Challenge #03052-H129: From One Cog to Another

You can’t break a man the way you break a dog or a horse. The harder you beat a man the taller he stands. -- Anon Guest

[AN: Link leads to an audio clip from a video game where the quote is from (I think?) that is all edgy tough growling with a warning at the end]

There's a saying in the Edge Territories: You can only try to break a Human. This is a warning, not an instruction. Many have made the mistake to their detriment. Many a tyrant has attempted to methodically grind down their subjects only to find that they were merely tempering the populace into having spines of steel.

CEO Tane of the Fiscal Empire of Divine Favourites thought he had the perfect method. Make it theoretically possible for someone to climb the ladder to success, whilst putting all sorts of obstacles in their way and then blaming them for it. Once every few years, Tane would random jerk to help along up the ladder by carefully arranged serendipity.

All that mattered was that there was hope. Hope was a better set of reins on the populace than fear, but fear worked too. Used in combination, Tane definitely believed he had it down to a fine art. What he overlooked was the fact that some people had longer memories than others, and actually tracked lie subsequent lives of the feel-good "success" stories after they faded from the notice of the mainstream news. That was where Tane went wrong.

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