Lord Ceele was filibustering on the floor of the Panopticon. He had long since left behind the question of taxation and the proposed autonomy for the city of Athenica and was talking about prime numbers and their usefulness in the theoretical study of temporal physics. Few of the Councillors were really listening to him. Many had quietly left their seats and gone to conduct committee meetings or take refreshment breaks while he went on and on.

The Lord High President had no such luxury. The building would have to be on fire for him to be able to leave his place. He had given up listening to Lord Ceele. He had been thinking, for the past hour, of seals, instead, inspired by the homonym of his Lordship’s surname. He had pictured them in his mind, swimming in grey-green seas off the coast of Scotland, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, their sleek bodies cutting through the waves easily and diving down into the depths to catch fish.

The images in his mind were enhanced by the fact that he was, as always when he was in the Panopticon, wearing the Coronet of Rassilon. It was no mere symbol of office. It was a link between his brain and the Matrix, the repository of all Time Lord wisdom.

What his memories of sea creatures indigenous to a planet most Time Lords dismissed as unimportant were doing to that repository, he hardly dared guess, but the enhanced day dream was far more pleasing than listening to Lord Seele’s deliberate attempt to prevent the Bill moving on to its next stage.

Then something made the dream images wobble. He felt a psychic jolt that should never have been possible with the number of anti-telepathic shields in the Panopticon.

“Le Marrant greets the High Council of Gallifrey and sends you a rainbow of deep affection.”

The message came into his head in a second psychic jolt. His eyes widened and he sat up straight on the Throne of Rassilon where he had been lounging rather sloppily for a little while. The Sash of Rassilon re-settled itself on his shoulders and he was aware of the weight of the high collar that rose up around his head.

He looked around, but none of his fellow High Councillors seemed aware of a psychic message of such an extraordinary nature. It must have been directed solely at him.

Then the meaning of the curious message became obvious to everyone.

It started raining inside the Panopticon.

“Everyone stay calm,” Kristoph called out as Councillors and High Councillors scrambled to protect paper documents from the downpour. His order fell on deaf ears. He stood up in front of the throne and closed his eyes momentarily, gathering power from the Coronet, before repeating his instruction louder and with a ring of authority that could not be ignored. “That’s better. Remember, we are Time Lords, not infants in the playground. This is only a little water.”

“Where is it coming from?” asked Gold Usher, looking up. Many of the Councillors were doing the same. They all saw that the rain was coming from a small cloud just under the glass dome at the very top of the great chamber of the Time Lords. A cloud within the building itself.

As they watched, the cloud thinned, letting in some of the natural if diffused light through the opaque dome. The water droplets in the air refracted the light and split it into a fantastic rainbow across the inside of the dome. It was an act of mischief, of course, but it was quite beautiful. An awed silence came across the Councillors, as well as the spectators in the upper gallery and the Panopticon Guards who had rushed in to see what the emergency was.

“Come, my friends,” said Lord Dúccesci after they had admired the rainbow for long enough. “We are all quite old enough to understand how a light spectrum works. Let us return to business. Lord Ceele has relinquished the floor, and therefore I move to pass the amendment to the Southern Continent Autonomy Bill and send it to Committee.”

Lord Atycus quickly stood and seconded the movement. Gold Usher asked the councillors to signal their agreement. Lord Ceele was the only dissenting voice and so the amendment was passed. Gold Usher subsequently moved the adjournment, which was met by several cheers.

“Fetch the Castellan,” Kristoph ordered as he left the Panopticon followed by the Chancellor and Premier Cardinal and two of his aides. “And the Director of the Celestial Intervention Agency, as well. He has gone too far this time.”

“Who has, Excellency?” the Premier Cardinal asked.

“Le Marrant,” Kristoph answered. “He is the one responsible for the rain. Granted, it did put an end to Ceele’s nonsense, and the rainbow was quite breathtaking. But, really! Making it rain inside the Panopticon! How does he get away with these things?”

The Premier Cardinal and the Chancellor were both puzzled. Kristoph did not enlighten them. He hurried along to his Presidential Chamber where dry robes and a single malt were available to him.

He was only slightly surprised to find the Director of the Celestial Intervention Agency already waiting inside his Chamber when he got there. There was a secret entrance to the room which the Director knew perfectly well.

“Your headquarters are directly below the Panopticon, and yet Le Marrant was able to perform a trick of such sophistication without being detected,” he said directly.

“We were unable to pursue the matter, Excellency,” the Director answered. “Communications between agents was rendered impossible.”

“Explain yourself,” Kristoph told him. He sat back in the comfortable chair behind his desk and studied the Director’s face. He was hiding his embarrassment about something.

“It’s difficult to explain,” the Director answered. “About an hour ago… just before the incident in the Panopticon, every agent in the complex inexplicably found himself speaking in a different language to his colleagues. Every one of us. I believe I was speaking a language called Urdu. Whatever that is, it was incomprehensible to any of my agents and I could not understand a word from them.”

“In Earth legend, speaking in tongues was regarded as a miracle,” Kristoph noted with a faint smile on his lips. “But clearly it poses a problem here.”

The extent of the problem was only revealed when Castellan Braxietel arrived to report that the same problem had afflicted his men, as well as the civil service personnel in the Transduction Barrier Control.

“How did he do it?” Kristoph asked. The Celestial Intervention Agency Director and the Castellan both shook their heads. They had no idea how they had been so skilfully rendered ineffective.

And they had no idea who had done it. The fact that the Lord High President did know surprised and puzzled them.

“Le Marrant is from before your time, Pól,” Kristoph explained. “I would hesitate to call him a Renegade. His mischief isn’t dangerous, and not exactly treasonable….”

“Not treasonable!” The Chancellor queried that strongly. “What he did in the Panopticon….”

“I doubt there is a specific statute against making it rain in the Panopticon,” Kristoph told him. “Le Marrant is a joker. He bends laws rather than breaking them, and I have never known anyone to come to any permanent harm from his tricks. Nevertheless, his invasion of the inner sanctum of Gallifreyan government is a joke too far. He must be stopped. I place the responsibility for his capture in the hands of both the Castellan’s office and the Celestial Intervention Agency. Work together on this matter.”

“Excellency,” the Director said. “We still don’t know exactly who Le Marrant is.”

“Check your cold case files. There is a great deal of information about him there. The reports will have been signed off by your predecessor some six times removed. Share the information with Castellan Braxietel. There is nothing in those files that needs to be kept top secret.”

The heads of the two security departments of Gallifrey looked at each other curiously. Sharing information was a novel idea to them both. But the Lord High President had issued an order and though the Director of the Celestial Intervention Agency would hold that he did not answer to the President, he knew that he would be obeying the order.

“That will be done, Excellency,” the Director assured him. “But… do I understand that you, yourself, dealt with this miscreant in the past… when you… were an Agent?”

“It is all in your files,” Kristoph insisted. “Deal with the problem. Now, if you will all excuse me, I wish to change out of the regalia of office and meet my mother at the Conservatory. Le Marrant did me one favour. He shut Lord Long-Winded up and made sure I’ll get my tea on time.”

With that he went into his dressing room followed by his aide and changed out of the heavy, gold-embroidered robes and the heavy headdress. The Sash of Rassilon was put back into its box. By the time he left the chamber everyone else had discovered something they ought to be doing. He made his way out of the Citadel and walked to the Conservatory, the best café-restaurant in the Capitol. His mother was waiting and smiled indulgently as he bent to kiss her before sitting down.

“Difficult afternoon?” she asked. “You don’t have to answer that, my dear. I can see it in your face.”

“You would not think that giving a few fiscal powers to the Athenican Assembly would be so much trouble. And that was before the rain.”

Aineytta de Lœngbærrow laughed softly.

“It IS true, then? People have been talking about it. They’re scandalised, of course. But secretly, most of them think it is amazing.”

“Secretly, so do I,” Kristoph admitted. “But it has to be stopped. I can’t….”

He stopped talking and looked around, then he turned his eyes down to the table.

“Mama, is there something wrong with everyone around us?”

Aineytta looked and then dropped her eyes. At other tables people were exclaiming in alarm and disconcertion while the waiters retreated into the kitchen.

“Everyone appears to be naked,” she said. “Even Elvanna Charr, and that is too much flesh on one person. It has to be some kind of illusion. Everyone walked in here wearing clothes.”

“It’s him again,” Kristoph said. “He’s playing with us.”

He stood up and carefully turned around. He was looking for a face that didn’t seem right – somebody who shouldn’t be there.

“Stop that man!” he called out as he recognised that one face moving towards the door. He hoped somebody would act, but almost every patron was looking down, trying to avoid eye contact with each other. They didn’t react fast enough.

He raced after the miscreant and was relieved to discover that he had clothes on when he crossed the threshold of the Conservatory and into the plaza beyond. Everyone was clothed. The illusion was only within the restaurant.

The plaza was usually a quiet place where citizens of the Capitol walked slowly, admiring sculpture in the ambient climate beneath the enviro-dome. Nobody expected a man to run headlong through them, or for another man – the Lord High President himself – to chase after him. There were shouts of alarm and excitement, but yet again nobody intervened. The citizens of the Capitol were unused to such excitement in the middle of the afternoon and didn’t know how to react to it.

At the least they didn’t get in the way and he was catching up with the troublemaker. He reached him just as they approached the middle of the plaza where a magnificent fountain with figures representing the twelve sons of Rassilon cooled the air. They grappled on the edge of the pool and the inevitable happened. Both men fell into the water beneath the endless spray.

Kristoph was the first to rise, dragging the troublemaker who called himself Le Marrant up with him.

“That’s the second time today I’ve been wet because of you,” he said as Chancellery Guard men dashed through the astonished crowds to arrest the offender.

“It may not be the last, Son of Lœngbærrow,” Le Marrant answered. “Time I was leaving.”

He let the Chancellery Guards arrest him, but as he was being led away, he half turned and waved to Kristoph, smiling widely. He began to call out a warning, but Le Marrant vanished into thin air – along with the two men who were holding him.

“The two guards turned up an hour later, wearing nothing but their underwear and notes pinned to their chests – promising that Le Marrant would be back another day.”

So Kristoph ended his tale to his wife over coffee and brandy after supper. Marion laughed. She had been laughing all through the story.

“So he got away. What was it, do you suppose? A time ring or some kind of mind over matter trick?”

“A time ring, I expect. That was why the two men were taken with him. Physical contact with the wearer of the ring. It was certainly mind over matter in the Conservatory, making us all think we were naked.”

Marion laughed even louder. She had already agreed with Aineytta’s judgement of Elvanna Charr.

“I still don’t know how he did what he did in the Panopticon. It was VERY clever. The man had remarkable skills with telekinesis. If he used them for something constructive… something for the benefit of Gallifreyan society… instead of these games, he would be a hero, instead of something short of a Renegade.”

“Why DOES he do these things?” Marion asked.

“Ah, that is a story for another day,” Kristoph answered her. “And Li should be the one to tell it. Tomorrow we shall go to supper with him and he can tell you the story of how Le Marrant came to be what he is.”