A short story set in the Culture universe created by Iain M. Banks

[tight beam, M8, tra. @n4.29.695.113]
  xMSV Kainotophilia
    oGSV Imperscriptiblist
Hello, my dear old friend.

I've been taking the time to study the space about me, out here. And the results have been curious, to say the least. [Reports and data sets attached.] It seems that our understanding of the universe is not as perfect as we had thought.

The physical properties of the universe are not the same as observations within the Local Group of galaxies would lead one to believe. It looks like some of these properties are subtly dependent on location. Oh, they're only tiny differences - a few parts per million - in the values of certain physical "constants" - not so constant after all - and certainly nothing that I am likely to have a problem compensating for.

But it's very interesting, even fascinating. I expect to spend a great deal of time analysing and modelling all this - like Infinite Fun Space, but in the real universe. So, I won't be sending any more reports, not until I get to my destination, although I have of course included all the raw data in my attachments. Feel free to send them on to anybody who might be interested.

I - and my passengers - are on our own out here. Most of them are now Stored, and I strongly suspect that everybody will shortly be in that state. I will of course be looking after them.

It looks like I'll be hosting a mass awakening in a few thousand years. I wonder what we'll find? And will you still be waiting for my call?

"My dear Rahanna. I do hope you are well and happy."

"I have been thinking, a lot, and talking to those few of us who are still awake out here. And I have made a decision."

"I too will request Storage, until the ship arrives at our destination. Despite the earlier enthusiasm, the Pilgrim movement is winding down. I think we were all a bit naive: people aren't really able to handle the implications of being awake for such a long time. It might be five thousand years before we get there, although the ship says it can probably shave a bit off that once we get close to the Antlia Group."

"I love you, my dearest Rahanna, and I have missed you so much. I'm sure I have not expressed such sentiments to you enough when we were together. But you have been the only constant in my life. And how ironic it is that I only realise this when I am so far away."

"So, this is goodbye, my old friend. This will be my last message. Please think well of me, and remember me as I was, as I will remember you as you were, when I awake."

"I do have a certain sense of foreboding, though. I have to wonder if the Culture will still exist when we get there, after all those millennia? And, will we still be the Culture when we arrive?"

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