“You ever feel like we’re treated like slaves?”
Teekay glanced up from the book he was reading. The other handful of Ksa, all spending some time relaxing after a hard day’s work, did the same.
Veekay hesitated for a moment. He’d been sitting at his desk, reading about the Kalsa Warriors of Kolasi and how well they were doing.
“I said… uh… Do you ever feel like we’re treated like slaves?”
Geekay and Enkay both seemed surprised at Veekay’s words. Enkay shook his head, while Geekay shrugged. But something lit up in Itakay’s eyes.
“You do?” Teekay echoed. “Why? We live perfectly normal lives, we have jobs we can never get fired from, large amounts of money…”
Itakay tutted, then reached under his desk and pulled out a large notebook and opened it up to a bookmarked page. “We get paid less than the average Rethan because our bed and board are covered by our Guard Target. We are only allowed to work specific jobs. We are not allowed to take any stimulants, including caffeine and alcohol. We are not allowed to influence politics in any way and lack the right to vote. Should I continue?”
Teekay looked down, not sure what to say. “We’re not slaves though…”
“Actually, Itakay has a point…” Enkay admitted. “We’re literally trained from birth to do specific jobs. And like he said, I can’t leave and run a, I dunno, a bakery if I want to, I’d end up on border patrol like most other Ksa who try and change jobs.”
“Exactly!” Itakay exclaimed. “We’re stuck with this job. Especially me!”
“Especially you?” Teekay asked, feeling deflated. “What do you mean by that?”
“We spend all day with General Elkay, Ita spends his day behind a desk making sure we go to the right places… That reminds me…” Veekay sighed. “I wanted to bring up a discussion about raising Itakay’s rank…”
Itakay smiled. “Really?”
“Yeah. Up to Third-Deputy. You do a ton for us, Ita. I already mentioned it to Enkay and he was fine with it.”
“Really?!?” Itakay tried to contain his excitement, but realised Veekay was distracting him from his original argument and it didn’t look professional to be so excited. “Uh. Yeah. Thank you, Veekay. But I’d like to continue this discussion about slavery. Teekay, you don’t think we’re slaves?”
Again, Teekay looked down. “I… No… Kinda… Maybe… I don’t know. It’s never something I have considered. I’m just…”
“Too dedicated to your job?” Geekay suggested.
“No… I’m brainwashed… We all are. We have to be, because we’re stupidly powerful and could kill thousands without even realising it…” Teekay finally admitted. “I have my job, I do my job. I am comfortable with my life, so I have never considered the fact that maybe I’ve been used this entire time…”
“General Elkay does make it easy to forget as well. He treats us far better than many older Classes…” Veekay added. “All these years, he’s been trying to make things more fair for us Ksa.”
“He’s not doing a very good job at it!” Itakay tutted.
“That’s unfair!” Enkay countered. “General Elkay is doing his best. But he’s fighting tradition. Traditionally, Ksa are slaves, to protect and serve others. These days, we serve our guard targets, rather than being at the beck and call of our masters. If it wasn’t for General Elkay, we’d be unable to come out publicly if we’re sexually harassed, for example.”
“And he IS working on getting us the right to vote…” Teekay muttered. “I, uh, overheard him talking about it with Thitavee-En.”
“What would we do differently if we were like normal Rethans though?” Geekay asked, feeling slightly confused. “We’d still be working for the Vice General, we’d be able to vote and change jobs and eat things that are incredibly unhealthy for us, but how different would that be?”
“It’s more than just those, Geekay…” Veekay sighed. We’d be able to do anything we want. We’d be able to live our lives and end our lives exactly how we want to.”
Even Itakay seemed confused by Veekay’s statement. “What do you mean?”
“Any of you heard from Arkay lately?” Veekay replied with a question. “You saw him, Teekay, did he look happy? Was he recovering?”
Teekay shook his head. “No. He was angry that he was dying. I… haven’t spoken to him since…”
“That’s what I mean. Arkay was just wheeled off to the KSA hospital. He won’t be able to visit his friends or family. We can’t officially visit him. Arkay will probably die in a crappy hospital bed, wishing he’d been able to properly say goodbye to us. When we get ill and die, we get replaced. As if we were never there. I believe General Elkay is better than that, but anyone else? They’d have already replaced Arkay by now.”
The Ksa all fell silent. Maybe Veekay’s claim was hyperbole, but he was right. They were seen as servants, not normal Rethans.
“I suppose…” Teekay finally spoke. “I suppose, if we are slaves, we need to do something about it. Where do we start?”
“No matter how hard General Elkay pushes, everyone else pushes back. We need to convince the N-Class Ksa, they have access to the one Rethan who makes things official!” Itakay exclaimed.
Veekay though shook his head, disagreeing completely. “The N-Class are the most brainwashed of us all. They won’t budge. The High General chose them to be his Ksa for a reason. What we need to do is speak to every other Ksa. When all the Ksa agree, the N-Class will have to fall in line, to protect their pride.”
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. In a panic, a state rather unnatural to the Ksa, they all rushed back to what they were doing, hiding the fact they’d ever said anything. The door slowly swung open, and there was an audible sigh of relief when they realised who it was.
“Hey guys!” Psiksi smiled. “Just so you know, we’re swapping shifts in an hour.”
As soon as he spoke, Psiksi disappeared again.
The five Ksa looked at each other.
“Maybe we need to build up some courage first…” Veekay muttered.