The guards outside Aquamarine’s bridge watched a wave of death approaching. Everything happening in the entry corridor showed on their holoscreens. They watched death nearing them in graphic, bloody detail.
Person after person died abruptly at the hands of a man and woman who seemed to flit in and out of existence.
One of them would appear behind a guard, shoot them in the head, turn and shoot their companions, then disappear again, only to pop up a few meters away and repeat the process.
Thoop! Thoop! Thoop!
This sequence repeated over and over as the duo cut down the ship’s defenders like a sword slicing through candles.
One of the bridge guards swallowed hard as the last of the soldiers in the corridor fell, his head obliterated.
He said, “They can’t take the elevators, right Sarge? StarCen still has control of the ship so long as the Captain doesn’t surrender.”
The Sergeant, a man by the name of Chin, ignored the sweating in his palms. His hands trembled as he tried to maintain a steady aim with his firearm, pointing at the elevator door.
But when he spoke, he managed to sound calm, a needful characteristic for a Sergeant.
Chin said, “I think these two are Intangibles, Private. We should be ready for anything.”
“What’s that mean, Sarge?”
“What does what mean?”
“Intangibles? Why do they call them that? What’s it mean?”
Samuel popped into existence behind the guard.
He said, “It means we don’t have to use the elevator.”
Every man turned quickly, rifles and pistols swinging toward him.
Skylar popped into existence behind Chin, her gun pressed against his head.
She said, “You can surrender now, or die. The Sergeant here goes first.”
Chin dropped his rifle and slowly raised his hands.
The others followed his example, all their weapons clattering to the floor.
Samuel shared a glance with his sister. She nodded, took a step back so the Sergeant was in her field of vision, and turned her gun toward all the guards.
Samuel flickered twice and disappeared.
On the bridge, the First Officer was the only person with a weapon, a pistol. He stood aiming it at the door. A shorter man than the others, he nonetheless carried himself with authority. It seemed clear he knew how to handle a gun.
Samuel popped to his right, slugged him in the jaw, grabbed the gun as he fell, and popped away again. Everything happened in a single heartbeat.
Samuel popped back into existence again, this time in front of the Captain, an older fellow with a ringlet of gray hair around his mostly bald head. The First Officer’s sidearm was nowhere to be seen, but Samuel held his own pistol pointed straight at the Captain’s chest. He was now the only person on the bridge with a weapon.
“Surrender or die.”
Staring down the barrel of a blaster, the Captain slumped back in his chair in defeat.
He said, “StarCen, this is Captain Jose Oliver Hernandez. I hereby surrender Aquamarine to the forces arrayed against her. Please note this action is taken under duress.”
StarCen’s high-pitched feminine voice spoke in the air above Hernandez. She said, “Understood, Captain. I am now relinquishing control of this ship to LuteNet.”
With that, the Star League’s artificial intelligence system vacated the premises.
The door to the outer corridor slid open, revealing the guards facing Skylar with their hands up. She smiled at her brother with a wide, triumphant grin.
A new voice spoke in the air, this time LuteNet’s.
“This vessel and all its contents and personnel, human and artificial, hereby belong to the Ultima Mule Company, Christopher Raleigh Chief Executive Officer.”
The look on Hernandez’s face appeared crestfallen. Samuel could not feel too bad for him. If it were not for him and his sister, Hernandez would have happily killed everyone onboard the Mule.
The elevator, now controlled by LuteNet, opened. Maxwell and Jeter stepped out, their weapons ready.
Maxwell looked over the guards with their hands up and nodded at Skylar, still covering them with her gun.
“Good job. Okay, gentlemen. If you will accompany my associate here, he will confine you to quarters until we arrive at our destination. Please follow him.”
The guards obediently streamed into the elevator, Jeter casually covering their progress with his pistol.
When everybody was in, he nodded at Maxwell and followed them. The door slid shut again and the capsule shot away.
Skylar smiled and holstered her sidearm. She followed Maxwell as he walked onto the bridge.
Hernandez, Chin, and other officers stared at Maxwell, expressionless.
The Mule’s First Mate smiled at them in a good-natured way, as if there had not just been a life or death struggle for control of the ship.
He said, “Ladies and gentlemen, my colleagues will accompany you to your quarters, where we ask you remain confined until we reach our destination.”
The fight had completely drained from the officers. They had seen the carnage the twins wreaked. Worst of all, the ship was no longer controlled by their own AI.
They nodded, and allowed themselves to be shepherded off the bridge by Samuel and Skylar. They waited by the elevator door for a fresh capsule to arrive.
As soon as the bridge door shut behind them, Maxwell hailed Raleigh over the neural net.
He said, “Captain, the ship is yours. All anti-teleportation measures have been disabled. The bridge is clear if you’d like to come over here.”