Author Archives: jeanne
Safely down on the ground, C3ll3r!, Evryplaya and Random joined the thousands of players milling around. There was little organization and no direction – the definition of a sandbox game, you could do what you liked. They all wanted something to eat, and quickly depleted the few food items in their virtual bags. But this only gave them enough energy to feel how hungry they were. Just surviving the fall took all they had.
C3ll3r! suggested they join a group making shelter, and Random thought this was a good idea, because maybe the workers would be fed.
Evryplaya complained bitterly but tagged along as the other two sought out something to do. “I’ll die of hunger before agreeing to lift a finger, ” she promised. “I can’t do any work before I eat.”
They ignored her. They changed their costumes, ditching the modified flying gear for carhartts – overalls and work boots with triple insulation, fur lined parkas and electrically heated gloves.
Evryplaya took the the opportunity to change her avatar as well, picking a big blonde brunhilda type that came with bronze breastplates and a horned fur lined helmet over the work clothes. “Gives me strength,” she explained.
“Gives you cold breasts,” C3ll3r! supposed.
Evryplaya shruged. “Beauty hurts, huh? How do you like the braids?”
They joined a group that was engaged in hut-raising. Several players stood surrounding a large flat boulder, concentration their attention on its weight. Together they imagined it was made of styrofoam, then bent to wedge their hands under it, and lifted it gently into place on top of boulders similar shapes and sizes, again and again until they’d constructed a round wall higher than their heads, with a single opening.
Then they ranged around for the perfect capstone, and finding none, carved one out of the flank of the mountain. They weren’t the only group quarrying. Some players were digging caves into the cliffs.
A settlement was developing. Dozens of workgroups were creating streets of little houses, each with its own little garden area. Other groups were going along persuading things to grow, having been shown secret stashes of seeds and starter plants that Fairy had laid down while they were still building the game. Grasses, sedges, tiny little spruce and birch trees, moss. Soon there would be herbs and flowers. Soon there would be hardy vegetables. Potatos, cabbage, carrots and onions, spinach and brocoleli, angelica, rhubarb. Soon the first restaurant would open. Everything was supposed to be cooperative, everything was supposed to be free. This was according to one of the rules hastily developed by Anomia and Fairy, who took note of the penguins’ larceny and took steps to halt the unsocial behavior. Fairy kept herself busy going around reminding people that cooperation and a generous spirit were key to a successful settlement and a happy life.
Evryplaya was totally convinced of this after Fairy touched her in passing, totally smitten by Fairy’s avatar – an angel in pink fur wafting a strong rose smell and transferring intense warmth with her touch. After Fairy moved on, Evrypaya dropped all pretence of working and contented herself with urging the others to peace and happiness thru submission to the greater good.
This lasted until dark, when a storm enveloped the settlement and the wind started howling with a force, howling with the force of freezing rain. Then it was Evryplaya for herself, as she beat the others into the shelter they’d made and sat closest to the fire.
The hut was larger on the inside than out, and a tiny fire of twigs was enlarged to fill the center of the space, smoke exiting neatly thru a carved hold in the capstone. At first the draft from the wholes in the holes in the walls threatened to blow the fire out, but the occupants increased a handful of moss and closed off the holes. Everyone downloaded sleeping bags and floor rugs, hung tapestries over the door opening, switched on lanterns. changed out of their work clothes into wool and down outfits.
Evryplaya, breastplates gleaming in the firelight, trying to look sexy, tried to convince the players nearest her that a quick fuck underneath the quilts would make them warmer. Nobody paid any attention except to move out of reach. She tried a joke – “You can eat me, if you’re hungry,” but nobody took her up on that one, either.
They were all hungry, but had nothing to eat, and nothing to eat it with. Some group concentration produced pots and pans, bowls, cups and utensils out of shells and twigs, so they were more than ready when Anomia came by with a team of people pulling a sledge with a huge, steaming cauldron on it, and ladled out a potful for each hut – a pot that remained full until everyone was stuffed and ready for sleep. Then there were shared beds and stifled sounds of satisfaction all around Evryplaya, who remained alone, complaining loudly about all the noise and how come she couldn’t get any.
Then it was light outside, the pot was empty and the fire only embers, and they all got up and went out to build shelters for the thousands of new players arriving on shore, cold and wet. Very quickly there would be a sizeable settlement, stone huts of every design lining streets that followed the contours of the little valley they were in.
They would call it Prime, the first town. It was a teardrop shape, roughly, the edged rising steeply above the valley floor. The houses on the hill had a good view and didn’t seem quite as crowded, but suffered from the constant wind, while trees would begin to rise in the town center, and the risk of avalanche kept the sensible players away.
A branch of the river would soon be diverted thru town and bridges would be built on the streets to allow channels to flow to every part. Then a team of engineers by inclination or training would discover hot water deep under the surface and dig a borehole, and use enlarged fluted shells for pipes, and soon there would be hot and cold running water. Another team would soon design sewage treatment, so there would be compost for the slopes of the upper valley, and another team would start a farm. A team of absolute geniuses would reverse-engineer a sheep, a goat and a cow from various leathers, and soon there would be flocks grazing on the shoulders of the mountain.
It was becoming a prosperous, vibrant community. Someone was even figuring out how to make paint and was going to start slapping up murals on the walls.
Fairy and Anomia could be proud of themselves. Except they weren’t.
And thick and fast they came at last, and more and more and more. This line kept occurring to Anomia as she watched an endless parade of players come ashore.
Those less injured helped those more injured, those now able to fly went out beyond the breakers to pluck (drag) drowning players out of the drink. Some smart person figured out how to use the size function to enlarge the driftwood and seaweed and shells to big huge enormous, and built rafts and shell coracles with which to rescue others. The cloud of falling players continued to rain, but no longer were most of them dying on impact as their superpower training kicked in. But this presented a bigger problem. Now that they weren’t all dying, what to do with them?
Beyond the cloud of players, more clouds were looming. Storm clouds. The wind picked up. It got really cold. And there was no shelter, no food. They’d lived thru the fall only to risk dying of exposure. Anomia went around and urged the heated arctic gear on everyone, deputizing each to go tell others, but it wouldn’t be enough.
Great masses of players thronged the shore like a vast colony of seals. But they weren’t sunning themselves, they were cold and hungry, and there was nothing to give them but hot cups of tea and energy bars from their own virtual bags.
Somewhere in the middle of this exodus from the sea, the leprechaun npc disappeared, and was apparently replaced by penguins speaking gibberish. This annoyed Anomia, who saw no point in npcs that couldn’t make themselves understood. How were they supposed to answer questions? But she put several of them to work rescuing those players stuck offshore. The penguins clapped their little flippers together and squawked some sort of answer and waddled down to the shoreline to swim out and catch players.
She suspected something was wildly wrong with the penguins when they started bringing back fish instead of players. “People, people,” she screamed at them. “Not fish.”
But Josh saw the answer to their immediate problem, and tried to collect the fish they’d brought back. The penguins didn’t like this, and set up a big racket, attacking Josh with his armload of fish and running back in to the water with them. They brought back a good few survivors, but more often than not they’d be halfway back with their rescued players and would then let go of them to chase a fish.
Anomia was wild. “Where did they come from? Why aren’t they helping? What’s wrong with them?” But nobody could answer her. The onscreen help files were finally available, but had nothing about the demented penguin npcs. She didn’t have time to figure it out. There were thousands of players on shore now, and they needed her help.
It was an epic scene, featuring enormous ice carved mountains as the backdrop, and twisted, meandering glacial rivers scouring the valley, cascading with unbelievable power thru the ever-deepening gorge.
People trying to get to this fresh water were continually being swept away by the forceful flow. Anomia used her returning powers to materialize danger signs along the banks.
Perhaps inadvisably, because requests began pouring in from the players. “We’re cold, we’re hungry, we’re hurt. Help us.” They surrounded her, waiting for her to save them.
“This isn’t how it works,” she tried to explain. “You need to do it yourselves.”
But this only made them more insistent. “We can’t,” they wailed, pushing closer, reaching out to touch her.
But the touches turned grasping, and soon players were tugging at her, pulling at her. At the point where she was being stretched between them by her arms and legs, she decided she’d had enough. She flung herself into the air, initially lifting the closest players with her, still attached to her limbs. She spun in midair until they dropped off. She felt panicky, looking down into a sea of faces. Most of them looked beseechingly at her, patient, expectant. Some were clearly angry. She didn’t know why. It wasn’t as if their situation was her fault.
She called again to the kernel for help , but there was no response. She called on xKurt, and felt a wave of amusement, but then it vanished, leaving her alone to deal with the thousands of hungry, cold players who looked at her as if she was their mom. She decided the best thing to do would be to treat it like a Dragoncon seminar. Locating an isolated stack of rocks a little way up the valley, she drifted over to stand on top of it. The players followed like a flock of sheep.
Then she spotted Fairy and waved her over to join her on the stack. “I’ve never been so glad to see anyone,” she said as Fairy landed next to her, giving her a big hug.
“I just flew in,” Fairy said, “and boy are my arms…” She stopped, taking in the crowd massing around them. “What do they want?” Fairy asked in a low voice.
“There’s no food or shelter and most of them don’t seem to have any powers.”
“Well, that’s wrong,” Fairy responded. “Let’s fix that, shall we?” and flew off to circle around the rock stack above the players, telling them to sit on the ground and make sure they were touching the people around them. Wave up on wave of players sat, until there were several acres of seated players all crammed together. Then she flew back to join Anomia, who felt a wave of relief. She felt rescued.
A little less panicked now, she led the players in a round of quantum exercises, thinking happy thoughts, visualizing their goals, concentrating on their intentions. Nothing happened until she got down off the rock and touched the closest players. Then it became like a mosh pit, the players closest to her raising her over their heads with their arms, and she was passed one to the next until she was deep in the crowd, thousands of hands holding her up and moving her around. She felt the frustrations and longing of the players turning into something more loving and accepting. Less rapacious. More generous. Sharing.
As she was passed from hand to hand, her face to the sky, beginning to trust, to let go, to relax, she could feel the power flowing thru her into the players. A vibration began in the crowd and quickly spread thruout the seated players, extending to the edge of the circle and beyond. It built up, making her body tingle like a low voltage short. She could hear – feel – a hum. She could feel the crowd begin to rise off the ground and float alongside her, their quantum power reactivated at last.
Then the air grew brighter and more intense, the sun hotter and more searing. Then the air popped, like a bubble bursting, and everybody dropped to the ground. Anomia lost consciousness, falling deeply asleep, where she dreamed she was walking up the valley with xKurt, who was giving her advice about what to do next.
While she slumbered, Fairy instructed the crowd. “You’re all fully charged,” she told them, standing on the stack and amplifying her voice to reach them all. “Here’s what you need to do.” She split them up into teams and addressed them by turns. “You folks find something that’ll float – a piece of driftwood, a shell, something. Enlarge it until you’ve got boats and go out and rescue the players who are still falling. You guys over here find something that’ll burn – driftwood, seaweed, and multiply it until you’ve got enough to make a strand of bonfires along the shore. You people over there start building shelters with the rocks around you. And you all over here take some of the fish from those nasty little penguins and increase them and start cooking them up. If you’re having trouble, remember there’s strength in numbers. Oh yeah. You people over in this section are now deputized to spread the quantum powers. Go out among the players and share your abilities with them. Let’s turn this place into a proper settlement.”
They sat there looking at her as if she was speaking another language.
“What’s wrong with you?” she screamed, pointing to a bank of storm clouds coming over the mountain and streaming down toward them. “Do you want to be caught out in that?”
The wind picked up. Hail began to fall. The players rushed to their feet and streamed off in approximate groups, and began to get organized.
Anomia woke up. She and Fairy had the ability to grow the shells large enough for boats, and start waterlogged timbers burning, and pile up rocks to make stone huts. But the players could only summon the strength when they worked together, and this was fine with the girls.
There was a little trouble when small groups of players stood around each work group, criticizing and deriding, but they couldn’t withstand Fairy’s wrath, and slunk away whenever she approached.
The penguins were worse than useless. They were now hoarding the fish and misdirecting players who came to them for help. And where was Josh? Anomia didn’t recall the last time she’d seen him. And Fairy hadn’t noticed him at all.
There were still injured players being pulled out of the water, and Anomia went around trying to help them. She wasn’t exactly obeying her own rules on doing things themselves, but the injured didn’t seem to have any quantum powers, so she went around touching them, lending them some of her power. This resulted in more than just a few miraculous healings, with players going around telling everybody how she’d pulled them back from death’s door.
She confided her concerns to Fairy, who took the pragmatic approach. “Heal them or let them die, do what you want.”
Soon the area was covered with clouds as a fog bank rolled in off the ocean, and Anomia felt less conspicuous going around laying hands on people, so she continued, nonchalantly walking thru the triage area by the shore.
Fairy, meanwhile, had taken a small group of players down to the water’s edge where they were busy trying to call the fish out of the ocean and get them to offer themselves as food. It met with early success, but then the penguin npcs came along took the self-sacrificed fish for themselves.
As Josh and Anomia were staring out to sea, watching the black rain of players falling to their deaths offshore, they were startled by a noise.
“Sure and might you be looking for a wee spot o’help now?” It sounded like one of Fairy’s non-playing characters.
They looked around and saw no-one, then turned back toward the rain of death. They felt a tug on the legs of their pants and looked down to see a leprechaun with a long flowing white beard, no higher than their knees, dressed in a tiny little green and brown woodland outfit with pointy red shoes and a pointy red hat.
He swept off his had and bowed. “Darby O’Gill, at your service,” he said gallantly, fitting the hat back on his balding head. They stared at him. “And isn’t it lovely weather?” he asked rhetorically. They failed to respond. He stared back, tilting his head expectantly, “Have yez no tongues in your heads?” he asked finally.
Anomia shook her head. “It’s just that we thought we were alone here, that’s all,” she said.
“Are you an npc?” Josh asked hopefully.
The leprechaun swept his hat off his head and bowed low. “Darby O’Gill, at your service,” he repeated in exactly the same way as before.
Josh and Anomia looked at each other. “Where were you when we were stuck up on the mountain?” Anomia demanded. “We needed help then.”
“Yeah, we almost died,” Josh added.
The leprechaun looked hurt. “Ah now, stop. I’m brought low by your displeasure,” he lamented. “Begging your pardon, many apologies, no excuse. I am your humble servant.”
“Well, how about getting us some food?” Josh suggested, whereupon the leprechaun whipped out two mugs of steaming tea and handed them to the couple.
“Would you ever care for a wee drop of the creature?” he asked as they took their mugs, pulling a hip flask out form under his vest. “For the cold,” he explained. Anomia declined warily. Josh eagerly accepted. The leprechaun drained the bottle after tipping a few glugs into Josh’s mug and gave a great gasping sigh as he put the empty bottle away. “Better than food,” he pronounced.
Anomia rolled her eyes. “Why are you here now, then?” she asked.
The leprechaun shrugged. “Mine not to reason why…” he started.
Josh pointed at the cloud of falling players. “Maybe he’s here because of them,” he suggested. They looked at the leprechaun.
“No rainbow, no pot of gold,” he said cryptically.
“Now what the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Josh asked. The leprechaun looked sheepish.
Anomia pointed at the cloud of falling players. “Can you help us or not?” she demanded. “People are dying out there.”
The leprechaun took his hat off and held it over his heart. A tear rolled down his cheek. “A terrible terrible predicament,” he said mournfully.
Anomia looked at Josh. “I’m not sure he’s going to be any use,” she said.
“Maybe we’re going about it the wrong way,” he suggested. “Now see here,” he addressed the leprechaun, who looked at him expectantly. “What can you tell us about what’s going on here?”
The npc immediately began reeling off a lot of technical details about the players’ fall – the distance of fall and rate of descent, prevailing winds, water temperature, probability of surviving the landing, concentration of predator species waiting beneath the surface, probability of survival in the water, chance of survival until individuals could reach shore, probability of reaching shore before drowning or being eaten – all given in a mournful monotone in a thick brogue they could barely understand. The specs were all very depressing.
Anomia cut him off. “Is there any way we can rescue them?” she asked.
The leprechaun brightened. “Sure you could try looking in your wee bag o’tricks and see if there’s anything you could use to make a seaworthy vessel,” he suggested.
They pulled up their virtual bags and looked. Driftwood, fish bones, shells, seaweed. “But this is useless. What can we do with shells and seaweed?” Anomia asked.
The leprechaun tapped the side of his head and winked. “Use your noggins,” he replied. She scowled at him.
Meanwhile, the cloud of falling players had moved closer to shore, and now they could see the hapless players falling into the water just beyond the breakers, making huge fountaining splashes. Most of them disappeared into the water, but a few bobbed back up – still alive – and struggled feebly toward shore. Most of these were swallowed by the breaking waves, but some were swept to shore and washed up on the rocky beach. A few of them seemed to be moving, or was it just the waves rolling their limbs around?
Josh and Anomia went to look, Josh hoping to find them ready to eat, Anomia hoping to find them alive. The leprechaun followed, twisting his hat with worry that he might have to offer a wee drop of poteen to everyone.
The dead players faded out as soon as they were truly dead. Most of the badly injured ones followed soon after, but a very few struggled to their feet and staggered up the beach to dry land.
Anomia raced from one to the next, trying to help. The leprechaun followed, trying to make conversation about the weather and solicit questions like a good npc.
Still the cloud of players fell, but it never came onshore, which was fortunate for those few that survived the fall into the drink. Now and then a player managed to flare to a safe landing as most of them continued to drop to their deaths.
Anomia noticed this improvement and asked the leprechaun, “Is it because there are more players that you suddenly appeared?”
The leprechaun nodded sagely, “Safety in numbers, madam. Power with, not power over.”
This was one of the tenets of the philosophy Anomia tried to teach in her Dragoncon seminars. Dragoncon seemed so far away, even tho it must still be going on in the realworld. She wondered why the npc would quote her to herself, but figured Fairy must have programmed him with various other pearls of wisdom as well.
“But what do you mean?” she asked.
“Safety in numbers,” he repeated, twirling his hat.
She wondered if he was talking about the idea of critical mass, which was the main goal of getting people to play the game. The more people, the stronger the group consciousness they participated in. Maybe there was hope.
She scanned the cloud of falling players. Some of them appeared to be flying, more were gliding, exerting some sort of control over their fall. She wondered if that meant their own abilities were coming back, hers and Josh’s. She turned her attention within and began searching for happy thoughts. Players were surviving; there was hope after all. She felt a bubbling feeling near her heart.
“Josh,” she called.
He was looking out to sea, wondering if he could reach the drowning players before they were rendered inedible thru death and fadeout. “What?” he snapped, turning to glower at her.
“I think maybe we can fly again.”
“Yeah, so what?”
“Idiot,” she said, losing her temper. “It means we have our powers back. It means the game’s not broken.”
“Okay, I don’t think I care at the moment. I’m starving.” He thought. “No wait, maybe we can materialize something to eat.” He concentrated and a mug of beer appeared in the air in front of him. He grabbed it and chugged it down, instantly refilling it. “Oh yeah,” he sighed with satisfaction. “Who wants a burger?”
chapter 17, playing antarctica ring 1- the home islands
money dropping out of the sky off the home islands since the beginning (showers of gold beyond the western isles)
npcs: and snake replaces with evil penguins. npcs. snake replaces fairy’s happy faces npcs with demented penguins that speak gibberish. they rescue the players as they drop into the ocean. they lose a large percentage of players (by dropping them to dive for fish), who must try again. this keeps the numbers actually hitting shore much lower than they could be. when animals are asked to sacrifice themselves for food, penguins start up a black market in skua meat. surly penguins insist on fish bribes before giving information. the girl zaps them in a fit of exasperation (they wither like that tree jesus blasted), but they respawn hostile instead of snarky. snake spreads the rumor that she made them evil. (male)
Mutual support. The people who do best at basic survival tasks (we know this experimentally, as well as intuitively) are cooperative, good at teamwork, often altruistic, mindful of the common good. In drastic emergencies like hurricanes or earthquakes, people surprise us by their sacrifices — of food, of shelter, even sometimes of life itself. Those who survive social or economic collapse, or wars, or pandemics, or starvation, will be those who manage scarce resources fairly; hoarders and dominators win only in the short run, and end up dead, exiled, or friendless. So, in every way we can we need to help each other, and our children, learn to be cooperative rather than competitive; to be helpful rather than hurtful; to look out for the communities of which we are a part, and on which we ultimately depend. Practical skills. With the movement into cities of the U.S. population, and much of the rest of the world’s people, we have had a massive de-skilling in how to do practical tasks. When I was a boy in the country, all of us knew how to build a tree house, or construct a small hut, or raise chickens, or grow beans, or screw pipes together to deliver water. It was a sexist world, of course, so when some of my chums in eighth grade said we wanted to learn girls’ “home ec” skills like making bread or boiling eggs, the teachers were shocked, but we got to do it. There was widespread competence in fixing things — impossible with most modern contrivances, of course, but still reasonable for the basic tools of survival: pots and pans, bicycles, quilts, tents, storage boxes. We all need to learn, or relearn, how we would keep the rudiments of life going if there were no paid specialists around, or means to pay them. Every child should learn elementary carpentry, from layout and sawing to driving nails. Everybody should know how to chop wood safely, and build a fire. Everybody should know what to do if dangers appear from fire, flood, electric wires down, and the like. Taking care of each other is one practical step at a time, most of them requiring help from at least one other person; survival is a team sport.
“the dilemma is that when you get yourself into the stressful state you take away your presence. anything that usurps your present state of awareness takes away a degree of mastery. ” p206
“the houses [in taino villages] were usually ranged irregularly around a central plaza. the chief’s house was larger than that of the others. the chiefs concerned themselves with storing surplus food in a special warehouse. these leaders, incidentally, might have been either male or female, a complete deviation from the usual among primitive peoples. ancestors were always traced matrilineally, though there was polygamy. thus the role of women in the ancient caribbean was stronger than in most countries, sophisticated or the reverse.”
“it was another dazzling morning, the sun bright in a flawless sky and the air moist and cool. it felt good to be walking again, and on bare rock too, instead of ice and snow, hearing the reassuring crunch of gravel and the clink of stone underfoot. the landscape was magical, tolkienesque, with flocks of beautiful white snow petrels nesting in the crags, the bare hilltops strewn with garnets the size of knucklebones, and the level places dotted with jewel-like freshwater lakes – a remarkable rarity in antarctica – whose water was so limpid and clear it was virtually invisible, like air. the huge hush and the unblinking sunshine and the far-ends-of-the-earth feeling you get from being in such an otherworldly place, with those pure white snow petrels wheeling about, created an impression of great peacefulness. but then you come upon the remains of one of those very petrels, killed by a skua and picked over so that only the breastplate and the pair of still-feathered white wings remain, and you’re reminded at [sic] how violent a place this is; they look like the remains of murdered angels. and then when you look around you the big silence seems more conspiratorial than placid. ” “i received, by e-mail, a nice batch of photos from the event [cocktail party at pole]. they were taken outside the radio shed, in the unheated confines of the dome, everyone cheery, huddled together in their bulky parkas, holding their breath in the -90. cold. breathing creates so much steam at those temperatures that if they hadn’t been holding their breaths the picture would have been totally obscured by the mist.” seymour island, antarctica’s own jurrassic park, a remote and oddly ice-free island covered with the fossils of gigantic penguins that stood as tall as michael jordan, prehistoric tortoises that reached the size of volkswagens, and an ancient spicies of marsupial – the first discovery of land mammals in antarctica – that roamed these parts during the eocene period, between 40 million and 120 million ears ago. “we’re in a marginal condition one whiteout, following each other in a tight pack, eyes focused on the single red parka visible in front of us. my head is swathed in the thich coyote fur-trimmed hood of my parka, a bulky down-filled nylon garment that resembles a sleeping bag more than a jacket – and is meant to perform exactly that function in an emergency. my head is further covered by a pile hat, balaclava, neck gaiter, and neoprene face mask.” p10
A massive asteroid hit the Timor Sea around 35 million years ago – and the impact apparently contributed to the formation of the Antarctic ice sheets. So says Andrew Glikson, a specialist in the study of extraterrestrial impacts, from the Planetary Science Institute at the Australian National University in Canberra, who analysed a dome found 2.5 kilometres below the Timor Sea, about 300 kilometres off Australia’s north west coast. Based on the structure of the dome, called Mount Ashmore, there were two obvious explanations for its formation: from a mud volcano or from the movement of tectonic plates. But using a barrage of tests including scanning electron microscopy and seismic surveys, as well as chemical analysis of the rocks, Glikson concluded that the dome was the result of an asteroid crashing into the Earth at such speeds that it caused the Earth’s crust to rebound (Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, DOI: 10.1080/08120099.2010.481327). Images from scanning electron microscopy showed that the cracks and pulverised rocks throughout the dome were unlike those seen in tectonic plate movements. Seismic section displaying chaotic deformation in the inner core of the Mount Ashmore structural dome. Seismic surveys and above-ground magnetic studies revealed the dome’s massive dimensions. Its diameter of over 50 kilometres and vertical axis several kilometres in height are significantly larger than previously found mud volcanoes – making this an unlikely candidate for one. So far the largest mud volcanoes, found in Azerbaijan, are only 10km in diameter. According to ABC News, Glikson says the asteroid that created the dome was probably 5 to 10km wide. Discovery News reports that: “Smaller [asteroid] impacts only create an impact crater. But during larger impacts, something different may happen: an impact dome or central peak rises up in the middle of the crater.” In the case of Mount Ashmore, rock rebounded upwards at the point of impact, compensating for the huge compressive punch of energy delivered in collision. And when this asteroid collided with Earth, it wasn’t alone.Australian Geographic reports: “Several other craters have been documented from a similar time, including one of the Western Australian coast measuring 120km in diameter. Another asteroid impact structure in Siberia is 100km in size.” Glikson believes that this asteroid storm may have shifted the Earth’s plates to create a gap between Antarctica and South America, known as the Drake Passage, which still exists today. Discovery News writes: “The rush of water through Drake Passage isolated Antarctica’s climate from the rest of the globe, and fostered the growth of a large ice sheet.” the asteroid hit the Earth during a period of intense bombardment 35 million years ago. Its strike coincided with a sharp fall in global temperatures which in turn preceded the formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. Both the Siberian and Chesapeake asteroids hit at roughly the same time. And a million years later, the Drake Passage cut South America off from the Antarctica land mass, providing a constant flow of water around the ice sheet already forming as the Earth cooled.
“ice began to accumulate here during the miocene, 25 million years ago; by 15 million years ago the continent was covered. scientists estimate that there’s about 700,000 years’ worth of accumulated ice on the plateau, and that the ice sheet puts one ton per square inch of pressure on the bedrock more than two miles beneath us, which helps explain why the continent is depressed, up to 1,400 feet below sea level in places.” p116
which fairy replaces with happy faces, cloud level 4 (chapter 17)
the girl: she doesn’t want to be responsible for all those players. girl – vanity, humiliation, runs away to avoid responsibility for all those players ring 1. he defers to her. at first the girl enjoys the attention and acts like she deserves it, cavalierly accepting players’ last morsels and wasting them. she gives hers away and takes half of his, letting him provide for half the settlement. when the problem grows frighteningly large, girl leads a group session of manifestation. snake argues for loaves and fishes trick. snake objects. boy and girl invent a tradition to teach the best way to be mindful and together (living with fairies). she trains and deputizes this group to go out and pass the ability to all other players, along with ground rules (commandments) the boy develops in a hurry, with snake’s input making them more classically orthodox. she gets distracted handling this, taking time to interact with everything. she wants to hide and let them do it all themselves in the beginning, while he’s all for flaunting it and letting them compete. the girl is appalled and frightened by the crowds, and annoyed that they’re all looking to her for help. so she hides, and she refuses, and she runs away and lets snake and the boy handle it. without noticing, she is relegated to a support role while the boy and snake centralize control and take a percentage. she has a fit when she finds out (christ moneychangers). surly penguin npcs insist on fish bribes before giving information. the girl zaps them in a fit of exasperation (they wither like that tree jesus blasted), but they respawn hostile instead of snarky. players react with fear because of food. the girl joins the crew of a ship and goes to ronne and the inland seas. bottom-up self government versus control in the hands of the few, does she keep shirking her responsibility? does she keep hiding her powers and pretending to be just a regular person? does she secretly hate all those people who look to her for guidance? Then we come back to see them opening up the second island and finish ring 1. she is thoroughly demoralized (worry kills the miracle) at the end.
death: the girl dies when the boy leaves her as mob attacks. respawns in the water back at the beginning of the ring. the cheat codes don’t work anymore, so she has to physically travel to the portal of the second ring, which is out in the rift sea. he has already joined a ship. she goes looking for him and gets swept away to the next ring. angry mob (past life, flying into wires) this is how girl dies, floundering in front of the mob and the boy leaving her to be brought down.
victimhood: This can lead them to try and manipulate others or to get depressions. when they feel threatened they can get controlling, aggressive or defensive, This external focus also causes them to lack self-centeredness, to neglect their own well-being and to invade other people’s space energetically or emotionally. victim. Attention and validation. You can always get good feelings from other people as they are concerned about you and try to help you out. On the other hand, it may not last for that long as people get tired of it. You don’t have to take risks. When you feel like a victim you tend to not take action and then you don’t have to risk for example rejection or failure. Don’t have to take the sometimes heavy responsibility. Taking responsibility for you own life can be hard work, you have to make difficult decisions and it is just heavy sometimes. In the short term it can feel like the easier choice to not take personal responsibility. It makes you feel right. When you feel like the victim and like everyone else – or just someone else – is wrong and you are right then that can lead to pleasurable feelings. Gratitude is totally lacking in the victim mentality mindset. Such people are so focused on what they don’t have and what others owe them that they fail to recognize anything positive or good in their lives. “the mythology of ‘history’ is usually so pleasant for the ego of the subject that he accepts it in a ‘modest’ silence, an affirmation of the validity of the mythology. after a while he begins to believe it. “the further danger of mythology is that it carries the picture of ‘genius at work’ with the false implication of purposeful logic and planned actions. this makes it more difficult to free oneself from the structured approach. for this if no other reason mythology should be understood for what it is.” p168 “it is primarily a subconscious feeling that the organizer is looking down on them, wondering why they did not have the intelligence, so to speak, and the insights, to realize that through organization and the securing of power they could have resolved many of the problems they’ve lived with for these many years – why did they have to wait for him? with this going on in their minds they throw up a whole series of arguments against various organizational procedures, but they are not real arguments, simply attempts to justify the fact that they have not moved or organized in the past.” p109 “rationalizations must be recognized as such so that the organizer does not get trapped in communication problems or in treating them as the real situations.” p109 “from the moment the organizer enters a community he lives, dreams, eats, breathes, sleeps only one thing and that is to build the mass power base of what he calls teh army. until he has developed that mass power base, he confronts no major issues. he has nothing with which to confront anything. until he has those means and power instruments, his ‘tactics’ are very different form power tactics. therefore, every move revolves around one central point: how many recruits will this bring into the organization, whether by means of local organizations, churches, service groups, labor unions, corner gangs, or as individuals. the only issue is, how will this increase the strength of the organization. if by losing in a certain action he can get more members that by winning, then victory lies in losing and he will lose. “other ideas began to occur. this was a whole new ball game for me and my curiosity sent me scurrying and sniffing at the many opportunities in this great wall street wonderland. i didn’t know where i was going, but that was part of the fascination. i wasn’t the least worried. i knew that accident or necessity or both would tell us, ‘hey, we go this way.’ since i didn’t seem disturbed or confused everyone believed i had a secret and totally organized machiavellian campaign. no one suspected the truth. ” p175
the boy: the boy wants to let the kernel do the loaves and fishes thing in the emergency, but the girl wants to use the opportunity to teach them to fish. they talk about getting exkurt to make it rain hamburgers but he’s not answering. girl and boy have to do sleight of hand to feed multitude, materializing fire to make stone soup, asking the grass to grow and the fish to throw themselves out of the water, and growing a shell to the size of a cauldron. boy organizes hunting parties for food and she organizes building shelters. they witness new behavior in each other that sets them aback; he defers to her because she has the moral high ground. he soon develops a tendency to hoard, so she gives hers away and takes half of his, making him provide for half the settlement, for which he thinks he should be paid. boy and girl fly to the new zone. get the second island all set up, using their real quantum abilities, as the first island fills up with people. the boy complains about having to be a gardener. what you value is what you learn – wisdom, power. they interact constantly in their heads, but they’re now in different parts, so they split the leadership duties (along traditional sexroles). they are run out of the ring by an angry mob. or she is while she’s alone…
the home islands: boy avoids things that require empathy and embraces action, reinforcing the macho father image. it’s more important to do what he’s doing and he thinks it natural that she support him. the boy decides that his role as tester is to find the weaknesses and exploit them. so he goes around trying to cheat. he vacuums up all the points and the health force and the energy of other players. he goes around hitting objects in case they have points. he feels like god, he feels like he owns the game. and since it’s only a game, he doesn’t care about his behavior. but since it’s not a game at all, he needs to test everything, to perfect it. the boy tires of survival and group-reliance and decides to go on a shootemup. maybe he finds infiltrators or them wandering around, and decides they’ve got to stop the enemy (but at this point it would just be helpful messengers from heaven who would then be killed in their later part of the game) and everything follows from his fear of the enemy and his attempts to save the game by winning. leaves with the boys (ridiculing the essence) harnessed dolphins drawing it so they don’t have to use quantum energy, which is hard. relegate girl to a support role while the boy and snake centralize control and take a percentage. snake tempts the boy: gardener; i’d rather be a tinkerer, it’s mechanical and you can depend on harnessed power (over). he’s full of coffee, with his dick in his hand, thinking i’m going to rule the world. it’s my antarctica, i put it together, i own it, it’s my boat and you’d better get on board cuz i’m going places. he puts people to work for his dream and drives them mercilessly for their own benefit, and expects them to subordinate their goals to his, for the good of the team. he’s got a thing about extreme riskiness, flaunts things because others are careful. can be manipulated thru appeal to macho posturing. the boy’s head is thinking/feeling/observing from conservative extrovert pov. codependent insecure people-pleaser versus sociopathic egotistical abuser. the boy gets tempted every ring. so shouldn’t he always be leaving a train wreck of unconscious actions behind him? conservative, personality disorder, materialistic actions. it manifests in every ring, on every level. with every ring the boy’s surroundings grow more bleak as he becomes stronger. the boy doesn’t even notice things being sapped by his energy. except as a player he’s always hitting things to see if he gets any points/karma/health from it.] at each ring they ask themselves if they have the answer, and it’s a different answer each time. in each case he feels he has no choice. thru all the boy’s tests he has to face his temptation to use his power over others to force victory and decide to choose love. the boy is jesus, tempted at every turn until he becomes constantine. boy leaves girl to be brought down by angry mob.
Deprivation Especially in the treatment of addictions, the issue of deprivation may serve to block progress. When this type of reversal is diagnosed, a discussion around this issue is appropriate.
kurt: exkurt. boy and girl get him to open other zones on ring one. in the kernel, ex-kurt is just qubits, and you can only see him as a brightness, or a darkness, depending, fluctuating, or maybe pulsing differently. inside the kernel it’s all light, the brighter the point of light, the more consciousness; strings and bundles of light are thoughts or actions and kurt is an eggshape that resembles kurt in movement as much as feature. it’s a brighter version of the cloud levels in the game. it’s a quantum object. a superposition of possibilities for a start, so it’s probably fractured, the way an astigmatic sees the moon. is it nut shaped? does it look like cell division? how could you see kurt’s presence in the kernel, does it resemble him? when he comes into the game, maybe materializing at the back door of the kernel, which maybe looks like a kernel of wheat in the landscape. the kernel. when ex-kurt is out and about in the game, he materializes only as much as he needs, like the cheshire cat. most of the time he’s realized in the front, especially his hands. his body is stock avatar, his face is idealized youth and fuzzy, both because he avoids mirrors and also because he’s part everybody, and the back side of him is wireframe because he never thinks about it. sometimes it’s just his hand. sometimes it’s just his face. when he is greatly affected, his idealized young face shows up in the clouds out in the realworld. when he is forced to appear in public after the boy and girl exit the antarctica level, he decks himself out in flowing robes and white hair and fudges the other details. when he appears to friends he’s most completely realized, mainly relying on their perception of him. he looks like his 20-something youthful self, when he was fresh and idealistic. most of the time when he’s by himself he feels this way again, but when the annoying others creep in he becomes very troll like.
snake: replaces fairy’s leprechaun npcs with demented penguins that speak gibberish. snake argues with boy and girl for the loaves and fishes trick. plays up the emergency, the threat to gameplay. argues against deputizing players the way they do it; wants more control, more orthodoxy. injects classical concepts into commandments. snake’s people leave the home islands feeling persecuted and wronged. boy – gardener? be a tinkerer, it’s mechanical and you can depend on harnessed power (over). (peter pan). girl – vanity, humiliation, runs away to avoid responsibility for all those players pointing out otential problems – it’s really hard. snake and fairy left in charge. snake plays up flying to the masses.
we think, when we start antarctica, that snake will be a better player than he is a person, and at first he seems concerned only for the game. but he always offers the easy answer and always gets others to do his dirty work. church of quantum spreads intolerance of the open practice of dangerous powers,
American society should be governed according to the Biblical precepts in the Ten Commandments. He wrote that the elect, like Adam and Noah, were given dominion over the earth by God and must subdue the earth, along with all non-believers, so the Messiah could return. This was a radically new interpretation for many in the evangelical movement. The Messiah, it was traditionally taught, would return in an event called “the Rapture” where there would be wars and chaos. The non-believers would be tormented and killed and the elect would be lifted to heaven. The Rapture was not something that could be manipulated or influenced, although believers often interpreted catastrophes and wars as portents of the imminent Second Coming. Rushdooney promoted an ideology that advocated violence to create the Christian state. His ideology was the mirror image of Liberation Theology, which came into vogue at about the same time. While the Liberation Theologians crammed the Bible into the box of Marxism, Rushdooney crammed it into the equally distorting box of classical fascism.
26. keep your hands clean. you must seem a paragon of civility and efficiency: your hands are never soiled by mistakes and nasty deeds. maintain such a spotless appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat’s paws to disguise your involvement. mitt romney. snake in lowlands (isles?) 31. control the options – get others to play with the cards you deal. the best deceptions are the ones that seem to give the other person a choice. your victims feel they are in control, but are actually your puppets. give people options that come out in your favor whichever one they choose. force them to make choices between the lesser of two evils, both of which serve your purpose. put them on the horns of a dilemma – they are gored wherever they turn. snake w/boy and girl 4. always say less than necessary. when you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. even if you are saying something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open-ended, and sphinxlike. powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. the more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.
c/b c3ll3r! at dragoncon, or =p, or snake the boy’s followers. another plucky band (frantic thugs?). whiners in home islands, pirates in mountains, tax collectors and sheriff’s men in lowlands, soldiers and outlaws in wilderness, mobsters in hinterlands, employers in hell. the transitions are important. do they end up in roles, with lives, in each ring? they leave one ring and find themselves in another not as followers of the boy but as new character(?)s with different lives from what they had before? when they land in the lowlands they can’t be pirates anymore, so they get jobs with the boy’s posse and everybody finds their buddies something to do. when they leave there they become soldiers. at the end of the wilderness they settle in the hinterlands, or do they just muscle in? and what about hell? the ones that survive the boudica incident on the border – how do they survive, surrender, switch sides? the ones that switch sides follow the boy in victory. the ones that surrender are imprisoned. the ones that have to go back to the beginning are given a talking-to by kurt and schooled in the ways of quantum.
fairy: DARK NIGHT is in the home islands, runs away at the beginning when it’s too much, gets it back by having great quantum sex with a dolphin (the kernel). snake and fairy left in charge. snake plays up flying to the masses. fairy takes over from girl when they go to second island, remakes the training and commandments. fairy manipulates; she’s hot and smoldering and histrionic. easy promises immediately forgotten. don’t feel she owes anything for money lent or things paid for. scornful of the idea of debt. thinks people like her should be honored, the world owes her a living. fairy sex with kernel.
vs snake: Be vigilant and doubting. Do not be gullible and suggestible. Better safe than sorry. One major problem of the confrontation stage, however, is the violence which is meted out to the movement. Repression is never easy to stand up against; solidarity, however, makes an enormous difference. Terror works best against people who feel alone. Logically, therefore, organization (the second stage) should come before confrontation. Another reason why organization building should begin early in the revolutionary process is because the development of skills, experimenting with new working styles, and making of milieus for personal change are all essential for later stages in the struggle. isles – sex with kernel/npc, experiencing the electrical connections beween brain and body, nerves. very intellectual, objective. kernel / dolphin. the kernel is the fully aware and non-erotic headtrip.
plucky band: then form a band on the home islands, part of a shelter-building team and keep running into each other, first a trickle then a flood of players washes up on the shoreline. players wander around not doing much of anything, bewildered. among barren rocks they are like babies. they are cold and hungry and there is no food or shelter. players begin to panic. a movement toward violence and coercion. and still the people keep dropping out of the sky. a team goes out to rescue them in large shells. players have very few props and few options in their personal environments, the grinds are to satisfy their basic needs: raising shelter, foraging for food, making tools, sharing, cooperating with the land, sea, weather, plants, seeds, animals. animals who help them and feed them until they can form weak bodies. soon they have gardens in front of every stone hut. a village rises. group-sufficiency is stressed. everybody struggles with developing their own energy, because it only works well in groups. supposed to be baby step place where players are introduced to quantum life by total immersion. exit: by water. as soon as trees grow players start making boats to leave the island. a storm blows up that casts their little boat adrift and they practice their skills avoiding hazards and navigating to shore on the peninsula…or…ships appear and recruit players to fight enemies (alien vampire invaders in response to boy’s wish???) and land in the transantarctics. players use their skills to help navigate the ship, have races with dolphins.
random 6[Quiet Presence] To help safeguard against the harmful consequences of personal and organizational ambition, spiritual communities are usually better allowed to grow through attraction rather than active promotion. on the edges of the first manifestation circle. meets boy and girl. part of group that builds small settlement. joins ship. 24. play the perfect courtier. the perfect courtier thrives in a world where everything revolves around power and political dexterity. he has mastered the art of indirection: he flatters, yields to superiors, and asserts power over others in the most oblique and graceful manner. learn and apply the laws of courtiership and there will be no limit to how far you can rise in the court. random game. in the game the girl notices, or random does, a particular door that sticks all the time, and it’s the kernel trying to get thru to them, because they’ve forgotten. there are multiple times when they forget, and they are always reminded by something.
=p told to follow and report on various players until something else comes up, deep cover. so she bitches but doesn’t leave. doesn’t know who the others are but they do. need to know. =p there’s nothing going on here, there’s nothing to do and nothing to play with, just other players walking around doing nothing. i’m running low on health points and getting goddamn hungry. when’s somebody going to start a fight? why doesn’t anybody have weapons? is this some kind of sims game where we’re all supposed to get along? and build stuff and grow stuff and not even own anything? fuck that shit. i’m a serious gamesman and i want to kill somebody. hey, there’s somebody who has a fish. i’m going to take it from him. but he’s giving it to me without a fight, so i’m going to ask everybody i meet for a fish. and if they don’t have one i’m going to hit them in case that’ll do it. and then someone will give me a fish so i’ll stop hitting that other player. either way i get a fish. and if i band together with everybody else who is taking fish, then we can take the fish from everybody and have them all. then we win. except for that rule about possessions. the penguin npcs are no help. when i ask about a quest, they say ‘whatever’. cache of seeds, what am i supposed to do with that? trade it. let someone else talk to it until it decides to grow. that takes too much teamwork and peace and love. i want to develop other skills. i’m more independent than that, and don’t like togetherness because it’s static and boring. i’m the kind of player that’ll look under every rock and ignore the other players. unless we’re a team on a quest. those damned boy and girl gamemasters can fly and i can’t. they’ve got lots of food. they control all the food here and won’t let anybody else have any. they’re keeping it all for themselves and their little cult. they flew off when a group of us approached to ask for help. join a ship to go fight enemies? hell yes. don’t even care what kind of enemy. just give me a weapon. Guilt is frequently used by manipulators to blackmail people. “If you don’t do xyz, I will be sad.” Well, too bad for them if they choose to feel sad! That’s their problem, not yours. Same with actions: you are NOT responsible for other people’s actions. “If you don’t do xyz, I will drink myself into a coma.” Oh yeah? What they do with their life is their decision and none of your business. You don’t do anybody a favor by taking the responsibility for their life away from them. Actually, it is highly disrespectful.
“We have now come to understand that there is no such thing as ‘moderate quantum,’” a July 2011 presentation states. “It is therefore time for the United States to make our true intentions clear. This barbaric ideology will no longer be tolerated. quantum must change or we will facilitate its self-destruction.” For the better part of the last decade, a small cabal of self-anointed counterterrorism experts has been working its way through the U.S. military, intelligence and law enforcement communities, trying to convince whoever it could that America’s real terrorist enemy wasn’t al-Qaida — but the quantum faith itself. In his course, Dooley brought in these anti-quantum demagogues as guest lecturers. And he took their argument to its final, ugly conclusion. International laws protecting civilians in wartime are “no longer relevant,” Dooley continues. And that opens the possibility of applying “the historical precedents of Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki” to Islam’s holiest cities, and bringing about “Mecca and Medina[‘s] destruction.” Dooley’s ideological allies have repeatedly stated that “mainstream” quantums are dangerous, because they’re “violent” by nature.
1. Educate yourselves about the true nature of the threat. 2. Assign someone within your group to do a deep dive on this so you begin developing an internal expert on this material. 3. Study the “Usual Responses” document. 4. Begin sharing this information with close friends and selected others individually. Then in very small groups. Learn from these encounters, and encourage them to challenge you. 5. Study Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies. Understand that LOCAL POLICE are the tip of the spear, and this problem will be solved by citizens at the LOCAL level. 6. Know the ideological literature when you see it (Qutb, Maududi, etc). Possession of this material may change the threshold for “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” for law enforcement. 7. Identify key individuals in your community who are likely to be open to listening to this information. Prepare yourself. Practice. Give the presentation. Encourage them. Follow up. 8. Identify key Muslim Brothers and MB organizations in your community. 9. Develop a small group of like-minded patriots who have studied and understand the threat. Strategize to regain control of your community. 10. Do NOT over-organize. Think like the enemy. Be fluid. 11. Do not discuss your strategy publicly. 12. Know your allies. 13. Consider joining a grassroots organization – locally and nationally (ACT! For America for instance). 14. Those in the community who are assisting the enemy (wittingly or unwittingly) should be exposed. This can be done in a number of ways. Consider spending time recruiting/educating a member of the local media – especially a young, aggressive reporter from the local paper. 15. Put the heat on those elected officials helping the enemy. Be aggressive. Take a crowd to a city council meeting and demand action. This is one tactic that works. 16. Push back at every turn. Do not allow any compliance with Shari’ah at any level. 17. Study the foundational principles of America, the Declaration and the Constitution. We must know the enemy AND we must know ourselves. 18. Create an education campaign for the community that stresses TRUTH and FACTS. 19. Engage your local police department and city attorney on this issue. When speaking with attorneys ensure you keep your language focused on Islamic LAW and that it is diametrically opposed to Article 6 of the US Constitution. 20. Engage leaders of local churches and synagogues. 21. Initiate a relationship with a key member of your local town council, your state representative/senator, and your US Congressmen and Senators. Go slowly. Don’t give them the entire block of information in one sitting. Ask them the questions – act concerned not over-the-top. Remain objective and UNEMOTIONAL. Be consistent. 22. Speak to the leadership of your state National Guard about the Islamic Movement. 23. Learn what is going on at the Islamic Schools and Mosques in your community. Request to see the teaching materials. 24. Attend functions at the local college when someone speaks truthfully about Islam and observe the reaction. 25. Go to the local mosques and ask them if you can speak at Friday prayers and share the Gospel with the attendees. 26. Engage your local FBI Field Office and ask them about the amount of training they receive on the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Doctrine, and the Islamic Movement in the U.S. and across the globe. 27. Know that if you are effective, there will be push back from the other side – the MB. Have a TEAM assembled. Don’t go it alone. Remember to target the good guys who are helping the bad guys first. If ‘you go after a Muslim Brother to create a public issue, get help from someone with a deep level of knowledge on this and plan well. The MB has an entire machine ready to pounce on you. Don’t give them the opportunity. 28. Remember – we are at war. Act like it. You are part of a resistance movement, not a social club.
c3ll3r! c3ll3r! Are you aware you will be financially stressed if you go to America?” They also threatened me that I’d be robbed and murdered in America.
shit happens: n/a
authoritarian culture: n/a
armchair authoritarian: n/a
resistance: do i actually have any characters that are just ordinary players making homes for themselves? suzie pritchett who just wants a nice home in the suburbs and really hates all the politics and just wants to do her farmville thing, who go lalala ignore them until a thug comes along and steals her bushel of corn. does she stop playing the game, does she protest to her friends and neighbors, does she take any action in the game or outside? there are two plucky bands of misfits, the transconductors and the classical resistors. vicious circle with both sides accusing each other of the same thing, of being entitled and spoiled while i’m doing all the work. the solution is not that either is right, the solution is a non sequitur. out of left field. a third choice. that resolves the two and builds in another direction. resolve and change subject. shut up and feel the vibration. in the end the two find themselves working on the same side. what brings them together? “the seventh rule: a tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag…
Perhaps you’ve wondered where the word “scree” comes from. There is the usual etymological explanation – landslide in Norse. But this is my theory – screeee is the sound your soul makes when the earth drops away under your feet. When glaciers stop holding the mountains up, they start crumbling, and filling in the gouged-out bottoms of those u-shaped valleys And until the crumbled mountain fills it right the way up and enough trees and grasses grow to stabilize it, it’s all loose rock slapped up against the side of really steep mountains. Just waiting to be dislodged by an earthquake, or torrential rains, or high winds. Or the inattentive footfalls of two people trying to hike down the mountain.
And so it happened that Josh and Anomia stopped to rest on a flat boulder halfway down to the valley floor, walked to the front edge of the boulder for a better look at the route down from there, and managed to upset the rock’s balance. Screeeee. With a heart-jolting shudder, the boulder tilted. They quickly moved back away from the edge, and the back end of the boulder thumped down, like they were on a seesaw. Then a few small rocks dislodged and rolled down the mountain. And a few more, making tinking sounds as they bounced off other rocks. Then the boulder moved, slipping a few inches. The couple looked at each other with wide panicky eyes. Should they jump off? Should they stay still? But the boulder slipped again, skewing slightly, grinding against its pebbly bed, and they fell to the surface and reached for something to hold onto as it lurched in slow motion, setting off the rocks around it on their way down the mountain. The tinking of rock on rock grew into a rumble as they began crashing and sliding down the mountain.
Screeee. Their hearts in their throats, Josh and Anomia crouched on the flat boulder as it slowly tilted down and began to slide. And the whole section of the mountain began to slide with it. House-sized boulders, statue-sized stones, breadbox – rocks, fist-sized shards, chess piece-sized pebbles, peppercorn-sized grains, gnat-sized dust, each size of rock providing a cushion of lubrication for the next largest size of rock. At first lurching and stopping, so that they had hope it would stop, then picking up speed until hope lagged behind them on their shortcut to the sea.
They held on to their puny handholds and crouched into the smallest target they could on top of the boulder as it surfed down the side of the mountain, rocks bounding and crashing all around them. The rest of the hillside gave way all at once, and suddenly they were riding a wave of loose rock down the mountain. An avalanche.
A pity that their first action in Antarctica was destructive. But humans are like that. It’s a miracle they weren’t overrun and crushed by all the rocks that came down after them as their boulder made its way to the valley floor. The kernel must have been watching after them.
It was a wild ride. And it took a long time because they were still a thousand feet above the valley when they’d stopped to rest. At moments it felt like they were still and the mountain was coming down all around them, but then the boulder would tilt or spin or threaten to flip over on them. Josh buried his head, as if that would save him. Anomia kept watchful vigilance in case she had to dodge a flying rock, as if that would save her.
They got pelted for sure, they got bruised and scraped and thwacked in the head by bouncing, flying rocks. Their hands and arms were battered, their backs were bloody. They never had time to change into battle armor (what was battle armor doing in the clothing choices of a violence-free videogame?), but could only cling to the boulder as it clattered and bounced down the mountain. But at last, with a screeeee sound that ended in a sigh, their boulder came to a shuddering halt at the foot of the mountain, rocks slamming or sliding or rolling to a stop all around them, dust rising to obscure all sight.
Gradually the noise subsided, hissing like the foam of a spent wave against the shore. The dust dispersed, and Josh and Anomia sat up and then stood on their boulder, covered with dust and grains and pebbles, which clattered sweetly off them – souvenirs of their escape. Anomia bent down and gathered a few and put them in her bag. Josh kicked a few off the edge of the boulder.
They had outrun most of the avalanche and found themselves at the outer edge of the rock slide, close enough to scramble out of the field and find firm ground. Only it wasn’t really firm, filled in by dust and sand and rock, scattered on top of the glacial till of the valley floor. There was just nowhere else for the rocks to go, so they didn’t.
The landscape around them was flat, -ish, with boulders and rocks of all sizes lying everywhere. They were hungry again after their wild ride, but except for an energy bar there was nothing in their bag.
“We should be able to download some food from the virtual store,” Josh complained.
“But obviously the store’s closed, or deleted, or locked or something,” Anomia answered shortly
“And whose fault is that?” he shot back. “You were in charge of supplies. You and fucking Fairy.”
“No, I wasn’t,” she snapped. “I don’t know why you’re so quick to blame me. I wasn’t in charge of provisions. It was…” She paused, unable to remember who’d had the responsibility for populating the virtual stores and standard supplies. “I don’t know. Anyway, you can’t blame me for not thinking of everything. I did everything I could think of. I did other people’s jobs.”
“Then it must be your fault, since you were in charge of all the details.”
“The landscape details,” she protested. “I can’t be checking everybody else’s work all the time.” But she had been. She hadn’t had any trouble picking up the others’ slack, to the point where they didn’t bother doing the boring things, knowing Anomia would come along and do it all her way anyhow.
But now they had empty bags and no food. There was no food to be had in their environment. The ground was barren. There were no birds. They had nothing to catch fish with, assuming there were fish to be caught. They walked around, picking up anything nonlapislike they found – a piece of driftwood, the vertebra of a seal, washed up seaweed – and depositing them in their virtual bags.
“I’m really worried about the game,” Anomia confessed as they rounded a headland and stopped to look out over the blue-black Southern Ocean. Black rain was still falling out to sea.
“What the fuck is that?” Josh wondered.
She continued her train of thought, ignoring the horizon. “I mean, how can we go-live with the game when this level’s still so buggy?”
“What do you mean, this level?” he retorted. “The whole game’s so buggy it’s embarrassing. Why, potential sponsors…” He swallowed his words. He wasn’t supposed to have been making sponsor deals.
But she wasn’t listening. She had her heads up display running and was trying to figure out how to login as admin. “Huh?” she said when he fell silent.
“Oh, nothing, just famished is all.” He glared at her, still convinced it was her fault.
“Well, go try to catch a fish or something,” she replied peevishly, “I’m trying to do something and you’re interrupting me with your petty complaints.”
“Petty?” His voice rose. “You’re just sitting there trying to shift the blame, like you always do. You’re never at fault, while the rest of us…” He was looking at the black rain, seeing individual drops now, drops that were changing shape as they fell. “I think the cloud is getting closer,” he said, looking around for shelter, which of course there was none. “I’m not sure I want to get whatever that is on me.”
She looked up, staring into the dark rain. “Oh no,” she whispered to herself, then turned her attention back to the HUD, frantically opening the help files. Which were empty. She looked up again. The individual drops were clear now, individual, and moving as they fell, turning, spinning, twisting and gesticulating.
“Oh no,” Josh whispered. “That’s not rain,”
“It’s players,” Anomia finished, getting up and standing beside Josh. They held hands and watched as figures without number fell into the sea, “Where did that many people come from?” she wondered, “We’re only doing final candidate testing now. Go-live isn’t until…”
He looked at her. “What day is it? How long have we been here?”
She checked her HUD. “Oh my god,” she said. “It must have already gone live. Those must be real players, not just the testers.”
“Shit, what an introduction,” he said, dismayed. “They’ll die, of course. That’ll make the game real popular.”
“Maybe they’ll figure out how to land, like we did.”
“What are you talking about?” he answered. “What makes you think they can fly if we can’t? And how many of them have the presence of mind to adjust their costumes or figure out how to slow down? Look at them, they’re dropping like lead weights.”
And they were. The water underneath the playerfall was churning and white as they smashed into the surface of the water. Whatever sea life was out there was having a feeding frenzy. “Even if they survive the fall and avoid the sharks, they can’t live in water that cold. Unless of course you remembered to put wetsuits into the costume inventory. Oh yeah, not your department.”
She shot him an angry look. “The cloud – the players – are getting closer to land,” she said. “Let’s go and see if we can help any of them.”
“Yeah, right,” he sneered, but followed as she made her way to the rocky shoreline.
“Maybe they’ll remort on land,” she speculated without much hope.
“Yeah, with arms and legs missing from where the sharks tore them off,” he added.
“Please,” she said, “your urbane comments aren’t helping.”
“Well, I think they’re funny,” he said. “Just because you don’t have a sense of humor…”
“I do so,” she protested, tho she’d been entirely humorless ever since they’d started working on the game – two years now? Three?
“Look on the bright side,” he said as the black rain of players approached the shore. “We’ll have loads to eat once the tide starts bringing the bodies in.”
“Just kidding,” he assured her, tho his empty stomach had him wondering whether they’d taste more like pork or chicken.
Upon investigation, they discovered that there was a little food in their storage bags, so they ate, a sort of MRE, otherwise known as lunchables. Not very nutritious, not very tasty, not very filling, and full of chemicals, but they didn’t care at all, and scarfed it down. Anomia carefully put the wrapper back into her bag, and scowled at Josh as he let his go into the wind. Then they sat there on the snow covered ledge and looked out on the view.
If they’d been on the highest peak of the mountain, they could have seen the sea, way off to the north. But from where they sat, all they could see was a great ice sheet, fed by glaciers coming off their mountain, part of a range of mountains going east to west. Far, far to the south they could see another range of black mountains stretching as far as they could see along the horizon. These were totally denuded of snow in places – just black rock, with thready glacial tongues descending from the passes and peaks and plummetting to the ice sheet below.
Then the sun became covered, indistinct as clouds topped the range behind them and snow began to swirl and updraft all around them. Night was falling rapidly and they were sitting in the open. The wind picked up, howling, and suddenly they could hardly see each other. Now what? They had no tools in their bags, no tents, and sitting still was allowing the frostbite to attack even the bits inside the heated suits. So they crawled back into their snow holes, scooping and packing the snow to make a den of sorts, where they huddled together until morning, alternately pleading with and cursing xKurt and the kernel.
When it grew light they emerged to find the sun up and the sky clear, tho the wind still howled. They ate another lunchable for breakfast, and as they were sitting there wondering what to do, the ice vanished once again. They saw their mountain chain looming high above steep valleys leading to the shores of an inland sea which stretched all the way to the black mountains on the horizon, which now looked twice the height.
“I think I know where we are,” Anomia said. She’d drawn most of the maps for the Antarctica game, and hadn’t recognized the terrain when it was covered by ice. “I think we’re in Marie Byrd Land, or somewhere close to it. See, that water is the Ross Sea, and those mountains are the Transantarctic range.” She pointed to an active volcano halfway along the huge southern mountain chain. “That’s Mount Erebus. I think that’s where McMurdo would be if this were the realworld.”
“Yeah, too bad it’s not there now. We could use a rescue. Not that we could get there from here, ” he finished bitterly, measuring the distance between their mountain and the Transantarctics.
And then the ice was back, like snapping a white plastic lid on the world.
“What did you do?” Josh asked.
Anomia looked at him in surprise. “What? I didn’t do anything. It’s been coming and going like that since we got close enough to notice.”
“What does it mean? Is it a glitch?”
“I don’t know. It ‘s sure not supposed to be happening. I”ll report it as a bug.” She brought up the bug database – but it was gone. Empty. File not found.
“What, don’t we even have administrative privileges anymore?” Josh asked, looking at his own display. A dreadful thought occurred to him. Maybe he and Snake broke the game doing something sneaky and underhanded. “Fucking Snake,” he muttered.
Anomia heard him. “What did you boys do?” she asked shrilly.
“What?” he responded, offended. “It was that Fairy – and Radhu – fucking around with the game parameters.”
“But the kernel would have caught any attempt to change the program.”
Josh stayed silent and avoided her eyes for awhile. Anomia regarded the scene.
The ice continued to flicker in and out. It seemed to pulse for a minute, the ice rising and falling as if the ground were breathing in and out. The clouds came lower and hovered just above them, grazing the peaks, foaming over the passes and shedding tendrils of snow, like mist curling in the wind. The clouds capping the sky, the snow capping the earth. It was like being underwater and watching the surface ripple and surge with the passing waves, as if the clouds were echoing the ice’s movements, a dance of the watery elements.
But then everything changed.
The world seemed to flutter, to shine, to fast-flicker all around then. As if the kernel was changing its mind (?) and changing it again, going back and forth between the two states – frozen and thawed – flicking between them in the process of making up its mind, onoffonoffonoff.
And then it decided. Like flushing a toilet, suddenly all the ice – the glaciers descending from the peaks, the ice caps covering the sea, the icefalls and ice tongues coursing between high and low, all began to liquefy and swirl inside whatever configuration of mountain that held it. Like a time lapse film of the retreat of the ice.
Suddenly their butts were wet as the snow underneath the turned to slush. The snowy slopes around then went gray and brown and translucent, and holes started appearing here and there. The sound of dripping water became a roar as the ice melted from the top down and the bottom up. Ice began slipping downslope, gaining momentum like a snowball made of melting snow, sloughing off like a reptile’s skin in molting season, peeling off the mountain.
Some of the liquid turned to fog, and Josh and Anomia were enveloped in a fine mist of embedded drops that spattered their faces and dripped off the fur lining of their parkas. They began to slip toward the edge of their rock shelf. Afraid of avalanches, they pulled themselves back to safety in the center of the ledge, but it wasn’t all that safe, because the ice and snow above them was beginning to slump, curling onto their ledge like boiling milk overflowing the mug in the microwave, threatening to push them over like a wave breaking on shore.
They scrambled to the high spot on the ledge, and the slush wave broke to either side of them and went dripping off the edge with sickening plopping sounds, The sound of rushing water was deafening. The booms and cracks alarmingly violent. They looked out into the far distance and saw the continental ice cap coming – first oozing and then spouting – thru the passes and down the mountainside, glopping onto the thinning ice shelf which broke up into enormous state-sized icebergs that spun and drifted out to sea.
All of this extraordinarily rapid, like putting an already abbreviated timelapse on fast forward. They sat and stared for the couple of hours it took for the whole mess to melt They felt privileged to witness the transformation. Like witnessing the total destruction of a planet would be a privilege, of sorts. And when it was melted, there was no more flickering between states. The ice was gone, the mountains were bare, black rock, the Ross Sea was dark blue with white flecks bobbing on the tide.
At last they looked at each other. “Now what?” Josh asked.
“I guess we get down off the mountain?” Anomia offered.
They looked down. “It’s thousands of feet,” Josh observed.
“It’s all loose rock,” she observed, “and if I remember, it’s really dangerous to try descending a scree slope. Maybe we’ll start an avalanche.”
“We could fly down?”
“Can you think happy thoughts at the moment?” she asked.
“I’m happy we’re not stuck on a glacier,” he began, but stopped. “We might have been able to ski down if it were still snow.”
“Well, I don’t think we ought to chance running down the hill and jumping up to fly, do you?”
“I guess not. If we weren’t able to lift off we’d end up rolling all the way down.”
“With those big rocks coming down after us,” she added.
They examined the mountain below them for a viable route down. The slope was still wet, maybe from the melted slow but certainly from the dripping fog bank that continued to pour over the peak and course down the mountain all around them.
“Well, let’s start,” he said, getting to his feet.
But Anomia still sat there. She was distracted by a puzzling sight. Over their shoulders, to the north and mostly obscured by the mountain behind them, there seemed to be a heavy rain of almost individual drops, something that shouldn’t have been discernible at that distance. It was like seeing individual drops of dark oil in a rainstorm.
“What the fuck is that?” he demanded.
“I don’t know,” she mused. “It almost looks like falling rocks.”
“It’s far,” he observed.
“It’s out to sea,” she observed. “Rain doesn’t look like that.”
“Well, I don’t care,” he said, reaching down to grab her hand and pull her to her feet. “I’ve seen enough strange shit for one day. Let’s get down the mountain and see if we can make it in one piece.”
ring 1, the island
Down they fell, plummeting toward an Antarctica that was now so much larger than the theme-park sized island they’d been watching from the cloud layer. They attempted to turn their fall into a glide, tried to fly out of their headlong race to the surface, but their ability to fly was somehow broken – switched off. Was it fear? They’d always been able to fly before in the game. It was one of the essential skills, and since it was their game, it was something they’d taken for granted. But now they felt like the testers who chose to fall to their deaths instead of flying, and it was not fun. It was frightening. Panic inducing. Below was Antarctica, white ice gleaming like the top of a cloud. But they weren’t going to sink gently thru it, they were going to be slammed suddenly, with great force, as their hapless free fall brought them ever closer to the surface. And the surface kept enlarging. Now it extended far beyond their field of view, over the curve of the planet. The surrounding ocean appeared only as a black perimeter around a continent of ice.
They had time to notice – an eternity of falling – that the ice seemed to be fading in and out, as if the kernel was uncertain about which state to be in. One moment it was miles-thick icecaps, and the next it was all black, barren rock.
“Something’s wrong,” Anomia shouted.
“No shit, Sherlock,” Josh yelled back.
They were falling spreadeagle thru the air, the wind snatching their words, their breaths out of their mouths. Their clothes whipped around in the wind with an awful racket. And it was cold, so cold. Ice was forming around their eyes, in their noses, inside their open mouths. They couldn’t feel their faces, their fingers wouldn’t work.
Finally Anomia thought to adjust their clothing choices. She pulled down the menu and selected the warmest polar expedition clothes available, so now she was speeding toward the ice in a heated snow suit and fur lined parka, with thick bunny boots and high tech gloves. But she was still freezing. Josh, falling beside her, did the same. The suits provided some wind resistance, and this allowed them a modicum of control, so they angled off together toward the coast.
Maybe they could manage a glide, maybe they could manage not to kill themselves instantly when they hit the ice. And the ice was coming up faster and faster. They could see features now, ice ripples and icefalls as the glaciers flowed around underlying mountains, horns of black rock sticking up out of the ice, carved into grotesque shapes by the relentless scraping of the glaciers as they moved toward the sea. And every now and then the ice faded out and they could see enormous glacial valleys, mountains scoured and bare, deep ragged chasms where the ice had a moment ago been marching toward the ocean. Then the ice was back, closer than ever.
“We’re going to die!” she shouted at him.
“It’ll hurt,” he replied.
“But it’s real now. Will we remort or do we just die?”
“We’ll find out.”
She couldn’t see him shrug, but she knew his nonchalance was fake. They cursed Fairy (Radhu) for not including wing suits in the costume choices, and adjusted their outfits again, giving themselves decorative capes that came down to the middle of their backs and attached to their upper arms. Now they could steer a bit better, aiming still for the coast, and a rocky mountainous outcrop that looked to be a hundred miles away and maybe fifteen miles below. But how could they tell, when it was all black and white, with no scale measurement and no altimeter? Anomia made a mental note to have the kernel include these things in the next build of the game.
Endlessly falling, they had time to wonder at what had happened. At xKurt with his pull my finger joke. At the sudden vascillation in the landscape between ice and barren rock. And this raised all sorts of questions about how the Antarctica level had come to be covered in an ice sheet, the way the realworld Antarctica was covered. Why did xKurt or the kernel decide to cover their carefully (?) designed temperate Antarctica with a mile or two of ice sheet? Was it the kernel? Was it xKurt? Who was in control of the game anyway? Not the pair of them, hurtling toward the rocky summits below. Was it a glitch, a bug? How would they fix it? Cuz it wouldn’t do to kill all the players at the beginning of the level.
As the ground came rushing closer their anxiety grew. Anomia felt like she was going to throw up, Josh felt like he was going to pee in his pants. And still they fell. The ground kept getting bigger and more detailed, and they kept thinking they were going to crash into the rocks, but kept discovering that their idea of scale was off, that the mountains below them were bigger and farther away than they looked. This gave them time to reach full blown panic. She did throw up. He peed himself. The liquids turned to ice immediately and began to frostbite her face, his crotch. And no amount of resetting their clothing options made any difference.
It no longer felt like a game. The game controls weren’t working; there was no pause, no undo. And their avatars were real. They were present in the game physically, not virtually, and they were going to fall to earth and die. Any old time now. And still the earth came rushing up to meet them and still they fell with the wind howling all around them. Like blocks of ice they fell, helpless to do more than take aim for a flat area of ice at the foot of a rock that might have been a few feet high and might have been a thousand feet or more.
They kept trying to think happy thoughts so they could fly, but if you don’t want to die, your approaching crash landing isn’t going to make for ecstatic glee. They were crying now, clutching each other and swearing eternal devotion, still frantically trying to find the escape button, still screaming for xKurt to save them. And still they fell. But the Hitchhiker’s Guide had it right – flying is simply aiming at the ground and missing.
So at the very last moment they separated from their tight embrace and spread their arms wide, hoping to flare their capes and land softly on the ice. Which didn’t quite happen. But they didn’t hit the ground perpendicularly, but at an angle. And the ice wasn’t exactly level, but fell away from the mountain above it at a steep angle. So they grazed the ice.
The first touchdown was very hard. It jolted their frozen bones and bounced them back into the air. The second touchdown was brief, but they were parallel to the ground now, and so it tore off the bottom layers of their clothes, and in their panic they flung themselves back into the air. But only for a moment. Then they were on the ice, sliding down the steep incline that went many hundreds of feet almost straight down onto the main ice sheet.
With difficulty they veered away from the ice chute like body surfers, and managed to bury themselves in the snow topping a little shelf most of the way up the mountain. It would have hurt crashing thru the ice, but they were completely numb, little selfsicles stuck in the snow. At first they didn’t try to extricate themselves, they just lay there, absorbing the quiet, the lack of movement, the absence of wind. It was dark, and still, and silent.
As they lay there, not sure if they were alive or dead or stuck somewhere in between – back on the cloud level perhaps – they began to take in the sounds of their environment. Buried in the snowy back of the ledge, they could faintly hear water dripping, and beyond that, water rushing and tumbling down the mountain beneath the ice. They heard the ice moving down the mountain, griding and scraping away the rock. They heard the glacier moaning and booming, cracking and screeching. They heard the cry of a bird, muffled thru the snow.
So, they were alive after all. And eventually, reluctant to leave their snowy blanket, they dug themselves out and sat blinking in the blinding, achingly cold sunlight. Anomia thought to check her heads-up display. It was -20F, the wind was coming out of the south at 30 mph, the forecast was for snow showers. She shook her head. This was not in the specs for the Antarctica level at all. She checked another stat. It seemed to be early spring, with lengthening days and almost 12 hours of sunlight in 24. But so what? How were they going to survive on top of a glacier?
They were three quarters of the way up the mountain. Around them were silent black peaks sticking up out of the ice, with ice oozing down the mountainsides on all sides. Below coursed a glacier, and they could hear the trapped rocks scraping away the mountain as the glacier made its glacially slow way to the sea. Now and then a snap, crackle and popping sound as bits of ice broke up, and booming sounds as fragments the size of houses snapped away from the rest of the ice.
chapter 14, dragoncon 3 boy and girl in antarctica
the boy and girl are in antarctica by themselves. they drag themselves ashore. it’s ruggedly beautiful, but there is nothing growing, and there are no birds or fish or animals anywhere. it’s very cold and windy, and the snow is falling. they punch up a costume change on their screens. there are a few assets to be picked up – driftwood, a few shells, bones of seals and penguins. they explore the island they have come ashore on, and when they get to teh top of the central mountain they see people falling from the sky into the water. they go down to greet them, wondering what they are going to do, feeling like the game isn’t ready for players yet. but there they are and there are more falling out of hte sky every minute, and they’re cold and need food and something to do. some of them need medical attention because of injuries from the fall. where did all the real players come from? they’re supposed to be final candidate testers.
the girl: she’s never happy. and she’s got self-pitying excuses for anything anybody cares to point out to her. so she’s a big hypocrite. so perhaps she’s a little sanctimonious. she’s pretty boring about her duty. humorless. she’s steadfast about spreading the game and achieving critical mass, and she doesn’t get swayed by temptations. she has no trouble choosing power-with and rejecting power-over, even tho the choice is constantly presented to her.
plucky band: n/a