The Pinnacle Transmission
The event that officially kicked off the new OtherSpace reboot on June 28, 2014:
Busby wanders into the bar, a hololens gleaming silver-blue over his right eye and a bronze-hued earpiece alight with amber telltales, speaking to no one obvious and perhaps not even physically present. Calmly, he seethes. “Look, man, I am *not* interested in whatever those knuckleheads at the CTSB think. It was a freak storm, man. Not a design flaw with the Gasbag. Tell them to be cool and lift the no-fly order.” He makes his way to the bar, presumably listening to the response from the other side of his conversation. “They will *not* bring down the next one with a shoulder-launched rocket, man, no matter what their kneecapper claims. You keep the crew working on Gasbag II, man. I’ll work my connections. Bye, man.” He settles onto a stool and tells the bartender: “Water and cucumber, man. Also, rum. Leave the bottle.”
Kinako looks up from what is presumably a late dinner – looks like the remains of some vegetables and rice. Her brow furrows ever so slightly in confusion, but she inclines her head the couple of seats down the bar to the blathering executive. “Konbanwa, Mister Busby-sir, I hope that you are in improved health after your, ah, ordeal?”
Standing near the entrance to the pub is a old man looking furtively into the establishment. He seems to be muttering to himself, watching the patrons of the pub come and go. The man grumbles under his breath, “Heretics…sodomites….” and then seems to steel his strength and walks deeper into the bar. He comes to a stop at the actual physical bar, and taps the top of it a few times nervously.
Busby turns to give a nod to Kinako. “Yeah, man, I’m okay, I guess. Just shook up, is all. And I had swimmer’s ear for, like, a week, man. Folks cleaned the port up nice, though. Like it never even happened, man, right?” He notes the bartender setting a glass of clear liquid with a green-rimmed organic disc inside along with a bottle of brown liquid. “Oh, wait, man. Man, I’m sorry. I meant water *and* cucumber. Like, you know, the actual cucumber, man. Not some sad little slice, right?” The bartender knits his brow, but wanders off to find an intact cucumber while likely imagining special methods of delivery.
“Ah,” Kinako says, gently, after very carefully processing the inflow of verbiage. The approaching priest gets a very polite seated bow, but she draws back slightly, perhaps from the negative mein, and then turns to continue addressing Bob. “Well, I sincerely hope that you are finding your medical attention adequate. My certifications are at present being processed by the facility at General Jensen-sir and Mister Harrison-sir’s recommendations, so if you feel that you are in need of additional rehabilitative therapy, please inform me. If you are so inclined, of course. I do not mean to insist or suggest that present medical staff is insufficient, I merely wish to help if it is necessary and welcomed.”
Simeon tries to flag down the bartender, who has been sent off to find an intact cucumber. He fails. The man then frowns darkly and then turns to look at the other two men talking at the bar. He slides a little closer to Kinako, who at least adknowledge him, and asks, “Have you found the light son?” he asks conversationally.
“Huh,” Busby says as he watches Simeon make his move. “Someone needs to check the plumbing, right, man?” He chuckles, then gives a nod to the bartender after hearing the satisfying thud of a cucumber on the bartop. “Anyway, man, I don’t believe in doctors. It’s cool. I’m good, man.”
Kinako inclines her head to Busby. “That is well within your rights, Mister Busby-sir, I will not press the matter further.” The priest gets a long, long puzzled look. “I apologize, sir, but I am afraid I do not comprehend your statement. English is not my primary language. Do you wish to have the bartender increase the lighting in this area?” The expression in her great grey doe eyes is absolutely earnest, absent of malice or sarcasm.
Simeon narrows his eyes just a little bit at Kinako, and then starts to edge away from the woman, “Er, my apologies, miss, I didn’t know you were foreign…” he says, before again attempting to flag down the bartender. It would see from his shrugging demeanor, that he is quite ashamed at his failure to find an appropriate mark. Busby’s question gets a bit of a blush to rise on his cheeks.
Busby takes a sip of his water, then sets down the glass and tells Kinako: “No, man, see, it’s nothing personal, get it? I have a shaman, man. His name’s Damon, man. He’s got me on a regimen of cucumbers, high-top sneakers, and Broadway musicals. Kept me cancer-free for six years so far, man. Damon’s better than any doctor I’ve met. Sure as hell better than any god I’ve heard of.” He starts nibbling through the rind of his cucumber, hands gripping each end like he’s working corn on the cob.
Kinako gives Busby a gentle smile. “Of course; whatever treatment is most harmonious with your individual energies and physiology is what will be best for your health. Ample hydration and proper postural support are very healthy habits, and appropriate music is known to increase well-being. I assure you I have taken no offense.” She also inclines her head to Simeon. “I thank you, sir, for your compliment towards my language skills, that you did not notice that I am not from this country.”
Simeon shakes his head quickly and mutters something along the lines of, “You’re welcome, God be with you.” He then digs into a pocket and tugs out a pamphlet, that he passes on quickly to Kinako, if she accepts it. If not, he just leaves it laying on the top of the bartop. The title of the deep blue piece of paper is simply, “God’s Chosen People.” When the bartender gives his attention to Simeon, he orders a glass of water, and gives no tip.
The Spark CEO sets down the half-chewed cucumber and opens the rum bottle, gulping a third of it before he says, “Of course, I was cancer-free all my life before I met Damon, man, but it’s cool. I aim to stay that way, right? Plus –” Someone at a nearby table calls to the bartender: “Hey, turn that up.” The customer is pointing at the holovid display above the bar. A newscaster beneath a BREAKING NEWS banner with a headline beneath that reads MESSAGE FROM THE STARS? ARE WE ALONE?
Kinako looks at the bit of paper curiously and yet warily, as though she had been told to expect something like this. She does accept it, and places it gingerly next to her purse. The priest gets a wan, cautiously polite smile. “Of course,” she assures. “Ah, kami be with you as well.” The CEO gets a gentle chuckle. “Of course,” she assures. “It is a very sensible goal to wish to be free of can… cers… nanidesuka?” There is a faint trail-off in her voice, and her brow furrows once again in puzzlement as the newsfeed comes across. “…what is… that?”
At first Simeon is busy trying to fish out the lemon from his water to really notice the news story. When he finally looks up, his face dropping at what the news is saying as he reads it, before he shakes his head and starts to grumble, “Liberal media always tryin to brainwash people….”
“Twenty-two years ago, the Consortium exploration vessel Pinnacle launched from Earth in search of new worlds outside our solar system,” the newscaster says. “We have just learned that a message broadcast ten years ago from the Pinnacle has been received at a signals interception facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida. The contents of the message are unknown at this time, but some experts are speculating that it could be a report of a habitable world awaiting settlement just a dozen light years from Earth.”
Busby frowns, then checks his PDA and says, “I’d better talk to General Jensen, man. The whole habitable world thing doesn’t make much sense. I mean, man, we’ve scanned. We’ve looked with telescopes. No habitable worlds that close, man. We’d know.”
Kinako blinks a few times, and then settles back down in her seat. “Ah, perhaps we should await translation of the message before we allow ourselves to be affected by what the contents -could- be?”
“Translation? What sort of translation you need? This is clearly the word of God given to us. I always thought it would be a prophet here on Earth but I guess some of you Consortium types need some special sparkly prophecy in this shiny future land we live in….” Simeon starts to talk, voice rising as he starts gaining steam.
“Yeah, whatever, man,” Busby says, his attention going back to the newsfeed. The anchorman says: “Sources close to the Vanguard are telling us that the message is deeply encrypted, but appears to consist of only three components – either words or numbers. Possibly a coordinate set. Stay tuned to the Consortium Broadcast News network for details as they develop.”
Kinako does not -verbalize- the ‘whatever, man,’ but she does lean slightly away from Simeon with a guarded expression. While she is paying some attention to the news cast, she seems more puzzled by it than anything else. “That seems, ah, inconclusive,” she offers, before using one of the bar-top displays to order some tea.
“The end times are here!” Simeon declares, perhaps trying to drown out the continued newscast, “Be alert! The Lord will know who his bridegrooms and who have kept their lamps full and their oil at hand!” Simeon starts to slowly back out of the bar, still calling out about the iniquity of those who are drinking the Devil’s rum.
“Wait, wait,” the anchor says, a hand cupped over his earpiece. “I am receiving information from our studio control room. Our source tells us that the message has been decrypted. The components of the message are not coordinates. They are, we are told, words. The words in the short message, direct to us from beyond the light years, are as follows: They. Are. Coming. That is the entirety of the message, we are told. ‘They are coming.’ The message obviously begs the questions of who they are, when they will arrive and what are their intentions. Transmit your theories to the CBN Oracle Network. We will consult the AI oracles after they have assimilated the data.”
Kinako boggles outright at Simeon, but it is only for a brief moment before she regains composure with a quiet clearing of her throat. This composure is then shaken again when the message is broadcast. “…that, ah, that sounds… rather ominous.”
“They? They are coming? Surely this must be the angels!” Simeon declares at the doors to the pub. “Repent! Repent while you still can!” He then pushes open the doors and heads out into the street, still proclaiming the word of God.
Busby walks after the doomcryer, PDA in hand, and says, “Ominous angels or utter bullshit, man. I want confirmation of that message, man. I gotta talk to Jensen.” He departs the pub, grimacing.