II

Commander Crois Deliquoix sat in her Ready Room, working on her personal terminal, connected to her personal server.

Ready Rooms had been a mainstay in the various Navies in history since ships were made of wood and its men from iron. They had been known by many names throughout history, from Captains' Quarters, to Ships' Office, to even Administration Room. It was a location in which a Commanding Officer could work without being interrupted through the myriad of details and intricacies of commanding a vessel, near enough to the Bridge if something were amiss or an emergency cropped up, but otherwise separated from the crew so as to being able to work without having a dozen people talking over one another in the performance of their duties while sloughing through budgets, InMails, Duty Rosters, performance reviews, fitness reports, and other datawork that generally occupied most of the time of a Commanding Officer.

Sequestered in her Ready Room, Crois began her routine.

The InMails were the first to go, the Commander re-reading them for any pertinent information concerning her Fleet, any heads-up she needed to be aware of, and any adjustments to her patrol schedule she might need to make. Most of the messages were benign 'need-to-knows' and box-checker type InMails that generally filled up about seventy or so percent of the electronic mail that came through the Fleets' Headquarters and its various Bureaus on Sweetfield Naval Shipyard in Sector 1511, where the Axiom Federation was born. The rest were InMails that required reports, details, logs, or responses concerning either the affairs of the vessels she commanded or updates on previous threads.

Reviews came next, where she went over the daily duty logs of the Watch Officers for not only the previous shift, known as the Blue Watch, but also for the Gold Watch before that. For most departments and decks, there was merely the nominal hourly 'nothing significant to report' blurb when everything ran smoothly. Crois would spot-check the logs along with the logs, reports, and requests with other departments for flaws and faults, keeping abreast with the going-ons of her ship as well as making sure her crew was being diligent at their professions. Some logs had little to report, such as the Gun Deck or the Flight Deck. Others, such as the Maintenance Department or the Engine Room, a significant amount was logs even during benign times as those were two of the most work-intense departments of a vessel along with the Bridge. It usually took Crois an hour or so to go through the logs, referencing and double-checking for facts and numbers to make sure everything was in alignment, making notes in her Captains' Logs on legitimate accuracy or discovered discrepancies.

Completing the logs and her inquires, Deliquoix went to First Meal, which was served by the ships' three-man Culinary Specialists in the Ocelot-Class's Main Galley on the Main Deck. Half of the ships' crew was eating either the breakfast entree or the dinner entree, having gotten off of their shift while Gold Watch started their shifts after eating their own meals before their shift. Crois helped herself to the breakfast entree, consisting of a prepared meal of imitation scrambled eggs, vat-grown pork bacon, hydroponically-grown potato hash browns, gluten-free toasted biscuits with synthesized butter, and a cup of synthetically-blended coffee. She ate in the Galley as oppose to her Ready Room or the Ward Room, where one typically saw Officers dining. Crois had been on vessels where Commissioned Officers almost completely secluded themselves from their own men, and hen wondered why things happened without them being aware of such situations. On smaller vessels such as the Ocelot-Class Destroyer Torpedo Boat Lynx, it was very possible for one to reasonably see every crew member of the vessel with its two-hundred and sixty member population despite its many departments, sections, and portions of the ship. On larger commands, like Cruisers, Carriers, and Capital-Rated vessels, where the vessels housed hundreds of men and women of the Axiom Navy, such interactions were near-impossible on a personal level, when the ships in question had near a dozen decks, several galleys, and portions that were partitioned off due to various components of the vessels. Crois wanted her Officers to set the example for her men, to be both proficient and professional, but one didn't set an example being rarely seen and holding oneself too aloof and distant. On the Lynx, she ate with the crew, and thus her Officers ate with the crew.

As the Commander ate her imitation eggs, she listened to the dozen or so conversations that were traveling through the Galley, sailors having finished their Watch rotation and now dining. The conversations were a way for them to relax and let the stress of their jobs and duties leak away properly, social interactions so important to human beings and even more so on such secluded isolations such as a star-bound vessel where one was confined in a vessel for the entirety of a voyage unless one made port. It was also a way for Deliquoix to keep on top of things, listening to the good-natured gripes and complaints that would float through the large dining hall of the vessel to keep abreast of any real issues that may or may not make itself her way. When one was on a vessel for six months at a time, a Command became something of a surrogate family, and it was a way for Crois to keep tabs on her sailors and able to nip issues in the bud before they became real problems. She sat at the table reserved for Officers, her Commissioned subordinates having already eaten while she was working in her Ready Room, listening to the plethora of conversations coming from the designated CeePo tables and the many Enlisted ones, trying not to snort at some of the things she overheard without appearing obvious that she was doing so. Navy rumor, sadly, was still one of the best forms of entertainment as Deliquoix got to hear the claptrap of talk about who was with who romantically or sexually, who had ruined what, who was suspected of doing something of the sort, and a whole host of griping about Petty Officers in general (for the Enlisted) or Enlisted and Officers (for the Petty Officers). All nominal talk that didn't raise the hairs on the back of her next as she finished her breakfast, letting her men have their Off-Watch time to themselves as she finished her breakfast, disposed of her biodegradable trash into the BioMass Reclamation Plant, and went back to work.

Returning to her Ready Room, Crois continued about her day, going through the Daily Report. The Daily Report was a mainstay of the Navy, a data-generated datasheet that held a dozen and a half categories with several hundred items listed for each vessel in her Command. Each Daily Report was generated by each vessel pertaining to the stock, supplies, personnel, and acquisitions of the vessel in question, sent to the Lynx to be annotated and filed in the Ocelot-Class's server for further review, mainly herself. Crois reviewed the Daily Reports of each vessel, opening a separate screen on her terminal to work while reading the Report, looking at prior annotations for previous Reports and comparing them to what was being reported for the past Patrol day. She had written her own datasheet program that turned the numbers that she received and inputed into the necessary spreadsheet into various bar graphs according to several listings, such as food supplies remaining as well as consumed, fuel expenditures, medical supplies, and repair socks remaining. Most days the bar graphs were well within tolerance and averages, but there were days when something out-of-norm occurred and there would be a spike compared to the rest. Crois read through the Report, annotating the figures and noting changes in the normal expenditures and referencing them with prior Daily Reports.

Most of the efforts of being a Commanding Officer was budgetary, after all.

Another two hours went by as Commander Deliquoix finished her work, having filled out the final report of her own Daily Report that would be sent to Axiom Navy Headquarters via the Vessel Catapult/Capture Relay, generally known as the VCCR, or colloquially known as 'Vickers' for short. She wouldn't be able to send it until the next Watch when the patrol would align their communications receiver/transmitter arrays with the nearest VCCR in the outer reaches of the Blackleigh System. The system itself was a rather uninteresting one in planetary aspects, two small rocky terrestrial worlds with no real atmosphere to speak of and a Hot Neptune-like mini-Gas Giant that was a location for Transhelium-Fracking, an automated Heavy Helium Scoop Station orbiting Blackleigh III for refueling purposes for the Axiom Navy and anyone who had any possible mining claims for the Sector. The Commander had already looked over the fuel reserves and budget for the Perseus Fleet Patrol, and saw that her Destroyer and her Frigates had enough Heavy Helium for nominal thrust for the next couple of weeks. Visiting Blackleigh III for refueling would only add about half-a-day to the patrol in total between the flight time and the time necessary for refueling. It was her habit to make sure the tanks were topped off, so to speak, and would include a visit to the automated refueling station once her small fleet had finished scanning the system.

The Gold Watch had been in rotation for approximately three hours when Crois returned to the Bridge, finding everything in good order. Her Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert Hershel, was manning the Conn as he reviewed information on her Command Chair's personal console, looking to be reviewing various electromagnetic intercepts from not only the Ocelot-Class Destroyer Torpedo Boat Lynx, but that of the Frigates of the Perseus Patrol Fleet as well, looking for discrepancies or cross-matches that perhaps one vessel wouldn't catch fully but perhaps a duel-match or a triangulation would. It was the sign of a good Officer that during so-called 'quiet' times that they would not only stay on top of their duties, but be creative in finding ways of accomplishing them. It was something that Crois did herself when she became a Squadron Commander for a Light Destroyer Fleet, and she had dutifully taught her XO the same thing; to look for those discrepancies. It kept an Officer on top of their game, and most certainly help them from being caught unawares.

"Commander? Take a look at this." Hershel brought up as she approached him, pulling something up on the SMARTglass monitor connected to the Command Chair's personal terminal. Crois looked at the bar diagram that represented the electromagnetic emissions that constantly permeated the galaxy with their 'noise', covering a huge swath of the detectable frequencies that Navy Sonarmen looked for in their patrols to find signatures, signals, and bursts that could mean the difference of finding new sources of minerals and materials, finding a band of pirates or smugglers skirting the law, receiving emergency signals and broadcasts for the many various transportation vessels moving in between the Sectors of Axiom Space, or intercepting a signal that could mean the difference between life and death. "Picked this up just a few minutes ago with the Triangulation Method. Faint, hard-to-pinpoint, but the signature is most certainly at an odd frequency that shouldn't be natural; smack in the middle of the Hydrogen Line."

"Right in the middle? That's artificial." Commander Deliquoix frowned as she looked at the minor contact report for one of the designations, and seeing two more alongside of it at different times and directions… until one put all three together and realized that it was in approximately in the same location. The Hydrogen Line was the electromagnetic radiation spectral line that was created by the change in the energy stat of neutral hydrogen atoms. The wavelength was at a precise frequency of 1420.4 megaHertz with a very small tolerance range of only 9 milliHertz, the equivalent of the vacuum wavelength of 21.1 centimeters in freespace. Hydrogen Lines were initially observed in early radio astronomy since the radio waves were capable of penetrating large stellar clouds of cosmic dust that were opaque to visible light, giving Earth-bound astronomers a clearer view of the universe by being able to 'see' through nebula and globular clusters. The precision of the frequency and wavelength came from the atomic transition of an electron between the two hyperfine levels of the hydrogen's Principle Quantum Number of 1s ground state that had an energy difference of around 5 microelectrovolts, known as the spin-flip transition. The quanta that was emitted by the transition between two different energy levels was given by the Planck-Einstein Relation based upon the photon energy and the constant of proportionality that was known as the Planck Constant. Early astronomers used Hydrogen Lines for deep-space observations through interstellar debris, searching for extrasolar intelligences, and discovering the origins and wonders of the universe.

Since the dawn of space exploration, the Hydrogen Line had always been keep separate as an emergency frequency. But it had been superseded with Quantum Frequencies centuries before, and fell into disuse. Finding a signal in the Hydrogen Line in a system was highly unusual.

"Annotate it in the Log, XO." Deliquoix commanded as Hershel did so, knowing without being told that he was to stand relieved from the Conn as the man vacated the Command Chair to let the Commanding Officer take over. Crois slipped into her seat as she slipped on her Augmented Reality Haptic Interface Glove and began working on her terminal. The first thing she did was access the ship's on-board Number One Main Circuit, known as the 1MC, and toggled whom she needed as the ship's intercom system dinged with an alert.

[ATTENTION, CAG TO BRIDGE. ATTENTION, CAG TO BRIDGE]

While she waited for her Commander, Astronautical Group to show up to the Bridge from his location on the Flight Deck, Crois studied what her XO had discovered, pondering the signal that was intercepted by the Albatross-Class Missile Frigate Bomber Turkey Vulture and the Kingfisher-Class Fleet Support Frigate Peregrine, and then the Lynx. Three vessels in three separate locations were generally necessary to pinpoint a signal's location as well as confirming if it were an anomalous signal or just a minor singularity event. Sometimes signals were nothing more than ancient echoes of stellar events eons past that had finally reached the vessel in question, pulsar signals and neutrino bursts that had weakened over time and looked to be faint transmissions or intercepts. Well, half of the mission of the Navy was stellar exploration and astronomical observances, still learning about the wondrous creation that they all lived in with its beauty and mysteries. That had been the Navy that Cris had joined when she first applied to the Axiom Union Military Academy (Sagittarius) in Nicholburg in Sector 1204, one of science and discovery.

Sadly, that had changed before she graduated. Crois would know; she had been in that first harrowing battle, one of the few survivors. The one that had made her the Legend-Killer.

Crois looked up the signal on the Hydrogen Line and pulled up on the Lynx's server historical signal intercepts for any references or precedences encountered in the past by any other Naval vessel in the Axiom Navy. Robert was right, it was an odd frequency that happened to be directly in the middle of the very small tolerance of the Hydrogen Line. That wasn't natural, so thus it was artificial. But even the cheapest, oldest transportation and merchant vessels didn't broadcast on the Hydrogen Line anymore, not even during an emergency. Finding a Human-created signal on the Hydrogen Line band was odd, especially at such a frequency and power distribution. The fact that it was at the very center of the tolerance didn't just indicate that it was an artificial signal, but that someone with knowledge and technology to hit it so precisely had done so. That wasn't the act of a pirate or a smuggler trying to lure a responding vessel with a distress beacon as bait or a communique between illegal vessels coordinating efforts. Her curiosity was piqued, to be certain, and she was going to satisfy it.

Which was why she had called up her CAG.

"You needed to see me, ma'am?" Came the voice of Lieutenant Commander Sun Moon, the Commander, Astronautical Group of the Perseus Patrol Fleet coming to the position of attention at the base of the Command Platform, already in his Axiom Naval Flight Suit. Crois looked to the man with a nod.

"We've detected an artificial signal in the Hydrogen Line based upon a triangulation from three of our vessels, LC." The Commander began, notifying her Lead Pilot. "Round up Alpha Wing and prepare for CAP Brief in fifteen in the Flight Deck Ward Room, Nova." Lieutenant Commander Moon, call sign Nova, saluted her in acknowledgment as he did an about-face to gather the Lynx's nine other Naval Astroaviators who flew the Wasp-Class Interceptor Vessels. Crois was already taking the information that her XO had discovered and was downloading it into a datapad while she finished her search engine find for any references to any kind of signal intercepts along the Hydrogen Line for the Axiom Navy in the past twenty years. After seven minutes, she had reviewed two dozen hits that were generally anomalous readings there were mere spikes in the electromagnetic field, old signals that had been explored and found to merely be echoes of the past. This one was triangulated as to being inside the Blackleigh System from three separate points in-system from different vectors and directions from the discovering source. This wasn't an old echo that had eventually reached the Blackleigh System and just now captured. Something was in-system and transmitting a weak continuous signal at an exact frequency and modulation.

Either something was wrong, or something was strange. Either way, she was going to find out.

"XO? Stand us up to THREATCON III, ready to move/action upon source discovery and investigation." Crois told Robert as the man nodded as the Commander took off her Haptic Interface Glove and stood from her chair. "You have the Conn, XO." Deliquoix moved through the Bridge to head towards the rear of the Quarterdeck, where the personnel accesses and the maintenance lifts were located just to aft of the Bridge. Crois took the starboard personnel access ladder, sliding down the rails with practiced ease with the inner-curve of her boots and the lightest of grips with the palm of her hands, landing on the deck of the Upper Gun Deck with a thud as she moved from one personnel access to another, circling around the slightly-inclined ladder to reach its sister set just behind it to go from the Upper Gun Deck to the Lower Gun Deck in a similar fashion as before, not having to worry about anyone trying to climb up the access ladder on the starboard side as they were always descent ladders Navy-wide to avoid collisions and congestion, while the personnel access ladders on the port side were ascent ladders for moving 'up' on a ship. The Commander's boot feet hit the Lower Gun Deck as she went around the access ladder to reach the last one, the one that would take her to the Orlop Deck where the Flight Deck, Cargo Bay, and Engineering were located. Crois slid down the final personnel access ladder to land on the Orlop Deck in the aft portion of the Engineering Division, where she would have to traverse through the length of the vessel towards the bow to reach the Flight Deck.

Commander Crois Deliquoix walked through the Orlop Deck of the Lynx, passing through the Engineering Division and its multiple departments as Sailors worked at their duty stations, monitoring the vessel for any stress-related damages or making minor checks and repairs from the rigors of space travel, many of the members Bosun's Mates of various rates in the field of repair, maintenance, and upkeep of a vessel; the largest rate aboard any Naval vessel being the rated Repair Technician that kept all vessels in tip-top order. She walked along the main corridor with her datapad at had as passing Sailors and Petty Officers saluted her as she passed, many of them stepping out of her way as the Commander moved towards the bow of the ship, a woman on a mission, so to speak. She ducked through bulkhead pressure doors as she moved from one section of the ship to the next, moving into the Cargo Bay and seeing her crew moving into positions that related to THREATCON III, or Threat Condition Level III; Action Suspected. Sailors were already beginning to move ammunition for the Linear Magnetic Acceleration Cannons, or L-MACs, in preparation for vessel defense against mines, missiles, fighter/interceptor craft, boarding vessels, and torpedoes. Missilemen and Torpedomen were undoubtedly double-checking all systems for nominal conditions as Supplymen and Ordinancemen moved crates of missiles for reloading while winches and elevators in the Cargo Bay were used to ready torpedoes in case the initial loads were expended against vessels. Crois swept through the large Cargo Bay where the magazine stocks were kept along with repair parts and supplies and towards the next bulkhead doors that would lead her to the foremost section of the Orlop Deck; the Flight Deck.

Walking into the Flight Deck, seeing ten Wasp-Class Interceptor Vessels in their cradles, being fueled and loaded by Astroaviation Fuelers and Ordinancemen, Chiefs going through the prelimerary flight checklists over the hulls, seeing loaders driven to the Interceptors to elevate missile pods onto the wings while Astroaviation Maintenance Crewmembers loaded ammunition into the wings, Crois smiled at the sight. She had joined the Axiom Union Military Academy (Sagittarius) in Nicholburg in Sector 1204 to become an Astroaviator; she wanted to be an Interceptor Pilot, a rocket jockey. It had been nearly seven years since she had officially been in the cockpit of a Wasp-Class Interceptor for a mission, though she kept up her quarterly fitness reports as well as her advanced flight qualifications if only so she could sit in one of those daring small spacecrafts that had been her dream as a young woman, the same vessel that she had earned her chops as a Cadet and made a name for herself on that fateful day back in 2525 in the Battle of Sector 1815 (Browndall). The sight of a Flight Deck in full swing, Interceptors being loaded up and ready for launch always brought a smile to her face, bringing her back to the days when it was she that would take to the cockpit in her AV-13 Wasp-Class Interceptor, flying in formation with her brother and sister rocket jockeys, braving the vacuum and hostile environment of space on what was generally described as being an overpriced torpedo with missiles, guns, and mines attached with a seat and canopy on top.

That wasn't necessarily true. It wasn't that far off, either.

Crois continued through the Flight Deck to reach the Ward Room, where CAP briefs and debriefs occurred, as well as the use for either the CAG or the Flight Deck Chief for whatever necessary meetings were required. Seeing the orange flightsuits of the Astroaviation personnel, a different color and design than the normal uniform of the Axiom Navy Sailor, set them apart from their ship-bound kin. To these men and women, it was they who were the tip of the spear, Interceptor and Bomber Vessels sent to discover and investigate any threat to ship and crew before an enemy could reach envelop of engagement. Of the many weapons that a Axiom Navy vessel could boast of, the first one out of the chute was the Wasp-Class Interceptor Vessel and the Palmetto-Class Bombardier Vessel. To the maintenance and preparation crews, it was to make sure that the small spacecraft were ready at a moments' notice, the division generally known by its moniker; the Minutemen. Their job was to make sure that when the pilots were ready to launch, that the craft would see them a wide variety of missions to include the investigation of derelict vessels, scanning of unknown signals and signatures, flying presence patrols, escorting probe arrays to their proper locations, delivering sensor packages in heavy debris fields that larger vessels couldn't fly into, and of course, combat.

And then there were the rocket jockeys themselves.

"Attention on deck!" Bellowed out Lieutenant Commander Sun Moon as ten Astroaviators stood at the position of attention from their seats in the Flight Deck Ward Room when Commander Deliquoix walked into the Ward Room, Nova sitting to the stern of the room to have his junior Officers and Astroaviators front and center; a practice she herself had believed in and done when she was a Squadron Commander for a wing of Wasps back on the Kodiak-Class Capital Vessel Grizzly. Seeing those ten men and women standing tall and proud in their orange flightsuits, already prepared to take flight, had her feeling nostalgic for the days when she was a hotshot rocket jockey sitting in a Ward Room getting a Brief from either the CAG or the CO. Now she was the old lady.

"At ease, ladies and gentlemen." Crois announced as she took to the front of the Ward Room, seeing six men and four women in orange flightsuits returned to their seats, each of them with their own datapads for notes, annotations, thoughts, and mission so that it could be reviewed for the post-mission Debrief and After Action Review. Deliquoix took center stage as she stood in front of her pilots, looking at them. From LC Moon, a twenty-eight year old pilot who had just earned his Lieutenant Commander the year prior and was likely looking at his last 'rodeo' as an Interceptor Astroaviator, to the youngest in the room, Cadet Julia Davenport, a twenty-year old Academy student who was fulfilling her 'practical' credits by serving on a Naval vessel to be certified by her Squadron Commander at the end of the deployment, all had served under her command on the Lynx since the Pegaseus Patrol Fleet left Gallacy Spaceport in Sector 2110 of the Inner-Gemini Quadrant seventeen weeks prior. Every single one of these Astroaviators had gone to their respective Naval Academy's knowing Crois' name, her callsign, and her exploits pertaining to the Battle of Sector 1815 (Browndall). Sun hadn't even started his time in the Axiom Union Military Academy (Aquilia) in Yekaterinburg of Sector 0713 when Crois returned to her own Academy for her Senior Year a war hero. Julia, callsign Dot (as all Cadets were known based off the circular pips that signified their rank), was a nine-year old kid still probably playing with dolls and having her hair up in pigtails when Crois was awarded the Axiom's highest award; the Star of Valor.

She didn't doubt that ever single one of her Astroaviators had salivated at the thought of being under the command of the Legend-Killer herself.

"Pilots, here is your FRAGO," Crois began as she took command of the Ward Room, delivering her preliminary Fragmentation Order that would be an addition to the ongoing OPORD, or Operation Order, of the mission. "Three of our vessels have detected and triangulated a weak continuous signal in the Blackleigh System in the electromagnetic spectrum within a certain frequency of the microwave range known as the Hydrogen Line." The Commander took her datapad and inserted it into the Ward Room's Briefing Terminal to download its contents and display its relevant content on the Ward Room's OLET SMARTglass screen on the forewall. The Augmented Reality Operating System booted up and showed the first GIF, displaying the signal in question. "The Hydrogen Line is a very specific frequency and wavelength that is based off of the spin-flip transition of the atomic transition of a Hydrogen electron between two hyperfine levels of the 1s ground state. Early Earth astronomers used this for radio astronomy to see through stellar clouds and debris for stellar cartography, and later on early explorers used it for emergency frequency broadcasts."

"Which no one uses that particular frequency anymore." Lieutenant Commander Sun Moon pointed out from his chair near the back of the Ward Room.

"That's correct, Nova." Deliquoix replied. "This tells me that this likely isn't any of our vessels broadcasting an emergency unless they've suffered something truly catastrophic that knocked out their normal communications array and had to go for something unusual. But even this is unlikely, as normal merchants, transportation, civilian vessels, and cargo vessels wouldn't have the equipment to keep this specific frequency and wavelength. We monitor the Hydrogen Line because it is in the microwave band and still one of the best ways to look through interstellar debris and obstructions, which leads me to think that this may in fact be a beacon of some sort…

"Dracon in origin." The Commander concluded, getting everyone to shift uneasily in their seats.

"A homing beacon that could be followed through a vast distance?" That was Ensign Hector Gonzalez, callsign Zephyr, obviously mulling over what his Commanding Officer was suggesting. "If someone has an idea where to look for it, they could use it from a variety of locations knowing that stellar debris wouldn't clog or degrade the signal. But that's a pretty weak signal, ma'am. You said yourself it was a weak continuous signal that three vessels were needed to triangulate. And this beacon would only be sent at lightspeed. If we're just detecting it now…"

"It's a new signal." That was Lieutenant (junior grade) Ophelia duPont, callsign Fantom. "What's the suggested location, ma'am."

"Here." Crois was pleased with the questions, her pilots using their knowledge and intelligence to look for clues before heading out into the black. She expected nothing less. She tapped the terminal to bring up a trigital representation of the Blackleigh System along with the approximate location of the triangulated signal within the system. Blackleigh was an M-Class Red Dwarf with two close rocky terrestrial worlds with nothing to recommend them, and a farther-flung Hot Neptune mini-Gas Giant that was eight Astronomical Units from the small red star. In between Blackleigh II and II was nearly seven and a half AU's of empty space that carried the occasional free rocky extrasolar capture, a rogue comet or two, and minor ejecta from whatever stellar collisions happened that broke apart into fragments and turned the vast gulfs of space into chancy propositions with Foreign Object Debris. The triangulated signal appeared on the trigital representation almost directly in between Blackleigh II and III's orbits, though the planets in question were currently at stellar opposites of one another with the Red Dwarf in between. Also on the SMARTglass' tricture was the patrol routes of the Perseus Patrol Fleet, the five triquetra lines of travel both past and present showing where the vessels had covered the Blackleigh System. None of the lines were close to the location in question, though a part of the reason for the configuration of the patrol was that the vessels could monitor the entirety of the system without having to physically travel all of it.

"Hate saying it, but that looks like a great location for avoiding attention." Called out 1st Lieutenant Morris Brighton, callsign Broody's gruff voice pretty much calling out what everyone else was likely thinking. "Not near any of the planets, right smack in the middle between the largest gulf of planets, but away from the outer portions of the system where we execute our turns for our patrol. Looks like someone's wise to your methods, ma'am." Several patrols were known for doing oval search patterns that covered approximately sixty percent of a system, while hers covered up to eighty-four percent of a system while remaining fuel and time efficient. "If that's a Dracon homing beacon, it's well-placed and in a good system for a build-up."

"Pilots, here are your marching orders," Crois called out, having everyone's attention. "You will launch and investigate this site for any potential threats to Axiom Space, and assess upon discovery. Since we don't know what it might be, we will play this one by ear. For now, main objective is to discover what is at this location with the potential of investigation and reconnaissance. If there is a Dracon presence, reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering will commence if they are unaware of your presence. I don't doubt that if it is Dracon, they know we have a patrol in-system, and are remaining passive at this time to gain upon whatever mission or objective they are on." A few of the younger pilots were writing notes on their datapads with styluses. "We will use this against them by having the Perseus Patrol remain in its configured formation as if we are ignorant as you are launched while the Lynx is drifting in the same vector while executing a turn to catapult you towards the nearest declination we can get while drifting sideways. Let me remind you gentlemen that if it is Dracon, you are not to engage unless they discover your location and are commencing an attack or aggressive maneuvers. This could be the prelude to an attack, a campaign, or something else. The important part is to discover the who, what, when, where, and why first.

"Are there any questions?"

There were none.

"Very well." Crois stood at the position of parade rest in front of the Squadron. "Catapult launch will commence in two-zero mikes as we align the Lynx with the straightest trajectory while flying at flank-drift port."

"Wait! Can an Ocelot do that?" Cadet Julia Davenport asked, looking up from her datapad and looking around in the Ward Room. "I mean… that's a Wasp maneuver."

"Who do you think invented it, Dot?" Her Squadron Commander replied from the rear of the room, nodding towards his Commanding Officer.