July 20th – The Festival of Finding the Network

They say that the first thing that happens when you find the Network is one of them gives you your file. That is, a file on you, your movements, your life, your relationships, that time you got into a fight and cried as a teenager, where you were every time you bunked off school. This is, without a doubt, complete nonsense, but like most of today’s festival it helps build a mystique, a sense of excitement around the Network, now that its glory days are (thankfully) over.

Shortly after the Revolution, there were still remnants of the former monarchist state holding out, setting off the occasional bomb or staging the occasional coup of a former government building. Few mistook this impotent flailing for a real and organised counter-revolution, but there were other concerns. There were still several members of the King’s Finest, the former secret police force, active, hiding in the shadows and waiting for the opportune moment to strike with real effect. In particular, there were concerns that this group were organising a significant counter-revolution with the Seven Cities Trading Company, which had benefited hugely from the reign of the Traitor King.

In response to these threats, the Network was set up; a group of loosely associated intelligence gatherers who identified and kept tabs on monarchists and in particular the former King’s Finest members, who were the real organisational force behind the angry rabble. The group mainly watched and infiltrated these groups, and only intervened when there was a credible threat to life or the Revolution. The stories from these days are the stuff of pulp thrillers, with dead drops, coded messages and tense stakeout and shadow missions. Occasionally they would get it wrong, and several innocent Buentoillitants were shadowed for days, and in once case even wrongfully arrested, before the mistake was realised. In all these cases and full apology was made and reparations paid. However, for the most part the Network was very effective at safeguarding the people of Buentoille.

The activities of the Network were rigorously documented to ensure transparency, and all details besides those which held operational sensitivity, were publicly available at the earliest convenience. One thing that was never published until much later was the identity of the Network members, to avoid reprisals, even after they finished service. This transparency ensured trust between the organisation and the people of Buentoille, and is also what led to the rise of the ‘Network’ genre of literature that was extremely popular during the 1920s and 30s. However, these ‘golden days’ were relatively short lived, not because they betrayed the trust of the people of Buentoille, but because they were very effective. After repeated defeats in Buentoille, the leading members of the King’s Finest, sensing after two decades that they may never take back the City, began organising talks with the Oligarchs of Litancha and the Buentoilliçan aristocrats who fled to that city when the Revolution came, trying to persuade them to lend their military forces for an invasion of the City.

When the Network caught wind of this they were quick to inform the City of their findings, and soon the best ambassadors from the Office of External Affairs were dispatched to Litancha, strongly suggesting that they reconsider, and that the City was not as weak as the aristocrats and King’s Finest suggested. Buentoille had recently seen one armed conflict and was fully prepared to fight another, if it had to. Knowing that this was their last-ditch attempt to regain power, many of the King’s Finest became careless and exposed themselves in the process. By the end of the whole debacle, almost all the high-level members of the Finest had been either captured or were taken in by Litancha and banished from Buentoille. Some of their identities were even given up by the Litanchans as a sign of good faith between the two cities.

With their leaders gone, the rest of the monarchist counter-revolution became increasingly disheartened and impotent, and essentially gave up organising direct action. Given the success of the Revolution, and the increase in living conditions brought about in the early 1940s, the monarchist position (i.e. that things had been better under the monarchy) was increasingly difficult to justify, and many monarchists even integrated back into general society. There were certainly no new recruits to the ideology, and all in all the Network had little to do. There was a minor resurgence of monarchist extremism under the direction of Regent June in 1986, but they are only loosely monitored as their ideology doesn’t seem to be quite as violent or reprehensible as that of their predecessors, having been modified to appear more acceptable to modern sensibilities (they do not call for outright monarchy, but instead a symbolic monarch as a ceremonial figurehead to recognise the traditions and history of the City).

Nowadays the Network is something of a fun club. It seems its original members have all died from old age, but that younger generations were inspired by their exploits, romanticised as they were in the ‘Network’ genre, which has retained some popularity, despite never quite reaching the heights of interest that it did in the 20s and 30s. Instead of trailing monarchists, who number less than 100 members and are not considered a threat, Network members usually trail each other instead, organising games of espionage within a fictional alternate Buentoille where the monarchy never fully died. The Network does still retain its rule of anonymity, so it can be difficult to join, and this secrecy is precisely what compels people to seek them out, to try and join. Today, all across the City, coded symbols and convoluted messages will be left in plain sight, yet only noticeable to those who are looking. If you manage to follow the trail, you might just find the Network.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Boon of Saint Yellowband
  • The Day When The Tricked Mackerel’s Brings Out the Reprehensible Spirit
  • Maybe Day