Kristoph walked up the stairs of the Citadel tower to the offices of the Chancellery Guards. He could have taken a turbo lift, but he felt he wanted time to cool his anger. He would act far more wisely if he allowed himself to calm down before he looked at the prisoners that had been arrested in the public gallery during the disturbances.

It worked. He was feeling a lot calmer about the situation when he entered the reception zone of the Guard offices, closely followed by his own personal Guards in their purple outfits, contrasting with the red and gold of the Chancellery Guardsmen. He noted that his guards were breathing heavily after following at his pace.

“You two need to be a lot fitter,” he said to them. “You’re supposed to protect me from assassination.”

The guards said nothing. They didn’t have the breath for it. Kristoph marched towards the Guard Commander who bowed respectfully.

“Most of the women are being held in the muster room – all except the ringleader.”

“I’ll see the women, first,” Kristoph answered. “Show me the way.”

He knew the way to the muster room where the Chancellery Guard lined up for inspection at the start of their duty shift, but it was customary to allow the Guard Captain to escort him. He followed the tall, athletic young officer who wore his gold helmet with feather trim proudly despite the absurdity of its design. Someday, he thought, he might have the time to suggest to the High Council a more practical uniform for these men – something that didn’t look like it came from a science fiction fantasy romp from 1950s Earth.

But an absurd costume did not take anything away from the authority of the Guard Captain, and when he entered the muster room all of the fifty or more women held there looked down in humility. They were all sitting on the floor since there were no seats of any kind in the hall. They looked tired and worried.

Kristoph felt both tired and worried himself. This was just one of many acts of civil disobedience that had occurred in the course of the afternoon. The chanting of the protesters outside the Citadel was easily ignored. His limousine had landed on the roof, avoiding the pickets. The windows of his office were not only high above the street but double glazed to keep out noise. The Panopticon itself was protected by several different layers of sound, heat and telepathic shields.

Unfortunately, the public gallery was open to anyone who obtained a ticket, and unknown to any of the Councillors a large number of militant women had done just that and made their feelings known in a highly demonstrable way in the middle of the debate about the ongoing seamstresses strike.

Kristoph looked at the women silently for a long time, then he turned and spoke to the Captain.

“Keep them here until sundown and then send them to their homes. Only those who refuse to go there directly should be brought back here and charged, but I think after several hours sitting here they will have had enough detention to last a lifetime.”

He paused and looked around the room again.

“It is quite warm in here. Have a water dispenser brought in and allow them to drink when they need to, otherwise make sure they remain quiet.”

“You don’t wish charges to be made against any of them?”

“I was tempted to clap them all in irons when they disrupted the Session, but I don’t think it is in anyone’s interest to keep women away from their families any longer than necessary. Let them go when they have had time to cool their heads.”

The Guard Captain nodded, accepting the orders of the Lord High President on the matter.

“Now for the ringleader. Have her brought to your office. I will speak to her there.”

“Yes, Excellency.” The Guard Captain passed the instruction to his subordinate and then led the Lord High President to the small but neat office where he worked. He offered him the seat behind the desk and stood to attention beside him.

The woman who had orchestrated the protest in the Panopticon was brought to the Captain’s office to face the Lord High President. He was a little surprised when she made no sign of respect at all before him. True, he found all the bowing more than a little tedious, but this seemed too much like an act of defiance.

“I changed out of the official regalia before coming up to the Chancellery,” he said. “But I AM still Lord High President. Of course, it could be that you have no regard for the office even when I am properly dressed. It was your idea, I believe, to throw dressmaking pins at the High Council?”

He tried not to wince as he remembered the glittering shower arcing through the air from the public gallery and stabbing exposed hands and faces as they fell. Of course, nobody was badly injured, but it was an unpleasant experience and an outrageous act of disrespect not only to men and women of high office, but in most cases men and women of great age and wisdom who had earned the respect and dignity that was so blatantly disregarded by the protesting women.

“It is nothing to what the slave-driving aristocrats of Gallifrey deserve,” the woman replied with a scowl of contempt.

“Nobody on this planet is truly a slave,” Kristoph answered. “Every worker is paid a wage for his or her labour. True, there is a very strong case for examining the value of that wage, but the behaviour exhibited by you and your cohorts does not help bring the ‘aristocrats’ around to your way of thinking. In fact, you have probably done yourselves a disservice. Those of the Council who were sympathetic to your cause did not appreciate your little stunt.”

“It was not a ‘stunt’,” the woman answered stubbornly. “It was a valid protest. Steel pins against empty words.”

“They wouldn’t have been empty words if you hadn’t disrupted the proceedings you foolish woman,” Kristoph answered. “But I didn’t come here to discuss politics with you, and until you ARE an elected representative of a recognised organisation I have no compelling reason to discuss anything with you. Right now, I am just trying to find out who you are and why you have taken it upon yourself to introduce militant trade unionism into our society.”

“Because it is long past time that somebody did,” she responded, but Kristoph was no longer discussing anything with her. Despite being a gentleman who would normally provide a seat for a woman, he kept her standing while he read the biodata file that the Castellan’s office had sent down.

The ringleader’s name was Yolanda Kellmar. She was a Caretaker by birth – the only child of a seamstress and a diamond cutter. She had been educated as well as a female Caretaker might expect to be educated, trained in her father’s profession and rising to the position of gem selector, skilled in choosing the best raw diamonds for cutting – work that required a keen eye and a trained mind. In that capacity she had travelled to other gem-trading planets in the galaxy where she chose the most suitable raw rubies and sapphires, emeralds and other stones that were traded with the much sought after Gallifreyan white diamonds.

It was in the course of those travels beyond the Transduction Barrier and the narrow hierarchical society of Gallifrey that she had learnt about workers’ rights, about collectivism and the power of the masses. When she returned to her home world she had taken on work as a lowly seamstress – the work her mother had done all of her life – in order to observe the working conditions at first hand.

But she had done far more than observe. She had organised the seamstresses into the beginnings of a union, and encouraged the ‘pin protest’ in the Panopticon.

“You have broken the law,” he said at last. “However justified your cause, however well-motivated your actions, they were foolish and futile. All you have achieved is an almost certain prison sentence for yourself. I am prepared to recommend leniency when you face the Inquisitor’s court. The charge will be civil disturbance….”

Yolanda spat. The saliva missed Kristoph’s hand by millimetres. He looked up at her with a stony expression.

“If I chose, I could make the charge of Treason and you would be subjected to some very painful punishments while in the custody of the Castellan. If you do not mend your manners before you are brought before the Inquisitor it will go hard with you.” He nodded to the guard who had brought her to the room. “Return her to her cell. No punishment is to be meted out other than solitary confinement. She is to have food and drink as required. Make sure she speaks with legal counsel before tomorrow and understands the seriousness of her situation.”

The guard led her away. Kristoph reached for a tissue to clean the spittle from the desk, but the Guard Captain got there first.

“That is not something you should do, Excellency,” he said. “You were, if I might say so, very patient with the wretched woman. I would have struck her.”

“I am old-fashioned enough to think that women should not be struck,” Kristoph answered. “Even ones who might, perhaps, deserve it. I want to be lenient with her. I would prefer not to have her imprisoned, but if I let her off with anything less than a custodial sentence it might set a dangerous precedent. Is there still a ring of protesters around the Citadel?”

“If anything it is worse, now, Excellency,” the Guard Captain answered. “Many more men have walked out of the workshops and factories and joined the….” He struggled for the unfamiliar word. Such things did not usually occur on Gallifrey.

“The term used on other worlds is ‘picket’, but I think there is a point where it just becomes a mob and we may be reaching that point.”

“I have ordered extra guards to all of the entrances and there are marksmen on the roof.”

“That is exactly what I hoped wouldn’t be necessary,” Kristoph sighed. “I need a way for the crowd to disperse without the need for weapons being discharged. That is the worst thing that could happen. Even firing into the air might cause a panic. Somebody will be trampled. Injuries or even deaths would result. I would have the Peaceful Planet of the Shining System avoid the mistakes made on other worlds.”

“I have not heard that name for our world for at least two centuries, Excellency,” the Guard Captain said. “It puts me in mind… there used to be a form of words… the Actium Insurigencum.”

Kristoph nodded. Loosely translated into his wife’s language and culture it was The Riot Act. If read out to any crowd that might turn ugly they were bound by law to disperse or risk arrest and detention for an unspecified period.

“We learnt it by heart at school in my day,” Kristoph said. “But as a piece of archaic legislation that we could not imagine being used in our lifetimes.”

He stood and headed for the door.

“What do you mean to do, Excellency?”

“Read the Riot Act to the mob,” he answered.

“You are going out of the Citadel?”

His first thought had been an announcement by public broadcasting, but the mob were not at home watching television. He had no choice but to meet them face to face. He sent one of the junior guards to fetch a portable public address system. He intended to be heard by all, whether they wanted to listen or not.

The appearance of the Lord High President, wearing the Sash of Rassilon and carrying the heavily decorated Rod of Rassilon as symbols of his rank surprised not only the crowd outside the grand entrance to the Citadel, but the guards on the steps keeping them back by their mere presence for the time being. Kristoph could feel their desperation as an almost palpable thing. They knew they were hopelessly outnumbered by the crowd and even if they were ordered to open fire – something they feared doing to an unarmed crowd – they knew they would be overpowered and disarmed easily by such numbers.

“Sire…” One of them began to say, but Kristoph waved him silent. He fixed the very small microphone set over his ear and positioned it comfortably before holding up what was, in fact, a blank scroll of parchment. He began to recite the words in High Gallifreyan in which the Actium Insurigencum was written some ten thousand years ago. At first the crowd carried on their shouts and chants of protest, but gradually they quietened. They listened to the man standing alone on the steps of the Citadel reading to them the words of a law they were bound to obey.

By the time he had finished the rather wordy piece of legislation many individuals had gone away. Others started to move out of the square as he came to the end. Slowly even the most stubborn realised that they had no choice but to disperse.

In the end, only two people remained – a man and a woman. They tried to approach their president but were held back by the guards.

“Wait,” Kristoph said. “Let them approach.” The two were allowed to come close. They both bowed in obeisance to the Seal stamped upon the gold Sash of Rassilon. “You are Master and Mistress Kellmar?” He had read their emotions rather than their actual thoughts as they drew near. He knew at once that they were the parents of the radical young woman. They had come to plead for leniency.

He had been as lenient as he could be. He assured them of as much.

“She will be treated well and fairly,” he promised. “I can say no more than that for now.”

“I understand, sire,” Master Kellmar said, his head down, looking at the floor. He was clearly ashamed of his daughter’s behaviour and of having to bring their petition before the president.

“Come here tomorrow morning, before she is taken to the court, and you will be able to spend some time with her. I will make sure that is done. I would allow it now, but I think she needs the solitude of the confinement cell to consider her position more fully. She may be ready to listen to the counsel of her parents by the morning.”

“She is a good girl at heart, sire,” the mother said. “She has just too many ideas for her own good.”

“I believe you, mistress,” Kristoph assured the woman. “Go now, in peace, and be assured that I have your daughter’s welfare in my mind at all times just now.”

That and the overwhelming problem of the near revolutionary mood that had taken over the working people of the Capitol. The next few days were going to be crucial for the future peace of Gallifrey.