Kristoph set their course for Earth and looked across his TARDIS console at Captain Harkness.

“You’ve been in a TARDIS before, haven’t you?” he said to him.

“How do you know?” the Captain responded cautiously.

“For one thing, you didn’t find the fact that it’s bigger on the inside unusual. For another, I have been speaking to you in a southern Gallifreyan dialect all along and you didn’t even notice. You’ve been in a TARDIS often enough to fully absorb the ability to translate languages automatically. And if that wasn’t proof enough…”

Kristoph paused. He studied the handsome captain’s face carefully then glanced at the readout on the VDU in front of him.

“Your body is saturated with artron energy. At least a thousand times more than a Time Lord has naturally occurring in his body. It’s what allowed you to survive an unauthorised portal trip. And that energy didn’t come from the portal. You brought it with you.”

“There was… a sort of accident,” Jack Harkness explained. “I died and was brought back to life… somehow… and since then… I can’t die. And… that’s not always a blessing. Today is up there in the top ten of really painful deaths. But if I told you it wasn’t the number one…”

“Then you and I have something in common, at least,” Kristoph answered. “I’ve got some bad memories of regeneration, too. But you’re… unique. A Human with Time Lord regenerative abilities… It’s probably just as well I’m getting you away from Gallifrey. We have scientists who would happily dissect you to find out what makes you tick.”

“Thanks,” Jack said. “I think.”

“This accident…” Kristoph added. “It… was something to do with my son?”

“Yes. But… I probably shouldn’t tell you any of the details. I’m guessing you know perfectly well how dangerous foreknowledge is. I’ve already pushed that envelope far enough.”

“You did that when you told my wife all about the hero our child is going to grow up to be. She thinks about it all the time. She worries about him getting hurt in some mission to bring peace and justice to an obscure part of the galaxy. He hasn’t even been conceived yet, and she is concerned about what he will do when he is a mature Time Lord.”

“Sorry,” Jack responded. “I guess that was a mistake.”

Kristoph half smiled.

“I don’t know. Even when she’s worrying, it seems to make her happy thinking about him. But you’re right. That envelope doesn’t need pushing any further.”

“And yet, I’m gonna push it,” Jack said. “You said about Ramasu… he had been expunged from history. That’s what you guys do to dangerous criminals? You wipe them out of your history?”

“When a Time Lord is declared Renegade, his family disown him. His name is removed from their line. He is never spoken of again. It is as if he never existed.”

“And these Renegades… they do the same… they renounce their family line… take on new names…”

“It has been known,” Kristoph replied. “Ramasu was using another name?”

“He called himself The Darkman.”

“Pretentious and melodramatic,” Kristoph commented.

“Yeah, I thought so too. Also a bit like a Batman villain. But…”

Jack Harkness stopped speaking and he turned his face away from Kristoph. He had been thinking about something, but now he came to say it, he wasn’t sure.

“You’re about to tell me that you know my son by a pseudonym that starts with the definitive article.”

“Yes,” Jack admitted. “And… quite apart from not knowing his real name, he was always a little cagy about his past. I know I’ve no right to judge. I’ve done a lot of stuff I’m not proud of. And, anyway, whatever he might have done before, I know him as a good man. I’d trust him to the end of the universe. But…”

“You think my future son might be a Renegade – a reformed Renegade turned back from the dark side?” Kristoph’s expression was impossible to gauge. He might be angry at such a slur on his family, or distressed about his own flesh and blood going astray. Or amused at the way Jack had let his imagination go into overload.

Jack couldn’t think of a single thing to say.

Kristoph shook his head and smiled reassuringly.

“The future isn’t set in stone. I don’t know my unborn son’s destiny. But there is another possibility. It’s not one I would want for him. His mother certainly doesn’t. But the best assassins in the Celestial Intervention Agency are always known by the definitive article, too. You really don’t need to know what I was known as in my younger days.”

“He… isn’t an assassin. He hates guns. And killing even his worst enemies repulses him.”

“I don’t like guns,” Kristoph replied. “Which reminds me…” He opened a panel under the console and brought out what Jack recognised as his own property. “My butler found these in the portal. Your clothes were destroyed, but these were rather more durable.” He passed him a wristwatch. “1940s RAF pilot watch. Interesting. This… on the other hand…” He looked at the wider leather strap with some more sophisticated technology built into it. “Fifty, fifty-first century Earth?” Jack reached out his hand pleadingly and Kristoph noted how relieved he seemed when he fastened it to his left wrist – the watch going on the right. “Your revolver – a Webley – goes with the watch. 1940s weapon, future technology, and you came through the portal from 1996. You’re quite a paradox in yourself, aren’t you, Captain Harkness?”

“Yes, I am,” he admitted. “I could explain why, but… I don’t think this is a long enough trip.”

“You and me and my future son… all with our secrets to keep. Perhaps it’s not so surprising that our paths cross, after all. We seem to be three of a kind. That’s why…” He weighed the heavy revolver in his hands and then passed it to Captain Harkness. “That’s why I’m giving you this back intact. I’m trusting you… the way HE trusts you?”

“Thank you,” Jack answered in a quiet, almost humble voice. He watched as Kristoph opened the panel again. He took out a gun of his own and slotted in a magazine. “Didn’t you say you don’t like guns?”

“I like mass murdering Renegades even less,” he answered and Jack saw a glint in his eyes and a steely set to his face. He thought he could make a guess at what his assassin’s pseudonym might have been.

And he thought his past was shady.

“Ramasu,” he said. “Do you know anything about him? This… expunging… doesn’t it leave you kind of hamstrung. If you don’t know who your bad apples are…”

“That’s the peculiar thing about us Time Lords. On the surface we look like a perfect society. Peaceful, technologically advanced, with our long lives to live, wisdom of the ancients at our fingertips. Scratch the surface and we’ve got as many ‘bad apples’ as any other society. But don’t worry. Even if we don’t speak of them openly, we don’t forget. At least some of us don’t…”

“Your Celestial Intervention Agency… CIA?” Jack Harkness grinned. “You do know that those initials….”

“I do. I’ve spent time on Earth. I’m not sure most of my former colleagues would get the joke. But, yes. The Agency keeps a complete database on its open cases. And Ramasu is one of those.”

He was typing rapidly. Jack moved closer and noted that the keyboard had considerably more keys on it than the standard QWERTY layout. On a VDU text was scrolling faster than he could read. It was not English, but Gallifreyan, a language that wasn’t even written in characters anyone on Earth would recognise. But he nevertheless could have read it if it wasn’t going so fast. He spotted recurring words and phrases. They were all associated with death and mayhem.

“Seven of your people dead?” Kristoph commented. “You were lucky. On Talmar IV he massacred the entire government.”

“Does he just do these things for kicks or is there some kind of plan?”

“Power,” Kristoph replied. “He wants power. He sought it within our political system originally, but his ambition went hand in hand with a ruthlessness that even our government found disturbing. A government where dead man’s shoes is a common means of promotion, you understand. Those at the top were not keen on being the dead men. He resented them blocking his rise through the ranks and attempted to blow up the Panopticon… our parliament chamber. When he failed, he escaped using something similar to the portal you took a chance on. Our people traced his end destination, the moon of Chula. I don’t suppose you’re familiar with the Chula… they’re a very militant lot. And their ships have basic time travel and hyperspace capability. Cruder than a TARDIS but harder to trace. The trail went cold. All the agents from Gallifrey could do was mop up after a series of deadly coups on assorted planets.”

“Mop up… or cover up?” Jack Harkness asked with an inflection in his voice that implied that he knew the difference from personal experience and practice.

“Sometimes it amounts to the same thing.”

“Which will we end up doing on Earth in the time I’m living in it?”

“I’m a Time Lord not a seer,” Kristoph said. “That’s a different skill entirely. I can’t help you.”


Kristoph said nothing more. He reached for the drive control. He felt the change in the engines the way a racing driver could feel a gear change, in his very bones. He looked up at the main viewscreen. Captain Harkness followed his gaze. They were in geo-stationary orbit above that part of Earth known as Europe.

“It’s a very beautiful planet. It is capable of sustaining at least four times as many people as it does in your time – comfortably sustained, not in poverty as so many are. When your people get it right, they will be indomitable.”

“It’s… worth fighting for,” Captain Harkness said. “For that future.”

“Is that why you stay?” Kristoph asked. “You have a vortex manipulator. You could go anywhere, anytime.”

“The twenty-first century is when everything changes – and they’ve got to be ready.” He sounded sincere even if his words resembled the tag line of a Hollywood blockbuster. Then he grinned sheepishly. “Besides, the vortex manipulator doesn’t work properly. I’m better off where I am for the time being.”

“Honesty is commonly the best policy. Where would you like me to set us down?”

“I… guess you’d better aim for Cardiff. My office… Torchwood.”

“Ah!” Kristoph carefully adopted an inscrutable expression. “This is where all this could turn into a carefully laid trap, I suppose?” Captain Harkness’s expression matched his. “I gave you back the gun. I DO trust you. Torchwood it is.”