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, so 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 dry, and she stops to swallow. She is oddly light-headed 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 no'
The husk of her body moving down the road, its limits well-known and alien at the same time.
Experience is panned out 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 physically.
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 their securiCams' monitors and they are reaching for their arms. ‘That thin woman does match the description communicated through all media this morning…. But surely even a terrorist carrying STATE would not be stupid enough to attempt entering the Military Headquarters alone..?’
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 S. 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 passing 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 main Headquarters, 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 tankGuns. 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 though 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.
S. allows herself to be directed by STATE. She has to trust STATE. Totally.
STATE follows the hub of information, knows where the generals are gathered in a closed meeting.
Groups of heavily armed Special Forces rush into the corridor, trying to corner the terrorist Bearer. But they cannot get nearer to her, as also their arms become impossible to aim within a range of 30 meters around STATE. Turning a 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 STATE 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 silent disbeliefs.
“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 thermos 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 enormous 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, 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. A strong 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, and 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 -
S. speaks: “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. We all serve the Bearer’ 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., the data generated by STATE until S. disregards its 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!
>OK 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.