Kristoph let Marion sleep in the next morning. She woke to Rika putting a pot of tea by her bed and a strange noise outside. Her immediate thought was of a dustbin wagon collecting rubbish. But that was on Earth. Here on Gallifrey household waste went into a rather scary but reasonably quiet machine that reduced it all down to its constituent molecules and compressed it into blocks of basic matter that could be recycled into just about anything.

“It’s a transporter bringing your car, madam,” said Rika, looking out of the window. And as comfortable as she was in bed, drinking tea, she had to go to look at the hover equivalent of a tow truck depositing the wreck of her car on the driveway. The driver’s side door had been wrenched off somehow and the front was crushed in, and it was still wet inside. Puddles of water dripped from the engine as Kristoph spoke to the men who had delivered it and sent them on their noisy way. Then he and Remonte along with some strong outdoor servants pushed the stricken car to the garage by the side of the house.

“Oh, madam,” Rika said. “You could have been killed. You must have been so scared.”

“Yes, I was for a little while,” she answered. “But I’m all right now. I wasn’t expecting them to recover the car. I hope they didn’t disturb…” She thought of Silis. He would probably have observed the activity by the lake but his tower would have remained hidden to them. He would have known that it was being done so that the investigation he, himself, suggested could be done. But he would not reveal himself to anyone else.

She turned from the window and got dressed without Rika’s help. She went downstairs and out to where Kristoph and Remonte were greeting another arrival in a hover car. She wondered why Bolar Lundar and his wife, Hesthor, had come so early in the day. Bolar went off towards the garage with Kristoph and Remonte without another word. But Hesthor came to greet Marion with a friendly smile.

“There’s men’s work going on there,” she said to Marion. “Let’s leave them to it.” And Marion found herself being ushered into her own home, and steered towards her day room. The maid brought a light breakfast to her and she ate a little of it while Hesthor chatted amiably to her. But there was an important question she had to ask her friend.

“Why is your husband here?” she said. “The Truthtaker…”

Was it about Silis? Was his whereabouts something that the High Council wanted to know about? If so, then as much as Hesthor and Bolar were her friends, Marion didn’t want any part in it.

“He’s not here officially,” Hesthor assured her. “Kristoph asked him here to observe. If, as suspected, your car HAS been tampered with, he will need to question those servants who have access to it. And my Lundar will be able to confirm if the truth is being told.”

“Oh.” Marion was partially relieved. But that was even more discomforting in so many ways. She had tried not to believe what Silis had told her, that it must be somebody in their household. They had chosen all of the servants themselves. Was it possible that one of those who bowed their heads to her and promised service to the House of Lœngbærrow would betray that House, that one of them should seek to hurt her?


Kristoph sat on the tarpaulin covered driver’s seat of the car and used his sonic screwdriver actually AS a screwdriver to open up the Route Planner. It was as waterlogged as everything else, as he fully expected it to be. Even Gallifreyan microchips were ruined by a night in cold water. There would be no way of detecting what was done to the programming to get Marion as utterly lost as she had been.

But he was banking on the one who did it not knowing that. That was why all the outdoor servants who would have had access to the car, cleaning or servicing it, were there, standing in a line, waiting for him to finish his examination of the evidence. Whoever had done this would be feeling guilty, and the guilt would manifest itself as the wait went on.

Bolar Lundar knew that, too. He quietly watched the faces of the servants. Mind reading was an exhausting business for the TruthTaker and for his subjects. It was easier, first of all, to examine the faces, watch who was sweating, who had a twitch, who blinked a little faster than they should, who just looked more worried than they needed to worry. Of course, the accomplished liars he was so often called upon to break wouldn’t display such giveaway signs easily. This lot were another matter. Most of them were upset by the accident that had happened to the lady of the house, and were honestly concerned about that. But one among them had a greater concern.

“Yes,” Kristoph said as he brought the offending part from the car. “The polarity was reversed. East and West were opposed. And Lady Marion, being of Earth, easily forgot that the sun was in the wrong position. Something that the one who did this counted on in their attempt to have her drowned in the Calderon. Doubtless it would have been put down as an accident and no suspicion would have fallen. But she was more resourceful than the culprit thought. She is alive and she told the whole story. And we know that it was deliberate sabotage.”

He looked at his servants, then he looked at Lundar who nodded. There was a brief telepathic exchange between them and then Remonte stepped forward and touched the shoulder of a young man dressed in black whose part time job was to clean the fleet of cars owned by the Lœngbærrow family. It was a poor job but one he was decently paid for, and Lord de Lœngbærrow was, in addition, paying for his training as a chauffer which would allow him to improve his lot in years to come.

The young man cried out in horror when he was picked out.

“No, my Lord,” he declared. “No, it was not me. I am a loyal servant to your lordship, and to her ladyship. I hoped I might be her chauffer in time to come. I would not do a thing to harm that gracious lady.”

“I believe you,” Kristoph told the young man. He looked back at Bolar Lundar who nodded again. Kristoph turned from the innocent man and quickly pulled another from the line.

“This one’s relief when another man was blamed was palpable,” Lundar said. “Not only a traitor, but a dishonest man who would allow an innocent to be punished for his crime.”

“Yes,” Kristoph answered. “I saw that, too. Despicable.” He looked at the innocent man who was staring, wide eyed as he realised he had been used to expose the true culprit. “Gallis Limmon, your loyalty is not in doubt. Accept my apologies for the distress caused to you.”

“Yes, sir,” Gallis Limmon answered him. “Thank you, sir.”

“I will talk to you again, later,” Kristoph promised in a gentle voice. “You may go for now. So may the others.” Then as the garage emptied he turned back to the guilty one. His face set hard in an expression that, in his former life as the Executioner his victims saw very briefly. Those who knew him in that life, even his friends, shivered when they saw that expression.

Bolar Lundar and his brother had both known him then, but not when he was working. They had never seen him look that way before. But it made them shiver.

Ultar Fennic, mechanic, whose job was to ensure that the fleet of cars owned by the de Lœngbærrow family worked properly, knew nothing of his employer’s former life. Only a handful of people did. But as he looked at that hard set expression he quailed.

Kristoph didn’t shout. He didn’t SOUND angry. And that made it worse. Because then it felt as if much more was held back ready to be unleashed and Fennic dreaded the moment when it would be unleased on him.

“One question,” he said quietly. “WHY?”

“I…” Fennic choked on his reply at first. Then he managed one short, stammering sentence. “I… was… paid.”

“Paid?” Again he didn’t shout. But his quietness was worse than if he had raged. “You were employed by me in a position of trust. You were given a good wage. Your family have a good home, health care, education. How much were you paid that you would prove so disloyal to me?”

Fennic couldn’t speak. His shame was clear in his broken face. Mention of his family completed it.

“Don’t harm them, sir,” he pleaded. “Don’t punish them for my sins.”

Kristoph said nothing. His face was inscrutable and if Fennic had any telepathic skills, which well he might, he would see nothing in his employer’s mind to indicate what his family’s fate might be.

“WHO paid you?” Remonte demanded. “Was it my blasted wife again? If this was her doing I shall have her put under house arrest for life. I will put an end to her schemes for good.”

“This is too sophisticated for Idell,” Kristoph told him. “It is no assassin’s method, either. But clearly somebody had a grudge against me, or against Marion. No doubt it is some fool who cannot let go of the pure blood issue. I know there are a few who hide their true thoughts even when we meet them socially. But which one?” He pressed his hand against Fennic’s head and forced his way into his mind. He saw his fear for his future. He saw his family who he feared for in his most honest thought of all. But about the one who gave him his traitor’s pay and ordered him to sabotage the car there was nothing. There was a mental wall that he could not penetrate.

“Let me,” Bolar Lundar said. “This is what I am skilled in. It is why you brought me here.”

“I brought you as an independent witness to the crime against me and my wife,” Kristoph answered him. “But I would be grateful, my friend.”

Lundar stepped nearer and put his hands on the culprit. He forced his way into his mind. Kristoph and Remonte were surprised when they found the images relayed to their own minds. They saw the wall, too. They saw Lundar forcing it to crumble. They saw Fennic taking the money and promising to do what was asked.

But they didn’t see who gave the money. Lundar probed further, deeper. Fennic groaned in horror, because the process was not kind. It was meant to get the truth from those who had committed the worst possible sin for a Gallifreyan – betrayal of trust.

“It’s no use,” Lundar concluded. “His memory is corrupted. The wall… it wasn’t he who put it up. It was the one who commanded him to betray you. He acted to protect himself.”

“You really were a fool,” Kristoph told Fennic. “The one who paid you to kill my wife left you to take the fall for it.”

“I…” Fennic began to say, looking at Kristoph with haunted, broken eyes. “I cannot…”

Then he screamed as if in acute agony.

Lundar, too, gave a painful cry. Kristoph and Remonte felt it, too. It was a mental equivalent of a stun grenade blinding and overwhelming their minds. As it wore off, all three men clutched their heads dizzily.

“Rassilon defend us!” Bolar Lundar murmured as he turned and looked at Fennic, slumped on the ground. He was conscious but his eyes were unfocussed and the words he murmured incoherent.

“What…” Remonte began to ask.

“A neural time bomb,” Lundar explained. “A booby trap by the one who already tampered with this poor fool’s mind. If one such as I broke through the wall, then it would trigger. We felt the effects only momentarily. But he…” Lundar carefully probed his mind. “His mind is seared. He may remember a few things in time – he might learn to recognise family and friends, and perform ordinary functions. But not without help.”

“Rassilon defend us, indeed!” Remonte replied. “Such a thing is possible?” He looked to his brother.

“I have heard of it, but never seen it,” Kristoph said. “This is not the work of a fool like Ravenswode, who I was suspecting until now. Nor do I think Oakdaene is capable and I would have considered him next.”

Kristoph put his palms together in front of his lips almost as if he was praying. He looked at the pitiful wreck of a man. He felt no anger now. There was nothing to be angry about. He felt afraid. Somebody with so much power meant him and his wife harm. That scared him as few things could scare him.

“Arrange for this man to be hospitalised. Let him have the best care. At my expense. His family… my deepest condolences for the tragic accident. They need not know of his deeds. I shall arrange a pension to keep them while their breadwinner is incapacitated. They need not suffer for somebody else’s crime.”

Lundar and Remonte both looked at the patriarch of the Lœngbærrow House. They both knew him well. But neither had seen such an example of his magnanimity before. Remonte nodded and said he would arrange all that was ordered.

“I shall have to take my wife out and buy her a new car later,” Kristoph said. “That young man who aspired to be her chauffer. He will accompany us. Whether Marion wishes it or not, until we know more, she MUST have an escort at all times. If she chooses to drive, then she will drive Gallis Limmon as a passenger. Lundar, my friend… will you make what inquiries you can. We must know if there will be another attempt.”

“I will do so,” Lundar promised. “It will be an easier task than breaking that news to Marion, though it may take considerably longer.”

“Yes,” Kristoph agreed with a wry smile. He sighed. Little good had come out of this affair. A man incapacitated, perhaps for life. His family devastated. His own family living in fear of another attempt against them. The future was grim, indeed.