Kristoph sat at his desk and looked out at the cityscape that lay before him. The Capitol was an artificial environment in so many ways. The dome that enclosed it made the concept of weather irrelevant. The daytime ambient temperature all year round was the optimum for work and leisure. At night it was allowed to drop a few degrees and there would be rain for precisely two hours from midnight until two o’clock. It moistened the air and washed away the dust. Some people actually went out during the rain period, saying they enjoyed the feel of it. They were mostly people who were born and raised in the Capitol and had never left its confines.

Kristoph had never felt the need for artificial rain. He saw enough of the real thing on the southern plain. He didn’t need what Capitol dwellers called ‘fresh air’, either. He knew what air was like when it blew across the plains with such ferocity it almost had a corporeal form.

But the enviro-dome made civilised living possible on the edge of a baking desert. More than half of the population of Gallifrey lived under that dome. To many of them the Capitol WAS Gallifrey. Everything they considered a part of their civilisation lay within it. Art and science, two of the cornerstones of that civilisation were here. The galleries where the greatest art works of the galaxy were on display could be found in Rassilon’s Plaza along with ‘The Treasury’, a museum of antiquities where some of the finest examples of gold, silver and fine jewels mined from Gallifreyan soil over the millennia were displayed.

The Plaza was also the home of the League of Omega. The tower of that building, topped by a silver ‘O’ glinted in the sunlight that the dome filtered for harmful UV rays before it touched the citizens of the Capitol.

The brightest and best science graduates from all five Time Lord Academies were members of the League of Omega, dedicated to every branch of physical and metaphysical sciences and technologies. Among their many achievements, it was a group of Omegans who had designed the enviro-dome to protect the newly built city a dozen generations ago.

Kristoph smiled as he remembered visiting the League headquarters as a boy. His father, Gallifrey’s greatest living astronomer, was a senior member of the Order, of course. Everyone had fully expected his son to follow in his footsteps, forgetting that Chrístõ Lún de Lœngbærrow had chosen academia rather than emulating his own father’s famous exploits as an explorer and adventurer. It was a vast complex, far bigger on the inside than even its magnificent façade suggested. But what would anyone expect from the home of Time Lord science?

Education was the third cornerstone of civilisation. The five great Academies were in the Capitol – Prydonia, Arcalia, Cerulia, Dromea and Patrexia. Every young Time Lord Candidate came to the Capitol to prove himself worthy of Transcension within the gates of one of those five great establishments.

Like most boys Kristoph had hated his school life. He had pined for the freedom of the southern plains and felt stifled by the artificially recycled air. He had resented the discipline imposed by masters who seemed to exist not so much to teach as to torture.

But as an adult, he looked back on the one hundred and sixty-five years he spent as a student with affection. He looked towards the pearl white dome of the Prydonian Library, the tallest part of that Academy. When he first arrived there at the tender age of twenty he hadn’t really understood the point of a library. He was too impatient to learn all there was to learn to sit and read a physical book carefully, enjoying the feel of the leather binding, the rustle of dry paper, savouring the knowledge the printed words contained. He preferred to use the electronic interfaces to download the texts directly into his mind.

Later, he did come to understand the pleasure of the written word. He used the interface only for technical manuals and essential information. He would sit happily in the galleries under that dome and read works of literature from all over the galaxies, letting his imagination colour his perception of worlds he had yet to see with his own eyes.

He turned from the window as his aide came into the Presidential Chamber, but there was nothing important to report. He was just bringing a pot of tea. It was English tea, bought in Tescos in Liverpool. Marion regularly shopped there for food that wasn’t available on Gallifrey. Packs of tea were always kept in the Presidential ante-chamber. He had his aide fully trained by now in how to make the curious ‘foreign’ beverage and to serve it to him without a bemused expression.

There was no special property in the tea that affected his mental or physical health. The herbal preparations that his mother was so skilled with could do just about anything from inducing hallucinations to enhancing the love life, but PG Tips was just a pleasant tasting drink.

Even so, the very Human belief that a cup of tea could calm the mind and refresh the soul was something he had begun to believe in during the years he lived on Earth. He savoured the taste now as he let his mind wander from the matter that was causing him anxiety just now to those three cornerstones of Gallifreyan civilisation that were within his line of sight from this window.

The fourth cornerstone, politics, was represented by this very building from which he looked out. The Citadel was the tallest, the most prominent building of all. Its graceful tower housed the transduction barrier control and the planet-wide communications centre. The spire at the top of the tower looked as if it actually touched the enviro-dome at its very zenith. It didn’t. There was, in fact, a two metre clearance between the spire and the dome, but that was close enough.

The Panopticon itself was assumed to be the most important part of the Citadel. It was the seat of power where the High Council met to debate and to pass laws that affected every man, woman or child on the planet. It was the shining jewel at the very centre of Gallifreyan society.

But it was only the public face of Gallifreyan political power. Beneath the obsidian floor of the Panopticon lay two darker facets to that jewel. The first was the Matrix, the physical-metaphysical repository of all knowledge from the past, present and future of the Time Lord race. As the incumbent president of the High Council Kristoph was one of only a handful of living men who knew even a fraction of the true power of that Matrix. It was likely that even a Time Lord mind couldn’t contain more than a fraction without going briefly insane and then dying rather less briefly and in considerable pain.

And beneath that part of the Matrix that existed in physical form, watched over by the Keeper of the Keys, was the domain of the Celestial Intervention Agency. Even fewer men knew what went on there. As the only Lord High President who had been an agent before he was a politician Kristoph DID know a lot about it, though he was fully aware that the Agency did not answer to him or any other member of the High Council and there would be secrets kept even from him as a matter of course.

His faith in the power of a cup of tea was shaken on this long afternoon. It had certainly taken the dryness from his throat and given him a rather more pleasant taste on his tongue, but it failed to refresh his soul or calm his mind. Today it would take more than a cup of tea to do that.

He put down his cup and paced slowly across the floor of his chamber then back to his desk. He reached out and touched the silver-framed photograph of Marion with Rodan sitting on her knee, both of them dressed in velvet gowns for the portrait. It was one of his favourite pictures of both of them, kept where he could see it when the pressure of work here in this chamber became too much and he needed something else to think about.

He needed something else to think about now. He looked at the picture and let a smile cross his lips. The Lord High President’s chamber was a place that only a few other men entered. His aides brought documents and tea, the Chancellor and Premier Cardinal joined him for private discussions of important issues from the Panopticon. The Castellan would bring him very stuffily written reports on crime in the Capitol. Occasionally a lesser member of the High Council would seek an audience to seek Presidential support for a Bill they intended to table in the Panopticon.

Few of them got to look at the ornaments on the Lord High President’s desk and to make judgements about his foreign wife and the Caretaker child he called ‘daughter’. Even if they had, he would not care. He loved them both – his family, the completion of his happiness.

That happiness had been under threat yesterday. Marion and Rodan had been in the Capitol, lunching at the Conservatory, visiting Mia Reidluum for tea, meeting him at the Citadel after the session in the Panopticon and having dinner at Valentin’s before an evening at the Gallifreyan National Ballet. Rodan had insisted that she COULD stay awake through a three hour performance of The Flutterwing, a surprisingly whimsical dance celebrating the ephemeral lifespan of the Gallifreyan equivalent of the butterfly. Kristoph had looked forward to finding out if it was true.

Mid-afternoon, yesterday, though, Kristoph had contacted Marion and told her to go home to Mount Lœng House with Rodan, and if she could be persuaded, with Mia and baby Jari, too. He didn’t dare warn anyone else, as much as he wanted to. Evacuating the whole population of the Capitol was utterly impossible. He had to put his trust in the Celestial Intervention Agency. In proof of that trust, he had stayed in the Citadel, and so had the whole High Council. They had tried to carry on as if there wasn’t a viable threat to destroy the Capitol and every living being in it.

They had not told the people that there WAS a threat. Even Marion didn’t know what the crisis was. Kristoph had decided that she would never know what had almost happened. Nobody outside of the senior High Council and the Celestial Intervention Agency would know how close Gallifrey had come to utter destruction yesterday afternoon.

He looked towards the door. There were raised voices in the ante-chamber. Moments later the door opened. The director of the Celestial Intervention Agency strode in before the President’s aide had been able to announce his presence. Kristoph was surprised to see him in person. He had expected a note written on time-sensitive self-destructing cellulose. He had expected to send one back with his decision on the same high security medium.

“Director Artexian,” he said in greeting without rising from his seat.

“Lord President,” the Director answered with a formal bow in recognition of Kristoph’s high Office. Once they had known each other by first names. Gannymede Artexian had been an agent when he and Li both joined Gallifrey’s secret and deadly service. They had all trained together in the Red Desert. So had a dozen other men, but the nature of their work had taken its toll. Director Artexian was the only man of his generation left in the Celestial Intervention Agency.

Kristoph de Lœngbærrow was the only one who chose retirement from the service. The others – with the exception of Lee Koschei Oakdae?e - were listed on a Roll of Honour carved in black marble on the wall of the Director’s office, their faces forgotten, their memories mourned only by a few mothers who, because they WERE mothers, never would forget.

You have his confession?” Kristoph asked. “There is no doubt that you have the right man?”

“My Lord, we have the confession, and there is no doubt.”

The director handed Kristoph a memory wafer no bigger than his little finger. It fitted into a slot on the desk. He typed in the Presidential Code that unlocked the file and opened the document. The Director waited without comment as Kristoph carefully read the prisoner’s written confession to his acts of Treason and attempted mass murder. When he was done, he opened another file – the transcript of the interrogation that preceded the confession - and read it carefully. When he was done he closed that file, too and typed another code that only he, the Lord High President, knew. There was a flash of blue light beneath the slot where the memory wafer fitted. Kristoph pulled the wafer from the slot. The data had been magnetically wiped and the cellulose wafer melted in a nano-second long burst of intense heat. Any attempt to access the files would be futile. Just to be absolutely certain, he placed the melted wafer into a small ionising trash compactor near his desk that reduced the plastic and metal to their component molecules.

“So you’ll need my order, now.” Kristoph said with a deep sigh.

“Yes, my Lord,” the Director answered. “You know better than any other man why it is necessary.”

“Yes, I do,” Kristoph assured him. He took a sheet of the security cellulose and inserted it into the printer slot on his desk before typing the death warrant. He took the document from the slot again and picked up a pen to fix his signature to it.

He looked down at the cellulose and read the words he had just typed. These words authorised the immediate execution of the man who had come close to destroying Gallifrey. His confession was legitimate. There was no reason not to complete the formality.

But he hesitated. He caught sight of his wife’s photograph on the desk. He knew just what she would say about this action, and he hesitated with the pen in his hand, hovering over the place where his signature should go.

“My Lord,” the Director prompted. “My Lord, you must….”

“I want to see this man first,” Kristoph said. “With my own two eyes. Before I have his very existence obliterated, I want to look at him. I want him to look at me.”

“I thought you might, Excellency” the Director answered with a grim half smile. “That is why I came to you personally.”