Aboard Unknown Three
        Sta'Lee arrived facing right into the "face" of some funny-looking alien, sort of a barrel shaped thing with a ball of some sort underneath it. It had some eyeball looking stalks waving about on top and a pair of arm tentacles on the sides that seemed to be reaching to grab him. With a quick slash of his saber, he cut off the questing arms and, dropping his carbine on its shock cord, grabbed the alien by its eye stalks. Then he looked about. Fri'Tazz, the team chemist and metallurgist, was rolling over the deck with three of the aliens in a tangle of flailing limbs. Dro'Phur, the team computer engineering warrant officer, had cut several of the aliens in half with a strong hacking stroke of his powered cutlass as they "stood" at some console. Their insides looked a lot like anyone else's. Gra'Laaki was tossing a couple of grenades out the door as he shot out what might be a boarding defense array with his hand disruptor; he had already shot the alien with what looked like some kind of heavy weapon in its tentacles. Then, as Sta'Lee and Gra'Laaki turned back to aid Fri'Tazz, the pile on the deck erupted in a yellow and red fountain with a tremendous explosion that threw all of them back. Someone in the pile had pulled a grenade pin.
        Sta'Lee looked at his capture. It was still alive if blinking eyes were a reliable sign. The severed tentacle things weren't bleeding too much. Moving quickly, he took a restrainer cuff tie, snugged it around the stalks below the eyeball things and then tied it off to a stanchion. Unless this guy knows the release code, he isn't going anywhere until someone gets here with a torch. Or he pulls his eyes off.
        "Sta'Lee, you got that one?"
        "Yes, Sir. I've got him on a restrainer strap under our usual codes. He isn't wandering off."
        "OK, figure out where we are and see if you can find Zhr'Unne. Her beacon is out that way somewhere, and don't bother conserving ammo."
        Following on the heels of another grenade, Sta'Lee, leaped out into the corridor towards the beacon of the missing tech. Zhr'Unne was the sole psionic sensitive on the team, and his partner at Javelins. It isn't easy to find a partner that can ALWAYS pick out the easy marks from the crowd. That wasn't really cheating; it was just making sure the game was fair, thought Sta'Lee as he alternately pounded down hexagonal corridors and peeked around corners.
        Then he heard a bellow and explosions down the hall. Coming around the corner and peeking through a hatch, he saw what looked like the main engineering spaces where five of his comrades, the team high-power engineering group to be exact, and Zhr'Unne were trading fire with more than a dozen aliens. The team had heavy weapons and armor versus the light hand weapons of the aliens defending their own turf. Bracing himself, taking aim carefully and ratcheting his carbine up to "full auto," he mowed down ten of the surprised aliens from behind as his comrades burst from cover to close assault the distracted aliens. A shotgun round got the rest of the aliens that seemed to be moving purposefully.
        A few were staggering about in some kind of daze. In this group there were several other kinds of weird-looking aliens, in addition to more of the kind he already had; so, grabbing a fistful of restrainers, he tied four more of the "barrel on a ball" aliens together by their eyestalks. Their tentacle ends went into self-sealing sample bags to keep them from grabbing anything. The beak-nosed six-legged tunni-sized thing with the slimy scales got a quick hole punched in its soft nasal septum and a restrainer strap threaded through like a tunni tether; it didn't appear to have any hand equivalents. The giant dead-looking bat thing with the blue stuff oozing out of the hole in its head part was just about the right size to serve to weight down the slimy alien and keep it from getting too frisky after a generous blob of adhesive anchored in it place. Even dead, its corpse would be useful for biological analysis. The dragging left wing got hacked off; one wing was more than enough for studying. Left wings aren't good for anything anyway, thought Sta'Lee as he grabbed a bunch of the small aliens. He glued four of the smaller purple squirrel monkey things, despite their wiggling, to the other side and figured he had a pretty complete set once the soft snail thing he sealed in a pouch was added to the lot. A few small items he assumed were hand weapons went into his pouch for later study.
        "Are you quite done Sta'Lee?" asked Ensign Gru'Ie as Zhr'Unne gave him a saucy wink behind the Gunny's back. Bloody inbred officers, they should all be drowned at birth. This must be what happens to the runts of the litter that have to be bottle fed.
        "Absolutely, Sir. I had to find my teammate here. Somehow, her transporter beacon sent her with you instead of the command team. Sir." Left unsaid was that the ensign was the team transporter technologist in addition to his duties as an antimatter engineer.
       "Sergeant, you get going. Gunny wants to rip out an intercooler feed core and some other stuff from here. Take your prisoners along with you, too."
        In the background, Corporal Tui'Prrrl and Chief Fru'Tcc carefully stabbed each alien to make sure the ones that looked dead stayed that way. Petty Officer Dui'Ree was already ripping out some control components. Boarding actions were bad news and captured territory didn't stay captured long if you were careless.
       Behind a rolling volley of grenades, Sta'Lee and Zhr'Unne pushed and towed their captives back to the compartment Lieutenant Commander Gra'Laaki was holed up in. "Coming in with Zhr'Unne and some prisoners."
"Come in, and I hope the scanning pack is undamaged. We need to thread her into the core here. Zhr'Unne, wedge that door closed as best you can, and drop some grenades out through that hole. You know the drill. The weapons engineering team has taken some heavy hits, so we need to get as much soft data as we can. The drone rack team seems to be doing well though."
        "Yeah, Sir, I think she's still good. I didn't take any real hits." Then he was standing still as the computer cryptographic warrant officer ran several jacks from the core to his pack. Effectively he was anchored for the moments needed to get the data. Then, beacons screaming their ascending note, the team threw a bunch more grenades out the (mostly closed and jammed) door, with various delays, and assumed recall positions around their captives. The biggest lump of Fri'Tazz' corpse was now glued to the alien pack beast on the opposite side from the giant bat thing. Marines try to always recover their dead, but finding the rest of Fri'Tazz would require a strainer.
        "Let's see if we can pick out who to take back," Gra'Laaki, "the transporter cannot take all of them and all of us." He began trying to pick out what might have been rank insignia or specialist badges, but it was all a guess. He ended up picking what looked to be an "old" one and one wearing a different "uniform" from the others.