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You Need A Big God.

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1.

Consider the tortoise.

Well, Om spent a lot of time considering the tortoise, and he's happy to have enough power now to choose his own shapes, thank you very much.

But Brutha likes the tortoise. And there's all these depictions of the great event, the defeat of Vorbis by the Great God Om (holy horns), the elevation of Brutha by the Great God Om (holy horns), and the miraculous end of the war by the Great God Om (ditto).

Om is leaning in to the merchandising. He is beginning to understand the power of a brand.

He's in competition with Great A'Tuin for the whole turtle-slash-tortoise-shaped-thing, but it's nice to be able to slide in there. Great A'Tuin doesn't really care for branding or a market strategy. He doesn't really much care about anything, too busy crawling toward the Big Bang. Well, good, that just means there's more space for the Great God Om (you get the picture).

Om realizes his mistake now. He wasn't paying attention to his followers, not as much as they needed. When they vanished, he hadn't noticed. But Om's been a small god now. He fought for Brutha. He made a pact with Brutha. Because he has to care about one person if he can care about more than that.

And he has to make them all care about him, too. He can't be a big god. He has to be close.

Om's got thousands of worshipers who go around trying to convince people to believe in him. It's great. Oh, they don't convince the masses, but they work very hard to convince themselves. Killing people doesn't help, it just makes them believe in the sword. But Omnians, they believe in the pamphlet. And the pamphlet is good. The pamphlet is Om.

Consider the tortoise necklace. Ingenious.

 

2.

When Death visits Brutha, Om settles down into the desert and waits. Brutha got him through a desert once. He's confident that Brutha can do it again. Brutha isn't the sort to ever think that he can't.

When Brutha arrives, it's expected. When Brutha arrives with Vorbis, that is not expected.

I. WHAT DID YOU BRING HIM FOR?

"He was there," says Brutha simply. Om considers striking them both down where they stand. Except that Vorbis is more leaning than standing. It wouldn't be poetic.

II. LEAVE HIM HERE, THEN.

"I got him to the other end of the desert last time," says Brutha.

III. NO YOU DIDN'T, HE KNOCKED YOU OVER THE HEAD AND DRAGGED YOU BEHIND HIM.

"He wouldn't have gotten anywhere near there without me." And Brutha sits down on the sand. Om had manifested as a tortoise out of habit, he hadn't been thinking. He makes himself into a bigger tortoise.

IV. HEY, VORBIS, ARE YOU FAKING IT AGAIN THIS TIME?

"He still can't hear you," says Brutha.

V. WELL, I DON'T WANT HIM.

Brutha looks contemplative. "I don't think you have him."

 

3.

Brutha had always seen Om as, well, a god. He'd never been looking at a tortoise.

But after a century of people looking at Om as a tortoise, he has to admit to certain tortoise-like shape to his self-image. It means that he's not going to turn into a bull and ram Vorbis through. It also means he's thinking about summoning an eagle for a repeat forehead performance.

"He's already dead," says Brutha, eternally helpful to his god.

Chap. II. v. I: THAT'S IT, I'M PUTTING HIM IN SOMEONE ELSE'S AFTERLIFE. I'M A GOD. I CAN DO THAT.

Brutha looks interested. Well, he should. He'd made a library! A library! Full of books! A whole section on theology! Just because Brutha still can't read doesn't mean he doesn't know exactly what he was doing. His prayers always were sly around the time when the library got another volume out of Brutha's gigantic brain. Om knows what Brutha was doing. "Which one?" asks Brutha.

II. THERE'S A GOD OF UTENSILS STUCK IN DRAWERS WHO LIVES IN ANKH-MORPORK.

"What's her afterlife like?"

III. ENDLESS RATTLING.

"That sounds like a headache," says Brutha judiciously.

IV. HE WON'T NOTICE, HIS HEAD IS TIGHTER THAN GREAT A'TUIN'S BALLS.

Disappointment radiates off of Brutha.

And Om is, fundamentally, a creature of belief. His existence is molded by those who believe in him. And no one believes in him more than Brutha does; he's changed to become the god that Brutha has wanted him to be. Some of that has been because of belief. Some of that has been because of Brutha himself.

V. FINE, I'LL DROP HIM OFF WITH OFFLER.

"That's a crocodile," says Brutha.

VI. IT'S CULTURAL ENRICHMENT. AND YOUR GOD'S A TORTOISE.

"Yes, he is." Brutha beams.

 

4.

"Death told me that judgment is at the end of the desert." Brutha is plodding along steadily, holding Om in his arms. Om had shrunk back down for it and conscientiously made himself lighter. Brutha's over a hundred years old. That's a lot for a human. Om won't make him lug around a giant tortoise. Brutha believes that Om is better than that.

Chap. III v. I: SO?

"Was he right?"

II. I THINK IT'S SOME KIND OF QUANTUM.

"You don't know?"

III. IT'S NEVER COME UP BEFORE.

Brutha stops. His arms seem like they're about to drop Om, but then he holds him tight to his chest. "Are you saying this desert is filled with the dead, wandering forever and seeking judgment?"

Oh, damn me, Om thinks with great vehemence. He's just given Brutha a cause. And the last cause Brutha had stumbled on, Om gave him a hundred years to handle. A hundred years isn't too long. And Om won't be stuck in the desert with Brutha. It would be fine.

"You only get a hundred years for this, too," says Om sternly. And he jumps out of Brutha's arms, turns into a cat, and vanishes into Omnia for something onna stick.

"Until then!" calls Brutha after him.

 

5.

Over the course of the next hundred years, Om discovers that even the dead pray. He's practiced at paying attention to Brutha, but he doesn't need any special attention; Brutha is all but shouting at him. Every time Om visits, Brutha has accumulated more and more of a following.

This is no way to run an afterlife, Om grumbles to himself. What's he thinking, letting his most fervent prophet decide to rearrange things for him? No one else on Cori Celesti would ever do this. Om's going to be ashamed to show his face.

"Consider the tortoise," says the preacher standing on a stack of wooden boxes in the middle of the town square. Om waits for the holy horns. Instead, the preacher makes the shape of a shell with both hands.

"Oh, brother," says Om.

I. YES?

Om turns around. And then he curses.

'It's the power of belief, innit?' says a voice in Om's head that sounds like his very first follower. 'We can make anything if we believe hard enough.' Apotheosis is just something that happens around here. Om should have expected it.

Om frowns and turns into an orangutan just so he can shake a finger at Brutha. "Fine," he says. "But you're going to have to get your own holy gesture. I'm not giving any of mine up."

Brutha smiles. He makes the tortoise shape with his hands, then twists his wrists, inverting the tortoise and then folding his hands like a book.

II. YES, LORD.

"Oh, go 'yes, lord' yourself," says Om, changing back into a tortoise. "Well, are you coming?" He can still feel Brutha's belief like a flame. Still devout, even after all that. Om's never gonna understand him.

III. WHERE ARE WE GOING?

"We need to see a man about your branding strategy." Om heads toward the food stalls.

"Why do I need to have a branding strategy?" Brutha asks, having figured out how to stop proclaiming.

Om metaphorically clasps him around the shoulders. "It's a big world out there, kid," he says kindly. "You need something to help compete. You don't want them to stop believing in you, do you?"

Brutha ponders this for a long while, perhaps years. "If they no longer need to believe in me, then they should not."

"That's a terrible philosophy," says the Great God Om (holy tortoise shell).

Brutha smiles slowly. "Yes, it is. But it is Mine."