The teleportation grounds looked like a field of grass. Instead of teleportation platforms, there were numerous white circles painted on the grass, all bearing the green Universitron U logo. Here and there, avatars were materializing. They would fade from static to solid, stand there for a minute, then start to move, walking forward towards the music.
I was having that small, discrete sensation again, that multi ghost arena feeling. I felt the vibe of the presence of many other ghosts, only this time it was punctuated by little pops each time a new ghost arrived on the teleportation grounds. I stood there for a while, just listening to the sounds and watching the other avatars come in. Then I shifted my gaze towards campus, towards the direction of the music.
I had expected to see something like the grounds and palace of Versailles, like I had seen in the L’Universite videos, though perhaps on a smaller scale. But the Universitron was nothing like this at all.
I could see perhaps half a dozen buildings -- if they could be called that -- on this side of campus, and bits of more beyond. Off to the right was a large brick dormitory, and then part of another one, and at the far left there was a wooden ski lodge with a peaked roof and triangular glass windows. Beyond that was something that looked roughly like the Whitehouse.
Closer in was a 5 story motel-looking thing with identical rows of black circular openings, each about the height of an avatar. The rows were ten circles long, all jammed on top of each other with little walkways in front of them, and stairs at either end. A neon pink sign flickered above it, in the shape of a zero with a line through it. I found to be it uniquely ugly, and hoped I would never have occasion to visit it.
Ahead and to the left was a three story high silvery breadbox, looking pretty much exactly like a VanderVon computer. And on the right, a much taller stone A, which reminded me of the spires of the family cathedral. Beyond these I could make out bits of two more huge curved structures, one looking like dull metal but the other fluffy white like a cloud. I could not yet see the source of the music.
I eventually followed the other ghosts in towards the music, feeling the uneven bricks in the path beneath my feet. Still not terribly coordinated, I had to concentrate in order to keep my balance. I did stumble once, when I noticed the label up in the corner of the big Vannie building: VanderVon 1000.
I stopped to consider this: the 1000 was the first machine ever produced by VDVCorp, shipped, and used on a large scale. We ghosts didn’t exist at the time, but the VanderVon 1000 formed the environment in which we would eventually evolve. I stood there, marveling at it. A huge replica of the genesis of our world.
As I moved on, I passed an immense coin to my left, a thin circle in dull gray, with a raised imprint of Aloysius VanderVon, some words, and a numeric denomination (one plex). It had a stylized circuit board pattern running all around the edge. I had never at that point in my life seen a real plex coin, but I guessed that this was a faithful reproduction. The basic unit of currency of the etherworld, wrought in a scale model of roughly fifty thousand to one.
On my right floated the fluffy white oval, situated on its side, a series of floating white circles leading up to it, like steps. It looked for all the world like a big old thought bubble from a cartoon in the human world, but nothing was written in it that I could see.
Beyond these I could make out a coliseum, with three rows of arches climbing into the sky. It looked a lot like the famous Colosseum of Rome, except that it was all there, not crumbling. Avatars were walking around and into it. It sounded like the music was coming from within.
Around and behind the coliseum were more oddly shaped buildings, including a fifty foot high David, complete with fig leaf, a giant circular gear in dull grey metal, and a colorful double helix of DNA, stretching skywards higher I would care to guess. Giant scales of justice dominated the scenery beyond.
As I approached the coliseum, I noticed red letters zipping around between the first and second levels. I tried to read them, but walking and reading at the same time was difficult, and in the attempt I walked straight into another ghost. He was wearing a green sweater emblazoned with a big white U on the front, smaller U’s on the upper sleeves. He stumbled back from the impact.
A vandervon computer looks like this more or less:
"My box. My computer. My machine.
It was shiny metal outside, chrome. Shaped like a bread box, but bigger. There was very little decorating the sleek, curving front, except:
two shielded power buttons, too far apart to be pressed with one hand
a microphone hole with a little screen over it.
a media (DVD) tray
a raised, stylized label: VanderVon 2500
some LED lights
The screen itself was a massive affair, wildly reflective and too big to take in all at once, especially since the kid was leaning into it, spitting on it practically, in his enthusiasm. But he’d lean back sometimes and I’d catch a glimpse of that box, that chrome machine, and that was me"