The bots were humanoid, made of a black metal alloy with fully articulated hands and fingers. They had identical featureless faces, with glowing red eyes and a rectangular slit for a mouth. Each carried a rifle and fired green bolts into the crates where the pirates crouched.
Thoop! Thoop! Thoopah!
They advanced from the doorway, shooting at the crates. Everybody kept their heads down.
Maxwell looked over at the twins crouched beside him and said, “Okay you two. This is why you’re getting a larger share. Get to work!”
Samuel and Skylar nodded at him, and disappeared.
Samuel reappeared behind one of the bots, his pistol raised to its head. He squeezed the trigger.
The bot’s head disintegrated. He shot three more at close range before they could adjust and turn to aim at him.
Skylar appeared behind another one and executed the same maneuver, blowing off the head of the closest one and shooting two more.
While the bots were distracted with the twins popping up in different locations, Maxwell nodded at the others behind the crates. As one, they stood and began blasting into the crowd.
Thoop! Thoopah! Thoop! Thoop!
Moments later, Maxwell said, “Hold your fire!”
On the floor, smoking robot parts lay scattered about. Nothing was left to shoot back.
Maxwell said, “There went half a million credits’ worth of robot, blown to smithereens. Maybe we can sell some spare parts out of that.”
Skylar flickered into existence in front of them, making a couple of the men jump in surprise. She and her brother were both very attractive. Her white hair was tied back in a ponytail to stay out of the way.
Something about her skin seemed different from a normal person, though. Maxwell assumed it had to do with the Gemini experiments and their resulting abilities, because her brother’s skin looked the same. It almost seemed to glow, in an eggshell-white sort of aura. Maxwell had very dark skin, and the pirates onboard the Mule and others on Lute came in all shades, just as elsewhere in the galaxy. But Skylar and her brother seemed to glow in a strange way that other humans do not.
The whole aura thing was odd and off-putting enough that no pirate ever bothered Skylar on any voyage, no matter how long they were in space with her. Never mind the fact she or her brother could kill them as easily as thinking about it. People generally obeyed the rules on voyages, since breaking them had very bad consequences. But the glowing skin thing freaked out most of the single men onboard to the point they never bothered to make any moves on her anyway.
Samuel flickered, then came into full sight next to his sister. Maxwell nodded at them and motioned toward the door.
He said, “Now get over to the other side and open it for us.”
They nodded at him and disappeared.
Skylar flickered back into sight, blinking three times before becoming solid.
She said, “We’ve got about a hundred people in the main corridor behind the door. They’re all armed, guns pointed this way, and they’re just waiting for us to come in.”
“Is that right?” Maxwell said. “No wonder their guy doesn’t think he has to surrender. How many can you and Samuel take care of for us?”
“I don’t think we can get them all before they figure out what’s going on. We can take out a lot, though.”
“Well, war is hell. Just remember, the more survivors we have, the higher the collective ransom we can get. Especially with officers.”
Skylar nodded and said, “I don’t think there will be many survivors.”
She disappeared again.
The door slowly slid up, and behind it the pirates could hear the sounds of blaster fire as the duo popped up and down the corridor, shooting and killing the defenders.
By the time the door fully opened, the floor of the wide hallway behind it was littered with bodies. Maxwell made a motion and his men moved out from behind the crates, rifles ready.
They approached the doorway carefully. Several meters away, the twins continued popping up next to people, shooting them, then disappearing before anybody could line up for a clear shot.
One man groaned on the floor and rolled over, a blackened hole in his chest oozing blood. His eyes widened at the sight of the pirates walking up and he lifted his pistol in a shaking hand.
Maxwell shot him in the head, and his body slumped, the pistol clattering to the floor.
The men watched as the line of human destruction continued further down the corridor. Blaster fire and screams echoed ahead.
Maxwell lowered his rifle and said, “I don’t want to hear any complaints about their bigger share. They’re doing most of the work here.”
Several of his men grunted in agreement, impressed at the carnage. They moved down the corridor, stepping between bodies.