At the Electric Lamplight Inn, it was an hour past lunchtime. The sun crept across the wooden tables covered with checkered tablecloth, with colorful mass-manufacture metal-and-cloth dining chairs around them and salt and pepper shakers with folded-up napkins close by on every table, along the bar and its selection of bottles of varying colors, shapes, and sizes that held alcohol as well as soft drinks, up the wooden beams that helped hold up the second floor, over the walls covered by vanilla-colored plaster and decorated with landscape photographs of meadows, mountains, boreal woods, and glaciers, and towards the clock and the nearby refrigerator with its curved outer surfaces and a glass door displaying cold foods and drinks.
The barkeep was absent, and only a couple of people were there, eating their mid-day meal a little late. A big beast-folk guy with striped grey fur, wearing a jacket loaded up with carpentry tools and overalls that seemed sturdy as a cliff face, was treating himself to a good serving of meat and potatoes the inn sourced from the local farmer's market; two businesswomen in rumpled suits discussed trade as they helped themselves to fish with rice that they've systematically drowned in lots and lots of tartar sauce, and an occultist professional from the Southern Lands, with his hawk-like features alongside a fancy coat and pants covered in rune embroidery, was eating alone - or so it seemed if you didn't notice him having a one-sided conversation while looking into a mirror he had standing on his dinner table.
The television standing next to one of the walls was set on mute, and even if it wasn't, at the moment it was displaying "The Wondrous World of Duchowiesen Dragons" - one of the most boring offerings among all the niche-subject documentary shows available on TV across the entire Federation, which was saying a lot. The time dragged out a little, flowing like a calm river - but then, another prospective patron walked through the door, a diminutive kobold engineer with their bright green scales and hemispheric sunglasses on their wide, gecko-like face, who was for some reason also wearing a labcoat far outside of any lab.
The kobold walked up to the bar, perched the sunglasses on their forehead, and said: "Excuse me, innkeeper? INNKEEPER?" in their high-pitched voice.
The innkeeper, a middle-aged woman wearing somewhat outdated and yet eternally cool clothing from the jazz era - a flapper look adapted for the everydays of the modern age - walked out to the bar to meet them. "Hello there. Would you like to order a full lunch, or book lodgings?" she asked.
"Neither, actually." the kobold answered. "I just want two deli sandwiches, a glass of mineral water, and a TV broadcast."
"Broadcast...?" the innkeeper asked, somewhat confused.
"Yes!" the kobold squeaked. "Could you tune your particle accelerator... sorry, TV set, to Science Channel One? Yours was the only place in town with a TV I could find on short notice!"
"Alright then." the innkeeper said.
She turned the dial on the wired TV controller, and the picture changed to show a sunlit desert, and in the midst of its sands, the Cosmodrome launch site with a rocket set up on the launch pad. The sound went back on, and the people eating dinner turned their heads to the TV, as they heard the ever so slightly portentous announcer read the text. The announcer went: "...seems that all of the pre-launch checks have been cleared, and the computers monitoring the site all read green. And now we're being told, the Cosmodrome is ready for launch, T-minus five minutes."
"Hey, what's with the broadcast? Is this live?" one of the businesswomen asked the kobold.
"Yes, it is live!" the kobold said. "They're putting the first-ever photo camera into orbit with this rocket! To think we're going to have all-encompassing pictures of the World at last!"
"Now I'm interested." the occultist said, still looking into the mirror on his table. "Sorry, my friend, we'll have to continue another time. What? Okay, that's good in my books. Bye." He folded the mirror's stand, closed up the small decorated shutters over it, and turned around to look at the television as well.
The voice behind the broadcast kept on talking. In the deadpan shared only by the most composed of Railway Commanders and emergency broadcasters, she said: "I am being informed the rocket's fuel pumps are completing their warm-up cycle, and the Skyguard shields with their EM plus Flux ward properties are ready to go. In a minute, we should have the hand-over of controls and telemetry to the radio channels..."
The people in the inn were interested but slightly flabbergasted; none of them really understood the technical terms involved, even as the announcer explained the rocket's systems in more detail. The kobold engineer was geeking out, however, their eyes transfixed by the picture on the screen. Minutes tensed like the strings of a violin as the launch approached, and finally, the announcer has proclaimed: "And now, we have the clearance for launch. T-minus ten... nine... eight... seven... main engines ignition... five... four... three... two... one!"
The broadcast picture showed plumes of steam, and then fire, blast from the lowest stage of the rocket, and just like that, it started ascending, leaving behind the launch tower with its cabling and pipes. "We have liftoff!" the announcer called, the broadcast switching to another camera that showed the rocket blast off into the sky, and disappear into the clear blue above the desert lands surrounding the Cosmodrome.
The kobold engineer looked at the broadcast as the announcer started describing the photography satellite the rocket was loaded with, then slammed their cutesy hands on the table and yelled: "That... WAS SO COOL!" Everyone else around them was in agreement, even though they weren't the same level of enthusiastic. The occultist looked at the screen with an unspoken wisdom, thinking about the sheer possibilities for new esoteric understanding that a view perch to see the entire world could open. The businesswomen wondered just how the world would change once the satellites get flying in earnest. The beast-folk carpenter was impressed by the engineering involved; many orders of complexity above what he did, but hey, he knew an impressive build when he saw one. Even the innkeeper was interested; the whole scene was dramatic and inspiring, and stirred emotions in all who were there to see it. Finally, the kobold picked up their deli sandwich and started chewing on it. One of the businesswomen asked them:
"Hey, you said you were looking for a TV. Are you just passing through like we are?"
"Yes, but I might become a regular commuter here, it seems!" the kobold replied. "I'm doing engineer consulting around the region."
"Odd! We're kind of in the same boat; our firm sells machinery parts all around the Four Cities area!" the other businesswoman said. "Mechanismus-Magiker GmbH, at your service."
"What about you, friend?" the kobold asked the beast-folk carpenter.
"Well, I'm on my way to the Inland Sea for the weekend." he said. "Funny you are from Mechanismus-Magiker." he said to the businesswomen. "I did renovations in one of your company's trade offices just a month ago."
"Oooh..." the occultist said, turning towards the others with an enigmatic smile. "Serendipity."
"Very much serendipity!" the kobold engineer noted with a goofy grin. "Who knows, maybe this is a sign that we should be here for the next rocket launch!"
"When is that?" the occultist asked, laying a pocketbook of solar and lunar calendars on the table.
"In 16 days, 8 PM for our current timezone." the kobold replied. "They're going to launch a radio amplifier satellite next!"
The occultist looked through the book, then smiled enigmatically again and said: "I have not found anything major, but... perhaps something interesting will happen if we join again at that day and hour. Who's with me to try and test this... small hypothesis?" There were a few seconds of indecisive silence, and then, one after the other, everyone else present responded with a variation of "I'm in!"