Jahangir nodded vigorously. 'Yes, the heart and soul of our movement. There’s a rally today, at the square near the factory. While men like us strike at the Shah from the shadows, it’s those like her who turn our ideals into a real workable ideology by creating popular support."
They headed outside into a light drizzle, and Jahangir put up the hood of his vest. Underway, Marcellus was filled in on the story of the one named Jasmine. 'Supposedly, her father is some bigshot noble and one of the main driving forces behind augmentation. When her brothers were augmented, she saw the horror for what it was and began to organize a group to eventually petition the Shah to pass a ban on the practice. Gilgamesh refused, of course, and in a rage she burst out of the palace and began shouting on the market place. Turns out she has a real thing for public speaking, and she’s attracting more and more support."
From not far away, they could hear clamouring. They walked closer and rounded the corner, and found a group of people, no more than a hundred, in front of the factory’s main entrance. Before the cloud was a woman, holding a funnel to her mouth that amplified her voice many times over. Her hair had been plastered to her head, dress hanging loosely around her, but despite that it was still clearly apparent she was of high class from the quality of the garment. People were shouting and cheering, and some held signs that said things like “no to body corruption!”, “ban tech-augments!” and “To prison with the corrupters!”. A small group of police officers, off to the side, kept an eye on things, but things were fairly sedate. There were no more than a dozen officers, with no vehicles or weaponry in sight, and they did their best to project a calm image, often making conversation and small talk with the protesters.
A man standing next to the woman triggered some sort of electrical siren, and the crowd fell silent. Jasmine scraped her throat, and began to speak. “Behind us, the corruption that has infected the Kavehan soul shows its ugly face. The practice of tech-augmentation takes people, and twists them from men into things. Into mere gears in the machine! By giving up our flesh, we give up our soul. By sacrificing our body, we open ourselves to the foul worship of Angra Mainyu! Those in charge push these technologies on us, saying it’s an advancement, the way into the future. They do not realise the price they already pay!” At this, the crowd cheered - a rough and primal sound. Those waving signs held them high, while one held up a cloth painted with the rough image of a broken gear. Jasmine waved them to silence, and continued. “Now, the nobles in their castles keep ‘upgrading’ themselves without end, swapping this outdated arm aug for a new one, or that eye for a better alternative. How long, I ask you, until we become outdated? Until normal people, like you and me, are thrown out into the trash like waste? How long until your jobs are taken and given to someone who paid with his flesh for a technological trinket that lets him do it better?” The crowd jeered and whistled at that. 'NO! We say no to those who corrupt our body, our soul, our very humanity with their filth. No to those who upgrade themselves, no to the replacement of normal people. We will lift up our voice to the heavens, growing in strength and wrath, until we become too strong to ignore! And then the body befoulers will discover who it really is that will be replaced."
Once again the crowd cheered. When it was evident she’d finished her little speech, a chant began rising, swelling in strength until everyone was shouting rhythmically at the top of their lungs. Jahangir joined in, to the confused look of Marcellus. “A-nâ-hi-ta! A-nâ-hi-ta! A-nâ-hi-ta!” It was almost hypnotic in its cadence and rhythm, and the centurion felt nearly compelled to join in when it suddenly ended in cheering and whistles, and the crowd dispersed.
On the way back, he asked Jahangir what the word had meant. The Kavehan looked him in the eye, a melancholy look to his face, and simply said, “Purity.”