The two Guardian’s savored the rare quiescence as they walked through Atlassian’s empty streets. The municipality would remain on lock down until sun rise, by which time the remediation process would be complete. Even the autonomous conveyance drones had been suspended. While they were usually an incessant feature of Atlassian life, the city’s authorities sought to limit the spread of radiation, as well as the perhaps even more dangerous dissemination of information concerning the blast. Conspiracies were rare in Atlassian, however such a significant event was expected to overcome even the most conservative, doctrine abiding citizen’s respect for their culture’s norms. “After all these years, paleontology and nuclear warfare return to us. In our very heart no less” the dinosaur head mused through his respirator.
“The stars will explain it. Some retrograde or other. The Celestial Council will have a report” his ape shaped colleague replied.
Atlassian’s blockchain remained online. Its every employee was on overtime, culling anything resembling a mention of the explosion as it entered the master node before it could return into the city and wreak havoc. This was a position available to only those verified by the city’s mentalists as stable and given to reason, as the level of exposure to novel and baffling ideas could mean mayhem for the minds of those even slightly mentally immature. Though they would never reveal it in their periodic assessments, at least four of the blockchain’s censors believed that the city’s masters were actually the animals they dressed as. One even foolishly believed that Atlassian sat on a sphere, flowing and spinning through space.
As the two Guardian’s came to the spire, an ill-shapen radsuit rushed towards them awkwardly. “Sirs, what can you tell us about the events of today?” the suit requested of them excitedly.
“Is that you Portia? Thieving your poor father’s immersion suit? For shame!” said the gorilla, rebuffing her. Portia’s father was Simeon the owl, the Guardian’s Philosopher-in-Chief, his charge being proof and actuality. Fifty years of grappling with these lofty concepts while trying to wrestle them into alignment with Atlassian’s own complex relationships with fact had sent the man mad, and a high dosage of anti-hebephrenics had made him mute. Few among the city’s elite could agree on what came first. Spending half her life learning from her father and the next half learning from his downfall had toughened Portia. Though she displayed a cheery exterior, she had taken up her father’s journey along truth’s corridor with zeal.
“There’s no scoop today, darling Portia, return to your beloved Father at once.” said the dinosaur. In an age where synthetic intelligences directed the flow of information at the speed of light, journalism was an abstruse, anachronistic pursuit suited solely to Portia, an eclecticist of the upper echelons who knew better but would never act on it.
“I can hardly believe that — we’re the only one’s out here! You’ve even grounded the city drones. That hasn’t happened since the yearly Guardian party supplies were mislabeled and sent to the preschool!”
“That was a simple logical fault” the gorilla fussed, recalling how his sordid merchandise had almost been served to the city’s young for lunch.
“Very well Portia, I’ll let you in on a little known secret” said the dinosaur, suspecting that Portia would end up doing more damage on her own than with his help. “But I don’t want you to share what I’m about to tell you,” he winked. “’After all, if they don’t want you to report it, it’s news. Anything else is marketing.’” The gorilla chuckled. “Earlier this evening there was a minor incident in the basement of a storehouse near the correctional institute. Fireworks we had prepared for this year’s Atlassian Day celebration were somehow ignited. The expanding gas filled that space until it tore the building apart, razing several nearby structures as well.” With that the Guardian’s took their leave.
Portia was left standing alone, gobsmacked. Errors happened occasionally in the city, but truly dangerous mistakes were unheard of. But even more significantly? She observed that every report she’d ever composed had been with permission — occasionally even at the behest of the city’s various brands and organizations. She realized in that moment that her entire working life to date had been a pointless, useless lie.
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