The Presidential inquiry had moved from the Arcalian Examination Hall to the Panopticon itself. The inquisitors had finished taking the depositions of the students and now wanted to hear the testimony of those members of the faculty most closely associated with the ‘Sons of Arcalia’.

Four of those ‘sons’ were there as material witnesses. The Lord High President himself met them in his own chamber,

“You won’t be called until much later,” he told them. “You’ll be safe in here with Lord Artemus as chaperone and guards outside the chamber. The walls are lead lined and fortified with no less than four anti-transmat shields and telepathic suppression guards. If ANYONE penetrates that, then there will be another Presidential Inquiry into HOW it was done. You’ll be able to follow the proceedings on the viewscreen, of course. And there are refreshments on the table.”

“Thank you, sir,” Riven Maxic said on behalf of the four of them. Kristoph noted that he was a quieter boy these days than the one who had been spokesman for sedition and rebellion when they were last in this building. His experiences since had humbled, but perhaps also matured him a little.

“Are you all feeling well after your recent mis-adventure?” he added with a sympathetic smile.

“Yes, sir.” Riven again spoke on behalf of his friends. “Thank you, sir, for your concern. And... for our lives.”

“You don’t have to thank me for that. Just continue to work hard and prove that I was right to keep you from Shada.”

He said that in a tone that worried the boys for a moment. But he was still smiling reassuringly. “I have confidence that you will.”

He stood up straight while his aide came to fix his collar onto his shoulders. In the Arcalian Hall he had dressed in a much simpler black and silver robe, but for the Panopticon the President had to be presidential. He was aware of Riven Maxic watching him more intently than any of the others. The boy had political ambitions. That was why he had been such easy prey for Tau Rho. But his highest aim was to wear those robes of office and the heavy elaborate collar, and the even heavier solid gold Sash of Rassilon that the aide reverently settled over all. When he turned towards them again all four boys, perhaps remembering what he had told them in the desert, knelt formally with their heads bowed. Here in the Presidential Chamber it was the appropriate thing for them to do. He acknowledged their obeisance with a nod and bid them rise before he left the Chamber.

The other four inquisitors were waiting in the Panopticon ante-chamber. They entered through the great doors with something like a sense of occasion and ceremony. There was, in fact, no ceremony and no occasion, but it was necessary to remind those watching the proceedings in the public gallery and on public service broadcasting that the President sitting within the Panopticon was a figure of majesty, authority and awe.

The men who were giving evidence today were senior masters at the Arcalian Academy. They were used to being figures of authority and awe to the students. Within the Academy they were the undisputed law. They were, to use a Human expression, big fish in a small pond. They needed to be fully aware that they were now the small fish in the bigger pond, standing before the highest authority in all Gallifrey.

The man who took the deposition chair first was elderly even by Gallifreyan standards. His face was lined and his robe hung loose on a thin, frail body. He walked with head erect and without any sort of aid, though, and his eyes were clear. He looked back at the four inquisitors with a solemn gaze that gave away very little. Whether he was nervous of giving evidence or confident of his own innocence in the matter it was impossible to tell.

“Lord Arosemena,” Lord Dúccesci said to him. “Thank you for your co-operation in this important matter. Would you state for the record your full name and your position within the Academy, and how long you have taught there.”

“I am GarronHalBennick Arosemena,” he replied. “I am master of botanical studies at the Arcalian Academy. I have been a teacher since my own graduation in the Rassilon era year 452345, when I was Two hundred and one years old. I am five thousand four hundred and fifty five years old this year.”

“Yes...” The ghost of a smile crossed Lord Dúccesci’s stern face. “I recall your classes when I was a boy. Botany was NOT my strongest subject.”

“You lacked patience for such a discipline, young man,” Arosemena answered.

“In my day, you were also a housemaster responsible for the welfare of students in the residential block. Is that still the case?”

“It is,” he answered. “I consider it a solemn duty to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the boys.”

“Yes,” Lord Dúccesci agreed. “But that safety and wellbeing has been compromised as late. And we should like to find out if you know anything about the circumstances surrounding the recent scandalous events. You would, for example, be aware of any informal clubs or study groups that took place during the recreation hours in the evenings?”

“I would,” Arosemena confirmed. The holograph above his head confirmed the sincerity of his words.

“The ‘club’ calling itself ‘Sons of Prydonia’ gave you no cause for concern?”

“Only when the meetings ran overlong and the boys were not in their beds before lights out,” Arosemena replied. “I chastised them a number of times for such tardiness. On one occasion I found it necessary to give some of the boys detentions. They responded to my chastisement with disrespectful words.”

“Disrespectful?” Lord Arun queried.

“The boy Maxic implied that I was too old to be of any real use to what he called the ‘Arcalian Supremacy’ and that it was long past time for me to retire. His actual words and the manner in which he spoke them were....”

He didn’t have to explain further. Riven Maxic’s shocking choice of words and his arrogant manner towards the elderly teacher were reproduced in full by the holographic representation of Lord Arosemena’s memory. Lord Dúccesci’s expression darkened as he noted his younger brother laughing and joining in with the thoroughly contemptuous language. Disrespectful was too mild a word for it.

Kristoph was reminded of a brief visit he once took to London in the mid-1930s, when the fascist movement was gaining popularity among young men of all classes. He recognised the same sense of self importance and invulnerability in those ‘blackshirts’ at their gatherings. He remembered the same disdain for anyone they considered weaker and less important than they were. Lord Arosemena was a ‘lord’ only by courtesy. All senior masters at the Academies were addressed that way. But he was a second son of a Newblood family who had embraced teaching as a profession because it was an easy way to ensure a lifelong income, a home, social position. Students at all the academies were taught to respect their teachers as older and wiser than they were, but to young Oldblood heirs with their heads full of Tau Rho’s kind of elitist propaganda, Lord Arosemena must have seemed pathetically small and unimportant.

He remembered Riven Maxic and Gynnell Dúccesci this morning in his chamber, both humble and contrite and showing proper respect for the trappings of the Presidency. If nothing else had come of this affair, at least those two had seen the error of their ways.

Lord Arosemena mentioned a number of other occasions when the conduct of one or other of the Sons of Arcalia had been unbecoming of a Time Lord candidate. The most serious infractions were reported to the senior House Master, Lord Khane.

“I... hesitate to criticise a fellow master,” Arosemena added. “But I never felt that he had taken the complaints seriously. If anything, the boys were more insolent after they had been sent to his office. If I didn’t know better....”

“We must deal here only with provable facts,” Lord Dúccesci told him. “I regret that your feelings about Lord Khane’s discipline cannot be regarded as such. But your testimony has been enlightening, Lord Arosemena. My colleagues and I thank you for the information you have been able to lay before us today.”

“I am sorry I could not be of more help,” the elderly Time Lord said as he stood and took his leave of the Inquiry.

“He has been more help than he imagines,” Dúccesci said when he was out of earshot. “He has shown how easy it was for the guilty party to lay his plans. When I was a student, we should never have been able to form a secret society in the sophomore common room under the eyes of our House Masters. Discipline is lax. The boys were right in one sense. Arosemena SHOULD be pensioned off. He is too soft-hearted to be in charge even of the ordinary deviousness of children, let alone those driven by sinister forces such as we are dealing with here.”

That is for the Arcalian Chancellor to decide,” Kristoph pointed out. “How he reforms the Academy in the wake of this inquiry is his decision. Our concern is with the traitor who hid behind those boys and plotted sedition. Of course, we know his identity now. Lord Arosemena told us nothing new about that, only something of the mechanism of the deceit. Call the next man in. We shall continue the charade that we are conducting an inquiry into how a school is run for a little while longer. Our trap is almost ready to be sprung.”

To that end, they spent the morning questioning the Masters of Arcalia. Even Lord Spandrell, who had been Dúccesci’s physics master in his youth and had risen to Chancellor of the Arcalian Academy took the deposition chair and gave his testimony while the holograph above his head tested the truth of his words. He was a man who genuinely loved teaching and was distressed beyond words that his Academy had been used to foment rebellion against the High Council and the President. He did his best to give account of how Tau Rho was able to use the boys in that way, but he simply didn’t know how it had happened.

There were still several more Arcalian masters to be seen when the senior House Master, Lord Khane was called. He was a tall, strongly built man who carried himself proudly. Even before the Lord High President himself, within the Panopticon, he didn’t look in any way daunted. Most of the others, even Lord Spandrell, had been aware of that majesty and authority that had been so carefully cultivated.

But Khane, though he bowed respectfully, seemed to hold onto a disdain for the proceedings in general and in particular for the President who had called for them. There was something in his tone as he answered the questions put to him that hinted at barely suppressed contempt. The holograph proved his answers truthful, but there was a flicker every so often, a strange and unaccountable spark that suggested that a lie was only a heartsbeat away.

“Tell the Inquiry what you know about the Sons of Arcalia,” Kristoph said to him.

“There is very little that isn’t already known,” Khane answered him. “Those boys who were most closely involved in the assassination attempt have already been identified and removed from the Academy. Those who were on the sidelines have received punishments and their activities have been marked down against them for the rest of their lives.”

“Yes, indeed, we know who was involved. But what did you, as their senior house master, know of the nature of their activities before they showed their hand here in the Panopticon itself?”

“I knew that they were dedicated to the ideals of a pure Gallifreyan society, free of corruption, nepotism... and the domination of our government by the Prydonian Chapter. Do not look so surprised, Excellency. You know it is said at all levels of our society that the Prydonians have too much power.”

“That, too, came to light when the boys were rounded up and questioned,” Kristoph said. “Did their political fervour not concern you in any way?”

“Why should it? The boys were preparing themselves for future leadership of our government. Should anyone seek to suppress such ambitions?”

“Indeed, not,” Kristoph agreed. “Indeed, political clubs are encouraged in all our Academies. In my youth, I recall the masters of Prydonia chairing the most heated debates in the Junior Senate Hall. But the evidence given to us at this inquiry is that the boys acted without any adult supervision. Is this so?”

“If your evidence has pointed to that conclusion, then it must be so,” Khane answered him. “That being so, it seems that this Inquiry was an expensive waste of time. There is no conspiracy, just a group of boys who let their ambitions get the better of themselves.”

“I have no spur - To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself - And falls on the other,” Kristoph said.

“I beg your pardon, Excellency?” Khane’s eyes narrowed questioningly.

“It is a quote from a great writer of my wife’s homeworld,” the President replied. “It ought to be burnt on the minds of our students when they enter the Academies as a warning to temper their ambitions with wisdom, or if they lack wisdom, to hold off from pursuing their ambitions until they have gained some. Certainly we should have avoided the unfortunate recent events if that advice was taken to the hearts of our youth. It might have been better if it had been done two or three generations back. Then Arcalia would not have spawned a traitor to match Lord Macbeth in the person known as Tau Rho.”

“In who?” Khane’s response was nearly perfect. The truth machine could not break through the carefully constructed mental wall, but it did detect that there WAS a wall there.

None of the inquisitors bothered to question him further about that. Kristoph nodded to one of the Presidential Guards at his side and he went to the great door. It was opened wide and the four young Arcalians stepped into the Panopticon. Gynnell Dúccesci walked in front of his three friends carrying something under a velvet cloth. He stopped in front of the inquisitors and pulled the cloth off a silver face mask. Khane looked at it and the truth holograph shimmered violently. His expression was stony. He stared at the boys with pure hatred in his cold eyes.

“How could you have that?” he demanded. “It is...”

He stopped speaking and his eyes flicked from the mask to the boys and then to the inquisitors.

“Yes?” Kristoph met his stare with a steady and unflinching gaze. “Were you, by any chance, about to say that young Dúccesci could not have your mask because it is safely hidden in your quarters?”

“Of course not,” Khane responded. “I merely...”

But his mental wall was crumbling now. The holograph was shimmering violently and an image of the face mask in its hiding place appeared briefly before his anger and humiliation at falling for such a simple trick obscured it. He gave an outraged cry and stood up, pulling the headpiece away. He took three strides across the floor and reached out to grab Gynnell Dúccesci around the throat. The boy didn’t flinch. That was because he wasn’t really there. Khane’s hands closed around a hologram that blinked out of existence leaving him grasping empty air. Kristoph nodded slightly and the Panopticon guards closed in either side of Khane and forced him back into the deposition chair. He was held in place by metal restraints and Lord Arun very calmly and quietly put a new set of questions to him. This time the images that appeared on the holograph were very different. They amounted to a full confession of his seditious actions.

Kristoph looked up at the public gallery. The four boys were there, standing at the parapet and watching the events unfolding on the Panopticon floor. It was important for them to see Khane – aka Tau Rho – brought down. They had to know for certain that he would never trouble them again. They would all sleep easier in their beds with that knowledge.

When his confession was done, two metal bracelets were fixed to Khane’s wrists. They were telepathic suppressants that ensured he could not use the power of his mind to influence his guards before he was taken to the moon of Shada to await his formal sentencing. A trial would not be needed. His confession had been seen by the Lord High President himself.

As Khane was taken away in chains, Lord Cronuos stood and formally closed the Presidential Inquiry. The five inquisitors left the Panopticon in formal procession. Kristoph went to his chamber and quickly divested himself of the regalia of his presidency. While he was doing so Lord Artemus who had escorted the four boys from their desert camp entered the Chamber. He bowed to the Lord High President.

“You asked to see me?” he said.

“I did,” Kristoph replied. “Khane’s unmasking as the architect of this affair mitigates the students somewhat. They were all under his mind control and forced into actions they would not have contemplated otherwise.”

“Indeed,” Artemus agreed. “And yet....”


“Not all the boys were influenced by him. He could not use those who were not driven by that o’er-reaching ambition that you spoke of. They were also boys with far too much arrogance and self-assurance for their age. It might even be said that they were Renegades in the making.”

“I agree,” Kristoph said. “In themselves, honest, loyal young Gallifreyans, standing on the brink of dishonesty and disloyalty.”

“They are still culpable in many ways. Their punishment should still stand. It would not do to appear to soften in that regard.”

“Absolutely,” Kristoph agreed. “They will remain under your care in the desert camp until they graduate, as I decreed. But I am inclined to think we might sugar the pill just a little. I have said already that a fully equipped library could be established for their educational needs. I think an observatory and science laboratory would be useful, too. The camp could be more like a school than a prison, don’t you think? Use of those facilities would, of course, depend on good behaviour.”

“Your Excellency, I agree that such educational stimuli would be good for the boys.”

“I am also considering allowing them to have vacation periods in line with the ordinary academies. That will allow them to re-establish the familial bonds that have been damaged by these troubling events. This could be presented to them as a boon granted by the President’s favour. Again, it would be dependent on good behaviour. You and the other masters would have the right to deny the boon to any student who is backsliding.”

Lord Artemus bowed to the Lord High President.

“Your will shall be done, Excellency.”

Artemus withdrew from the Chamber. He had to escort the four boys back to the desert. Kristoph finished changing from his regalia and looked forward to travelling home to the southern plain and the peace of his home, knowing that a threat to that peace had at last been eliminated.