Post Reset: A Pmog Fanfic

Pmog (Passively Multiplayer Online Game), or as it became known, The Nethernet, no longer exists. I don't know what happened as I had not been playing for a while (it was, after all, passive gaming). However, I did write a nice little short about an event in the beta release that left a few of us ever so slightly b0rked.

At some point, TPTB decided they need to delete everyone's stats, set everyone back to zero (or near enough) so that they could do an overhaul of the game mechanics. Few of us were actually upset by this as we knew and understood why it happened.

Still... it hurt...

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The world is a painful place since the big reset. Time was stopped, was shook and reversed by the the powers on high. We were all reduced to mewling shoats again. Now time is measured not from the birth of a mythical saviour, but from the very moment of the dashing of all that we had built upon the rocks.

Post Reset, they call our time.

It did not hurt the young ones, the new ones, not at first anyway. "What harm has it done us?" they asked. "We have lost nothing. You're all just like us now, equality for everyone."

Fools.

The older ones may have lost their status, the long lists of tools they had wreaked havoc on the world with, but they retained their skill, their knowledge. Now they want that status back... the world is their minefield, the shoat shall have no mercy for the shoat does not fight back. Even our homes, especially our homes, are not safe. Best not sleep without a full set of armour, best tread carefully as you cross your own threshold.

My home is not worth much. It's not covered in badges (though I have a few), it's not smothered in the images of a hundred Acquaintances, nor dripping in tags decrying my menacing habits. It's home enough though... and it is a safe haven no longer. No more can I find respite from the mine fields of Google and Tumblr. No more can I seek out friendly crates here without the fear of explosion.

I return to this place of fear after another busy day out grinding for DataPoints, golden armour glinting in the last rays of the sun. I tread carefully, tense at the thought of what I might trip over.

No respite.

A mine goes off beneath my feet, the name of its layer exploding in bright yellow lights. I fall back into the wall, blinded and shaken. Another goes off, and another. I scramble to my feet, donning new armour. Again and again those squat and rusty discs erupt, rattling the walls of my little home. There's nothing for it now; seek out the mines and get rid of them.

I check my armour supplies quickly, fearful, just for a second, that I may be running low. I'm smarter than that though; I visit the Shoppe every night before returning home, for just such an emergency. My DP spent on armour and the spindly bane of all Destroyers; St Nicks.

I'm good to go, my walls may lose a few bricks, but the Bedouin's perfect plates will protect my bones (and my pockets).

It's a funny site, someone searching their home for mines. The best way to do it is just run in and out of the door. You'll get bounced about a lot, but at least your status as a Bedouin will grow. The thing is, as much as you might want to help someone out when you see them dashing back and forth, it will do no good; mines set in a person's home can only be set off by that person. All you can do is offer condolences and perhaps a crate of armour to see them through.

All the mines are gone. I sit against a wall, panting in the dust. Are my hands shaking or my eyes? What a mess; shrapnel and broken armour lying around like metallic snowflakes. Still, I lost no DP, my status has increased and I know who it was that laid every single one of those mines!

I check my pockets; five mines. It'll do them no damage, I know that. It will simply say; I'm watching and when I can, I'll take my revenge. It's still light out, they'll likely be out mining some other poor soul's home, or waging war with another of their high status. Why they can't all do that and leave us small fry alone is beyond me.

"Well," I sigh, dragging my aching limbs into action. "Best get on with it."

It doesn't take long to find their home; all the older ones, the stronger ones, live near each other. All the better for ganging up on the weak perhaps. Or maybe it just happens that way, I've not thought about it much. Whatever the case, their homes glint in the late sun, dancing with the finery of avatars, tags and badges galore!

The Hell Fire badge, with it's deceptive cold blue droplet, catches my eye. Why bother us with more mines if the goal has already been reached? Some people just like the 'chaos' though, the sound of mines exploding far off in the slums of Shoatsville.

I walk up casually, fondling a crate. No need to bother about me; I'm just a little Benefactor, here to drop off some goodies. Goodies in deed! My fears are assuaged; no one is home. No one at all is home.

I smile.

My heart races as I step closer, poking my head inside the open doorway; no one's home may be locked, not even in this Post Reset world. Their Inventory is massive, hundreds of tools lying stacked in neat little piles along the far wall. If only I could steal a few... but the higher powers have removed that skill from us; we must earn our tools or be given them.

I had best hurry before they return.

I take the little incendiary from my pocket and drop it on the threshold. To my horror two needle thin arms reach over my shoulders and snatch the mine from the air, cracking it in two. The St. Nick skuttles off my back and falls to the ground, used and now useless. A name is scrawled across it's belly. The very same person that mined my home!

That's not fair! That can't be! I throw down another mine, and another pair of arms appears... another and another till I've used up my five mines. No more mines, DP spent on armour and the very same mechanical beasts that have robbed me of my small piece of revenge!

The world is a painful place since the big reset.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus... Not As Expected

I've been looking forward to this movie for at least a year. It was to be Heath Ledger's final film (unless some dick in the future does that horrible thing where they take film clips of dead actors and splice them into other things for not other reason than to cash in on said dead actor) *cough* and looked absolutely mad.

Heath really went out on a high note (Dark Knight, I'm Not There, Brokeback Mountain). However, he did pass away half way through filming this Terry Gilliam creation (Time Bandits; Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). Never fear, there were plenty of other actors ready to help finish off the film. Enter Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrel. I'll leave you to discover how they got around the whole "that's not Heath!" problem... it was rather clever. Unfortunately, it did sort of send the film off track a little, leaving the end... well, I'll get to that.

The film begins in what you may think is 1600s London; a dank, cobbled street, some unconscious people on the floor, dressed in rags and a horse plodding along pulling a rather large cart. The cart unfolds into a quaint little stage where a boy dressed as Mercury, a pretty young lass and a dwarf (not a midget) try to garner the attention of rowdy, drunk nightclub goers.

Yeah, nightclub goers. This isn't 17th century London. It's the modern day, full of thuggy British drunks and violent policemen (a little song and dance routine much later, performed by the Sir Ian Blair Memorial Choir, makes a brilliant comment on recent brutish police behaviour). One less than sober yob accidentally enters the Imaginarium while he's harassing the girl (Lily Cole), thus we are introduced to this weird other reality and the choices that must be made there.

Parnussus himself is an ANCIENT old man (played by Christopher Plummer). He is crotchety, an alcoholic and very much not part of the modern world... and has a sometimes dark past. Enter Tom Waits as Mr Nick and his little games, deals and soul stealing... and his awesomely gravely voice. You may know Tom Waits as a singer. I say singer... think Bob Dylan after a heavy night of smoking and drinking. If you don't know his stuff, go hunt it down (lazy me). You're more likely to know him as the crazed Renfield in Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. He makes a quirky, very uncool, un-swarthy, yet likeable and almost sympathetic Devil; you sort of get the feeling he just wants to make friends and he does get his world view shattered in the final act. You'll understand what I mean when you get there.

The film does take a while to get anywhere and perhaps half an hour to get around to introducing us to Heath Ledger's character... doing the hangman's jig beneath London Bridge in a posh white suit, with weird symbols on his forehead. Most of the other characters treat him as a threat, while the female lead (an almost sixteen year old girl) obviously fancies him, much to the chagrin of her young male friend. The Devil, apparently, has been after him for a while... how true that is and why he's been after him, well, that comes in towards the end... sorta, maybe.

Blah, blah, blah... deals with the Devil, amnesia, deceit. I'll not ruin the unfolding of the story, but eventually we get more scenes within the Imaginarium, with more people having to make "the choice". As the trailer suggests, the Imaginrium is bright, bizarre and other worldly. A great film for watching the goings on in the background (lookout for all the little nooses, both in the real world and the Imaginarium). Within this weird place, choices can lead to joy and ecstasy or terror and darkness, salvation or damnation.

I think that may have been some kind of message or theme; choices and freedom. Without choices there is no freedom, but the wrong choices can lead to the loss of freedom and the idea of facing up to the consequences of your choices... or I may be reading way too much into it. As I said; Heath's death seems to have thrown the makers for a loop, leaving the final act a bit fuzzy. Things that are begun earlier in the film to peeter out and go nowhere. Symbols and metaphors get lost and forgotten. This all left me wondering if these events and ideas were ever really there, or if I was expecting more from certain images and lines of dialogue.

I do that sometimes...

It doesn't have a very clear cut ending either. There is, I HAVE to tell you, a death. An unexpected and shocking death... a murder no less (remember that; it's a premeditated murder... but for a good reason?). It's not exactly a sad ending, certainly not a happy ending. It's definitely a confused and rushed ending, trying to go in several directions at once and not having the time to do it in.

Actually, now I think about it; the ending has a similar feel to that of The Time Bandits... so perhaps all that was intentional and not a result of the main actor dying before filming had finished.

With it being a Terry Gilliam film you expect comedy, and it is there. However, this is not a straight up funny movie. It's actually often dark and uncomfortable. But it just has some laughs. For the record; many of these are very un-PC. Let me give you a quick example; middle class, middle aged English woman asks if she can adopt the unprivileged black child... who is in fact Verne Troyer in a fuzzy wig and blacked up. Do not watch this movie if you do not understand that this sort of humour is designed to point out flaws in society and to drive thought processes... or if you think girls who have just turned sixteen should not have sex with 30 something men and smoke.

You've been warned, yah?

All in all, it's a good film and I'd definitely watch it again; I'll probably get the DVD. Just... don't expect it to make TOO much sense. But hey... Heath Ledger, Jude Law, Johnny Depp (if you're into him...); who needs it to make sense? Oh, and the young lad playing the other love interest (Andrew Garfield... who does a damn fine British accent) is rather nummy too. The acting on all parts is excellent; Heath Ledger once again proving that he was so much more than a pretty face (the git).

It gets a big rec from me. So yeah; go see it!

To check out the rest of the cast and watch the trailer (did I mention I was lazy today?), head over to its IMDB page.

A New Enthusiasm... For Snails?

It may have taken two years of owning one, but I think I've finally become a snail enthusiast. Giant African Land Snails (GALS), to be specific.

At the moment I only have little Avery (named after Avery Brooks who played Cpt Sisko in DS9... because the two I had briefly as a child were Data and Riker);


He's a bit camera shy... and asleep right now, so this old pic will have to do till he wakes up.

Avery is an East African Land Snail, an Achatina fulica, the ones you'll almost always find in pet stores. There is a massive variety though and I'm hoping to get a couple of other species. Yeah, they will likely breed with each other. They are hermaphrodites and lay rather a lot of eggs, which is why I have been wary of getting others... up until now.

Last week he buried himself in the substrate. I figured it was because he was cold. The weather has turned pretty bleak up here in Edinburgh very quickly and the heat mat I ordered took FOUR WEEKS to arrive (thank you, Parcelforce). Thankfully, it did arrive the very next day along with new toys for his tank, new substrate, food and water bowls... he has a whole new setup apart from the tank.

I started pulling out the old plastic dishes and found a few eggs on top of the substrate. I now realise he's done this before, only previously I've assumed they were bits of polystyrene that had got into the organic potting soil I was using (gotta be careful with snails and soil bought from garden centres; they often whack in pesticides and such... so be forewarned). I mean; he's been on his own for years. They couldn't possibly have been eggs, right?

*sigh*

Not only are they hermaphrodites, but they can store sperm for years... AND they can self fertilise. Guess what I found in the hole he'd made; about 200 eggs!

Thanks, Avery.

I boiled all but four of them. I couldn't even begin to rehome 200 snails. Four I can keep though, and if he's going to be laying eggs anyway I might as well get him (let him make) some friends. I'll just have to be more vigilante... imagine if I'd not got the new substrate and heat mat for another couple of weeks. I'd have woken up one morning to a massive litter of teeny snails crawling out of the ground... and I couldn't boil them once they were, you know, formed and everything.

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Snails are not exactly well known as pets so very few pet shops keep them, even the specialist exotic ones. Even fewer have items specifically designed for snails. Fortunately, they're pretty easy going little beasts and many people keep them in clear plastic storage containers (with air holes added). Avery lives in a big seed propagator. It has adjustable air vents, lets in plenty of light, keeps in the warmth... he seems happy enough in it. It isn't very high; just tall enough for him to go clambering around on the roof but low enough that when he falls off (and he does sometimes) he won't damage his shell. All the accoutrements in there are designed for reptile and tortoise tanks; food bowls, wooden tunnels, plastic plants (I'm not too great at growing plants).

There are also very few books written on the subject of keeping them as pets. A lot written for farming snails for food and others written from a biologist/ecologist point of view. Fortunately, the internet is here to help. There are loads of sites, but I recommend starting with PetSnails.co.uk and their forum... the forum has given me the bug XD

Because they're relatively new pets, even the big enthusiasts are still working things out, especially when it comes to best feeding practices. It doesn't help that individual snails, even within the same subspecies, can be very different in their food preferences (amongst other things). Avery only ate cucumber when I got him. I managed to wean him onto other things after a few weeks; carrot, lettuce, tomatoes. After joining the snail forum above though, I've been out to buy seeds and fish food for him; hemp, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin. He now has his own 'care tank' hehe;











I'll be experimenting with different mixtures of seeds over the next few weeks, to see what stuff he (and any future friends) prefer. For now he favours sesame seeds on their own or with the fish flakes >_>

But yeah... snails XD

I should say that it is not legal to keep GALS as pets in some countries. In the right conditions they are voracious eaters and breeders. European countries are mostly too cold or too dry for them to survive in the wild so they are generally legal here. America is a big no-no as are islands in the Pacific.