Sniffer Packet hung invisibly in place, far above the ecliptic of this nameless Ember-class star, whose sole distinction was its position nearly 800 light-orbits from Chanq (Vanlir Edge). The starwisp was a speck in a soap bubble; trailing behind it, the flimsy, filamentary acres of its light sail now re-rigged to keep it in position near the star’s pole.
Meanwhile, frantic activity bubbled the surface of the wisp core, its few grains of mass dissolving as the ‘wisp’s nanomachine payload went active. Shielding and raw mass were devoured as core programming took over from the transit processor, using the last fragments of power available in the tiny radiothermal generator to kick off the transformation process, exuding thin fragments of wire mesh plated with magnetic stiffeners, solar collection foil, and nodal nanocomputer signal processors – using the mesh itself as an antenna, capable of acting together as a single radio telescope a mile wide, absorbing all radio bands from the log-2 to the log-9.
The a-chanq civilization had fallen barely a decade before the Worlds had reached them.
But with the help of thrust and fortunate stellar geometry, the Exploratory Service could still hear their echoes.