The light in the hanger had been reduced and two large lights had been brought up, the thought to initially blind anyone...or anything for that matter, that came out from the ship. The Marines where placed in a half circle around the airlock. The reason they where not surrounding it on all sides was to avoid a crossfire situation. Things would be hairy anyway if a firefight ensued with all the aerofuel and ammunition stowed in the hanger.
A subtle clonk could be heard as the grappling arms beneath the USS Costaguana grabbed the first life boat. A hydraulic whine ensued as it was pulled in. Another clonk was heard and a slight hissing sound as the air pressurized inside the airlock.
The seconds ticked by. Very slowly.
Then the gates opened with a slight rumble and another hydraulic whine. Twenty seconds later the lifeboat slowly started to rise from the airlock. It was painted brightly white and where covered in small cheramic plates, on top of it an orange light flashed every two seconds. The small craft was about ten meters long and five across, slightly pointed with tinted windows in the front.
The motion trackers ticked slowly. Someone moved slightly to avoid his leg cramping, a subtle shuffling sound. The seconds ticked by. Still no movement.
"Im sending in the probe" Priest suddenly said.
The probe was a robotic arm with an attached multi-layer doppler frequence scanner. A sort of sensory arm mounted on a small robot with caterpillars that was used for these occasitions. The robot approached the lifeboat and the access door opened. The robot sent in its arm and the scan ensued. A few very long minutes passed.
"Its empty..." Priest said.
A quick glimpse inside verified what Priest had said. The spartanly decorated craft was utterly empty, nothing inside to leave a clue.
The ship was quickly disposed through the airlock and the Costaguana approached the next one.
The same procedure was repeated again. The next lifeboat was identical to the first one, part from having a five painted on in rather than a three.
"The door is jammed...we'll have to cut oruselves inside" The robot, of course, was equipped with a powerful plasma cutting device. It made a peculiar electric sparking sound as it initiated. Soon the buzzing sound of surging electricity could be heard. The sparks showered all over the hangar floor. A smell of molten metal spread and a thin layer of smoke spread across the floor.
The door fell into the craft. The robot backed up a few meters and then approached again with its robotic arm extended.
"I cant see much it is very smokey inside...wait...there is something!"
At the same time the motion tracker went alive.