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A Tale of Two Corsairs

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The renegade captain’s gold-capped teeth shone brightly in the harsh electric lighting as he laughed at his prisoner’s warning. The booming sound echoed throughout the large flight deck, garnering a few furtive glances between the rest of the crew, for whose benefit this interrogation was being conducted in plain view. He stopped abruptly, snapping back to fierce rigidity with incredible speed, and nodded to his two lieutenants, who responded by forcing their captive to his knees roughly. The leader bent forward to sneer at the meddlesome stowaway who’d been caught attempting to disable their weapons systems and who now dared to challenge his absolute authority with his preposterous suggestion that killing him would sign the captain's own death warrant.

"Who are you to issue such threats, puny soft-skin?" the leader demanded.

The man who, had he been among fellow humanoids and on his feet, would have cut an impressive figure with his broad shoulders encased in an emerald green coat, smooth olive skin, sleek black hair tied back from his face with a ribbon, and neatly-trimmed beard, tipped up his chin and grinned at his captor defiantly. “They call me the Corsair,” he said proudly through bloodied lips. “And one way or another, this ship will not be making it to its scheduled destination. Whether or not you live to see where she does end up is in your hands.”

The captain laughed again deliberately and leaned closer, brandishing a curved blade that he had drawn so quickly it seemed to have appeared in his hand. “Brave words for someone about to meet oblivion so very far from home,” he hissed and brought the edged weapon up to rest against the Corsair’s exposed collar bone. “Tell me who sent you here and I may consider allowing you to breathe a while longer.” His tone did not make this possibility seem a very likely one.

The Time Lord was singularly unimpressed with this display, and continued grinning wildly, ignoring the question. “I am prepared. If this is to be my end, ‘tis a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known,’” he recited merrily, amber eyes flashing. The Earth quotation was lost on his intended executioners, who interpreted it — perhaps rightly so — as mocking them.

If the Corsair had been hoping for more banter in response to his show of bravado, he was sorely disappointed.

“I don't have time for this,” the captain snarled and swiped the razor sharp blade across his throat so swiftly and so cleanly that the Time Lord didn’t even register pain, just a rush of warmth and wet at his neck. As the black fog of unconsciousness rose to carry him away for perhaps the last time, he felt the grim satisfaction of having won, despite the mortal wound he’d received, when he heard the discordant melody of several alarms sounding all around them.

His killers whirled to see what was the matter, hurrying swiftly over to the controls, leaving the Corsair’s body alone on the observation platform, his fate already forgotten amidst the growing chaos. That meant there was no one watching to see the tendrils of golden energy curling upwards like smoke from the still form lying on the cold metal floor. The crew were far too distracted by the surprise that the clever saboteur had left behind before he’d been caught in the act. He'd been stalling for time in taunting them and fallen tragically short of his goal.

At least the supremely dangerous cargo this ship was carrying would not be used to devastate another world.

Regeneration was a remarkable gift but — as was so often the case when the death that instigated it was a violent one — also a rather showy process. The building energy finally overwhelmed the Corsair’s body, engulfing it in golden flames, reshaping the form hidden inside according to some secret algorithm. The spectacular light show finally grabbed the attention of the startled crew, some of whom shouted and fled to parts unknown in response. The captain found himself struck dumbfounded by this development, only stirring to action once the figure rose unsteadily to its feet.

Hands that had been secured with electronic cuffs slipped free of the fried contraptions easily and reached out to touch a bulkhead to help steady the newly regenerated being. Elegant clothes that once fit perfectly now hung like robes over a smaller frame and a riot of dark curls hid a face whose complexion had noticeably shifted to a richer, burnt sienna hue. Orange-red blood stained the front of the spectre’s loose white shirt, lending the figure a decidedly horrific quality as it lurched forward.

Showing remarkable fortitude in the face of the unknown, the captain drew his sidearm and fired at the advancing figure. It flinched as each round struck true, but continued its relentless progress toward the flight controls unimpeded. The captain was not laughing now.

"What are you?!" he shouted after exhausting his ammunition, fear robbing him of his usual commanding aura.

As if noticing him for the first time, the figure paused and lifted its head to stare at him directly, revealing dark eyes that glittered strangely in the emergency lighting. So transfixed was he by that intense gaze that when the mysterious creature spoke, it startled him badly.

"I..." the apparition breathed, in a hoarse voice that was nonetheless at least a full octave higher than it had been just minutes ago. "...am ... a ... Time ... Lord." With each successive word, the notes smoothed out, becoming clear and warm beneath the forceful tone. A strange scent like ozone permeated the air. Even, white teeth flashed as the creature smiled.

The frightened captain shuddered and did not resist when his empty pistol was taken from his hand and flung across the room to clatter against a blinking display panel.

Brushing back a mass of unruly brown hair so that its view was unobstructed, the impossible being leaned in close to the cowed renegade who had no qualms about delivering terrible planet-scouring weapons to the highest bidder and had so casually ended the Corsair's fourth life earlier. This new model was at least a head shorter than the previous, and practically swam in the over-sized, torn, and bloody clothes, but still managed to be sufficiently intimidating in this context that he didn't make a move then.

"Your crew have abandoned you. They won't get far though. The Shadow Proclamation's fleet will be here soon." The self-identified Time Lord reported matter of factually. "Do you know what the punishment for trafficking in biogenetic weaponry is in this era?" The unnervingly inviting smile became icy and cruel for a moment before disappearing altogether. "I fancy you have some idea."

The captain was not foolish enough to underestimate a being who had risen from the dead with an entirely new body and shrugged off a hail of bullets as if they were nothing. He eyed his opponent warily, calculating if a lunge might give him enough time to make his escape before the authorities arrived. He felt for the curved blade he kept strapped to his lower back, finding nothing, to his dismay.

"A life for a life. Certain cultures would say that's just, you know," the Time Lord mused quietly, pretending not to notice his fumbling search for another weapon. "I'm not sure if I quite agree with that. However, I do know that since it was my life in this instance, I don't particularly give a damn if you survive this." With that, the Corsair turned on a heel and walked away, leaving the captain alone on the bridge of his disabled ship, awaiting the arrival of the Law.

------

The freshly regenerated Time Lord made it as far as their console room before collapsing again. Forcing action into newly reformed limbs, the Corsair managed to get the TARDIS into the vortex through sheer willpower. Knees buckling, the Gallifreyan sunk to the sentient ship's carpeted floor, narrowly avoiding an unfortunate meeting between chin and control panel on the way down.

A cough released a puff of golden energy and the Corsair began to feel the familiar sensation of giddiness that often overtook one as the synapses finished sorting themselves out. Curiosity emerged in the wake of momentary confusion, inspiring a peek down the too-large collar at the new form the regeneration lottery had supplied the Corsair with this time.

"Stars above, I've done it again!" And she laughed until tears shone in her eyes.