The Zhodani have launched a series of Coreward explorations over the years. The results have been classified and inaccessible to anyone outside the highest castes. Imperial intelligence has had a terrible time penetrating Zhodani society, thanks largely to the use of the Thought Police, easily plucking out the inserted spies long before they had a chance to become useful. The few scraps collected about the Core expeditions has come through careful analysis of Zhodani communications, and a lucky break involving a vargr university and a misjump.
Feelers had been sent out indicating a high caste member was interested in defecting, and indicated that she had terabytes of data from the most recent Core expedition. Her requirements were fairly stringent, and there wasn't much time to make the rendezvous. Imperial intelligence confirmed the identity of the would-be defector, and was eager to try to bring her in. They were sorely lacking in jump capable assets in the sector, and wouldn't have anything available within the time restrictions. They came to the Scouts.
Three ships would be sent, a 100 ton scout, a 3000 ton tanker, and an elderly borrowed escort/destroyer. The defector would be in a certain system near the border , for a limited time. The extraction team had to leave within two local days.