Through the Changing Ocean Tides

Characters: Peter Quill Barbara
Rated: PG
Summary: A strange radio broadcast is sent and the Guardians of the Galaxy intercept it!
OOC Date: Mon Jan 29 18:02:08 2018
IC Date: Mon Jan 29 15:03 2018
Where: Barbara Gordon's house and the Milano

Space is a strange place.

In an infinity of probabilities, anything is possible. Odd places, strange physics, a conspiracy of the unlikely against the mandate of the pragmatic and orderly.

Which has nothing to do with why Peter Quill is elbow deep in the guts of the Milano, swearing up a storm to an audience of no one.

"Stupid… farkin' broken cheap subspace piece of garbage."

A spark zaps his fingers and Peter yells. He flinches reflexively, smacking his forehead into a bulkhead, and yells again.

"DAMNIT, ROCKET!" he bellows, at no one in particular.

Quill rolls out from his position and examines the console, which flickers at him erratically. He starts toggling settings, first deliberately, then at random. The subspace radio squelches, whines, hisses, beeps, and starts blasting garbled communications at him. He steps back, gives it a judicious look, then kicks the console. Hard.

"-ova Corps spokeswoman said the Kree invasion of-" *WHAM* "-flatable arm waving tube man Emporium! *WHAM* "-Look honey, he left with an Arcturian pleasure drone, I don't think he's coming ba…" *WHAM*

The communicator squelches, whines, and Peter hauls back to kick it once more— and stops. There's a song playing. It's an Earth song, surprisingly clear and easy to make out. A single boy's voice sings in a remarkable, clear tenor. "…holy shit, is that— is this— Jackson 5?" Peter says, eyes widening.

Barbara was trying to come to grips with her newfound identity as a hacker. The radio station seemed like it would be an innocuous target. She'd never een a fan of the schlocky 80s pop drivle they'd played and besides, there were too many commercials on this station for comfort. So it was that 92.5 KDSY became the first target of oracle.

Barbara didn't identify herself, of course. Oracle was supposed to be an information broker, someone to be respected, feared, and called upon. She wasn't out there hijacking random radio signals for her own purposes. Except, of course, for the fact she wa doing so now.

It was almost entirely tivial for Barbara to bounce a few radio signals off of the station towers on her own, quickly replacing them with hr own choice of music. It took a moment to decide what to play but then it hit her. There was nothing that would drive a bunch of 80s obsessed daytime radio listeners crazy like…

I'll be there to comfort you.
I'll have faith in all you do…

Barbara was seated in her home in front of a bunch of computers, cases left open haphazardly to the air. It was test of concept, really. She didn't think anything of it. Just proof of the success of her interminable hard work.

Yet from that moment every Tuesday at approximately the same time…

Every Tuesday, regular as clockwork, Peter Quill tunes into the radio station.

He sits spellbound for several hours, feet propped up on the console, a cup of something strong and alcoholic in his hand, and listens. It's not like the radio station can really STOP Barbara, and truth be told— she's a good DJ. The songs are selected in perfect order. Peter has no way of knowing that it's something upbeat and cheery when the skies in Gotham are gloomy. Something soulful and sweet on the rare sunny day. He can't tell what particularly inspires the DJ to play any given song, but it's hard to shake the feeling that she's doing more than just spinning records on the platters.

Then, one afternoon, Quill's console blinks at him. It's a light that's usually on almost all the time, and the fact that it flickers to life on this channel is what draws his attention. A tiny label under it: 2-Way.

Well, it once said two way, but Quill scratched out the 2 and wrote a 3 because— well, anyway, it signals two way comms.

His heart pounds in his chest and Quill almost falls out of his chair, setting his drink aside so quickly it slops some alcohol on the floor. He flicks a few switches and activates the microphone, mouth suddenly dry. He ups the gain on the transmitter, unsure of how far away the target is. Or if she can receive him at all.

"Uh…. hello?" Peter says, tentatively.

It was entirely a mistake. Barbara was doing her usual Tuesday DJing and today had taken on a particularly somber cast about an hour into the show.

I heard he sang a good song. I heard he had a style.
And so I came to see him, to listen for a while…

That's when Barbara looked down at the haphazardly built console in front of her, examining the switches and lights that she'd put together for herself- a condensation of all the controls in the Radio control room and a few more special switches for herself. Something didn't sound quite right.

And there was this young boy, a stranger to my eyes.
Strumming my pain with his fingers. Singing my life with his words.
Killing me softly with his song, killing me… softly…

That was when azure eyes cast over the console and Barbara tilted her head just enough to realize… She was hearing an echo. Two-Way radio? Was that even possible? That's when she heard Peter's voice, out of the blue.

"…A-ah…?" Babs speaks up. slowly. She reaches up as she does to draw her fingers through her crimson hair and carefully adjust the glasses set over her azure eyes. She even checks the brakes on her wheelchair, simply out of habit.

"Hello," Babs calls back slowly. her heart is going crazy, thumping thunderously in heer chest beneath the black t-shirt she's wearing while she works on her Oracular calling.

"Who is this? …Where are you? No one should be able to reach me on this line…" Even if Babs did flip the two-way radio switch. ..Did she?

Peter Quill has reconnected.

Peter blinks when the voice comes back at him. It's— a woman's? He'd almost certainly, if asked, claim he 'knew' it was a woman doing the DJing, but that'd be a lie. It's okay. For Peter, her voice seems to confirm an instinct he'd had.

"This— who is this?" Peter carefully adjusts the bandwave settings and checks his telemetry. By all accounts, he shouldn't be able to hear her /at all/. And she shouldn't be hearing him. A weak radio signal would travel no faster than lightspeed, but here they are, having a conversation via the two-way with only a half a second of latency. His voice isn't just buzzing from the communicator, it's buzzing from all the speakers around her simultaneously. It might have something to do with the gigawatts of ship's power being pumped through whatever hole in the universe is letting them talk so easily.

"This— this is Star-Lord, captain of the Milano," he says, shifting in his chair. "Are you the DJ? The one who's been playing all these great songs?" he asks, a little breathless with excitement.

"Star-Lord?" The name briefly takes Barbara out of the moment. she shakes her head slowly and usppresses a soft laugh before replying, "They call me Oracle." There's a beat as Barbara lets that response settle in, the silence almost audible over the mysterious two-way line.

"I've never heard of the Milano, Star-Lord, but you have good taste in music. Yes. I'm the DJ who runs these Tuesday shows…" The boice trails off for a seocnd while Babslets that statement settle in. She draws her fingersacross the switch board in front of her while she contemplates her words.

"Did you arrange for this two-way of ours?" While asking questions Barbara started in on the most sensible thing she could do: attempting to trace the signal. For that she'd need a little help from the Clocktower.

"Uh… yeah. Kinda," Peter says. "I mean— well, /arrange/, y'know," he says, leaning back in his seat and putting his feet up. "I was just here working on my subwave transmission systems and I had a, uh,—" he glances at the dents in the console and the exposed wires in the guts.

"Y'know, a fit of inspiration."

"So. Oracle, huh?" he inquires. "Do you tell the future, too?" he inquires, a little wry humor in his voice. He inspects marks in the ceiling overhead, making a mental note for the Nth time that the Milano really could stand a good powerwashing.

As Oracle's systems chug and work, they only raise more questions. His signal— whatever it is— looks like it's bouncing off a military deep space radar array a hundred miles up the coast, which is currently pointed almost straight up and at absolutely nothing of interest.

"Subwave transmissions, hm?" Babs wrinkles her nose slightly in a way that caues the corners of her eyews to crink;e and dimples to become visible among the field of freckles on her features.

"I understand fits of inspiration," the woman responds at last, diplomatically choosing not to challenge Peter's words for the moment. she is too busy loking at the readout she is getting from her signal equipment.

"That's odd. Anyway, I don't quite see the future but I'm an information specialist. I can predict what will happen next based off the signs—-" Babs trails off then shakes her head slowly.

"ANyway! Star-Lord…" Barbara smiled sweetly and let that mood leech into her voice. "Sooo… Where /are/ you?" As she speaks Babs continue to stare at the display indicating where the military array was aimed into the middle of nothing in deep space.

"Uhh…" Peter rolls backwards in his chair, glancing at the telemetry data. Oracle sounds nice. She sounds cute, even— you can almost hear the dimples. On the other hand, it'd be a bad security risk to give a cute DJ his precise location, right?

"I'm not far from the Thangarian nexus jump point," he tells her. "About six parsecs from Prime. Where are you?" he inquires, with a jocular tone. "Thanagar Prime? Rann III? You've got good taste in music, I didn't think anyone off planet was listening to Earth music, let alone had a library of it."

Barbara breaks into soft, musical laughter when Peter mentions being 'six parsecs from Prime'. She shakes her head, crimson tresses framing the motion and brushing against her shoulders. "Very funny, Star-Lord. I suppose that's your thing. Why you're claiming to be 'Star-Lord'? You expect me to believe…"

But Peter continues talking. Babs trails off to hear him continue his questions, her mind racing as she checks the alignment of the radio array again. She sends a burst of radio waves, inquiring foor any information she can get from the receiving relays. The one she finds is wlel into deep space. Too far into space. It's past the official boundaries of anything humanity has ever sent out. Babs had made contact iwth aliens without even realizing she was doing it.

"Thanagar Prime?" A brief pause follows and then Barbara adds, "I'm—- transmitting from Rann," the redhead ventures then. "Earth music is pretty interesting. Thisstuf ws all pretty popular there about forty years ago. Um. How did you… get interested in it…?" She swallows, hard.

"Ever been?"

"I know, I know," Peter chuckles, completely misreading Barbara's question. "/Everyone/ pretends to be Star-Lord. I met a Kangann flying a JT Space Sloop who was telling everyone he was the legendary outlaw. Can you believe that? A Kangaan! With all those weird secondary mouths!"

"Me? Earth? Well… yeah, I've been to Earth. A while ago, I mean, long time. Long time ago," Peter says, rambling a little. He's a good con artist but it wouldn't be hard for someone with Babs' training in linguistics to pick up when someone's blustering a little.

"I— frankly, I think it's the best music of all time," Peter says. "Don't get me wrong, the Paxan Expanse has some /great/ stuff. But nothing compares to the Jackson Five," he remarks. "Electronic Light Orchestra, Fleewood Mac…. Earth's great cultural contribution to the universe."

"Haha. Those Kangaans. Who does he think he's kidding? You have a completely- normal- number of mouths," Babs responds a bit squeakily, something she covers up with nervous laughter. "And yeah? The Jackson five? I think there's been a lot of great stuff since then as well," Barbara admits quietly, doing her best to fight the sudden surge of excitement threatening to overwhelm her. The last thing that would be helpful would be Barbara suddenly breaking into a nerdtastic rambling of: ohmygod-extraterrestrial contact-listening to *my* broadcasts-wtf? Better to do her best to remain calm.

"For instance. You'll recognize this song, but… You try to tell me what's different about it." There's a brief pause and then the familiar tones of the song 'Landslide' by Fleetwood Mac begins except it's a slightly mellower and far more emotional rendition of the piece.

"Stevie's performing alone. This is how she performed it after Fleetwood Mac broke up," Barbara continues in her soft, almost musical voice. "It completely changes the song. If you stay fixated on a specific point in time you… Miss things," Babs finishes simply.

Peter listens with quiet intensity, sipping his booze. He tops off his glass with more alcohol, shifting in his seat and turning to look over at a cluttered workbench across the narrow work area. Something blinks at him ominously. It keeps blinking, then it starts blinking a little faster.

Peter ignores it. It's one of Rocket's projects, and it's either doing precisely what it's supposed to, or it's going to destroy the Milano, and either way there's probably not much he can do about it.

"Man. Fleetwood Mac broke up?" he says, sounding mightily disappointed. "That's a crime. What a great band. At least tell me Michael Jackson's still touring," he requests, a little plaintively, looking at the steady blink-blink-blink of the comms indicator.

"Michael Jackson?" Babs replies, startled. "Oh, yeah. He's been touring for a long time. At least until he- died…" Then Barbara is shaking her head, cursing under her breath. "Why did you tell him MJ died…?" While she quietly beats herself p she manipulates her switch board , trying to gt more information about this stange setup that is allowing them to be in touch with one another.

"Anyway… Things change. Especially after forty years. It's kind of just how it is, right? For instance, this became the most popular song on earth for awhile…"

"Man, Michael's /dead/?" Peter sounds immensely disappointed. "He's absolutely incredible. I listened to all his music. His early work was the best, when he was a little kid, yannow?"

There's not a lot 'more' information out there. The signal he's beaming towards her is probably wrecking merry havoc with the deep-space array's readings, which is blunting the worst of the transmission. Triangulation is impossible, but wherever the signal's coming from is so deep in space that there are few astronomical charts of that area. So far away that it's beyond the reach of even the burgeoning League's spaceship or what little shared maps they have.

He finds his toe tapping along, head bobbing with the beat. It's not… well, it's not /great/ music, but it's lively and fun. Catchy, even. He grins as the song winds down. "Wow. So that was the #1 song, huh?" he inquires. "How did you get a hold of that, though? Thanagar's not exactly a short trip from Terra. I wouldn't have guessed a cop would be a pop music fan. Or that there would be a big demand for it. I thought it was all sacred war chants with you bird people," he says, wryly. "And flute music, y'know?"

"Yeah, I know. I listen to hm all th time too. He just- grew up," Barbara replies gently. She is continuing to look at all of the data as it is streaming past. Reams of numbers telling her the same thing over and over. it isn't possible to locate this ship in the middle of nowhere which is transmitting all of this information to her. Star-Lord will remain a mystery.

"I mean, well. Even a bird person gets tired of the sacred war flute eventually," Barbara responds helpfully, in a voice that is vaguely chagrined. She continues to press buttons. That's when something happens.

Error: T-3 minutes to relay realignment. Error: T-3 minutes to relay realignment…

Quickly Barbara asks, "How did you get into Terran music? All the way out here. It doesn't seem like somehting you'd have much- call for…"

T-2 minutes forty-eight seconds…

Peter shifts uncomfortably. It's a pointed question, even if it's not meant as such. "Well, you know, I mean— I've been all over the galaxy," he says. "Y'know. Knowhere, the Far Rims. Been on a few hyperspace riptears into some more distance sectors," he says. "Legendary outlaw, all that jazz. I've seen planets from all over the galaxy. Some beyond, even. So, y'know, I took a ride out through 2814 about twelve standard ago, picked up a frigate shipment with a Walkman and some songs loaded on it. Kinda hard to get music out here, y'know, so— it was really sweet to pick up a radio station."

He shifts. "I mean, so— Prime isn't /too/ far away," he says. "And I've never taken a Thanagar girl out on a date, but the wings thing isn't a big deal for me," he assures her. "Y'know. If you're interested in meeting a real-deal Terran," he says. "I once met Freddie Mercury, you know. And his wife and kids. Really cool guy."

Peter hems and haws for a time and Babs listens to him, trying to scrutinize his tone for some sense of what he is getting at while the timer ticks down. Her brows furrow slightlyand she istens carefully to every word, but the precise meaning of what he is getting at is lost on her. he's ashamed of something. Or at least concerned? It's difficult to put together. They just haven't had enough /time/. The one thing they are about to run out of, whether they realize it or not.

"That actually sounds like it could be nice," Babs replies. Her voice comes across full of static. "I- something to s-… first… I- not… -erran-"

The signal deterioriate rapidly as the relay dish realigns itself with its usual target, cutting off the deep space transmission long before Barbara can try to finish explaining herwself. or even make sense of what she already said.

That Tuesday there's no radio transmission for Peter, no matter how hard he searches the airwaves. The last thing he's left with of Oracle is that recording of "Landslide" she sent him.

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