Much food for thought above, thanks! I spent some time today closely looking at it and it sure appears to be between the outer lens and middle lens. Given the chance it was dust on the rear side of the third lens, I got a good sized Giotto Rocket blower and had the wife blow up the tube while I watched from the objective side. Nothing moved and while not 'up close' to the lens, I could feel the Rocket when she pointed it at me from that end so I know the interior surface of that third lens was getting some decent air. I would have expected at least SOMETHING to move but nothing did so it must be inside the triplet assembly itself.
Real careful comparison between a a few pieces of actual dust on the outer objective and the things I'm seeing 'inside' shows they are not too similar. It's almost like what I'm seeing is many, MANY teeny, tiny bubbles. I have OUTSTANDING close-up vision, I can easily discern individual atomic particles. The real dust looks a bit irregular and elongated and my gremlins all look like pin-point specs. A coating fault perhaps?
Anyway I'm calling Meade tomorrow from a warranty standpoint. From what I'm reading I need an RMA and I'll have to pay Shipping & Insurance to get it there. I don't think it can be returned to B&H Photo for this and they don't have anymore in stock anyway. A lot of this stuff is produced in China (Meade, Orion and others APO's) and stock has dried up due to the trade war I imagine. "More On The WAY!", "Back Ordered" and "Let Us Notify You When It's In Stock!" messages abound on the various seller's websites.
I almost hate to let it out of my hands but what I'm seeing just CAN'T be right! I wonder if Meade can even repair it stateside. I think they do the SCT stuff in Irving, CA but I'm not sure about the APO refractors as they are produced offshore. It takes special gear to align & gap the lens elements and I'm not confident they have that capability here but I guess I'll find out tomorrow.
This is most definitely NOT how I wanted this purchase to go! :-)