The lesson of power

It had started with a simple question to Master Cho while we visited the annual Gathering of Holders:

“How do they wipe themselves? They’re so fat.”

I had asked the question innocently, genuinely curious as to the answer. Most of the Holders were morbidly obese, some to the point where they couldn’t even walk anymore but used various mechanical devices for locomotion. It was disgusting to me as a malnourished slave.

Patiently, but firmly, Master Cho pulled me aside, making sure we were not within earshot of any of the Holders. “Curb your tongue, dog, lest it be removed.” he admonished, leaving me to wonder why he was so irate at such a practical question. He usually appreciated logic and candor.

“It was just a question.” I replied, genuinely confused. “I mean, I figured out the sex thing between two fat people, with the weird angles and all, but this is by yourself. How would they reach around and …” My thought was cut off by a swift backhand, with Master Cho’s other hand clamped onto my throat so swiftly and securely that I was panicking more from the speed of the action than the fact I couldn’t breathe.

“Listen to me, welp, but do not speak another word.” or it will be your last was the implication. “Do you understand?” I nodded and he released me. I gasped for air, holding my throat.

“You cannot conceive wealth. You aren’t even responsible with what little I give you. These esteemed Holders have great status, and that symbolic power is displayed by their vast girth. It is a demonstration of social status, that they can easily afford to eat so well while dogs like you work themselves to death for mere scraps. They hold power you could never wield, influence thousands of lives, and are gods among men. And all you can think to ask is how they clean themselves? Your insignificant mind astounds me with its crudeness.

Maybe they lick themselves clean like you would. Maybe they have a shower tool for such an occasion. Maybe they shit rainbows that smell like flowers and don’t need to wipe themselves at all. Had you considered that?”

I hadn’t.

“Maybe you should focus what limited intellectual capacities you have on serving me better lest you end up like one of their slaves whom possesses the singular task of scrubbing his master’s arse with a sponge on a stick! Is that the task you desire?”

I shook my head in the negative. Wiping someone’s stinky, fat ass was definitely not something I wanted to do.

“You have forgotten your place once again, and you will be punished when we return home. For now, remember your place. You are not Amarr. You will never have worth to God. You are nothing more than a common slave, a dog, one who will never understand wealth, nor power, nor fully grasp how insignificant your life is, only holding limited worth for as long as I see fit, which decreases by the second.”

I bowed my head, clasping my hands together, gesturing for forgiveness from my master. It was something I had done so many times that it stopped meaning anything to me years ago. I knew it appeased him, and that it would stop me from getting beaten later. Maybe.

“Is there a problem, Cho?” a grotesquely fat man asked from atop his moving seat. It had four mechanical legs that reminded me of an insect, but smelled far worse than I had imagined. Up close, he reeked of rotting meat like a kill that had sat out in the sun for days. It was rancid and I covered my mouth with my sleeve to stop myself from gagging.

Master Cho must’ve noticed the Holder looking at me, for he quickly glanced my way, saw what I was doing, and backhanded me once again.

“My apologies, Holder Ardishapur, my slave cannot contain his unworth in your presence.”

The Holder smiled within the fat folds of his face, looking down upon Master Cho. “He is a cute one, broad shouldered, strong. Brutor, yes?”

Master Cho nodded.

I felt a new type of disgust wash over me as the Holder’s eyes travelled up and down my body, and I felt violated by it.

“How much for the boy?” the Holder asked, raising his hand towards Master Cho. I literally had to turn and vomit as I watched the layers of fat move as a living being beneath his loose fitting dress.

Master Cho supplicated with his hands, shaking his head furiously. “With great respect, Holder, this one isn’t worthy of your notice. I have far stronger slaves I can introduce you to at a later date. This one is sickly, as you can see.” Master Cho turned towards me, indicating my current state with a sweeping gesture.

The Holder arched his eyebrows, contemplating, running his fat fingers across his many chins, the shine of his many thick jewelled rings making me want to wretch further.

The two of them whispered briefly, with small gestures inbetween, and finally the Holder left us. I felt drained and flush, wiping sweat from my forehead. I didn’t know if I was ill or revulsed.

Master Cho put his arm around me. “Gather your strength, dog. We’ll be returning home and packing some things. It seems you are going to be of service to Holder Ardishapur, a great honour indeed. If you ruin this for me, I will kill the village I dragged you from, and everyone else within a 100 mile radius. Are we clear?” he asked casually, as if it were no great thing to him.

I nodded emphatically.

We began to walk away, him walking ahead of me as was the usual.

“Oh,” he said, looking nonchalantly over his shoulder back at me. “To answer your original question. Some of them don’t wipe at all, as you’ll undoubtedly find out soon.”

With that he laughed, as I turned and wretched some more, my empty stomach knotting in protest.

It had been years since I had killed Master Cho, but the month I spent as a Holder hygienist never left me. You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about this now. Let me tell you why.

Master Cho had it wrong. Power isn’t about wealth, though I had more money than he could ever have fathomed. Power isn’t about your property value or accumulated possessions. Power isn’t about net worth.

Power is about getting people to do what you want. Power is about destroying your enemy’s will to continue the fight. Power is about knowing your every decision directly affects millions of lives.

The Holders were not gods. They were fat, obese mortal men with a sense of self-entitlement that matched their ample waistbands.

I was a god, an immortal. I would live long after the memory of those men was forgotten.

The Tribal Liberation Force had been winning the war. The 24th Imperial Crusade had all but abandoned the fight. We possessed power. Fighting for ideals, for hopes, for freedom; there was power in this. Our people’s voices, united as one, fueled our power.

As my destroyer class ship sat in orbit over one of the few remaining Amarr controlled planets, I smiled, wishing Master Cho was still around to witness this demonstration of power.

That is when I began the orbital bombardment.

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