Chapter 5. Army Headquarters
Alone, S. approaches the heavily guarded gates. It had not been easy to persuade the Captain
to leave her to go here alone, but approaching the base with her Guard would clearly mean
the end of their lives. Finally, they had obeyed and gone in hiding near the Centre for NationalTV,
awaiting her there. Without any plans on how to enter the centre of military power, S. has
to leave it to STATE and see.
Her mouth is bitter and she stops to swallow. She is oddly light-headed, something is
wrong... And her Mark is acutely active, piercing her nerves’ ends. But this is not the time to stop
and whimper. Better to peel herself from herself, like she can do.
I am nothing... I am no one... I am nobody...
The husk of her body moving down the road, its limits well-known and alien at the same time.
Experience is opened to a wider scope, observing the expanse surrounding her, including the
pin-point positions of Army helicopters in the white sky, never approaching her though they aim to,
the dots of active mines burrowed in the fields adjacent to the road, and, down the road, the base
buzzing with activity, though not many soldiers are to be seen.
S. slows down slightly before the thick hardSteel bars of the first gates, the metal bothering her
Of course, this main military base on the outskirts of the capital is in state of emergency; soldiers
are getting ready for battle, a civil war if necessary.
Already, the far-away guards have seen the thief of STATE on the securiCams and they are reaching
for their arms. ‘That thin woman does match the description that was communicated through all
media that morning.... But surely even a terrorist carrying STATE would not be stupid enough
to attempt entering the Military Headquarters alone!?’
>it's true! it is TRUE! spread the word! come and see! i'm off
> Where IS everybody? Watching Tv I'm sure! This terrorist takes too much of our good production
time! But the President will see to her, he will! Hail the President!
S. is very still inside, and very sure. The gates open slowly, automatically reacting on STATE.
The road is supposed to be a kilometer long, but in reality it is 986.50 meters exactly, taking her
1451 quick steps to bridge. Unrequited data filters into her, security systems’ positions and output.
She hears alarms blaring, voices speaking rapidly, someone shouting in frustration. But nothing
happens, and she continues over the deserted road, the sun shining stronger and stronger.
If only her mouth would not be so parched...
She approaches the second gate, lightly stepping over activated pressBombs, not triggering one.
The terrorist woman passes the last gate, while groups of armed men continue struggling to aim
at STATE. In the fortified glass booth, a soldier is desperately pounding on a red button, trying to
activate the emergency gates, but the hardened castStone slabs do not rise, and, stepping over the
hardSteel slits, the thief of STATE continues walking, until she has cleared all gates and is standing
in front of the main building.
S. looks at a dull, office-like building.
Around, soldiers are still trying to force various weapons on her, but STATE controls them all, from
handGuns to mGuns, from boozkas to tank guns.
It is in fact an almost surreal scene, the clear air full of frustrated stifled cries from the weighed down
soldiers, and one slight woman quietly walking through.
A siren signals, and the soldiers are even more astonished. ‘A call for Presidential parade, now!?!’
But when they see the terrorist entering the Headquarters’ building, their ingrained compliance
makes them turn to the exercise field immediately.
In the realMarble entrance hall, S. finds herself in a similar situation. Automatically, soldiers of
various ranks are groping for their guns, but again, all refuse action. The metal detection gate
alarm goes full blast when the Bearer passes with STATE.
Ignoring all turmoil, she walks with an even step through the corridors, to the fire escape stairway
and up unto the 7th floor. STATE follows the hub of information, knows where the generals are
gathered in a closed meeting. S. allows herself to be directed by STATE.
She has to trust STATE. Totally.
Groups of heavily armed Special Forces rush into the corridor, trying to corner the terrorist Bearer.
But even they cannot get nearer to her, as also their arms become impossible to aim within a range
of 30 meters around STATE.
> we are outside
Around the corner, the sound of several male voices debating. Inside the conference room, the
Supreme Command of the nation’s military forces is assembled in a meeting. The door is ajar.
The two soldiers guarding it are as unable to raise their weapons against her as their
fellows. A simple protection system for the Bearer, but apparently quite effective…
The terrorist thief of STATE enters the room. For a moment, the military hotshots stare at her in
“Come on now, you stupid guards, GET her!” one of them shouts, while another corpulent military
tries to stand and get to his own gun.
S. opens her mouth to speak
when she is hit
with a white plastic isoTherm jug.
She falls onto the blue-grey carpet and all is black.
S. hears nothing, sees nothing, fears nothing.
An uproar, as the Colonels and Generals congratulate the young Secretary to the Naval Commander.
Round-faced and smug, he brags: “Well someone had to hit that nobody, for once and for good!”
Everybody is voicing their opinions on what is to be done to the terrorist woman, again not too keen
to agree with each other. No one notices the coffee lady, who, bending down to pick up her thermos,
sees a young woman lying on her face. Without thinking, she puts a motherly arm around her, turns
and lifts her to a sitting position.
Still unconscious, hearing and feeling nothing, S. starts to see the scene from above.
The Naval Commander-in-Chief suddenly notices what is happening and bellows to the coffee lady:
“What do you think you are doing!? Stupid woman! Leave that dangerous terrorist there, so we can
chain her and bring her to justice!”
The young Secretary, eager to keep his just-earned advantage, reaches for STATE. Curtly, his superior
orders him off, afraid to have another nitwit become Bearer of STATE. Instead, he heaves his body
out of the chair and over to where the thief lies. He bends down with difficulty and kneels. He reaches
out to take STATE off her belly.
One split-second later, a white flash and he is dead, electrocuted by STATE.
His Secretary takes his gun out of the holster and juts it point-blank in the terrorist’s stomach,
just above STATE.
But S. is conscious now. Hatred pulses through STATE and makes the gun turn against the young
man in an instant. The blast of the shot that rips off the Secretary’s head makes her opens her eyes.
The thief of STATE stands. In the sudden silence she faces the military command. With different
shades of misgivings and anger they stare at her, measure her: a woman covered in blood, not overtly
strong but sinewy, a terrorist with an ideal body for guerilla warfare, strong-willed.
Legally, she is now their Chief Commander, and she controls STATE, which has just shown some
of its powers. But decades of Presidential rule make them more afraid of Him than of her.
12:16:03 - 12:16:04 - 12:16:05 -
“Gentlemen. I am the Bearer of STATE. As you well know, the Bearer of STATE is your legal Commander.
STATE is here to claim that right. As you see I carry all prerogatives of STATE and I will not hesitate
to use them.”
12:16:31 - 12:16:32 - 12:16:33 – 12:16:34 –
‘We all serve STATE... We all serve the Bearer of STATE... ... We all serve STATE...’ The elderly Air Force
Commander remembers what more a Bearer of STATE could be capable of, what sacred rites and rigid
Etiquette surrounded the Bearer in old times. ‘Our hesitation to serve the Bearer is in itself a capital
offense..’ And he fidgets for ways to submit without seeming to fail the President.
12:17:15 - 12:17:16 - 12:17:17 - 12:17:18 - 12:17:19 -
The uneasy silence ticks on.
The time digits are visible for S.: data generated by STATE. S. just wishes this minuteness
A faint signal and the Head of the Assembled Forces glances sideways at his dataCommunicator, before
him on the desk.
A message from the President!
> act as if to give in - she’ll be dead soon <
Knowing full well the President is watching all that is happening in here, he obeys as soon as possible,
to the surprise of his fellow commanders.
Stiffly, he bows as minimally as possible to the woman.
“Well… Ahem… Maybe you have noticed that the assembly for a general parade was just called for.
May we accompany you to introduce you to the troops ..?”
All men bow superficially, some soldier by the door salutes the Bearer half-heartedly.
This is way too easy, and S. steps quickly behind the dataCom. Before the Head can reach over and
close it, she reads the message. “Oh really?” she says sarcastically, “We’ll see about that.”
She turns and leads the group outside.