The new Bearer and her Guard carefully approach one of the Borough Bridges connecting the Bernin Borough to the surrounding Boroughs. The Borough Bridge is located as usual on a neat small square with no obstacles or hiding places. Made of copperIron, all Bridges are wired, so that in case of insurrection a Borough could be sealed off. Anyone crossing an activated bridge would be electrocuted on the spot, an effective way to keep crowd movements in check.
The Captain stops, worried, and with him the small group halts. ‘With the Military Police mobilized, and the position of my man running off transferred instantly, the Presidents’ men know exactly which Borough to seal.’ “Er... Your Grace... We cannot cross the bridge.” He frowns and looks around for other escapes, knowing there probably are none.
While they hesitate, S. feels a distinct pull emanating from one electricity box to her right. Quietly, she walks up to it. A loud crashing sound.
S. is barely standing, trying to keep her balance.
STATE is being pushed into her stomach with an incredible thrust, as a high voltage discharges between STATE and the electricity box. Of course, the box is connected to the city’s electricity net, so somehow STATE is hurling its power back at it, on and on and on and on.
Screeching and screeching blocks all other senses. Fatigue seeps into S..
Although the discharges do not touch her, STATE is using her body to lever power. She has to use all her force to keep standing and to stay conscious, as she knows without words that STATE will lack direction if she is distracted.
A weird white lures her, but she channels her consciousness away from it. A high shrill fills the void.
The Captain looks around. ‘Electricity discharges of this magnitude are monitored. The Military Police and probably the Army as well will be here any moment... What is she doing?! Found like this, we will not stand a chance...’
All of a sudden, there is a flash; the Bearer lurches forwards and falls onto her face. She is white and lies very, very still.
There is no sound.
Not knowing whether the Borough Bridge is safe or not, the Captain realizes their only chance is going over as soon as possible. He orders his men to help him lift and carry the Bearer without touching STATE. She is singularly light, as if there is no STATE hanging around her shoulders. They run to the Bridge and then over it. Nothing stops them.
In the next Borough, they halt in front of a decrepit corner chapel as they hear voices in a parallel street. ‘The Police!’ From afar the Captain hears heavy Army helicopters slowly scanning the area. Again taking the nearest escape route, he orders the men carrying the Bearer into the chapel. After they carefully let Her Grace down onto one of the narrow realWood benches, they stand near the door and wait.
The Captain looks and sees that they are hiding in a former STATE service chapel, unused for the past 24 years. It consists of only one small room. There is no other hiding place. They are not with enough men to defeat any group of Military or Police entering, but knowing the repercussions awaiting them when caught, they are ready to fight to death. While groups of heavily armed men comb the streets and search all buildings around, the Captain and his group try to bide their time as stealthily as they can. For what seems an endless time, the Bearer of STATE lies there, unconscious.
Outside, Military men can be heard, checking their portable dataCorders and shouting information to each other. They sound confused. The data they receive, always so reliable, now contradicts. The Elite soldier reporting his encounter with the thief of STATE was adamant that they search this Borough, but at other Borough Bridges similar alarms had gone off at the same time. ‘STATE could not be everywhere at the same time! There must be some fault in the system...’ But, orders are orders, and they search the area thoroughly, even though no securiCam yields a sighting of the terrorist woman or the four traitors.
Almost half an hour passes and the Captain thinks they can risk it. He orders his men to carry the Bearer, but this time she is impossible to even lift. They have to give up, and continue to wait. Strangely enough, neither the Military Police nor the Army seem to notice the chapel, though they pass by several times. Without any clue where to go from here with an immobile Bearer, the Captain waits and waits, not daring to think about what today’s move means for his career and life-span. He glances at the still figure of the Bearer. Her face is still and pale under her tan. She looks hard, uncompromising. ‘What kind of ruler will she be?’ But quickly he disregards the thought. ‘It is not my place to criticize... It is my duty to serve... Hail STATE... Hail the Bearer of STATE...’ He carefully checks her condition. The Bearer’s flesh is very cold and she is breathing only superficially. The Captain can hardly find a pulse. ‘What now... What can we do?’
S. is perched on top of a large white cell.
A maze of cells of various sizes stretches out below her, endless white cells and corridors, separated by thin white walls with apertures. Light floods the scene. She has the ability to see into all cells as if there are no ceilings, though for the beings living in them, the cells are closed.
Many small living beings move about through the spaces, all of the same height, all of the same built. They are moving about frantically, performing different tasks of which the function is not quite clear.
S. gets warmer and warmer. The activity generates a kind of friction in her, and the more they move, the warmer she gets.
She is suffocating. She needs more space.
S. descends into a large cell. Once inside, she sees that the beings are almost humanoid and only a little smaller than her. But they are oddly indeterminate: they have no sex, the heads are smooth, the eyes without whites, the skin a weird grey color. They all wear the same white uniforms, all with tiny number codes visible on their chests. When she touches the cell floor, the humanoids around her stop moving and stare at her grey clothes and numberless chest, a voiceless panic rising.
‘An Unmarked One! No!’
S. can hear their thoughts, though theirs mouths do not move. Some try to run for the doors, but though frantic, they hardly move at all. Others stand passive, arms hanging heavily at their sides. They look at her, unmoving.
All of a sudden, the apertures open and a group of Police run in. Dressed in white uniforms, they are bigger than the other humanoids, their bodies are metallic, and they carry weapons. While S. quickly gets back onto (or into?) the cell ceiling, the Police without any further ado open fire and kill everybody inside.
The white howls. Body after body falls, screaming. Their blood marks the white uniforms, the white walls, the cells collapse in pain, while S. watches, sick and even hotter than before. Everything aches.
When they leave, the Police make sure the many apertures are closed, the cell wall impenetrable.
“There’s one in there! An Unmarked One! We have to get it before it contaminates other rooms!” The officer is shouting in his communicator.
The Policemen spread out and search, pointing their guns at the cell ceilings.
Trapped between the cell walls, S. jumps down and runs for it. Her movement alerts the Police to her presence and a growing number of humanoids start persecuting her. S. runs and runs.
No longer can she jump back up into one of the ceilings. The brightly lit white spaces narrow and turn into corridors and staircases over which she keeps tripping. She runs and runs and runs, chased by the rasping sound of her panting, by the high howling sound penetrating her scull.
Coming from a narrow hallway, she throws herself into a larger cell. A small group of humanoids is present, standing, chatting. S. stops running, and the room she is in turns into a dead end. When the humanoids see the openings sealing themselves and melting into walls, the same mute but somehow diffident panic arises. They back away from her, but they cannot leave.
The white wall surface slides open into a narrow aperture.
S. stands very still, her back to the door.
A young Police officer enters, his gun pointed at her.
The panic becomes a tangible force around her.
Then, S. can see herself and the Policeman from a viewpoint above. Ah.
This is a nightmare, her nightmare, and she is the one to break and make the rules.
Slowly, she turns to face the Policeman. Totally unafraid now, she looks him in the eye. His eyes are metalloid and have no whites. He tries to stare her down bravely, but his eyelids betray him.
His gun becomes limp in his hands, the rigid pipe bending, the cylinder losing shape. The cell gets hotter and hotter. Very slowly, the gun surface begins to steam and then to melt. Quicksilver drops on the white floor, and more drops fall, then lie there shining.
Sternly, S. says: “So, P.09.134.782.001…”
and notices with satisfaction his complexion becomes anemic. Policemen code cards are turned face inwards, so no one can just guess their code, and saying it aloud is ripping the Policeman completely of all his advantages.
He drops what is left of the gun.
He tries to back away, but he cannot move.
With a small step, S. approaches. Softly, she stretches out her hand as if to stroke his chest. Where her nail touches the fabric, it cuts right through his uniform, only just stopping short of the pale skin. She makes a long straight cut from the top of his breastbone down to his navel, cutting though metal, buttons and cloth as easily with her nail.
The Policeman gasps, hardly dares to breathe. A colleague, glancing furtively around the door, ducks away.
“I will have
here,” S. says, articulating the words.
“Go tell your master there is a new Maker.
The rules will be redefined.”
The young humanoid Policeman turns and runs to escape. Immediately, S. seals the door after him. In the other smooth walls, apertures reappear.
“Go!” she says to the faceless humanoids around her, who scuttle away as quickly as they can. After them she seals all doors, leaving her to think alone in the white cell. So hot... Cool down... Cool down...
Shhhh... I am nothing... I am nobody... I am not here... Cool down... Shhhhhhhhh....
Really, again a persecution dream, S. thinks as she becomes aware of the hard bank she is lying on. The next instant she freezes as she finds herself looking straight into the face of a soldier of the regime, bending over her. She closes her eyes instinctively.
> did you hear?
> What? What are you on about?
> it is gone! the case is broken! it's free! FREE! come and see
> I'm not gonna see, are you crazy? For love of the President, stay away from there!
> You will be hit by the righteous anger of our great Leader...
> er? Luke? where are you? what are you talkign about?
> Luke? or whatever your name is? Where are you?
> gone, like
> Well, well. Soldiers will come and get you, my former friend... For sure... Hail the President!
S. blinks and opens her eyes. The Elite soldier is still there, looking down on her. But? He is not attacking...?
When he respectfully bows away from her, she remembers, though she does not dare to believe it. And then the information enters her mind, clear and concise.
Bearer of STATE for 73 minutes and 57, 58, 59
While she forces herself to start breathing again, the weight of STATE presses into her abdomen, the sensation of power oozing into her.
A very relieved Captain salutes her: “Your Grace! Good to see you well again! We have been hiding for ages… What are Your Grace’s plans?”