Marion looked up at the envirodome that covered the City of Peace on the Bio-Moon of Ligattya. It was almost transparent with a slight sheen like a soap bubble. Through it the pale purple sky of mid-afternoon was visible. As well as a small yellow sun called Arina, there was a huge planet hanging in the sky – Ligattya itself. Tomorrow she and Kristoph were visiting the central city and after that the lake resort where the Planetary President had a residence. She was looking forward to all of that, but she found the City of Peace a very pleasant place to be in the meantime.

This was the memorial garden outside of the Hall of Peace. It was a beautiful combination of carefully arranged plants and imaginative sculptures as well as cooling fountains and reflective pools. She stood beside an oval shaped pool with water bubbling up from the middle and sending concentric circles rippling away constantly. The reflection of Ligattya, pale and white in the sky rippled constantly, distorting the shape of the planet in the water.

Another distorted shape was reflected in the pool. Marion turned and smiled at Kristoph as he approached. He looked magnificent in a robe made of white satin shot through with spun gold. He wasn’t wearing the elaborate headdress that went with it or the Sash of Rassilon. She wasn’t fully dressed for the ceremony later, either, but she was wearing a full length gown of white satin and silver thread and diamonds sewn on here and there to catch an extra glint of light. It was nearly as wonderful as her wedding gown. She felt like a princess in it, not merely the wife of a President.

“You look beautiful,” Kristoph told her. “As always. That dress is missing something, though.”

Quicker than the blink of an eye he had a box in his hand. Marion took it from him and opened it. Nestling in black satin was a necklace of Ligattyan patanyas. They looked like pearls, and were made the same way, accreted by a shellfish that was found in the planet’s oceans, but they were the clear colour of diamonds. Each of the patanyas was the size of a small marble and inside was a silver speck. Patanyas that form around grains of precious metals were valued more than clear ones. This was a very expensive necklace.

“It is a gift to you from the Council of Ligattya on the Anniversary of Dominionship. They would be honoured to see you wear it at the re-dedication ceremony.”

“I… should be honoured to do so,” Marion answered as Kristoph fastened the string of patanyas around her neck. “Do I need thank them in any special way?”

“Only by looking stunning in their presence later,” Kristoph assured her.

“I’m looking forward to this ceremony. I usually quite DREAD the ones on Gallifrey, but it is so nice here. The people are charming. It’s hard to believe that this is a dominion planet. They’re not at all like the Time Lords.”

“They have telepathic abilities like us and a high intellectual capacity. Their lifespans are much closer to Humans, though. They rarely live more than two hundred years….”

“That’s quite a bit more than humans,” Marion pointed out.

“But far less than Time Lords. They are a wonderfully creative people. Art, music, literature are their raison d'être. Poets, painters and composers are the elite of their society, while we value philosophers and scientific thinkers. When they were offered dominionship a thousand years ago, now, it was in the hope that our races would complement each other. I think that has happened to a certain extent. And certainly they have benefited from living within their own Transduction Barrier that protects them from hostile influence from outside the Kasterborus sector.”

“Hostile influences?” Marion looked around at the garden. As beautiful as it was, she was perfectly aware of a sad reason for its existence. A thousand years ago on the day that Dominionship began, The Hall of Peace had been anything but. A bomb had devastated the building. Dozens of people had been killed, many more injured. The garden was laid out as a memorial for them.

“Those influences came from within,” Kristoph admitted. “A small group of foolish people who opposed the Dominion took the most extreme measure possible. But time has proved them wrong. The relationship between Gallifrey and Ligattya has been a happy one for both civilisations. That is why we have the ceremony this evening when the Ligattyans will gladly rededicate themselves to Dominionship with poetry, music and drama expressing that gladness as well as the solemn vows of fealty from their government.”

“Well, I’m glad about that,” Marion said. “You know, on Earth, empires and dominions never really worked. People always rebelled and demanded independence.”

“Yes, I know. I think there is something about the Human spirit that doesn’t take to such things. But it works very well for us. Ligattya is not our only dominion world. We have fifteen at the current reckoning. Next year, I think we probably ought to visit some of them to make sure they are as genuinely satisfied as we believe them to be.”

Marion thought that sounded interesting and was about to say so when running feet disturbed their peace. Kristoph turned quickly and saw four of his Presidential Guards running to meet him.

“Excellency,” he was told. “You and Lady Marion must come with us, quickly. There is a situation….”

“What sort of situation?” Kristoph demanded. “And please don’t push and pull me like that. I am the Lord High President of Gallifrey not a toy that a pair of children are squabbling over. You, take your hands off the First Lady. If there is something amiss, certainly we will come with you, but in a dignified manner, not this unseemly haste.”

Marion stood and stepped away from the two guards who seemed about to lift her by her arms and carry her away. Kristoph put his arm around her protectively as the guards flanked them and led them to a black coloured default cabinet with a gold Seal of Rassilon on the door. It was a Presidential Guard TARDIS with the console room walls in gold and black, the livery of the guards. The President and First Lady of Gallifrey were ushered through the console room and into a comfortable waiting room.

“Please wait here, Excellency, madam,” they were told. “Refreshments will be brought presently.”

“I don’t want refreshments,” Marion answered. “I want to know why we were rushed into this room all of a sudden when I was perfectly fine out in the garden. Besides, the ceremony is in an hour, and his Lordship and I both have to finish preparing for it.”

“The garden is not secure,” the captain of the guards answered. “There is a security risk.”

“Nonsense,” Kristoph responded. “This is Ligattya. There is nowhere safer. What are you talking about?”

The captain seemed reluctant to explain himself, but Kristoph was insistent. He would not accept that any of the security was necessary until he knew what had happened to cause the alert.

“A device was found,” the captain admitted.

“Device? You mean a BOMB?”

Marion gasped softly. She understood why the captain had used such a careful word. Bomb had such frightening connotations, especially in a place with such tragic history as this.

“A bomb in the Hall of Peace? Don’t be ridiculous,” Kristoph responded.

The captain was adamant. A ‘device’ as he continued to call it had been found and until it was investigated the Ceremony of Rededication was postponed.

“I will see this ‘device’ for myself,” Kristoph said.

“Excellency, you cannot. Your safety must be paramount.”

“Kristoph, I think the officer is right in this instance,” Marion said. “If there IS a bomb you shouldn’t go near it.”

Kristoph turned and took his wife’s hand gently. He kissed it and smiled warmly at her.

“My dear, don’t forget, I am not merely a figurehead President. I have certain other skills.”

“Yes, but immortality isn’t one of them. If you’re ripped apart by a bomb, even you can’t regenerate.”

“I will be careful, I promise. But I must know what is going on. Wait here, Marion. I will be back very soon.”

The captain of the Presidential Guard was less easy to convince, but he was faced by a very determined President who had his way in the end. Marion waited in the quiet room. Refreshments were brought but she really didn’t want anything other than a glass of fruit juice that took away the sick, dry taste in her mouth. Quite apart from her concern for Kristoph she was dismayed by the idea that anyone should have planted a bomb in the Hall of Peace on such a day as this. Did that mean that the happy state of Dominionship was a lie? Were there people on Ligattya who hated Time Lord domination so much they would kill innocent people to prove it?

That was a disturbing idea and the hour that slowly passed was an anxious one. She wondered if she would even know that anything had happened. If the ‘device’ exploded, would it be felt within this TARDIS? There was no window in the room, of course. Where one ought to be there was a viewscreen that had been set to show images of Ligattyan scenery. She was perfectly and completely sheltered from anything outside.

At last the door opened again Kristoph stepped in smiling wryly, followed by an assortment of people who Marion ignored for the time being. She was too busy hugging him tightly.

“The crisis is over. These are the hairdressers and beauticians who will finish you off in time for the ceremony, and a valet to help me complete my ensemble. The proceedings will only be delayed by ten minutes or so. In my speech I may possibly blame you for taking so long with your coiffure. Do not be offended by that lie. It will reassure the people I am addressing.”

“That’s all right,” Marion answered as she allowed herself to be sat down again and attended to. Kristoph needed nearly as much attention with his high collar and headdress and the ceremonial cosmetics that made his eyes shimmer in a myriad colours.

“Was there really a bomb?” she asked while all that was being done.

“Oh, yes there was,” Kristoph answered. “But it is not what you think. It is not even what the Captain of my Presidential Guard thought when he reacted as he did. The ‘bomb’ was a shell from a gun used in the Sarre War when I was a young man. It was in an unused room in the basement of the Hall of Peace. I don’t know how it got there, but it may well have been there since that war, perhaps a macabre souvenir that somebody brought with them. It was rusted to the floor with age.”

“So it wasn’t live?” Marion questioned.

“Yes, it was very much live. That is the remarkable thing. It had been left there, full of explosives, for all of that time. It was there through millennia of peaceful banquets and balls, even through the terrible suicide bomb a thousand years ago that rocked the foundations and brought down the roof. It was there through the rebuilding of the Hall and its restoration to peaceful aspirations. It would be there, still, if my Guards had not been so zealous in their protection duties and had searched every inch of the building.”

“And it might have exploded at any time?”

“Yes, indeed. Or it might have stayed there another ten thousand years. As it is, the thing has been defused and taken to a safe place where it will be dismantled. The Ligattyan government are exceedingly embarrassed by the incident and I am quite angry with my own people for making such a fuss about it. The shell might have been removed quietly and without any fuss and none of us needed to know anything about it at all. I shall be having long discussions with them about them matter later. Meanwhile, as I said, the ceremony will go ahead as planned. Ligattya will remain a friend of Gallifrey and Gallifrey will remain a friend of Ligattya, and this affair will be a darkly amusing joke that we shall share in private between ourselves.”

With that he waved imperiously to a man who stood quietly in the corner with a large box in his hand. The man came forward and the Sash of Rassilon was lifted from its resting place within a bed of satin. Kristoph’s valet settled it on his shoulders and he was ready. The Presidential Guards in their gold and black livery formed an honour guard to escort the Lord High President and his First Lady to the Hall of Peace where their Dominion subjects waited to greet them with fealty.

Marion caught a glimpse of herself reflected in the rippling pool as they crossed the garden, her hair carefully pinned up and a collar and headdress of stiff lace set upon her shoulders. She felt and looked equal to the task even if she did remember for one moment that she used to be a shy girl in inconspicuous clothes who would have been terrified of tripping over the hem of the magnificent gown she was wearing.