Quinnstacious held up the index finger of his right hand while he used his left thumb to dial the frequency emulator until the dissonant tones began to separate into the occasional intelligible word, then broken sentences interspersed with static, then complete statements.
“Hell . . . Hello, greetings, good morrow?” He addressed the assembled dignitaries gathered in the long, narrow room.”Yes? You understand me?” The pockets of conversation died off and heads turned in Quinnstacious’ direction.
“Ah excellent. Thank you honorable fems and mascs for your presence here today. The Atlantean Council has empowered me to welcome you to the build-site on their behalf. They would have preferred to welcome you in person but unfortunately due to pressing affairs of state, they have been unavoidably detained.”
A low murmur begin to bounce off the domed ceiling as the group shared asides and dark glances at the last sentence. Quinn spoke louder in an attempt to regain control of the crowd. “However, they will do everything in their power to join us as soon as mortally possible. In the meanwhile they expressed their sincerest wish that you help yourselves to the refreshments and enjoy the presentation.”
Quinn gave a quick nod to one of the servants lining the room. The servant met Quinn’s gaze, crossed his hands across his chest and lowered his head briefly in acknowledgement before directing servants to circulate the room with trays laden with succulent summer fruits and carved crystals containing juices cooled with chipped ice.
Quinn seized that moment to cross over to a long table running lengthwise in the center of the room, covered in charts and anchored at one end with another crystal, this one larger and oblong and held up by a metallic brace. Quinn cleared his throat as he reached inside the folds of his robe, produced a prism and slotted it into the bottom of the oblong crystal. He took hold of the bioluminescent globe in the center of the table and positioned it under the prism. The low ceiling lit up with colorful pictures, sketches and diagrams.
The crowd as one turned to look upwards as the plans spread out above their heads. Some of the smaller Hominini representatives had to push against the legs of their larger genetic cousins to get an unobstructed view.
“As you see,” Quinn continued, gesturing toward a language neutral schema representing a construction timeframe “we are ahead of schedule. In fact – barring any unforeseens – according to my projections we should break free of our orb’s gravity well by the winter solstice. Once that is accomplished, we can begin construction on the space platform.”
The murmurs began again, but this time the murmurs quickly grew to an excited buzz. Quinn held up both hands to quiet the room “believe me when I say the council shares your excitement at the near realization of the work started by our honored ancestors. Once the counterweight above the geostationary level is complete, we will no longer be chained to our celestial body’s surface, we will no longer be subject to the capricious whims of our birth globe, the greater human family shall be free to ply the river of stars in which we float, masters of our own fate at last!”
Quinn allowed himself a small smile at the shouts of jubilation that erupted at his declaration, before adding a cautionary postscript “we are close, very close, but much work yet remains. Our forebears wisely abandoned all interspecies strife and came together as one tribe to combine their collective resources to achieve this goal that is now within our grasp.
“However . . . to fully realize their desire, and ours, to reach the stars, we must ensure our peoples stay committed to this great cause. We must ensure we stay true to the cooperative pact that allows the Floresiensis to work alongside the Denisova, the Neanderthalensis along side the Atlantean. Only if we continue to lay aside our petty differences and pool our talents and our wealth,” (at this a few of the other dignitaries looked down their long noses at the Neanderthalensis delegation), “only then can we hope to accomplish the greatest wonder our globe has ever seen.”
The assemblage applauded, somewhat more subdued than before but still appreciatively as Quinn finished his speech, folded his arms over his chest and bowed slightly. Quinn left the ceiling illuminated with the info contained on the data prism and turned to the waiting dignitaries to exchange pleasantries and answer project related questions.
One of the Floresiensis reached up and pulled on Quinn’s robe, interrupting his conversation with a Denisovian on the mechanical specifications of the breathing apparatus used by work crews at higher elevations.
Quinn, turned his head and looked down benignly “how may I be of service oh worthy one?”
The Floresiensi replied in a shrill voice “you do me too much honor, Atlantean,” crossed her arms, bowed and then continued “there have been rumors that members of the Atlantean Council are taking advantage of their role as Exalted Project Coordinators to divert resources towards the construction of an island metropolis, is this true?”
A hairy Neanderthalensi of particularly large build, at her question elbowed his way closer through the crowd and bellowed “I too have heard this! Also, why are Atlantean troops being stationed on communal property of the tribes?”
The Denisovian who Quinn had just been chatting with, scratched his chin thoughtfully with a long fingernail and added “as long as we are talking of such things, what is this I hear of planned increases in labor levies?”
Quinn was prepared for this eventuality and replied promptly “please, my friends, what are rumors but leaves on the winds? I assure you the Council is only concerned with the greater good of the Project and all those that toil there so selflessly.” Quinn started walking towards the far end of the room, “I assure you those rumors are completely unfounded. There are no Atlantean soldiers, merely inspectors to ensure standards do not grow lax this close to project completion.”
By this time Quinn had reached an archway at the end of the room that opened upon a large balcony. “Surely it must be obvious to any reasonable hominid the resource misappropriation accusation is completely baseless.” He walked out onto the balcony with the delegation in tow, stopped and turned slightly toward the group “any increase in levies will only be instituted if necessary, and after proper consultations with the appropriate tribal officials.
“My esteemed luminaries, this is not the time to grow fainthearted, not now when we are so close to completing construction of the space elevator. The Project is on schedule, ahead of schedule even, which would not be possible if there had been any impropriety. Let me state unequivocally for the record, this tower will be completed, on time and under budget. We have come too far, as long as we keep the lines of cooperation and communication open, nothing can stop us. But don’t take my word for it” Quinn threw his right arm wide, gesturing dramatically at the massive edifice towering above them up into the clouds “look for yourselves. Behold, I give you the invincible Buttressed Acclimated Base-station Elevated Landing! Or the Tower of BABEL for short . . . apologies, we’re uh, we’re still working on the acronym . . .”
Ⓒ 2014 Forlath Grey