The Countess is B. Matil. The enemy of STATE. The murderer of Artur Werther, the instigator of the attacks against Irene, the Captain, the trap catching STATE… The mind behind the hidden bombs, the market attack, the burning of the Day of Souls. The ongoing invisible menace against STATE.
Now STATE has made the connection, more information about the Countess becomes understandable and an avalanche of new data connections, in combination with an ongoing and weird vagueness on some parts, unsettles STATE.
> did you hear?
> now you are doing it to me, heavy!
> Heavy, I am, Paul, or, you may refer to me as Heavenly haha
> sorry, Heavy, must’ve misplaced the Caps I guess… what were you referring to?
> haven’t you read somewhere? dataFlow’s full of it!
> the Reception of STATE, you mean?
> still wanna spell it like that, pal? downright massacre, t was!
> Hey guys, I’m back!
> Rosie, girl good to see you on OCC again, long time no see
> You cannot mean that, you rascal, but thanks all the same… what are you talking about?
> haven’t you heard?
> the massacre haha
> It wasn’t a massacre, Henry, or Heavy, or whatever you like to call yourself!
> oww pauly’s mad at me again
> the Reception of STATE, you mean? Apparently it almost went out of hand, yes…
> ALMOST? she pulled a damn grenade at her guests, she did!
> Her Grace did nothing of the sort!
> hail state for nothing I’d say, pauly, a grenade! How’d you like to face a grenade with the pin pulled, huh?
> Are yu sure this really did this happen, of is this again some dataFlow bogus, Heavy? I for one know none of the invites…
> Well, as a matter of fact, gentlemen, I do, well kind of… I know someone… he was there and yes, there was a real-enough looking grenade, he says…!
> wow Rosie what kinda people do you mix with? respect, la-dy!
> Anyway, Heavy, yes it looked like a grenade, yes Her Grace did pull the pin, trust STATE, but then she did not blow away anybody but pressed it back into STATE and what’s more, then she showed the gift of white to everybody…
> is that how your friend described it? gift of white?
> Er… well, no, he is more skeptical than I am, in general…
> What am I reading Rosie? Wasn’t at the box for a minute and now I read your message! Incredible! It must have been awesome… grand… Hail STATE!
> Hail the Bearer of STATE, Paul! Yes, from what I gathered it must have been really something! Even my skeptical boss was kind of puzzled, you know…
> aha, it’s your boss, Rosie! now we know!
> Know what, gentlemen? I am off OCC now, got to run…
Though S. would like to inform the Captain of her new knowledge, STATE anticipates that it will be difficult to convince him. He has such a different opinion on the Countess, viewing her as one of the few friends of the President who had some heart, some compassion. With eye for perfection, for years and years, the Countess has been staging her image, working continually on it, refining it. All forms of her public representation are controlled and shaped by her, the ways in which and the moments when she appears in the media, the ‘private’ photographs selected and distributed for the press, the charity projects she attaches her name to, the places she visits, down to whom could call her a friend, whom she hires and fires, whom could even talk to her. She had even kept her pregnancy a secret. No one knows she was the mother of the President’s son, not even the boy himself, who was raised by a succession of disappearing nannies.
In her dealings with the underground she is as tightly in control, but in all probability far less amiable. This information on Matil is fuzzy as it had always been, like most of the Criminal Clan’s dealings, but STATE gathers Matil is an entity independent from the Countess in all but her body.
Matilde. Matil. Matilde. Matil.
Apparently, the Countess has reached the point where she consists of virtually defined personalities - and never any untoward action or even an unconscious thought slips through. In continual control of herself, she is the perfect strategist and planner, in contrast to S.. Nobody, not even STATE, has any clear idea of the real person Matilde Bertrand, let alone of her deeds. Is she the one addressing her in the ‘You…’ form?
For days, the Bearer is more absent-minded than normal. Leaving the Committees' work fully to the dismayed Irene, the Bearer sits in the small Palace office, Alexander waiting at her feet with papers she hardly asks for. Irene is beginning to tire of the absent lapses of Her Grace, though she never thinks it in her presence. ‘It’s been a year, and she has had maybe a few months of solid working… The Constitutional Committee has all but finished the revision of the Constitution and has prepared a pile of changes, which the Validation Committee is in the process of discussing. The Committee for the Crimes Against the People is compiling the list of whom should appear, and I’m afraid the Captain will be on it… Before long, all Committees will be sending papers to Her Grace, and she should check the changes and sign. If only she is capable to do so, then. Oh… Trust STATE… Trust the Bearer of STATE…’
In the meantime, requests for STATE Loans continue to trickle in and have piled up considerably, with Her Grace focusing on Matil. ‘Alexander does not have much to do, lately… Has grown fat, Alexander, his boyish face round and bored. He spends all his time in the Office, but he does not even seem to consider another life… Ah, I just hope S. will find Matil soon and all this will be over and done with!’
S. surfs the white data for information about the Countess. As the vagueness pertaining anything connected to Matil persists, S. becomes enveloped in a continually and gradually deepening anger. She has only one obsession: prying apart everything that had happened the past year, analyzing all attacks and Matilde’s involvement, adding to an intricate and very personal structure of hate.
Matilde. Matil. Matilde. Matil. Matilde. Matil. Matilde. Matil.
When she rests on the Bearer’s bed, Matilde is there, entwining her limbs with hers, burning her thoughts with an obsessive passion. The opaqueness of her entity, her thoughts impenetrable for STATE, the never-ending perfection making all trails dead ones, and her subtle infiltration into her blood draws all S.' focus onto one two-faced person, an opponent to be wary of.
After gleaning what information she can, STATE observes that the Countess poses a real threat. Though seemingly docile, she is amassing powers in secret. She not only has infected her blood, she not only attacks through subtle ways, she is working towards a clear aim. She is striving to become the next President. Once in power, she will not display any doubts, and the humans will love her for it. Having all abilities to, she will sustain total control for a long, a very long time. With her connections, she will run a stable government, with no attacks, no room for change, no space for dissidents. The Countess will not hesitate to use her power against the people, to amass more power and stability for her reign. S. knows her reign will annihilate all that she has fought for and that STATE must do anything to prevent this happening. Disabling Matil/de is the main priority of STATE.
“And I say this country is sick to the core! What other population would endure a leader, who threatens to throw a grenade at its elite for no reason at all!? What other people would hesitate to decapitate such a ranging lunatic? She is the Filth I tell you, and she makes me tremble for what we are, for what we have become. Are we puppets, who allow their every fool to lead them? Why does the Police not grab her for the killer she is? Why does the Army not grab that slivering slave who calls himself Captain? Why does that blonde Secretary condone every filthy thing the Filth does to her people? I can tell you why!
Because we, the people, are contaminated to the core with this sickness.
We, the people, have to cleanse ourselves of the filth of the President AND of the Filth that followed him. For she is his Seed!
We have to prepare ourselves for our cleansing, which will take place, in any form necessary. Spread the Word! Save the People! Spread the Word! Save the People! Cleanse yourselves before we all go down!” And shaking, Jason A. sinks to the ground. His followers hold his body as he starts to flay. Some of them start shaking as well, some start hitting themselves with frayed bioLeather, working themselves into a frenzy. The undercover agents do not interfere.
Bearer of STATE for 1 year, 1 month, 1 week, 2 weeks,
What is becoming more clear as time passes by, is that even though STATE has withdrawn all financial resources of the Countess, this does not impair her operations. She must have a valuably source of credit. If not traceable money, then what? There must be something else, something STATE cannot trace in the structures of official transactions, something… But however much as S. searches the information networks, there is no trace of what the Countess can possess to empower her thus.
Finally, S. decides on a ruse. She asks to be driven to the Palace of Parliament. Brownish realStone floors, covered with thick carpets. Columns and doors. Columns and doors. Columns and doors. Accompanied by two Guards, S. walks through the Palace of Parliament corridors.
Shown in by nervous bodes, the Bearer looks for the Captain in Her Excellency’s Palace office. Disregarding Irene, she gets straight to the point: “Captain. I have reasons to believe that the Countess is in danger. Can we spare one Guard to tail her, without her noticing? To keep an eye on her?"
“Your Grace..! I did not realize you care for her in this way… That is very kind and generous of you. Of course we can! But don’t you think we should inform her?"
Her Grace shakes her head. “No need to make life stressful for her, Captain. STATE is not completely sure. If the Guard notices no suspicious activities around her, I may have been mistaken… And if there is anything the matter, we will inform her, of course…” Without another word, the Bearer strides from the room.
Looking after her, Irene briefly forgets who is listening. “She is lying,” she says and frowns, immersed in thought. ‘Her Grace never lies to me about anything…’ - and her growing sense that the Bearer is pulling away from her again lends a slight edge to her voice: “Whatever for?”
The Captain snorts. “Why do you think that? Just because she takes care of someone else?"
The Secretary of STATE looks at him with cold blue eyes, her round shoulders tightening. “That’s not why! I just…"
At that moment, a young Guard enters. He has some experience with Security work, and shrugging Her Excellency’s worries away, the Captain takes him out of the office to discuss the assignment privately.
For a second, Irene has to swallow away something bitter, before a dataCall from Mc Kinsey claims her attention and allows her to turn away.
In a secluded suite of a very nice restaurant just opposite Schneider’s, Johan Delaware rises as Sarah Feyman enters. She looks radiant, as she had done at the Reception, and shrugs off her beautiful coat into the hands of the waiter in an elegant and definitely enticing way.
“Mr. Delaware, dear Minister, how good to see you,” she says in a low tone.
“Er, well, I am not here in my capacity as Minister, dear Sarah, as you know,” he says sternly, aware that she is a reporter after all.
“Oh, don’t worry, Johan; if we are progressing to first names so rapidly I suspect we are here for some other reasons?” She smiles ever so sweetly and he smiles as well. ‘Clever girl, I like that,’ he thinks, as they are seated and an impeccable waiter offers them a fresh white wine to start with, while opening a menu into their hands. The candle light plays over her face as he glances at her: “What would you prefer, Sarah, something light or are you more into the main course?"
She looks up, a slight smile making her face younger: “Well, I’m a light snack person normally, Johan, but my tastes may change…”
They toast a non-committal “To the state!” and enjoy a superb meal together.