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"Mac" MacIntyre is a typical 1980s hot-shot executive working for Knox Oil and Gas in Houston, Texas. The eccentric chief of the company, Felix Happer, chooses to send him (largely because his surname sounds Scottish) to Scotland to acquire the village of Ferness to make way for a refinery. Mac (who is actually of Hungarian extraction) is a little apprehensive about his assignment, complaining to a co-worker that he would much rather take care of business over the phone and via Teletypewriter message machines. Happer, an avid astronomy buff, tells Mac to watch the sky, especially around the constellation Virgo (constellation), and to notify him immediately if he sees anything unusual.

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