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Saturday, May 5, 2019

 

It was not exactly an invitation anybody would expect to receive in 2019. An invitation for the opening of an arcade, "Ectoplasm", in Riverside. Delivered in a letter, which also included a special deal for "those specifically invited". All of that strongly hinted at this being some kind of scam, by somebody who had clearly lived under a rock for the past 20 years.

 

The layout and quality of the invitation, as well as the fact that, judging by the online buzz this "Ectoplasm" was receiving – by legitimate websites and blogs, too, suggested otherwise. And with nothing else going on that weekend, there was little reason not to attend. Whether it was out of genuine interest, out of curiosity, or out of wanting to see just how scammy this actually was.

 

The location was quite nice, not far away from Riverside Park, with the waterfront of the district just about visible down the street. From the looks of the building, the Arcade was built into what previously was a restaurant, something the other restaurants along the street further suggested. Quite a line had formed outside, with everything from teenagers to hipsters to what probably were a few arcade enthusiasts of the first generation, lined up and waiting.

 

Off to the side, not indicated too well but noticeable to anybody with that bit of Claremont-brand perception training, was a second entrance, labelled "invited guests". And about there, the Claremont students also realized that some of their classmates were here…

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Selena held the invitation in one hand, the other holding the strap of her backpack slung over one shoulder.  Like every time she left campus, she had her costume tucked in the bottom of her bag but her bag also held a few rolls of quarters if the place was going as old school as the invite suggested.  Walking towards the door for the second, much less populous entrance she zipped up her hoodie, a grey number with a flaming lemon topped with a grenade pin on the back reading When life gives you lemons, burn life's house down, and avoided looking at the growing line of those without the special invites.

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Sun Dragon

 

"Welcome and goodeve!" 

 

Landing beside Selena with a *thud*, Leroy brushed himself off, looking about at the scene with a carefree grin. His coiled, coarse black hair now reached to his back, gathered by a series of gold rings into thick braids that fell down his left side and jingled softly as he moved. Drawing a ticket identical to the mistress of magnetism's from somewhere on the sparse, glossy black outfit that clung to him, he compared it for a moment to the one she held, golden eyes lighting up at the match. 

 

Replacing it where it came from, the prince of Earth-2 beamed down at his schoolmate. "How lovely! I had not expected to see you here, Serena, have you any notion what this den of dreams and horrors might contain?"

 

His smile crooked a little, the six deep scars on his cheeks twisting shamefacedly. "Ah, disgrace upon foolishness, but I have spent the better part of today merely searching for this place. It never occurred to me to learn what is or why one might attend!" He stirred at the asphalt with a sandled foot "We were so long about it, Dio dumped me from his back rather than land. I fear I have offended him direly."

 

The boy laughed, dismissing the matter with a wave of a hand shining with winding gilt tattoos of other, more constant dragons. "But I ramble! How are you, and what tempts you, dear classmate?"

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White Lioness

Àjàṣorò had seen and read about the American arcades, but she’d never thought she’d get a chance to experience one for real. So as soon as the note arrived she knew she was planning to attend the grand opening. She even managed to convince her roommate to come along with the promise with a lift, she’d managed to save enough of her allowance to buy a small but beautiful little car to drive around the City.

 

Entering the place she took a few moments to take in the sheer electronic wonder that was laid out before them. She wanted to go and try everything, but she was considerate enough to consider her roomnie first

 

Where do you want to start first?”

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PC

 

Monica didn't really believe the pamphlet she got in the mail. It sounded too much like some weirdo's attempt to get her somewhere on her own, because that was the sort of thing she had to think about ever since she'd become the internet's …well, sourheart? Was that a term?

 

But with the invitation that Aja had gotten, and the fact that this was clearly at least somewhat legit, that disbelief turned into some excitement instead. Monica did enjoy videogames, after all. And push come to shove, with her roommate along her, any encounters like the one she was wary of wouldn't be as scary.

 

Still, part of her didn't quite trust this entire thing. Maybe it was paranoia, maybe it was precognition. She'd just have to find out once she was there. It wouldn't be the first time a seemingly normal event turned out to be more than that.

 

Getting there was easy enough, Aja's new car was quite comfortable all things considered. The line in front of the arcade wasn't something Monica was keen to deal with, but fortunately, they had a way to get in easily. Once inside, she marvelled at the sights. Whoever actually owned this place (Monica checked but could not find any info), clearly wasn't cutting any costs.

 

"Never been to one of these, let'..." She stopped as she heard a familiar voice infront of them, one she hadn't expected to hear here of all places. She nodded her head towards them so Aja could see, then tapped Leroy on the shoulder, realizing that Selena, another Claremonter, was also here. "Hey there –"

 

Before she could get out anything more, there was another interruption, because apparently today was one of those days.

 

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GM

 

As the people in front of the group – somewhat older, probably university students – moved into the room properly, the group was approached by a relatively small man, who appeared out of seemingly nowhere (but was probably just standing at the doorway in a way that made him difficult to see from the outside.  His eyes didn't quite reach those of Selena when looking forwards, so he had to move his head upwards to address all of the party, something he probably had to do quite often. He spoke with a somewhat noticeable accent, although none of the teens were immediately able to place it.

 

"Ah, I see you have your tickets out already, good good."

 

He took a quick look at each of them, ripping off a corner, before letting his hand wander theatrically, pointing into the room.

 

"Welcome to Ectoplasm. We have many things, from classics to the most cutting-edge in arcade gaming. You have come early, so few machines are occupied, a sign that shows you are quite interested in what we have to offer. So, what will it be? Skee-Ball? Pacman? Terminus Invaders?"

 

Before letting the teens wander on, the man added on one last thing. "My personal suggestion would be the Basilisk." He pointed to what appeared to be quite a large machine, at the far edge of the room. "It was developed especially on the order of our owner, you will not find it anywhere outside of the Ectoplasm!"

 

He seemingly disappeared again as the teens walked on so the people in the short line behind them could walk into the room. From the looks of it, not a lot of people were in here so far, although the few that were seemed quite invested in whatever they were playing.

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Selena bumped fists with Leroy after he composed himself from his entrance.  "I'm not going to lie, I heard this place had some of the Star Wars Podracer machines and as bad as the movie was the game was fun so that's my first stop.  And with a name like Ectoplasm, this place needs to have the Ghostbusters game."

 

With the Claremonters assembled, pleasantries exchanged, and the quartet ushered inside Selena had a chance to look around.  Her top choices already had people using them so she turned back to the group and gauged their reactions.  "So, our best prospects for the moment is probably try that Basilisk thing before the line gets nuts.  After that, I'll accept any and all comers at Guitar Hero," she said before giving Aja a nod, "I really want a rematch after you beat me on This is a Call."

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