After dinner, everyone assembled in the Control Room. Someone had had the foresight to have a large table with chairs placed in the room, Allura noted. This was going to be an extensive meeting, she realized.
Scattered across the table were three sets of copies of charts, graphs, and other valuable information on the mission. Allura walked to the nearest pile of copies, studying the chart of the system. Even with the finer instruments, the phenomenon was still a mysterious smudge on the chart.
"It would be better if we work in pairs at the moment and share any promising ideas in the morning. Any objections?"
No one did and everyone began to pair off.
Keith joined Allura at the end of the table nearest the doors. This evening was a continuation of the strategy lessons Keith was giving her. She was proud that she had continue to impress the captain. While he hadn't said it, his face would sometimes betrayed the truth.
At the far end of the table, Pidge paired with Hunk, already discussing the scientific and engineering aspects of the situation. Allura shook her head in amusement as she watched the two for a moment. Pidge was adamantly pointing at one chart, while Hunk gestured toward another piece of paper.
Returning her attention back to her end of the table, Allura was not surprised to see that Lance was happily partnered with the pretty space expert. She could tell that he was oozing charm already. To her credit, Dr. Hamilton remained cool and professional, directing Lance's attention to the pile of papers.
"Allura, we need to get started," Keith said, keeping his voice low.
Nodding, she placed the system chart in front of him. "I was thinking. What if we did this..."
* * * * *
Lance watched Dr. Hamilton out of the corner of his eye as she industriously studied the papers spread out before her. Her chestnut hair had auburn streaks, causing him to wonder if the streaks were natural or chemical. A girl like her would go for natural, he decided.
She absently pushed her glasses further up her nose. The specs probably helped explained why she was not a pilot, he thought. Her yellow-green eyes reminded him of a cat, as did her movements.
"I think I have an idea," she said, pulling a large chart toward him.
"What did you find, Cat?" he asked without thinking.
"Your name is Catherine, right?"
"It's Dr. Hamilton, so let's keep it that way," she said. "This cat has claws, fly boy."
"I always did enjoy a good scratch," Lance countered.
"Lance, cut it out," Keith called, glaring from his end of the table.
"Aye, aye, Captain." Turning his back toward Keith, Lance grinned at his partner. "Where were we?"
"I think I was about to clip your wings," she answered, "and throw a little light on our mysterious phenomenon at the end of the system."
* * * * *
"Several of the readings indicate a large amounts of hydrogen and helium, possibly indicating a nebula," Catherine announced the next morning, pulling information from various charts. "Our mysterious phenomenon seem to be the remains of a dead star."
"That's the problem," Pidge said. "The amount of hydrogen and helium that we are talking about would result from the death of a fairly large star or several smaller ones. There are no such stars in that sector of the system to produce such an effect."
"I see," Catherine murmured, contemplating other possible solutions. "That puts us in a predicament indeed."
"Any one else have an idea?" Keith asked.
"Frankly I'm out of ideas, Captain," Catherine replied, when his gaze turned to her. "My only other suggestion is to try to explore the phenomenon from a closer perspective."
"I agree," Pidge seconded. "Most of our data gives contradictory information. Such as the nebula with no origin. It just doesn't add up."
"Since the information seems odd, I think that the possibility of Doom activity is now greater," Allura said. "After all, Lotor's forces control the planets in that sector. This may be a new ploy."
"Right now we can not rule out that possibility," Keith agreed. "We'll need to take special precautions as we prepare."
"So, we're going?" Lance asked.
"Yes. We need to know what that thing is. We'll need to draw up mission plans and run them by Coran."
"Why?" Catherine asked. "I thought that this was a Galaxy Garrison operation."
"Our main assignment is the defense of planet Arus," Keith explained. "By using the lions in the investigation, we are compromising some of Arus' defenses.
"But we are not leaving Arus completely unguarded. The castle defenses could hold out against an attack. Now, I suggest we take a few hours as a break and meet here after lunch to discuss mission plans."
"Roger that," Hunk answered, agreeing to wait after any meal.
"Okay, team dismissed."
* * * * *
"Keith, I'm not sure why you're giving the impression that we are leaving Arus at the mercy of the castle defenses," Allura said.
"Because if the phenomenon is from Doom, Lotor would take advantage of the situation and attack Arus."
"So, why the act in front of Dr. Hamilton?" she demanded. "She was sent by Galaxy Garrison. Don't you trust her?"
"It's not that I don't trust her. It's just..."
"That you don't trust her. I don't trust her either, Keith. I have a feeling that she is holding something important from us."
"You're not trying to turn into Lance, are you, Allura?"
"Someone mention me?" Lance asked as he joined the two.
"We were just discussing Dr. Hamilton," Allura explained.
"Oh, really," Lance replied, a thoughtful look overtaking his usual smug expression. "I'm sure she has some excellent credentials, Captain, but she's not telling us everything."
"I told you," Allura said to Keith.
"That's why every precaution is being taken," Keith said. "Come on, we're about to be late for lunch. And we don't want to raise suspicions of our new friend."