The insectoid bodies were heavy. Possibly due to their exoskeletons. A chitinous compound, perhaps?
Fortunately, Paul was in good shape and surprisingly strong, given his complete lack of fighting ability. He managed to get one of them over to Medical. He quickly began work dissecting it, probing for any kind of weakness.
Grace carefully put Wolfie and Hyper into the Nebula. Wolfie tried to climb up and jump back into her arms, but she quickly closed the canopy.
“Sorry, Buddy,” she said. “But we can’t have you wandering around when these buggers are about.”
She hurried out of the hangar, hoping the antagonistic aliens would leave the small animals alone.
“What if I pretend to break my leg and cry out in pain?” Leon asked. “Then you guys jump the guard when he checks on me.”
“That’s such a clichéd trick,” Kat said. “It’ll never work.”
“Could,” Leon said. “They might not know it.”
“They will now,” Ophelia said. “Remember what Kat said about a surveillance device? Even if they couldn’t understand us, I’d wager they could scan us and find out you’re faking.”
“Then I’ll actually break it,” Leon said. “You can go on without me and Paul can patch me up later.”
“I don’t think the guards would actually react,” Farah stated. “They just follow orders, remember?”
“Like it or not, we need to wait for them to get help,” Ophelia said. “I just hope they don’t try to handle it on their own. They may be really smart, but they aren’t fighters. They certainly couldn’t handle this many.”
Grace ducked into Medical, sealing the door behind her. They were coming, and quickly.
“we’ve got a good half dozen of them heading this way,” she declared. “Please tell me that you have something.”
“I do,” Paul answered. “Acetic acid.”
“Acetic acid is…” Grace muttered. “Don’t tell me. I know this. It’s…” She was interrupted by a harsh pounding on the door.
“Vinegar,” Paul said. “If you set their atmosphere control to distribute a small amount into their air it should cripple them without being harmful to humans.”
“Could I mix enough in to kill them without harming humans?” Grace asked.
“You could,” Paul said. “It’s a very weak acid. But don’t. There’s no need for killing. Promise me you won’t.”
“Dude, we need to bail,” Grace said. “They’ll get through that door soon.”
“Promise me,” Paul insisted.
“All right, fine,” Grace said. “Just help me get past these guys and we’ll get aboard their ship and make the adjustment.”
“We can use the maintenance tunnel to get out,” Paul said. “It’ll be a tight fit for us. There’s no way they can squeeze in.”
“Next stop, Engineering,” Grace said.
The siblings crawled into the tunnel. and began making their way to engineering. “Anything else you can tell me about them?” Grace asked.
“The soldier is essentially mindless,” Paul said. “It seems that he reacts to chemical signals and follows them like programming. I would guess that the societal structure is reminiscent of ants or bees with a hive of workers being directed by a queen but that can’t be confirmed unless I examine more of them.”
“Could help,” Grace said. “And it does support my own theory.”
They reached the end of the tunnel and emerged in engineering. Grace checked the door. “Looks like they’ve crowded around medical. We should be able to slip out and get into their ship.”
The pair hurried along the corridors, eventually reaching the connecting hatch to the alien ship.
“Guarded,” Grace whispered. “Probably to catch us if we try something like this. Think we have time to get to the galley and grab some vinegar.”
“No need,” Paul said. “Stay hidden and be ready to move. I’ll distract them.”
“That’s crazy,” Grace protested. “They’ll capture and do who knows what to you.”
“Probably what they’ve done to the others,” Paul said. “Besides, I won’t be of any help in reprogramming their atmosphere controls. Just make sure to get us all out of this.”
Without waiting for his sister to respond, Paul moved forward. “You’re in big trouble,” he said, addressing the soldiers, even though he knew they wouldn’t respond. “You know how many intergalactic laws you’ve violated? If you free my comrades right now, I may be able to convince a board of inquiry to be lenient. But otherwise…” the soldiers grabbed him and ushered him towards the alien bridge while Grace used the opportunity to sneak aboard.