XG-2847, Etherius Galaxy 2150CE

6th June, 2150 Common Era

In the cycle 2150 Common Era, onboard the interstellar observatory cruiser Genesis-2, commanding officer Dr Elara Vance, a slight lass from the northern hemisector, gazed out into the vast expanse of the Etherius Galaxy. She was on a professional and personal mission to explore, discover and claim. The Commander was considering a bold manoeuvre to leave the galaxy and hyper-boost through what she thought was an open magnetic stargate to XG-2847, and the Panasso Crystalloid Asteroid belt.

“Sergeant, bring up the latest spectral data on star XG-2847,” she instructed, her husked voice resonating with command as she hitched up and smoothed out her white figure clinging space leggings, parking her weary body in the command seat that looked out in the direction of the stargate.

As a holographic display illuminated, shining light across an otherwise inadequately lit flight deck, a graph of waveforms and peaks appeared. Dr Vance’s delicate fingers probed the console, as she zeroed in on a segment of the spectral bands representing electromagnetic radiation, her focus becoming intense.

“Sergeant,” she began, her voice now at a mid-tone pitch, “what we’re observing is more than a mere cluster of stars and cosmic dust. It’s a thermal energy echo from a swarmed civilisation.”

Sergeant Nijo shot a skeptical look at his commanding officer, wondering if the vastness of space had finally taken its toll on her. Her outlandish claim seemed too extraordinary for any sane galactician.

“Everything alright, Commander?” Nijo inquired delicately, cautious not to upset her.

Dr Vance, who was totally absorbed in her inner analysis, passed no response and instead delved deeper into her explanation, excitedly regurgitating randomised segments of information as they sprung to mind, “Okay, okay, Nijo. Cycles ago, the idea was proposed by a visionary from the past, Free…’. Free…’ someone, Freeman Dyson! That’s him. He imagined a vast array of solar collectors surrounding a star. A star just like the XG-2847. This is known as a Dyson Sphere, or more realistically, a Dyson Swarm. With the array of solar collectors encircling the star, they would trap galactic light and convert it into energy, which then could be used to sustain an advanced civilisation and the required planetary habitat for survival and ongoing life reproduction.”

Nijo kept Genesis-2 on a steady course, whilst half humouring Dr Vance as she continued to self-indulge in what was obviously a speculative hallucinative tangent.

“But the energy isn’t simply trapped forever,” Dr Vance continued, “It’s transformed, used, and eventually released, but in a different form.” She pointed to the infrared peaks on the graph. “Like this Nijo. The starlight is absorbed and then re-emitted as heat.”

Nijo frowned. “Could it just be natural processes commander? A cloud of dust or a cluster of comets? Maybe asteroids?”

“No. No.” Dr Vance shook her head. “See these spikes here? They indicate the presence of heavy elements, elements that shouldn’t be in a star’s radiation. It’s as if something out there, something artificial, that’s altering the star’s signature.”

Sergeant Nijo felt himself slowly coming around to the idea that she may not have been experiencing a speculative hallucinative tangent, but more likely, it was a plausible conjecture. If so, the implications were staggering. If Dr ‘Vance’s hypothesis held, they might be on the cusp of discovering a Type II Kardashev civilisation that had purposefully evolved to harness the energy of an entire star.

“So, Commander, you’re suggesting,” Sergeant Nijo mused, “that we go through the stargate, lock onto XG-2847, spend the next ten years in cryogenic sleep, re-gen nearly, urr…, ten trillion kilometres from here, to find out if a hypothetical theory can be proven? That’s a bloody long way to go if the answer is no!”

Dr Vance nodded, her eyes reflecting the twinkle from starlight that shone through one of the small cruiser portholes. “I wouldn’t have put it quite as eloquently as that Sergeant. But yes, we’ve been out here for a very long time. Just the two of us and our small crew of bi-oids. Zero comms with GSC for over eight months now. And as you are very aware, every time we listen for signals, we’ve been met with silence,” Dr Vance said with a slight patronising flect. “Perhaps, all this time, people downstairs have been instructing us to listen for whispers when we should have been looking for beacons. Or have they given up on the mission completely?”

Sergeant Nijo’s fingers punched a few pads on the sprawling console in front of him, then firmly yanked back on the chromium thrust lever, “Sorry, Commander,” he declared, urgency in his voice, “we need to have a serious discussion about what we do next.”

6th June, 2160 Common Era

“Well, well, Nijo. Would you take a look at that?”

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