7:14 a.m. on the Second Day of the new Bearer’s Reign
Shown in by a reverent nurse, Professor Emeritus M. de Parry arrives. Practically pushing the Captain away from the Bearer’s bed, he bends over her. “Aha, yes, yes, and so soon!” he mumbles. “I need to do the tests now, asap, I’m afraid! Yes, yes, it is the only way to monitor these things you know! And then, yes then, well… even then…"
He reaches out to fold away the bed covers.
“You will stop right there!” the Captain says. “Who are you? What gives you the right to walk in here?"
The nurse turns to him and says pleasantly: “Oh, Captain, please allow me to introduce you… Professor De Parry was the specialist leading the STATE experiments up until his retirement some years ago. He is the best expert in this field…"
Professor De Parry does not add anything and pulls the bed covers aside.

> No! No, not her. This is not what we fought for!
> Shhh, this is data, you know
> I don’t care! Let her know it! We did not fight for STATE to replace the P, it is just the same
> No, this Bearer will be different
> I don' t care if she is different, it should NOT be up to her! it should eb UP TO US! the people! Not this little traitor
> I’m outta here, no offense but

Straightening his uniform, the Captain approaches and towers over the Professor. “Expert or no, you will show respect for the new Bearer of STATE! Where do you get the nerve to even touch her?"
“Ah yes, yes, of course, the Guard!” the Professor says, still disregarding him completely. When the Captain moves to physically remove him, De Parry continues, still looking at the Bearer, “Yes, yes, of course this time it is no government experiment, I do realize! But anyway,” and he suddenly looks at the Captain, “I do think my knowledge might come in handy, don’t you?” He smiles indulgently. “I do not care one jota for your knowledge, professor!” the Captain starts, but the Professor continues: “Aaaah, but of course you do take into account that the average life-span of a Bearer is no more than a few years, at most? You do know the death causes of the predecessors, I suppose? Well..?
Do you?"
The Captain of course has no idea, and after a few seconds he steps back slightly. “As long as you do not harm Her Grace. I vowed to protect her and I will!”

The Professor checks the monitors for the Bearer’s pulse, tut-tuts and looks closely at her skin in several places. With the handles of his glasses, he presses the flesh lightly, like trying if a piece of meat is cooked or still raw. Very carefully, he lifts the eyelids and checks the whites, then tries to look between STATE and the Bearer’s belly skin, taking care not to touch STATE.
He pulls out an old-fashioned pocket-sized dataCorder, his fingers tap rapidly on its keys, and then he resumes his inspection.
When he hits on the scar on the Bearer’s left arm he bends closer, his close-range spectacles almost touching her. “And what might this have been? A wound in such a recent Bearer? Strange…
Now why would STATE allow for anything to so deep, I wonder? Or… wait…
Maybe it was STATE itself? Hmn? Seeing as the wound has healed so quickly?”
“There was a Mark,” the nurse says curtly, earning an angry look from the Captain.
The Professor jerks to look at her surprised, then bends over to study the scar again. “Well, well! Now really! That is interesting indeed! Yes, yes, now I remember, a Marked one, she was! A Marked Bearer! Unusual, to say the least, yes, yes, very… unusual! Unbelievable, if you ask me! But yes, of course, with this Bearer’s history… But… Who’d have expected STATE to allow a Mark so near? Ingenious little inventions, they are, aren’t they?… A Marked one as Bearer! Well, well, what will we have next? Hmn… Understandable that STATE would not want it close, and removed it…
I do wonder if the poison did react in any way… and what happened to the explosive…? Hmn?
And where did the Mark go, I would like to know…
Ah..! Sucked into STATE, I suppose, yes, yes, that would be it…”
He keeps adding observations in the dataCorder while talking to himself. “Ah, and there are cuts on the hands too, I see!” He looks closely and again, he tut-tuts. “And ugly to boot..! And so soon! Really! She has been Bearer, what, for two days! So soon! Normally the fight starts later, much later…” He adds, smirking: “Yes, yes, at first, most Bearers do like the sudden powers and commodities involved… And you would think this one would be more than content, having fought so hard to obtain it! Well, well…
Yes, well, I suppose…"
He turns suddenly, his eyes searching Jan. “OK. You, Doctor… Has the Bearer been eating? Drinking? Sleeping?"
Jan approaches warily. “Ehhm, Her Grace did eat something this morning and yesterday afternoon. This evening, that is, eh, yesterday evening, she only had some water. And sleeping, well if you call this sleeping, then”
“Dear man, this is definitely no sleep! This is a first, or rather, second stage of what we scientists came to call the Bearer’s Disease, for lack of better words! Sudden bouts of pain, especially in the back, insomnia followed by coma, paralysis, black-outs, phantasms, hallucinations, whatever you would prefer to call them! But natural sleep, well! I do not think so, at least not compared to normal sleeping brainwave patterns! Although of course in this new case we would have to ascertain”
Eagerly, he flips to open a new document in the dataCorder. “So, what do we need? Silicon CT add-on monitors, MRI, electroMagnetic tests, blood tests to check on ferro-levels, monitoring of the inner organs, daily I would say, well, yes, well… I would need my own team of course, and permanent access, and of course the funding will”
The Captain interrupts. “There will be NO such thing! When the Bearer of STATE awakes, I am sure she will deny all tests AND funding! You must be out of your mind!” To make his point, he draws near.
The Professor looks at him contemptuously, shakes his head. “But then she must first awake, no? And how is this small frame going to accomplish that? Huh?
This Bearer is already almost in one of the final stages, well, as far as I can gather at this point! I might as well take advantage of this rare and temporary situation, so we can learn for possible future Bearers. That is, if we would think that preferable to normal decent statesmanship!"
But now he definitely trespasses on the Captain’s patience. Without a further word, he pushes the Professor out of the Bearer’s room. Outside, the elderly man straightens his suit and turns to leave. “I will be back, dear Captain, I will be back! And you will ask me to, I assure you!”

Time throbs on. Thin needles are piercing her peritoneum. Again an object entering her tissues. Again forcing her into something new. No.
She has to get out. What is she doing here?
The white is nice, better, much better than the black… But still… this is not right.
I am nothing. I am no one. I am nobody… I am a stain…
Or no, not even.
Not even a mark on this whiteness…
She should go and let it