Remember Michael Moorcock writing Doctor Who?
Well here's an extract!
..The pirates, drawn from a hundred worlds and a dozen space-time continua, have come at last. Only a few, watching them from their decks and towpaths, refuse to acknowledge their power. Some even drop to their knees, bowing in respect to the inevitable, as peasants paying homage to a feudal lord.
By evening Cornelius is among them, broadcasting his formal greeting to all the rival factions on the planet, telling them, canal by canal, how much they must give and in what form, be it an ingot of newtonium, platinum bullion, provisions or crew. (Always he requests that ingot. Surely he knows there is not that much newtonium in existence?) His price is high, but the price of defiance would be higher.
When the barges are filled and brought to the great central basin called Grande Bayou, inventories are carefully made and receipts supplied. Then the recruiting begins to replace any skilled complement killed in battle or retired.
Peet Aniv, nick-named ‘the Locust’, stand high on her elegant prosthetics, making notes, quietly relaying orders, while Cornelius, his features engulfed within the plain, etched mask he always adopts in public, sits to one side of her desk, his glowing melancholy eyes fixed on the distance, looking towards Saint Marx’s islet, where once, it is said, he courted a novice and lost her to the only enemy whose superiority he has ever acknowledged and whom he calls God.
One burgher, in a hasty attempt to demonstrate his compliance, offers to show off a marvel to the captain alone. He leaves a wealthy man, but perhaps a marked man, too. Captain Cornelius frowns and puts what could be a string of beads into his pocket, rattling them while brooding on another matter.
At last, after a week, the peaceful tension is dispelled and the pirates prepare to leave, their tolls all gathered, while Saint Marx’s bells sound the end of tax-taking. In return for this price, Venice will know protection for another decade. Captain Cornelius nods to Peet Aviv. The ledgers are signed off by pirates and canal captains in a flurry of silken pomp and brilliant armour. Then the skiffs rise skyward and are gone amongst the broad ribbons of cloud. And those whose eyes strain at their scopes see the Paine standing for a moment to catch the solar winds, her wide sails filling, her instruments glowing and winking in the shrouded, perpetual twilight of her decks. Then she’s gone, too, a vast and fleeting glow against the black glare of space, no doubt making for her home base in the dwarf galaxy of Canis.
A memory of loss and glory. As if the multiverse had allowed Venice and audience with her own proud, cold soul.
Captain Cornelius inspects certain items of treasure, searching for that fabulously valuable ingot of newtonium, puzzles over his data and his charts, confers with Peet Aniv and begins to understand that fear he has always exploited but never until now known. For there are dark tides running through the universe; currents so powerful they drag whole galaxies with them, streaming gravities so strong they swallow light and threaten Captain Cornelius’s familiar existence; ultimately they will threaten every form of sentient existence and if unchecked will absorb the whole of Creation. But for now the photons press against his sails as he once presumed the would do for ever, and he tacks into the solar winds, continuing his long search for the one artefact which might lead him to something and guarantee his life, his ship’s life and the life of the universe he loves. He sails in from the Rim, daring the drag of the galactic Hub, still searching. Searching for the only being he acknowledges as his peer, who might join him or at least help him; who is known simply as ‘the Doctor’...
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Ht: Life, Doctor Who and Combom