The Milky Way rang like a bell, but only Kenza Ziani could hear it. The construction of the Resonance Stations had been her life’s work—more than a life’s work in some ways. Her brain was still her own with only minor alterations, but she’d regrown numerous new bodies around it through the long years. Twenty, maybe twenty-five times. Now, freshly decanted into yet another body, she prepared to see the results of her patient labor: what she called the Resolution. It was a nod to Fermi, the ancient philosopher who famously posed the question.
The Resonance Stations had been enormous undertakings, especially in their networked coordination, but at their core they were not complicated. Built around the periphery of the galactic disk, each station was powered by a fusion generator fueled by interstellar hydrogen funneled in using magnetic scoops. A couple hundred cubic meters of habitat housed the computers, communication arrays, and the decanter. And jutting out from one end were a pair of 97.4 kilometer-long Casimir plates. With this, each station was capable of producing Alcubierre waves, ripples made of spacetime itself. With coordination, the Resonance Stations probed the universe in a way that no other technology could because they were not restricted by the speed of light. The waves propagated outwards and then bounced back as they encountered massive objects. By measuring the interference patterns, Kenza got a God’s-eye view of the universe.
And now, finally, she had proved her theory correct.
The universe was thought to be composed primarily of dark matter, but no one had ever managed to observe the stuff. And a separate notion held that if other intelligent life existed in the universe, it should be everywhere by now. But again, it had never been observed. These two failures of observation dovetailed beautifully, and beauty is the forbearer to science more than most would expect or admit. But here it was: the Resolution.
Life was everywhere. In fact, it had completely overtaken 85 percent of all galaxies, building unimaginable, completely efficient Dyson enclosures around each one to contain the energy within. There was no dark matter, only hidden matter, and hidden with intelligent intent. In the reaches of space, all that shined was dead. But all that was darkness was alive. And the sky contains an abundance of darkness.
Only now could a new thought break through Kenza’s centuries-long single-mindedness. If these Kardashev III civilizations had walled themselves in, she’d just gone out and knocked on all their front doors. Would any of them answer? And if any of them, even one, chose to answer violently, what on Earth could be done about it?