Kristoph’s hearts thudded once more. He was relieved to hear Marion’s voice, angry at Lee for what he had done. He was afraid.

Yes, afraid. The Agent who claimed not to have fear was a liar. Fear was a part of it. You needed fear to remind you of what was at stake.

But this time he was afraid not for himself, but for Marion. His enemy had her in his clutches and he could do anything to her.

Enemy? This was Lee. Once they had been friends. Once Lee had been as honourable a man as he was. He lived by the same rules, the same principles.

And then it had all gone terribly wrong.

Lee as a Renegade! It had been unthinkable. The shock had almost undone the Agency. Nobody could understand why he would turn around and commit a cold-blooded murder against one of the High Council. The fact that he had then run for it, escaping from Gallifrey, and from his punishment, was proof enough of his guilt even if his DNA had not been found at the scene.

It wasn’t even a careful murder. He had not only broken the rules but he had broken them ineptly.

Or he had wanted it to be known that he did it. Kristoph had never been certain.

What he did know at the time was that Lee had betrayed everyone and everything they had both believed in. And that knowledge was an ever present ache in his hearts.

It was because of that ache that he accepted the assignment against his better judgement. He had agreed to end the affair once and for all in the only way it COULD be ended.

And now, finally, he had the chance.

Now he could finish this once and for all. And then go on with the life he chose. The life he had chosen to share with Marion.

Unless that #%&&$ hurt her. Without Marion he had no life any more. He needed her.

If Lee killed Marion, then he would kill Lee and then kill himself.

That would be an ending of a sort.


“It will take a few hours,” Lee said. “Triangulating a point in time and space using a signal from such a primitive device will be difficult. Though The Executioner is a resourceful man and I am sure he will work it out. Meantime, will you take some more tea?”

“I don’t want tea from you. I won’t sit calmly and wait for you to murder a good man.”

“It is not murder. It is self defence. He is coming to kill me.”

“He wouldn’t be if you had left things alone,” Marion repeated. “Why can’t you believe me? He had given up the pursuit. He was interested only in living in peace with me.”

“That I do not believe. The Executioner never gives up until his target is dead. . When I discovered who was looking for me, I knew I was doomed, unless I could stop him first.”

“Please don’t do it,” Marion begged again.

“I am sorry, my dear, but I must. You needn’t see it. I will let you hide while we fight our last duel. But I will kill him.”

“What if he kills YOU?” she asked.

“Then at least it will be over,” he sighed. “But I shall not meekly give my neck to his sword.”

“You were friends once. Now you’re going to try to kill each other.” Marion sighed. The idea appalled her.


Yes, it was difficult to triangulate a time and space co-ordinate using nothing but a mobile phone’s signal. If he had taken her offworld it would have been even harder. As it was, it was just a matter of time before he was able to hone in on the location of the Traitor’s TARDIS. He had the spatial location at least. And the approximate temporal location.

China! Lee had always had an interest in ancient Earth cultures. That had been the one thing they both had in common. A fascination for this small planet whose people were so very diverse. He had been surprised when the intelligence pointed to him hiding out in 20th century England. Ancient China was actually more his style. Kristoph had assumed it was a double bluff to throw anyone who KNEW him off the scent.

“Yes!” He smiled as the TARDIS confirmed a temporal lock and estimated the travel time. Thirty minutes. Time enough to prepare.


“He is coming,” Lee said with relish. “Come.” He lifted Marion from her seat and walked with her, not holding her in an uncomfortable way, but making it clear she had no other choice but to walk in the same direction he was.

He opened a door and pushed her through. Again, the Chinese theme. This seemed to be an armoury and practice room. Swords in long racks gleamed menacingly and there were long sticks, deadly looking metal stars, all kinds of things she could not begin to name, and all of them lethal. Lee went to the sword rack and tried four or five of them, apparently testing their weight. She watched him attack several dummies, beheading them in smooth strokes. Then he sliced a silk wall hanging into three pieces with two swift cuts. She squealed when he turned on his heels and aimed the sword at her. She felt something fall to the floor. She looked down. It was the bottom half of the pony tail she had gathered her hair into for neatness during the long day of classes and tutorials.

He hadn’t so much as SCRATCHD her, but the pony tail was sliced right off.

“What was that for?” she demanded angrily as she bent and picked up the swathe of hair. Did you need to prove something? I’m certainly not impressed.”

“Is HE as good as that?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen him with a sword. He is working as a teacher.”

“You have never even seen him train?” Lee laughed scornfully. “He has let himself forget the arts? He will be easy to defeat.”

“Don’t SAY that!”

“But it is true. I have practiced daily. He has spent his time reading poetry and romancing. However way you lay the odds, your lover is looking at a swift death.”

“NO!” Marion screamed. “No!”


Kristoph was also selecting a weapon. HIS TARDIS also had an armoury. He, too, had a preference for Chinese swords. Next to the monks of Malvoria, the Dominion planet of Gallifrey where the best of the best from the Academies went to learn that very effective form of martial arts called Sun Ko Du, the Shaolins of Henang province were the finest swordmen in the universe and the finest makers of swords.

He selected one and turned to face a holographic opponent. It took him less than three minutes to send a holographic head flying from the holographic body. The programme was exact in every detail except there was far less blood than in a real decapitation.

The thought of doing that to The Traitor left him strangely unemotional.

The thought of doing that to the man who had kidnapped the woman he loved left him curiously numb.

The thought of doing that to his former friend left him with a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach.

He knelt in the middle of the floor and breathed deeply before putting himself into a low level trance. He needed to free his mind of all emotional factors, including his concern for Marion, including his conflicting feelings about the man he was preparing to meet in battle.

He came out of the trance as his TARDIS materialised. He felt the change in the engines and brought himself to full consciousness. He stood and sheathed his sword in his belt and made ready for battle.

“He’s here,” Lee said.

“How do you know?” Marion asked.

“I can feel him,” he answered. He’s waiting.”

He strode to the console room door. He looked around at Marion.

“Well?” he said. “Are you coming?”

“I have a choice?”


“Then I’m coming,” she said.

“Fine, come on.” He grasped her by the arm firmly. His sword was in the other hand and she had to reach for the door control.

“Kristoph!” She couldn’t help a scream as she saw him standing outside. She vaguely took in their surroundings. They seemed to be on a plateau of a high mountain in a range of breathtakingly high mountains. It seemed to be spring. There were some small trees in blossom, but it was sharp and cold at the high altitude.

“Sit down and breathe carefully,” Lee said to her. “Humans have breathing problems at this height if they aren’t acclimatised.”

Kristoph hadn’t moved. He was standing there with his sword at his side, watching and waiting.

Marion did as Lee told her, sitting on a scrubby patch of grass near the TARDIS. She briefly contemplated running for Kristoph’s TARDIS, but she knew it would be pointless. Lee didn’t care about keeping her a prisoner now, anyway. She had served her purpose. Now it was between the two of them.

And yes, as much as she dreaded it, whatever the outcome, she felt she HAD to watch.

Because she had to know. She couldn’t just hide in the TARDIS wondering, fretting.

Lee raised his sword. Kristoph did the same. Their eyes met. Then they both gave the very briefest of bows.

Then they both attacked. Their swords clashed with a sound that seemed to ring out around the mountainside. A harsh grating of metal on metal.

They matched each other for speed and skill. The swords clashed again and again as they moved around the plateau. They moved faster than any Human possibly could. Two Time Lords, matching each other move for move.

They hurt each other. Marion gasped as Kristoph took a glancing blow to his arm, ripping his shirt sleeve and grazing him from shoulder to elbow. At the same time his sword cut Lee’s chest. But these were merely flesh wounds. Neither even paused and she saw the wounds repair before her eyes.

Then Kristoph suffered a wound that really made her quail with fear. He didn’t make any mistakes. But Lee found an opening all the same and his sword plunged into Kristoph’s right shoulder. His arm went rigid as the nerves were severed. As Lee pulled the steel from his flesh he dropped to his knees, his sword falling from his paralysed hand. Marion cried out with horror as she saw Lee raise his sword again, ready to bring it down on Kristoph’s neck.

But the blow never came. Lee jerked and stepped back as if an invisible force had hit him. He, too, dropped his sword as Kristoph stood and faced him.

They were fighting with their minds now. Marion didn’t know HOW she understood that, but she did. It was a battle of wills, literally.

Kristoph reeled back too as Lee responded to the mental attack. Then Lee stumbled. Kristoph stepped closer and their eyes seemed to burn into each other. The pressure they were exerting on each other was clear. They were perspiring despite the cold and Marion saw a vein in Kristoph’s neck positively throbbing with the effort.

Lee screamed and broke away. He stumbled and fell.

Marion stood up and ran towards Kristoph. He put one arm around her and held her close. But with the other he had grasped his sword again. He was watching Lee carefully.

“What have you done to him? Is he dead?”

“I burnt out his mind. But no, he’s not dead. He’s in a pre-regenerative coma. I could kill him now. But I won’t. That would be too easy. He has to see it.”

“Kristoph… what do you mean? What is a pre-regen…”

“Remember my ancestor who fought the dragon and was mortally wounded. He fell to the ground, apparently dead, and then woke, renewed.”


“It is the greatest gift that Rassilon gave to us. When our bodies are so badly damaged they could not repair, we are regenerated. Our molecules are reformed and we live again in a new body. We can do it twelve times, living thirteen lives in all before final death.”

“You mean he will become… a baby? And you’ll kill…”

“No, regeneration is not reincarnation. We are children only once. The new body can be any apparent age, but always an adult, always the same sex. And you are the first Human to witness such a thing.”

“He’s hurting!” Marion cried out. She saw Lee’s face contorted in agony as something began to happen to his body. She broke away from Kristoph and knelt at his side. She took his hand and held it tightly, brushing his face with her other hand. His flesh felt strange, waxy.

“It hurts, regeneration. Cheating death has a price. He is going through seven shades of hell. His mind, body, are being taken apart and reassembled. You should come away.”

“Have you no feeling?” she answered. “He’s in pain. Somebody has to…”

“The moment his regeneration is complete I intend to kill him,” Kristoph told her. “Your sympathy and comfort is pointless.”

“Kristoph!” she begged. “Please.” She looked at him then turned back to Lee. She was astonished at the sight. His face now looked like a mannequin. The features were melted together into nothingness. His hand in hers felt strange, too. She looked at it and it hardly looked like a real hand. The fingers were fused together.

She couldn’t let go. She didn’t want to let go. She didn’t fully understand what was happening, but she did know that Lee needed compassion right now. For all that he had frightened her, hurt her, she felt for him now. And she wanted to ease his pain any way she could.

“Marion…” The voice that spoke her name was unfamiliar. The face that she looked at was a young man of about twenty-five with Chinese features. His voice had a faint Chinese accent. His hand in hers was slender and young. “Marion… Thank you for your compassion. You are a special woman. He deserves your love.”

“If he does what he says he intends to do he will not HAVE my love,” she answered. She turned as Kristoph strode towards them. “NO!” she screamed. “If you do this, we are finished. If you love me at all, then spare his life.”

“Marion…” Kristoph was shocked by her words. “Marion, he was going to kill me! Don’t you understand. He kidnapped you and made me come here so he could kill me. And now you’re PROTECTING him.”

“Yes,” she said. “Because this is SO wrong. Kristoph… you can’t just kill him. You can’t. It isn’t right. He’s not… You can’t.”

“Marion,” Kristoph said with a sigh. “I am only carrying out the sentence my government ordered. He murdered an innocent man in cold blood. And then he escaped justice by hiding on Earth.”

“No, no he didn’t.” Marion said. “He told me before… He told me. The man he killed. He…” She turned to Lee. “I can’t remember what you said properly. Please… tell him.”

Lee told him. Kristoph listened. He was surprised.

“That’s the truth of it? HE had me kill the wrong man deliberately, for his own ends? He was prepared to let the real traitor continue to sell our security secrets to the Sontarans…”

“Yes,” Lee said. “That’s WHY I killed him.”

“I think he’s telling the truth,” Marion said. “Which means he doesn’t deserve to die. But even if he did, Kristoph, I am begging you. When we fell in love, you told me you were finished with this work, that you would not kill again. Don’t go back on that, especially not here, in front of me, and especially not… not… He was your friend. Don’t kill your friend.”

“Marion…” Lee said, raising himself to a sitting position next to her. “Marion, remember the question you asked me. The one I said you should ask him.”

She nodded.

“Ask it now. If his answer is what I think, then I will surrender to him. I will give him my life for the same reason he is prepared to take it.”

“No.” Marion protested. “No, you can’t.”

“Do it, please,” he begged her.

“All right.” She turned to Kristoph. “Why did you take this case? You knew it was Lee, your friend. You knew you had to kill him. Why? Did you hate him so much?”

“No,” Kristoph answered. “I never hated him. I hated his crime. I hated his cowardice and betrayal. I hated what he had done. But I never hated him. He was my friend through so much. Through the academy, the war, through training for the CIA, through so many missions. We were friends. Marion, I didn’t take the mission because I hated him. I took it because I loved him as my dearest friend. I told them… that if he was to be killed, it would be by my hand, not any other, for the friendship we once had. Do you understand that?”

“No,” she answered. “That doesn’t make any sense at all.”

“It does to me,” Lee said in a sad voice. He stood up, raising Marion to her feet with him. He hugged her gently. “Go into his TARDIS. You don’t have to see this.”

“NO!” She screamed in terror as he stepped towards Kristoph and fell to his knees, his head bowed, surrendering himself to him. “Kristoph! NO!”

Kristoph looked at her. He looked at Lee.

He dropped his sword and knelt before his friend. He embraced him.

Marion sighed with relief as the two of them hugged like brothers. They stood slowly. She ran to them and hugged them both.


““What will you say to the Celestial Intervention Agency?” Lee asked Kristoph as the three of them sat in the Chinese tea room in his TARDIS. “What will you tell them?”

“I will tell them that you evaded me and left this planet. They won’t look for you here. But it means you can’t leave this planet. If your TARDIS is detected in the vortex you will be caught. Your exile must be total, my friend.”

“I understand that,” he said. “I have borne that sorrow for many years already. I… I think I will stay here. I like China.”

“You look the part, anyway,” Kristoph told him.

“Was that deliberate?” Marion asked. “Did you make yourself appear as Chinese?”

“We are in China. My body selected the most appropriate look to blend in with the community.”

“Ah.” She looked at Kristoph. “So have you…”

“More times than I care to remember,” he answered. “And yes, it is always painful. Dying is painful. For Humans, the pain is over soon enough. For us, it is an enduring memory. Rassilon’s gift? Or Rassilon’s curse?”

“Gift,” Marion said. “If it means both of you are alive.” She reached out and took their hands and held them. “I am so glad.”

“What will the two of you do now?” Lee asked.

“We still have a semester break holiday on Kallo V’Asel,” Kristoph said with a smile to Marion that was warmly and lovingly reciprocated. “I think we need it more than ever now.”