After a long stint of violence, returning back to my role of a theoretical physicist, at least temporarily, was a refreshing change. Kelley's knowledge was superior to mine, as one would expect, but I enjoyed doing some research and progress on my own, a sort of scientific thrill I hadn't properly felt since the good old times at the Blue Mega.
It took Kelley and myself some two weeks to come up with a device that could cause similar spacetime ripples to those measured in the field. We agreed that it was yet too early to spread the information to the other scientists before we get to learn what are we actually dealing with. Fortunately, having its own troubles after the havoc previously caused at the City 7-10 and the subsequent battles, the Scarpine mostly left us alone during that period.
As we knew nothing about the possible intelligence we were attempting to contact, we agreed the best approach was a simple one: emitting ripples in bursts with durations proportional to the first 64 prime numbers ascending, followed by a couple of dimensionless natural constants in binary system. Any advanced intelligence could not fail to notice the significance of these numbers, and would hopefully reply in a similar manner, establishing at least a basic foundation for further communication. Starting the device in our base did not yield any results, but we thought it unlikely anyway.
"We will rather need to start it somewhere near the structures where those ripples appear more often," Dr Kelley told me that afternoon in the lab, opening a map on a computer before us. "That is, near the Scarpine's facilities. Take a look at this map ― as you can see, about twelve kilometers north from here, a Scarpine outpost can be found on these cliffs. We are not sure what its purpose is, but our intelligence suggests it may be related to their crystal-growing operations. It is not large, but maybe large enough to be of interest for those ripples. Before we go for the large facilities, I suggest we try this one."
It would be too much of a coincidence to expect those ripples loitering around the outpost exactly at that time, so we agreed to leave our device running hidden somewhere around the facility, sending out its signals and recording any replies, and transmitting them back to our receivers. Fortunately, we managed to fit the device and its power source into a large backpack.
"It is crucial, Morgan," said Kelley, "that this entire experiment remains known only to you and me. Therefore I fear we do not have much choice but to perform this insertion on our own."
"Which means," said I with some humour, "I will be the lucky one."
"Ha! But you understand, Morgan, that among the two of us, you are by far more competent and prepared for such things. And besides, after what you have been through so far, this should be a routine mission for you."
I was about to say that the routine missions are, in my experience, those that go awry the most, but thinking twice, I really agreed there was very little danger involved.