Yelling at the Sky

Dirani Station
0.15 light-orbits from Anniax (Imperial Core)

Beneath the heavy lead-perfused sapphiroid of the observation gallery, the opposite side of the station twisted, or rather the view of it did. The other galleries, the enormous magnetic coils that dominated the space at the station’s center, heat exchangers, feeder-stabilizers, and all kinds of equipment gantries wavered around the edges, as if in a heat haze, while in the center, the distortion was the product of a supra-fisheye lens, or particular exotic pharmaceuticals.

Galen Larynath blinked, rubbed his eyes, and tore his gaze away from the madness beneath his feet. “I’ll take your word that it’s in there.”

“Oh, it is. It’s not much bigger than an esteyn-piece itself, though, so you’d need better eyes than ours to see it from up here. We just get,” his companion shrugged, “the lensing.”

“That is a ridiculously big kernel.”

“The largest ever built. Planetary mass. But if you want to be heard across a galaxy, you need a big speaker.”

“What are you planning on sending?”

“The usual unknown-hailing protocols: hydrogen-frequency timing pulses, some simple mathematical representations, then sequence-chained Contact language, one through eleven, and an ident-and-response burst, then repeat twice more. The data transfer rate’s everything you’d expect from throwing a kernel this big around – we’ll consider it astonishing if we can get a Kb/sec out of it – so that’s all we have planned for Phase I. By the time we’re done with that, there’ll be plenty of better ideas to choose from.”

“I have some other thoughts you might want to consider.”

“Ah?”

“My branch has been working on analysis of some of the data we’ve been picking up on the Super-Size Synthetic Aperture. We’ve been sitting on some targeted signals and possible responses that would seem worthwhile if we had had a transmitter big enough – which we don’t, EM-side, unless we knew that they had a triple-SA and would have it pointed the right way at the right moment. You, on the other hand –”

“Interesting. Let’s discuss it over in my office. The engineers have a test sequence to fire up, and we don’t want to be standing on this station when the jigglers go live.”