Dr Kelley made a brief pause and leaned against a tree.
"You know about my habit of keeping half-baked theories to myself. Although I would have liked taking some more time to work on this alone, these recent developments made me change my mind. I may suddenly perish anytime just like poor Ali did, and someone would need to continue my research."
"Now this may sound crazy, Morgan, but there are indications that this war is not... well, it does not involve just two sides. That is, the Scarpine and us along with our allies. I have gathered some evidence and one simple way to interpret it is that there is one ― at least one more side in the conflict."
The surprise must have been visible on my face, because Dr Kelley quickly went on.
"Yes! Isn't it crazy? This secret third side has not intervened yet, has not even revealed itself directly. But it is present ― possibly as an observer, or maybe looking for the right moment to join the fun. Also, I don't have any idea whether the Scarpine is aware of it."
"How do you happen to know about it, then? And only you at that?"
Looking for words, Dr Kelley sat on a small rock for a few moments before continuing.
"That's where the weird stuff begins, Morgan. I will let you take a look at the exact measurements yourself later if you want, but I'll tell you the essence now."
"Just like everyone else here, you're aware, of course, that we are eager to research as much of Scarpine's advanced technology as we can. That's why we have tried to keep plenty of clandestine sensors and various measuring devices near the hubs of Scarpine's activity, and in the battles."
"And it did help us a bit. If nothing else, we've learned the chemical composition of the Scarpine's poisons and biological weapons, of the materials they use for construction, and such things. Helpful, but nothing game-changing really."
"That is, except for the gravitational and dimensional sensors. Their noisy results, with tiny peaks not correlating with anything else, never made any sense whatsoever. Convinced something is wrong with the equipment, firstly I just discarded its results. After some checks and re-checks, it turned out that the equipment was just fine, so I started looking for some other source that may have caused these weird measurements. After a while, even those got eliminated, one by one. Finally, about two months ago, I was a bit fed up and had some spare time, so I chose to change my approach; instead of fixing these unexplicable results, I actually attempted to interpret them as such instead and see how far can I get. To my total surprise, after a few hours of analyses, these measurements began revealing patterns. Terrifying patterns."
Not waiting for me to ask the obvious question, the good Doctor went on.
"Rather often - say, in about half of all the fights against the Scarpine we have monitored, as well as around one third of the Scarpine's large facilities, bursts of spacetime ripples appear. Tiny ripples, true, far too small to be noticed without specialized equipment, but they are definitely there."
"My first impression was that we may be measuring some kind of a side-effect of Scarpine's weapons, particularly their energy sources. But I've dismissed that theory. Those ripples aren't just appearing. They... they move around and behave like an intelligent ghost-creature, a spectre curious about our business, spending some time around until the outcome of the battle becomes clear, then disappearing ― probably teleporting somewhere else ― and reappearing when something of importance happens."
"It has... at the lack of a better word, visited us even in our headquarters a few times when we had tested new equipment or discussed it. As a minute distortion of spacetime, it can, of course, travel through anything, probably at the, or close to the, speed of light. Its behavior suggests it can understand what we ― and the Scarpine ― are doing, at least on a general level. But I'd go one step further and suggest it may be some kind of a super-race we're observing, or an effect of its presence."