For once in a blue millennium the afternoon session of the High Council had finished before a guillotine motion had to be called. Kristoph let Marion know that he would be home much earlier than usual, but he had something else he wanted to do first.

The historical archive was deep below the Panopticon floor. It was accessed by a dimly lit stairwell that had almost entirely been forgotten by all but the Caretakers who occasionally cleaned it. Kristoph’s shoes echoed loudly in the silence. At the bottom of the steps was a door that could only be opened with a High Council biometric code.

That, of course, was no problem. The Presidential Code overrode anything except a Celestial Intervention Agency deadlock seal. He stepped into the distinctly musty room beyond, eliciting a squeal of fright from the elderly Time Lord sitting at a desk studying a very old scroll with a tri-fold sonic magnifying glass.

“Why… it’s young de LœngBærrow, isn’t it?” the elderly archivist said once he was over his surprise. I remember you, well. Your attention to detail in history of the twelve galaxies was commendable.”

“Lord Glossari,” Kristoph responded after a brief moment of recollection. “So you’ve retired from the Prydonian Academy?”

“Oh I only taught for a century or two,” he replied. “It was never really for me. I went back to research. That’s my real calling.”

Kristoph looked around the small ante-chamber before the glass-fronted main archive and noticed a low bed in one corner, a clothing delivery and laundry collection system and a food dispenser, as well as mechanisms for other bodily necessities.

“Do you live down here all the time?” he asked. “Haven’t you been outside… I mean… recently… in the last decade or so?”

“Outside?” Lord Glossari looked puzzled, as if the concept was new to him. “Oh, yes, yes, dear boy. I attended my old school reunion two hundred years ago. And then there was a party of some kind only a little while ago… somebody getting married – I think it might have been you, in fact.”

If it was, he didn’t remember seeing his old tutor at either the ceremony or the reception, and besides, both had taken place in the Citadel building. That didn’t exactly qualify as going outside.

He ought to have somebody look into the old man’s welfare. This didn’t quite seem healthy.

“What have you been doing since you graduated?” Glossari asked. “I seem to remember you went offworld for some reason… then you came back… and left again.”

“I’ve kept myself busy,” Kristoph assured him. “I’m Lord High President now. I don’t know if you heard….”

“Lord High President?” Glossari thought about that for a long moment then nodded as if in approval. “Very well done, young fellow. That’s very ambitious of you. And what brings the President to the archive?”

“I want to look at the records from several millennia ago, if there is anything. Political events from just before the Presidency of Jakobi de Bærrow.”

“De Bærrow? Good gracious. You mean from before the fall of the Red Moon.”

“Yes, I do. Is that problematic?”

“Not at all, my dear boy. Those records are not compiled on the mainframe, but they can certainly be located, if you will give me a minute or two.”

Glossari shuffled around his desk until he found a trionic key. This unlocked the door to the archive. Kristoph followed him through into the huge warehouse of a room, dimly lit to protect the original copies of documents going back thousands of years. He was urged to sit on an adjustable chair. It was very comfortable and he was happy to settle down on it while Glossari moved slowly around the stacks, murmuring to himself as he reached out to some document or other and then left it there, moving on to the next.

After a half an hour or so, Kristoph wondered if he had been forgotten by a man who clearly preferred millennia old parchments to living, breathing company. Then Glossari appeared at his side with his arms full of scroll cases and data cores for interfacing with the archive computer.

“Let me help you with those,” Kristoph offered as some of the materials threatened to tumble from the old man’s shaky grasp.

“Oh, thank you, if you would be so kind,” Glossari answered. He let Kristoph take almost all of the documents from him and bring them to a wide desk with infra red, ultra-violet and sub-wave yellow under-lighting facilities. Glossari opened the first of the scroll cases and rolled out a parchment that was almost black with age and desperately frayed around the edges.

“Is there not a digitised copy of this?” Kristoph asked as Glossari activated anti-static, anti-dust shielding around the document.

“Oh, yes,” the archivist answered. “But I anticipated that you would wish to see the unredacted version.”

“Unredacted?” Kristoph queried.

“As in… not subject to the censorship of the time,” Glossari told him, assuming that he didn’t understand the word. Of course, he did. Not so long ago he had declared that there was no censorship on Gallifrey. In so far as there was no ban on anyone reading Lady Chatterley or owning a copy of the Karma Sutra it was true, but when it came to political documents, especially historical ones, the truth was sometimes ‘adjusted’ for the greater good. More often than not the names of those declared Renegade or assassinated by the Celestial Intervention Agency for any form of treachery were struck out of the records and lost to posterity.

Which was the very definition of censorship, of course, though he didn’t feel any sense of hypocrisy about his public declarations on the subject.

Indeed, this document, which was a Roll of Honour listing the holders of the title ‘Lord High President’ for a period of five thousand years had been redacted four times. Four men voted worthy of the highest political role on Gallifrey had later been deemed traitors and removed.

The man who had held the position for two hundred years before Jakobin de Bærrow was sworn in had his name struck out in thick black ink that ought to have ensured it was never read again.

Lord Glossari turned on the sub-wave yellow light beneath the document. This form of light had all the power of direct sunlight but without the harmful glare or the properties that might bleach ancient ink on fraying parchment.

The name he expected was revealed by the yellow light.

“Is there any way of finding out what this man did to be removed from the Roll of Honour?” Kristoph asked. “I know why he was removed from office, and how, but why was his entire existence expunged from the historical record?”

There was one obvious reason. The idea that even a bloodless coup had taken place on Gallifrey, the planet of civilised debate, was unthinkable. The past was altered to fit the present.

“This might explain the matter,” Lord Glossari suggested, handing him one of the data core cylinders. They were a very old-fashioned method of recording information. The modern solid state medium was a wafer thin silicon gel that took up very little storage space.

But the archive computer was fitted with a slot to interface with the data core, and Kristoph had come prepared, too. He opened the slender box he had brought with him and placed the Coronet of Rassilon on his head. All he had to do now was touch the computer and his own brain was fully connected.

There was a disorientating few minutes when he could still see Lord Glossari watching him anxiously as well as the High Council chamber in the old citadel at the southern pole. Then he felt himself fully immersed. He watched as his ancestor, Lord De Bærrow, guided the provisional council through the reforms that were desperately needed to improve the lot of Gallifreyans of all classes – thus justifying his revolutionary actions.

The session was going well until the doors of the Council Chamber were smashed open and a masked gang rushed in, pointing weapons at the President and his councillors.

“In the name of Gallifrey, the usurper government is commanded to surrender!” announced the leader of the gang. “This outrage against the proper form is ended.”

“Are you mad?” Lord de Baerrow demanded. “You cannot take back the power you lost at the point of a gun. You are already indicted for bringing us to the brink of war. Do you intend to add treason to the charges?”

Kristoph, a mere observer, utterly unable to do anything to help, recognised the weapons in the hands of the counter-revolutionaries as life absorbers. They were capable of killing a Time Lord by stripping him of all of his future incarnations in seconds. They were banned three generations before his own. He knew them only from history files along with the legislation that prevented them from being manufactured.

De Bærrow was seconds away from the end of his existence. His efforts to prevent a war and to change Gallifrey from a secretive, paranoid world under the thumb of a secret police force would be wiped out.

Then he saw another man move quickly, placing his body in front of the President’s. De Bærrow cried out in grief as that man, dressed in the robes of the Chancellor, was engulfed in the absorbing ray.

In the shocked moment that followed, the President’s own guards rushed into the Chamber. They looked at the former President dressed in black and wielding a deadly weapon and the present incumbent laying the body of his second in command gently down on the floor. Their loyalty at that moment might have been with either man. De Bærrow’s life depended on all of them making the right choice.

They made it. The former President was shot through the head before he could fire his weapon again. His followers were put under arrest.

Kristoph stopped the data core transmission and allowed his mind to return to the archive. Lord Glossari watched him carefully as he put away the Coronet of Rassilon in its case.

“There is some more I need to know,” he said.

“Of course,” Glossari acknowledged. “I think it is THIS document that you need to see.”

He placed another parchment over the sub-yellow light source. This time more than a name had been redacted. The document was a palimpsest. On the surface it recorded the death of a well-respected Chancellor who all Gallifrey mourned, as much for what he might have done as for much that he had already achieved.

Underneath that document was one that had been written and then the ink carefully scratched away from the parchment. This recorded the death of the Chancellor, but named his murderer, too. It recorded that he, too, died, some twenty days later, after lingering with brain injuries that prevented regeneration – injuries caused by the bullet fired at him by one of the Presidential Guards in order to prevent further acts of wilful murder.

It recorded that the Chancellor’s murderer was cremated and his ashes disposed of unceremoniously. His name was expunged from every record, written or otherwise. His family declared him a non-person. They did not even mourn him. Those of his followers who had committed the treasonable act with him were sentenced to long confinement on Shada, the Time Lord cryogenic prison, and they, too, were expunged from the historical record and from personal recollection. Anyone else who thought of supporting his counter-revolution quietly distanced themselves from such foolhardy actions.

It was how it was done on Gallifrey. It was how it was always done. The House of Oakdae?e had long ago expunged the name of its second son – the man who now called himself Mai Li Tuo and lived on Earth. There were a handful of other Houses within his own living memory that had done the same.

The official history of Gallifrey was full of redactions, of names expunged, of facts changed to fit the circumstances. He wondered if it was the right thing to do. Should their children not be taught about a man who prevented war and ousted a bad President, and another who saved the good man from the bad one at the cost of his own life rather than believing that the transfer of political power on Gallifrey had always been smooth and straightforward?

Was it possible, even for a President, to do anything about it, even if he thought it ought to be done? There were just too many of those changes, too many true accounts only revealed under sub-yellow light. The very attempt to bring those accounts into the ordinary light might destabilise the government as people questioned how much they could be trusted.

It was better, perhaps, to let sleeping dogs lie, leave the history of Gallifrey the way it appeared to be.

“There is another redacted name mentioned in this affair,” Lord Glossari said. “The man who helped De Bærrow to broker the peace treaty. It is hidden within this document. Would you care to view it with the sub-yellow light?”

“Do I need to?” Kristoph asked.

“No, I don’t believe you do,” Glossari answered him. “I think you know, already.”

Kristoph didn’t confirm or deny that he was that man.

“They say that a man known only as The Other assisted Lord Rassilon and Lord Omega in the first time experiments,” Glossari said, apparently apropos of nothing.

“I have heard that story, too. I am quite sure it isn’t the same man.”

“I am sure you are right, dear boy,” Glossari admitted. “Though perhaps he might be one of his descendents.”

“I would not wish to speculate on such a thing,” Kristoph conceded. “And now that my curiosity has been satisfied, I really should be on my way. My wife is expecting me home.”

He paused and looked at the old Time Lord, once his teacher at the Academy, now happily keeping the archives of Gallifrey, both the official versions and the hidden truth for those who wish to find it.

“I don’t suppose you would like to join me for dinner, tonight? You would be most welcome.”

Glossari looked for an eyeblink as if he was considering the idea, then he shook his head.

“The offer is a kind one, but I have some documents in urgent need of preservation. I should like to get on with the work. Perhaps another time.”

“Perhaps,” Kristoph agreed. he had already made up his mind that he would repeat the offer – which meant visiting the archive again very soon. He knew it wouldn’t be difficult to find a pretext to do so. The official history of Gallifrey had plenty of incidents he would like to look at under the sub-yellow light.