Since the time of Galileo in 1610 A.D., the world has been training their eyes and telescopes on the stars. Which some seek out and look forward to alien contact, others warn that any signal sent out might be used by an alien intelligence to learn the Earth’s level of advancement, or lack of, and thereby be at the mercy of a race of people potentially millions of years more advanced.
Others see intelligent life as saviors, with the Earth is in the last throws of a slow environmental death: the seas dying, the skies polluted, the soil depleted of nutrients.
Finally, in the year 2067 A.D., comes a response. Planet 6 in the Altair star system, in the Aquarius Constellation of the Milky Way galaxy has sent a message. However, it is in the language of the alien planet.
A team of the most accomplished scientists is assembled by the U.N. to translate the message and conjure a response.
The world is divided. The military sees an existential threat to their existence. The religious evangelicals believe it portends the coming of the beast as described in revelation. The civilians are cautiously optimistic that the alien race could teach the humans how they, the aliens, overcame greed, avarice, war, pestilence and mass extinctions.
As the clock introduced by the aliens counts down toward zero, an unlikely group of people team up to prove the Earth is made up of civilized people not bent on conquest.
Which group will be ascendant comes down to the last few seconds of a ticking clock.