|Everybody Loves A Parade
||[Jan. 31st, 2006|06:27 pm]
Our average friend had realized his abilities long ago. He was the friend and enemy of everyone. He had been a small-time drug dealer, giving the gift of spice-, spank-, and spug-induced oblivion. He had been an up-and-coming political revolutionary, hailing all the way from Dome 5. He had briefly joined his own revolution after staging assassination, before the heat became too much and he woke up with fewer living friends each day. He had worked as a merchant, selling under-the-counter guns that were little more than piping and wire.
Today, he was Ardum Cade, and he was rousing the rabble against the Atrox family. The cold urban sprawl of the Dome bred a people who were eager to latch onto whatever secondhand emotion they could find.
A crowd had formed around the stool Ardum was standing on. He waved a sign saying "DOWN WITH ATROX." He wondered how many of the mob could read it.
"Atrox," Ardum yelled, "is elevating itself beyond the status of mankind! The Machines are all around us. The last thing we need is their Atrox cronies breathing down our necks!" A surge of noise rose from the crowd. Ardum methodically scanned their minds. He slowed the pace of his speech to compensate for the distraction. Someone had to be feeling just the right mix of fear and disdain. Someone who thought he was wrong. Someone willing to start something...
A man far in the back felt loyalties to Atrox. The Family had lifted his parents out of poverty and moved them away from the gang violence on the streets. Beside him was a woman whose brother had been deemed a threat to Atrox and disappeared days later.
Continuing with his speech ("Atrox stands for the death of flesh!"), Ardum reached out to the man's mind. A mental tweak forced a thought to float through his head - I hate him. His face contorted into anger. "You're wrong," he shouted. "We would all be murdered in our beds if Atrox didn't keep us safe!" Ardum reached out again, to the woman this time. He made her think about her brother. Everything he had stood for. Everything she had lost. And finally, the icing on the cake. The slightest violent impulse. Ardum watched as she drew back her arm and delivered a punch to the man's jaw. He stumbled and thrashed back at her, hitting a group of fair-skinned street people. The crowd morphed into a surging mass of fists and elbows, and Ardum smiled inwardly as the street devolved into anarchy.