Kristoph looked up in surprise as his study door opened without a polite knock first. Marion was out and none of the staff, not even Caolin would ever enter his inner sanctum unannounced.

“Rodan!” His surprise turned to pleasure as his foster daughter stepped forward. “I wasn’t expecting a visit today.” He glanced out of the window at the deep winter snow. “Did you ride all the way over here? Is your horse stabled safely?”

“Alex is in his stable,” she answered as she sat down in the chair across the desk from him.

“Do we have to be so formal?” Kristoph smiled at the child he had loved as his own since she was only a few months old. She was growing up into a clever, resourceful and independent young lady, but that didn’t mean she had to sit there as if she had made an appointment to see him. “Why don’t we go to the drawing room and have Caolin bring hot chocolate and marshmallows?”

“I’d like that,” Rodan answered with a strange catch in her voice. “But I think… when I tell you what I’ve been doing lately you might not want to drink chocolate with me. You’ll be so angry.”

Kristoph stared at her in astonishment. He stood up and walked around his wide, long, polished desk that formed such a physical barrier between them. He reached out to take her hand, but she pulled it away and turned her face from him.

“Rodan, my dear child, there is NOTHING you could ever do that would make me so angry that I wouldn’t want to drink chocolate with you. Nothing could make me love you less than I do.”

“I think this could,” Rodan answered him. I’ve… been involved with some terrible people.”

“What in Creation do you mean?” Kristoph asked. “Come on. Let’s go to the drawing room. We WILL have chocolate and marshmallows. Marion bought a huge box of those pink and white marshmallow twists in Liverpool last week, and there is always cocoa in the kitchen. I won’t hear a single word more until we are warm and comfortable with winter refreshments.”

Rodan was still clearly worried, but Kristoph was gently insistent. He was not about to treat her as a naughty schoolgirl – or worse – until he knew what was going on. And even then, he knew it could not change his love for her.

The hot chocolate and marshmallows were brought to the drawing room by Caolin. A fire of cúl nut logs burnt in the hearth and the room was a pleasant haven from the cold of the winter outside. It had always been a room where Rodan felt at ease. Kristoph hoped she would relax now, but she clung to the hot chocolate mug without tasting it and didn’t touch the plate of marshmallows.

“All right, tell me from the beginning,” he said. “Get it over with and then we can decide what to do.”

“I… have been doing things with some women who want to overthrow the government,” she said at last, choosing her words carefully, but knowing that nothing would disguise the seriousness of the matter.

“ Doing things?” Kristoph repeated. “Women... who want to overthrow the government? Child, are you talking about the Sisterhood of Karn?” They were the only women he knew of who would even contemplate such treason, and even from them it seemed extreme.

Rodan nodded unhappily.

“Do you know about them?” she asked.

“I do. But more to the point, what do YOU know about them. For that matter, what do THEY know about YOU?”

“They knew about me being your foster child,” Rodan told him. “And about the hang gliding. And sleigh racing on Ventura at Yuulus. Maala, the one who invited me to their meeting, she said that I was very clever and courageous, and that there was a lot I could learn from them. That's the reason I went to the meeting, because I want to learn, and it is still many years before I can take the Academy exam. That is the only reason I went, you have my word about that, papa. I never meant anything else.”

"I believe you, child," Kristoph assured her. "Tell me how it all happened."

It had begun with that apparently chance encounter with the woman called Maala. Rodan had been visiting the art gallery in Athenica with Marion. There was a special exhibit by women artists of Gallifrey that interested them. While her foster mother was talking with some of her friends who had also come to the exhibition, Rodan had wandered alone. She had come across Maala in one of the galleries. She had been dressed in a red, hooded robe and she had a gold star painted on her forehead. Rodan took her for a member of one of the contemplative sisterhoods though she had never heard of one that wore red robes, let alone gold stars. Even so, Maala had been friendly, praising Rodan for her intelligence for one so young and told her to come to their Chapter House where she could learn to do so many things that were often denied to women even in the Academies.

She had been curious, so on the pretext of visiting friends, she had gone to the Chapter House, a dark, foreboding building a mile outside the city boundaries of Athenica. She had been welcomed by the cloaked women and taken to their hall of meditations. She had spent a surprisingly pleasant afternoon learning about methods of deep meditation and how to strengthen the mind. At the end of it she had actually managed to move a small object with telekinesis, something she had not been able to do before that.

“You’re just a child,” Kristoph told her. “You’re not supposed to be able to do those things, yet. They played upon your impatience and eagerness to learn.”

Rodan looked ashamed of herself. That was all true. She had allowed herself to be tempted by the chance to do things she wasn’t quite ready for.

“But I did it. I was good. They were pleased with me. I got better at it every time I visited the Chapter House. They taught me more things. Even how to teleport with the power of my mind.”

“Teleport?” Kristoph was astonished. “Only very highly trained Time Lords teleport without the aid of technology. VERY highly trained. Even I can’t do that.”

“It’s how I got here, today,” Rodan admitted. “I’m sorry, papa, but I lied about riding here.”

“You said that Alex was in his stable. You neglected to mention which stable – the one here or the one at your home. That’s called a lie of omission and it is just as grave as any other kind. You are old enough to know that.”

“Yes… I am. But I only lied because I wanted to explain, first. I HAVE learnt to teleport. They taught me. At first I could only move short distances, but now I can go anywhere on Gallifrey… except the Citadel, of course, because there are shields. But I have been to the museum and art gallery in Athenica on my own, and once I went with Maala and some others of the Sisterhood to listen to debates in the Athenican Council. That was boring, really. But I can come here any time I want, even in bad weather. And that’s good, because I can see you and mama as often as I want. And that’s all I really wanted to learn it for.”

“But you’re too young to be able to do that safely, my dear. You could make yourself ill. Please don’t do it again. We’ll take you home in the car, later. You must promise me NOT to teleport again.”

Rodan was clearly hurt by the censure as well as the ban on future teleportation. But that was not the whole of it, yet.

“I thought it was all right,” she continued. “But then… two days ago… I went to the Chapter House using the mind-teleport. I don’t think they were expecting me to be there, because there was a sort of ceremony going on. I waited behind a pillar and watched. They were circling around a sort of round stone table with symbols on it and chanting in old High Gallifreyan.”

“Chanting what?” Kristoph asked her, but she shook her head in a frustrated way.

“When I was there, I thought I understood the words, but when I think about it again I can’t remember. But it was worse. Suddenly there was a bright light in the middle of the round table, reaching up to the roof and I saw something terrible in it - a horrible vision. It was the Panopticon, with all the High Councillors and Councillors… and it was on fire. They were trapped and screaming and….”

She couldn’t go on with the description of what she had seen. Kristoph reached out to hold her. She struggled to pull away from him, but he held her firmly.

“That was none of your doing,” Kristoph told her. “Think no more of it. It was wrong of you to go to that place without anyone knowing. You KNEW it was wrong because you did so secretly, letting your grandfather and all of us who love you think you were doing something else. Are you sorry for all of that deception?”

“Yes,” she answered. “Yes, I am sorry.”

“Do you promise to stay away from the Sisterhood from now on?”


“Then we will say no more about that. I will have to tell your grandfather. He needs to know that you are vulnerable to malicious minds of that sort. We need to take steps to protect you. But neither of us will love you any the less.”

“But papa… there is more. I heard them…. the chanting stopped, but the leader of the Sisterhood – her name is Achinta – she made them all kneel around her and she told them that the vision in the light WILL come to pass. She said that they were going to use me – the chosen one at the heart of Gallifreyan society…. They mean to use ME to make that terrible thing happening. It is why they wanted me to join them. So that they could make me… make me the… the….” She struggled for a moment to find the word that had been used. “Conduit. I am to be the conduit to the destruction of the High Council.”

Kristoph sighed deeply. That was more serious than a mere act of malicious conjuring of visions.

“Do they know that you overheard them?”

“I don’t think so. I crept away and teleported home. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew I had to tell you, even if you thought I was a terrible person.”

“You’re not terrible. You were brave to come to me. Now I need to ask you to be brave again. This is not over. If they planned so much for you, they will not just accept that you have changed your mind. They will try to use you against your will.”

Rodan said nothing, but she looked scared. Kristoph was scared for her.

“Don’t worry, child. I will let nothing happen to you. But protecting you will be harder than simply restricting your movements with a much firmer hand than you have experienced before now. I think I need to get you off this planet.”

“You want me to go away? For ever?”

“Of course not. Only until those wicked women are rounded up and their plans foiled. It will be the work for the Celestial Intervention Agency, which is another good reason to get you away quickly. I won’t have them interrogating you. They will have to accept my second hand account of what you have told me and like it.”

Only Kristoph de Lœngbærrow, of all the men on Gallifrey, could make the Celestial Intervention Agency accept such a compromise. His reputation with them was still formidable enough to keep them at bay.

Rodan accepted the news that she must be an exile, if only temporarily, glumly but without protest. She knew she could count herself lucky in the circumstances. Kristoph called for Caolin. When the butler presented himself he had instructions for him.

“Take my car to Rodan’s home and collect her grandfather. Let him bring whatever they both might need for a few weeks offworld and then secure his house thoroughly. I will make arrangements for the horses to be brought here. They won’t be neglected. But we must work swiftly now.”

Caolin went to do his lord's bidding without question. Meanwhile Kristoph called Marion home from her visit to Lady Lily. She was shocked to hear what had happened, but perfectly ready to forgive Rodan for her part in it all and to hug her tearfully before the hastily arranged departure.

“Where are you taking them?” Marion asked. Rodan had been too contrite even to ask the question.

“To Liverpool,” Kristoph replied immediately. “I considered Minas Luimnea under the protection of Bolar Lundar or even Ventura with my brother. But it is possible either of those Gallifreyan embassies could have been infiltrated by these damn women. They can stay with Li. I am sure Arges and he will get on well, and in the unlikely event of trouble a former CIA assassin will take any steps necessary to safeguard them both. And to stop you fretting, you can use your portal to visit as often as you wish.”

It was a good plan, and Rodan was relieved when she realised where she was going. Ventura would have been good, because her horses might have been able to come, too, but she had friends in Liverpool. She felt safe there.

“Is there anything else I can do to help?” Marion asked.

“Talk to cook about dinner. I’ve invited Malika Dúccesci and his wife. After we’ve eaten, the Lord High President and I will have things to talk about. You and Talitha can discuss literature around the drawing room fire while we're in conference.”

Marion agreed to that. It sounded like he was relegating her to a domestic role, but she knew that what Kristoph and Malika had to discuss would be dark and serious and she was happy enough to leave it alone.

“I’ll be back before anyone knows I’ve passed the transduction barrier,” Kristoph told her. “As long as none of that lot want to hold me up with red tape. The one disadvantage of resigning the presidency is that I can’t tell those wretched civil servants where to go to.”

With that grumble echoing in the air, he stepped into the TARDIS with his two passengers and was gone. Marion turned away and headed to the kitchen to discuss an unplanned Presidential dinner. Dark and worrying times were ahead, but dinner was the first priority.