Marion was frantic. She had been waiting in this sparsely furnished room for hours. She wasn't even sure how many hours. There was no clock in the room and even when she looked out of the window there were no clues. The red sun had hung low over the distant horizon in almost the same place for all the time she had been there.

The sky was dark red with a blood coloured moon in it despite it apparently being daytime. She was looking down on a huge city from what appeared to be a very tall, very slender tower.

She had been treated courteously enough. Food of a sort was brought to her. It was a kind of chewy energy bar that tasted of an undefined kind of savoury. There was a cup of something like fruit juice except as clear as water and the room had a long couch that she had rested on for a time.

But she was alone in the room and it was locked from the outside.

She was a prisoner.

So was Kristoph but she had no idea where he was or how he was being treated. The people in semi-paramilitary dress who had met the transporter were far angrier at him than they were with her. She hoped they weren’t hurting him in any way.

This dark forbidding place with its black clad unsmiling people looked like a place where they would torture prisoners.

She still didn’t believe this was Gallifrey. It didn't look like it. It didn't feel like the place she had called home for so many years. The sky was entirely wrong and so was this city. She didn’t even recognise the architectural style. It looked vaguely Byzantine with all of the towers and spires rising up above buildings and the web of covered walkways that connected all the buildings.

But there was nothing like this on Gallifrey. Kristoph must have got the coordinates wrong when the TARDIS was out of control. They were on some other planet where foreigners were unwelcome.

She had been questioned, though not harshly. They mostly just wanted to know her name and where she was from and her relationship to Kristoph. They also took a skin sample from the back of her hand. They said it was for verification. It was only a tiny scratch but they wouldn't explain what they were verifying and she felt more than a little worried about that.

The worst thing was that they said so very little to her. The people who brought the food and drink didn’t say ANYTHING. They seemed to be very low grade servants who weren’t meant to talk to anyone. The more authoritative types just seemed to be keeping her at a distance from them. Talking to her would be establishing a relationship of a sort, so they said no more than necessary to her.

They answered no questions at all. She tried every time somebody came into the room, but they either deflected her with their own questions or they ignored her altogether.

Time passed so very slowly. She sat quietly for a while, then lay down. Then she walked to the window and looked out. Occasionally she spotted craft like the one they had travelled in approaching from beyond the city. They mostly landed somewhere beyond one of the wider spires. There must, she concluded, be some kind of landing zone there – a hoverport or some other word for that kind of facility.

There were smaller vehicles flying around the city itself. At a distance they looked like insects, but close to they resembled the sort of flying cars envisaged in graphic science fiction of the nineteen fifties and sixties. Some of them even had glass bubbles over the cockpits.

Watching these things passed the time, but they only served to reinforce her conviction that they had landed on a strange world where they could expect no understanding or sympathy for their forced landing.

She turned from the window and stiffened warily. There was somebody outside the door. She heard a slight sound as it slid open, then gave a cry of relief as Kristoph stepped in. She was too busy hugging him to notice or to care that the door was locked again.

“Are you all right?” she asked. She tried to check for injuries but he stayed her hands.

“I’m fine,” he promised her. “A little tired and frustrated, but I’m not hurt. They didn’t do anything untoward.”

“Are you sure?”

“Quite sure.”

“What’s happening?” she asked next.

“They’re deliberating.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that they’re deliberating. Kristoph sat down on one of the chairs and took some of the fruit juice. “That’s better. My mouth is very dry. They let me have water, but it was manufactured – utterly tasteless. And the room was so sterile there wasn’t even moisture in the air.”

Marion waited until he had drunk his fill before she asked him about the interrogation.

“The planet is at war,” he explained. “I had to convince them I wasn’t a spy for their enemy.”

“At war? With whom? And… what planet are we even talking about? Kristoph, where are we?”

“We’re on Gallifrey, of course. But a very long time before our own era – before the Transduction Barrier, before any of the protocols that prevent time travel on the planet itself. When the TARDIS was caught in the temporal flux it somehow got thrown back beyond the establishment of those protocols.”

“It can’t be Gallifrey,” Marion argued. “What’s the matter with the sky… with the sun… and the moon. Gallifrey doesn’t have a red moon.”

“The sky is red at the southern circle in autumn,” Kristoph explained. “When the day doesn’t really fully lighten. As for the red moon, there used to be one more than a million years before our own time. It broke apart and caused some very serious geological problems. It caused the seismic shift that created the Great Bluff. Mount Perdition and Mount Lœng were both much smaller mountains until the impact of one piece of the moon caused another faultline to break open. Magma rose up and formed into caldera which later erupted upwards forming the familiar cones.”

“And none of that has happened yet. We’re millions of years in Gallifrey’s past?”

Marion couldn’t quite believe it.

“Millions of years ago in Earth’s history there were dinosaurs roaming huge plains. The Pyramids and Stonehenge only go back THOUSANDS of years. Gallifreyans, millions of years ago, had huge cities and… plastic tables… and… and concentrated food bars.”

“Concentrated food was a bad idea. Nobody uses it in our time except for emergency supplies. We went back to real food very quickly.”

“I really don’t care,” Marion pointed out. “I’m still getting my head around the idea that Gallifreyan civilisation is so OLD. I mean, I know I’ve read about it, but I really didn’t think about it like that before. This is WAY before your first ancestor, the original Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow? I worked out from the family tree that he was born about forty-thousand years before you. But…”

“He wasn’t my first ancestor. He was just the first of my particular scion. He had a father and a grandfather and so on.”

“Are any of your ancestors alive in THIS time?” Marion asked. “Do you suppose they might help us?”

“Somebody must be. My family are descended from the Twelve Sons of Rassilon and this is certainly in the Rassilonian era. But we are so far back, so many generations of marriage and mixing of blood, I’m not sure my DNA would even resemble anybody of this time.”

“Then nobody can help us.”

“I told them the truth in as much detail as I could. Of course there were some things I could not tell them – matters that related to their immediate future. But I told them what had happened and as far as I understand it, HOW it happened. I can only hope that they believed me and are prepared to let me fix the TARDIS so that we can go on our way as quickly as possible.”

“Do you think they might do that?”

“I don’t know. They seem incredibly paranoid and suspicious. I just about got them to accept that I really am Gallifreyan.”

“What was so difficult about that?” Marion asked. “After all, your DNA might not match any of your distant ancestors but it must prove that you’re from here.”

“Yes. But yours doesn’t. In this time the planet is completely insular. The idea of a Time Lord with a foreign wife doesn’t even appear on their radar. They’re at war with a race even I’ve never heard of – the Shamin.”

“Whatever the Shamin are, I’m not one of them.”

“They don’t know what you are, my dear. Human DNA has never been seen before. Your species doesn’t yet exist. That’s what’s causing the problem.”

Marion looked at Kristoph quizzically. She wasn’t sure whether this was a desperately tragic moment or a hysterically funny one.

“So that’s what they’re deliberating – whether you and me are somehow a threat to their society – you from a future they can’t even imagine and me from a race that doesn’t yet exist.”

“Essentially, yes.”

“Oh dear.”

“In a nutshell.”

Marion laughed. It was easier than crying.

Besides, at least Kristoph was with her now. She could cope with anything as long as they were together.

At least she hoped she could.

“I really just want to go home,” she said. “OUR home, our Gallifrey. I don’t know this place at all.”

“Nor do I. There’s something alien about it all. I don’t even really know this Gallifrey. Even when I joined the army to fight the Sarre we weren’t as martial as the planet seems to be in this time. I can’t believe these are my own people.”

“What if we can’t go home? I don’t think I want to live here.”

“I know I don’t. The one thing I do know about this history is that THIS city is doomed. The largest chunk of that broken up moon landed on it. It was destroyed, utterly.”

“The people….” Marion was appalled. She didn’t like this place or its citizens, but the thought of them all dying in a terrible inferno was too much.

“As I understand it, they evacuated. They might be primitive, but they ARE Time Lords. They have precognition. They will be prepared.”

“Good. I’m glad about that. But I still don’t like them, and I want to go home.”

There was nothing more to say. She leaned against Kristoph’s shoulder and closed her eyes. Perhaps when she opened them again this nightmare might be over.

It wasn’t, but the door opened again and a man whose martial black was lightened by a streak of silver from shoulder to waist entered the room. Kristoph stood to greet him. Marion watched them both for a startling moment. She was sure they had recognised each other.

“May I present my wife,” Kristoph said without any other word being spoken. “Lady Marion – this is Lord Bærrow. For the sake of simplicity we might call him a cousin.”

“I am pleased to meet you,” Marion said. She appreciated Kristoph’s attempt to simplify things, but she couldn’t help wondering just how many times removed this cousinship was.

“Come along with me, both of you,” Lord Bærrow added. “You have been released into my custody. I will bring you to my house.”

“Custody?” Marion queried. “We are considered prisoners?”

“Come quickly,” his Lordship told her. “The sooner we are away from the city the better.”

Marion was quite in agreement about that. She disliked this city intensely and she had only seen it from the window. She walked beside Kristoph as his ‘cousin’ led him along a series of long corridors and up a series of steps until they emerged onto a flat roof so high above the city that all she could see was the sky all around.

There was one of those strange bubble-topped sky cars waiting. Marion was invited to sit first in the back seat. Kristoph sat beside her and clung to her hand. Lord Bærrow himself drove. For the most part he did so in silence.

“It’s going to be all right,” Kristoph whispered as the car left the city behind and a more natural night sky darkened above them now that they were moving away from the polar region. “We’re with family of a sort. We are safe.”

Marion was relieved to be told that.

But she wasn’t completely sure that it was true.