Ashagari the Star awoke from a long, long sleep.
She stretched out her fiery tendrils, savoring the sharp frost of the Void, so different from the hydrogen womb she half-remembered from her dreams. She had grown vast. In her restless greed she had devoured her children, small rocky creatures that they were, and now her face flushed red, ripe with their energy. Her own hydrogen was mostly gone, though she still burned hungrily what remained, shimmering around her helium core.
Ashagari looked around her.
She looked past the whirl of comets and ice in her orbit, familiar ghostly retinue, and searched the numberless heavens. All the other stars seemed superior to her, in one way or another. The little yellow stars still hummed with youthful vigor, while the white dwarfs fairly scowled at her in disapproval. And all the other giants like her, red and blue both, seemed somehow brighter, more beautiful, than herself. She had no companion, as many of them did. Flying alone through the night, she cast about for anyone who might be friendly.
Finally she noticed a dim, blue-tinged swirl of light, hazy as a cloud but shining with its own fire, who moved less than the others and seemed therefore calmer, perhaps even kinder. She signaled this creature in the language of stars, which all of them know from birth, twisting her rays into polarized patterns and pulses that no man can hear or transcribe. But what she said, roughly, was simple enough: I am Ashagari, the Red. Who are you?
She knew the other was far away, so she waited a long time for her message to get there, and a long time more to get a response (though of course time is different for stars than it is for you and I). But the other never answered.
Ashagari tried again, and waited again, and still nothing. But it seemed to her that the other was closer now, its bluish glow a little brighter. Meanwhile the other stars kept up an endless chatter, and she found many of them friendly enough – certainly closer and easier to talk to. But she never forgot the other, who still seemed to be coming closer – but slowly, slowly.
Now Ashagari was growing old, her hydrogen exhausted, and she burned helium alone in her shrunken core. The other, who had once seemed so distant, now loomed silent and massive in her sky. She knew what this creature was, and why it had not answered. For the one she had signaled was not a star, but a whole galaxy, a radiant web of a hundred billion others like herself. Closer it came, and closer still, reaching out arms of brilliant gas to her own mother galaxy.
And now – at the end, or rather, what seemed to her like the end – she cried out one last time to the luminous being she had hopefully called to that first time, long, long ago.
The other never answered, only wrapped her all around in a wordless embrace; but that too was an answer, of a kind.