --- Trust the Bearer of STATE! --- Behold the powers of STATE! --- Trust STATE! --- Believe the Bearer of STATE! --- Hail the Bearer of STATE! --- We all serve STATE! --- We all are STATE! --- We all serve the Bearer of STATE! --- Trust STATE! ---
Church of STATE followers call people to come and join the church.

STATE sucks in the sound, a pleasant buzzing.
S. is content.

POWER OF STATE REVEALED! PALACE OF PLEASURES DESTROYED
STATE DESTRUCTION FO PRESIDENTIAL PLEASURES
BEARER PURGES PALACE OF PLEASURES
PRESIDENT’S PALACE IN RUBBLE
THE POWER OF STATE REIGNS!
ONE PRESIDENT’S MARK REMOVED: WHAT WILL FOLLOW?
BEARER AFFIRMS HER AIMS OF CHANGE!
AT LAST, SOME CHANGE
HAIL THE BEARER OF STATE!
LONG LIVE STATE!

The evening news is dominated by images of the Palace of Pleasures collapsing into rubble. On dataFlow, on dataNet, on nationalTV and even on upstart OCT channels; everywhere images, reports, opinions and reflections erupt. All of a sudden, the Bearer is popular, now she has finally made a sign of her predisposition towards change. Jason drinks another beer in bitter silence, with only a few comrades who say nothing as they partake of his rage. Halfway through the night, they see that the body of Jason Almerra all of a sudden starts to tremble. His beer glass escapes his clawing fingers and smashes on the ground. Before they know what is happening, Jason’s long body slips from the stool and falls down on the glass shards cutting into his clothes and hands as he starts thrashing about. “Jason! Jason! Calm down!” But he does not hear them. His eyes roll inwards and he starts to speak with a very deep even voice.
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