With two Guards, the Bearer enters Parliament Hall and sends the STATE limo off, to wait out of sight. The hall is semi-dark and empty, not so surprising as it is only 6:08 in the morning. In the far end, some people are cleaning, the sonorous sound of hovering punctuated by remarks flying to and fro in a foreign tongue. One Guard moves to send them off, but the Bearer lifts two fingers to stop him.
Bearer of STATE for 5 months, 3 weeks, 1 day, 20 hours and 0 minutes
S. walks towards the Seat of STATE. The Seat is a realOak high-backed chair, clearly made in the same period as the table in the Chamber of STATE and the Bearer’s Catch standing more in the center of Parliament Hall. As in the chair in the Eastern Palace Office, the inside of the Seat is completely covered with STATE material.
The President had attempted to remove these STATE symbols, but they had proved to withstand all attempts, being too heavy, too unwieldy and generating electro-magnetic fields interfering with the machines'. In the end, people decided to leave them as relics of the past, never dreaming they would be activated by a new Bearer.
S. is seated. The material softens, encloses her body from behind, folding over towards STATE, connecting. Her body is locked in the Seat.
“Get coffee. Both of you. STATE will be present as inconspicuously as possible. When you return, stand behind the Seat.” The Guards leave.
In the semi-dark, S. sits in the Seat. For STATE, the huge hall is filled with echoes of all the debates held there, the political plotting, the subtle and less so power threats. It is here, after all, where the groundwork for governing takes place, where the Ministers' decisions are agreed on, weighed and counter-measured, where new Ministers often arise.
To her left, a huge grey-green velvet curtain covers the whole back of the Hall. It has to be opened.
One of the cleaners approaches with his huge industrial vacuCleaner, humming a curvaceous melody over the bass of the machine. He gets closer and closer and then sees feet in the Seat. ‘What!?’ In surprise, his eyes dart to her, ‘what’s this? No one’s supposed to be here,’ and he turns to shout to his supervisor.
““No.”” Confused, he shakes his head. ‘Do I hear voices?’ He looks at the white woman with round eyes. ““Do not tell,”” the voice says. The man just stares. ‘How this woman can speak our tongue?’
The pale woman with the stern face looks down on him. He looks up at she who is seated in the Seat and speaking his language while clearly not belonging to his clan, and then he understands her power. ‘The One she is, the holy One who leads this strange people… The Teacher taught us about Her, how could I not see… She is the One!’ A fierce jubilation enters his spirit when he realizes that the One can speak their tongue. He would like to run to tell his Teacher this great news, but he will lose his job; he has to keep the secret for a while, as the One is telling him. He has to obey.
> The Bringer of light has brought us Peace – rejoice!
> The Bearer of STATE is bringing democracy at last!
> Democracy is but a fable, dear Peter, Her Grace’s true value is in the Wisdom and light of STATE!
> STATE did not choose this Bearer for nothing, Pelgrim, and you know that! Her Grace is the channel of the powers of the People of STATE and she will bring us back into
> Yes, to bring us all the Peace of STATE! We, who have the honor to live in the Age of the Resurrection,
> No, STATE was meant to return only to return our powers to us! What good is another dictator?
> What are you thinking? The Light of STATE is not any such vile word! How dare you, Peter! Through Her Grace, the pure Light of STATE will pour, and all shall know their place in her Glory!
When the Guards return the cleaners have disappeared and the Parliament Hall’s lights are turned on. The Guards disappear behind the Seat.
Bearer of STATE for 5 months, 3 weeks, 1 day, 22 hours and 21 minutes
In small groups, people enter, chatting, arguing, laughing politely over some professional joke. They take their seats. It takes some time for everybody to arrive, and apparently there is some special subject on the agenda because the Hall is getting more full than normal. It is almost as full as when S. did the Bearer’s Test. When everybody is seated there is a hush of anticipation.
Then, Martin Rislers walks in. Very well-dressed, he walks proudly to the dais. Everybody looks at him and many people whisper their comments. They have clearly come for him.
“People! Dear people! Thank you for coming here in such great numbers. We have a lot to discuss, and a lot I will inform you all about. It is high time for us to start thinking about the future, the near future. As you know, behind the scenes a lot is starting to happen. The aim of the Bearer is democracy, as you are aware. But what form will this democracy take? We have to work now to ensure a stable and safe form of democracy to take us into the future. Therefore, we have installed a Constitutional Committee to lay down the groundwork for the constitutional changes that we face. Of course, the utmost care has been taken that only the right people are allowed into this Committee. Dear people! Of course, the Constitutional changes will be laid before you, the representatives of the people, to assess in the near future.”
WHAT! That was never agreed upon! What is he doing? S. thinks. But publicly countering him at this moment is impossible.
“Then, of course, the Validating Committee will validate the changes and make them into constitutional law. This whole process, as you are all aware, will be lengthy and tedious, but, people, it is better to do things right the first time, then to suffer the consequences of hasty mistakes! Hahem…” Very carefully, Mr. Rislers takes a sip out of a crystal glass of water, offered to him by a servant standing at the ready, before he resumes:
“First and foremost, we must be aware that one of the most decisive factors in a democracy is the level in which it can fulfill the economical desires of its subjects. That is to say, we have to keep the people happy, especially financially! At the moment, due to the uncertainties that people face, the situation is deploring. The Stock Exchange has been unreliable ever since the Bearer’s ascension, people are jobless, people cannot save, the whole economy has not yet recovered of the events in the near history and if we do not take some economical safety measures things are going from bad to worse in no time!”
Liar. STATE will show you. STATE will show all of you.
Martin Rislers' smooth voice continues: “Without intending to, the Bearer is becoming a liability herself. Her attention-span can be wavering; I am sad to say that unfortunately Her Grace’s health is deteriorating rapidly. And, as the research of renowned scholars does indicate, the life-span of most Bearers is short, too short. With all due respect, people, the sooner we stop depending on Her Grace’s reign, the better. Though of course I do not intend to act to do so, haha… Hahem…” Again, he elegantly takes a sip from the crystal glass.
The curtain’s velvet is hiding a huge information panel. STATE knows how to open it, from here, from the Seat. The button is hidden away in the armrest of her left hand. S. pushes once and after a short delay, the curtains softly swish open.
People are slightly surprised to see the screen, never having seen the curtains revealing anything. Naturally, they expect Mr. Rislers to be in control of the presentation. He talks on without looking backwards. The screen flashes on. Grey-green. Then, turning from bright green to yellow to white, data surfaces on the screen. First only some numbers and facts, then more and more data appears.
Most people need quite some time to take in the meaning of what they see. Statistics are always difficult to read correctly, and in this case understanding becomes more difficult as the data contradicts the verbal information. A majority cannot really make head or tails of it, only some people can. Having been subjected to decades of suppression, nobody dares speak out. Some shift uneasily on their chairs, trying to decide if and how they should voice what they see.
Martin Rislers continues to subtly describe the bad results of the Bearer’s Reign. A disquiet is present, but wrapped up in his own discourse, it takes quite some time for Martin to locate its source. He turns around and sees the screen.
Instantly, he is livid.
STATE sees his body harden, his easy smile fall off, the skin tightening around his commonplace features. Seeing his face through the digits STATE is generating, S. acknowledges the mistake she has made. This two-faced human with a hunger for power hidden behind blandness. But it cannot be undone. Not anymore. To sack him would make him a more formidable opponent, to send him to jail or excommunicate him would only make him a martyr for democracy and STATE a symbol of dictatorial repression. And anyway, he has a role to play in all this, a function'
During Risler’s silence, STATE continues to overlay the data with lines and circles, connecting relevancies, pointing to similarities, analyzing discrepancies, dividing the data into lists.
Those versed in statistics have never seen an exposé this clear, this concise. They start to whisper explanations to their neighbors, pointing out conclusions. And even those for whom all of it was abracadabra, start to see facts they connect to, some information known to them, something verifiable. It is clear that Mr. Rislers was lying. The economy had grown considerably the last five months. The Stock Exchange had expanded and was attracting investors from abroad for the first time ever. Yes, still a huge number of people is unemployed, but there are signs of their number diminishing, and the rise of new starting companies only makes their prospects better. In general the gap between the poorest and the richest had slunk, though it still was considerable compared to neighboring cultures. Consumer expectancies are as yet conservative, people cannot change their consumer patterns overnight, but all in all there are many signs of an economy recovering from a long period of stagnation.
Martin Rislers has forced his demeanor back to his normal amiable self. Before anybody can voice their questions, he clears his throat: “Ahem. Well, yes. As I was saying, people, it is essential that we work to recover the economy as soon as possible. As you can see, we are doing quite a good job already! It is up to us to keep these good results. Let us keep trust in the Bearer of STATE. Let us keep trust in the hardworking Committees, to maintain this growth. Yes. I expect you all to keep your trust in us. Shortly, I will return to you with more information on recent developments. Ahem…
I am sorry, but I am not allowed to answer any questions at this stage. You will undoubtedly realize why! Ha… Hahem. But I will get back to you soon. Do not hesitate to contact me personally with whatever aspect you think the new administration needs to heed! Thank you all for your kind attention. A very good day to you all!” Without looking around, Martin Rislers turns, steps down from the dais and leaves Parliament Hall.
Now Martin knows she is here he keeps his mind focused on something trivial. He has known from the start that the Bearer can read his thoughts and he has become very good at obfuscating his mind whenever he is near her. His short flash of anger surprised even STATE, she had never before seen him like he is today.
S. stays in the Seat. The information is still visible on the panel, slightly changing with the current shifts in the Stock Exchange, in the economy of STATE. Some people are avidly taking in the information, making notes, but most are talking in small groups about today’s presentation.
After half an hour, STATE allows the data on the screen to fade to grey.
She rests her head against the back of the Seat. Why had S. trusted Martin so unconditionally? It is clear what he is going for, and making himself the addressee of everybody’s questions and demands will make him more powerful. STATE sees the power amassing around him already, all this time, right under her nose.
Two people in the Hall chat politely with each other as they wait for all other people to leave: Validating Committee member Mr. de Brown and Johan Delaware. The Minister of Internal Affairs is the only government member present, the only Minister invited by Rislers, STATE notes.
When after some time the Hall finally is empty, they reverently approach the Seat. The Guards step in sight. Mr. de Brown bows and salutes the Bearer the old-fashioned way. Johan Delaware, aware his presence may be read as treason, says carefully: “Your Grace… We are honored to have had you present here. Thank you for the information! It was desperately needed, as of course Your Grace is well aware of…"
“Your loyalty will serve STATE and is highly valued by STATE,” the Bearer says, a little stiffly.
“Your Grace,” Mr. de Brown and Johan Delware bow and back away to leave the Hall.
S. very softly straightens herself. STATE holds her still, welded with the Seat’s material. How is she to get out?
Ah. She needs to inhale, to loosen Seat’s hold. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehm.
Softly, the Seat’s STATE material unfolds.
The Bearer of STATE rises and leaves Parliament Hall. Pushing bystanders aside without looking, the Guards escort Her Grace through the corridors and outside, to the limo they have notified the moment Her Grace had risen.
A very smooth machine of power surrounds her, but S. now appreciates how easily it can be turned against STATE.
Some soft noise must have awakened her, and Susan pushes herself from her pillow and squints at her alarm. ‘Oh… so early… Hmn, what’s that?’ Carefully, she listens, gets out of bed and listens more intently near the door. ‘Yes, someone is moving in the dressing room…’ Susan reaches out and takes the alarmSounder from its holder near her door. The Captain had insisted that as Her Excellency would hear of no Guards inside her private quarters, Susan should have some means to contact them at all times. ‘Should I activate it now?'
Susan knows what would follow: lights blaring on, the Palace’s outside and inner gates autoLocking, a group of Guards rushing in, an alarm waking the Captain and the Doctor and, if not deactivated in time by either of them, the Army ‘Copters coming down onto the Palace. ‘Hmn, better not… Might be Her Excellency herself…’
Last weeks, Susan had noticed her mistress was having problems with sleeping. Working late, bent over her ‘Corder, or returning to the Palace at the oddest hours… Her Excellency was looking paler than when she entered the Palace, and Susan was trying to bring her to accept some more relaxing pastimes… in vain.
Holding the ‘Sounder at the ready, she opens her door. The light in the dressing room is on, and when she looks in she is glad she did not activate the Guards. Her Excellency has just erected the ironing board and is searching for something in the cupboard.
“Eh, Your Excellency? Is there something you are looking for, something I can help youwith?”
Irene jumps. She had not wanted to wake Susan, and turns around to her. “Oh Susan, I am sorry, I was just looking for the iron,"
“Your Excellency! It is the middle of the night… Please forgive me, but you should be sleeping!"
“I couldn’t… I just can’t seem to fall asleep…"
“But, Your Excellency, we should call Doctor Jan, he will know what to do… He can give you something… You should sleep! I was afraid”
“Oh, I am sorry for waking you, Susan. I just thought, if I had something to do… Something manual, you know?"
“But… Your Excellency! Ironing is my job… I shouldn’t”
“Please, Susan… Just show me the iron and get back to bed. I’ll be fine after a while!”
Susan sighs. Hoping Mr. Blas would never find out, she takes the iron from the other cupboard and hands it to Her Excellency. “Shall I just make you one cup of tisane, Your Excellency? After ironing you might be thirsty?”
“Thank you, Susan, yes. I will not make it late,” Irene says. And soon the hissing and smell of ironing fill the room and occupy her mind. She tries not to think of Rislers, tries to forget the Minister’s meeting coming up the next day. She knows she has to keep her mind off Matil, as her fear of him will only make her more aggravated. So her mind turns to thinking about the Captain. Yes, she did notice him looking at her, and though not new to her it has been some time ago that a man was looking at her that special way. Her body senses his eyes and she enjoys the special kind of visibility and presence that results from his gaze. Still, she knows he will never be there for her. His first loyalty is and always shall be with Her Grace, the Bearer of STATE. And so is her own. She cannot envisage her own desires in that picture, and so she does not. What’s more, she has the feeling that the Captain needs some distance, and she does as well. And so, she would never enter his chambers, never ask him to stay, never enter too personal subjects, even though at times she wishes she would. But, no. She cannot think of him, and there are so many other things to think through…
Slowly, her thoughts unfold and she knows what to do. ‘Need a good secretary myself, someone to keep the Parliament office running more efficiently… A strict one, to impose a bit more focus on their work. I’m not a good boss, I guess, the bother’
> The Destroyer has come to us, the People, not to bring Peace but Destruction. [As is the Word of Jason A. the One]