As the probes began to move away from the planet, it became clear that the effects of the damaged layers were fading quickly. If the readings were correct, then in less than one light year, they would be completely gone, and there would be no interference when the Hunters tried to move to nearby star systems.

But the strangest thing happened as they reached the edge of the solar system. One after another, the probes were destroyed by a burst of energy, ending their transmission abruptly and preventing anything from leaving.

The Hunters scrambled to adjust, and the call was made to have the second wave of probes raise shields to see if they could withstand the effect long enough to see what was going on.

The probes weren't armed or really defended, but the shields were designed to deal with space debris and should provide some sort of protection.

But the final effect was still the same. When they reached the outer limits of the solar system, they were destroyed.

This time, Nico thought that she had some information though.

"I've got an origin point for at least sixteen of the energy pulses. If I build them into a map of all the points of destruction, it looks like there is a sanction fleet cloaked at the edge of this region.

With that in mind, we might be in a quarantine zone. Either for the Myceloids or for the damaged space that disables Warp Drives. That fleet is far enough out that they would have issues getting a Warp Field stable, but in only a few minutes, they would be far enough out to do it without issues, assuming we're on similar levels of development." She explained.

Max nodded. "Since they immediately shoot down anything that tries to leave, I suspect that it is for the Myceloids more than just as a safety cordon. That says to me that there is a chance the horde isn't here by accident. They were most likely moved and confined here.

That would also give us a hint as to who their ship was fighting.

If they had tried to leave the system, they would have attracted the attention of the Sanction Fleet, and they might have come to destroy the vessel, resulting in a missed shot hitting the planet."

That made a lot of sense to the Hunters, and they had seen the same situation many times in the past when a species had been deemed a danger to their neighbours who were already Alliance members.

The fleet would set up outside their home star system and prevent anything from leaving or going in. Often, they would even set up an interference field so that the sanctioned species couldn't get access to the Alliance data net and start advancing their own culture with pilfered ideas and plans.

The Innu did put out a lot of free-to-use or low-cost items, which could feasibly have been purchased and made by even a sanctioned world.

"So, what is our next move? Do we bring ships through and attempt to break the sanction, or do we see if we can communicate with them from here and try to talk sense to them now that we know they're out there?" Max asked.

"I'm for suggestion A." Nico agreed.

"It would probably be wise to crack the pattern of their cloaking fields first so that we can find them without guesswork," Khan suggested.

The other Hunters in the room nodded. "Yes, that is the best way. So, the first thing we should do is attempt to make contact. If they answer, it increases the chances that we will identify a fluctuation in the field, which will let us find more of their vessels and gives the small chance that they will understand that we are not the Myceloids."

Max knew that there was a chance they were actually blockading the Anomaly and not the Myceloids. But they wouldn't be able to prove that unless they made contact with the species first.

It felt a lot like they were just running in place, trying idea after idea to change the situation around the Anomaly, while on the surface of the planet, not much was actually changing. The Myceloids were more focused on finding a good spot to settle in, and the wandering groups no longer came to bother the villages that the Hunters held, while the second wave of expansion had been put on hold while the leadership tried to sort things out for what would come next.

It was a level of frustration that the Hunters had been dealing with for a while when they were trapped in just one camp and unable to even get a probe in orbit to gather more data, but it was new to Max and Nico, who were not mentally prepared for the shotgun approach to changing their situation.

Just throwing hundreds of small ideas at a problem was not how they usually worked.

Fortunately for them, the Hunters had a lot of experience with Cloaking Technology, and they already knew where to get started with their efforts to detect the fleet.

Out of prudence, they wouldn't try to leave the area in manned vessels yet, but if they were able to locate the sanction fleet, or even better, see through the cloaking to determine what species and level of weaponry they were facing, it would put them well on their way to establishing a proper foothold here.

After days of poring through the data and catching the faintest of glimpses of enemy signals through their cloaking fields, Max decided that a two-pronged approach was the best way forward. Their team was small, but they could still multitask, and if they sent another round of probes in the other layer, they just might be able to gather the data that they needed, and with a lot of luck, they might even get past the fleet.

If they could do that, they could send additional Hunter Fleets to the surrounding star systems and begin to secure them to prevent anything from coming near the anomaly.

Chapter 944: Sanction
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