Kristoph woke and looked up from the hard bench where he was lying. He saw bars. Time Lord technology extended to force fields and personal gravity restraints that could keep a prisoner in one place. But they preferred the old fashioned reassurance of steel bars fixed to the floor and ceiling. It was psychological, of course. Bars were the one thing that made a prisoner realise he was a prisoner every waking moment.

He heard a groan of pain and though his own body ached from the aftermath of interrogation, he struggled to his feet. It took only one stride to reach the other shelf like bed in the cell. He wondered why they had been allowed to share their confinement. But he was glad of it. He could give some little comfort to his brother.

He touched Remonte’s face and felt his pain. He had been subjected to the mind probe no less than eight times since he was brought to the Chancellery Guard headquarters for questioning. Each time they brought him back unconscious.

“Brother,” Remonte whispered. “I am sorry you are here, too.”

“It was only to be expected. I am the one who is a trained assassin.”

“That is not supposed to be common knowledge. Besides…” Remonte coughed dryly as the rest of his words died on his lips.

“Don’t speak,” Kristoph told him. “Here, have some water.” They at least ensured there was clean water in the cell. And twice, food of a sort had been brought. Remonte drank. Slow sips, soothing his mouth and throat.

“I’ve been here twenty-one hours,” he said. “It is night again.”


“My dear Rika. She must be so frightened.”

“Marion, too. But they won’t be alone. They will be comforted. And we are not alone here. Remonte, my brother. Have courage. This will be over.”

“Yes,” he answered bitterly. “When I am atomised for the murder of my wife.”

“You won’t be,” Kristoph answered him. “Have faith in our justice system.”

“They haven’t looked for any other suspect. You and I are the only ones whose minds are being probed for the details of the foul deed. Sweet Mother of Chaos.” Remonte closed his eyes and tried to hide how much pain he was in. He didn’t want to appear weak in front of his brother. But he couldn’t help it. The mind probe was excruciating while it was being applied. But the aftershocks it caused to the brain were often as bad. Kristoph held him by the shoulders as his body spasmed. That was what left them aching and weak, of course. The chemical reactions in the brain made the muscles contract involuntarily. He knew it must have happened to him, too, several times during the hours he was unconscious. That was why he hurt so much. But it was harder on a conscious mind. Then the horror of it all was greater.

The fit passed at last and Kristoph felt Remonte’s body go limp in his arms. He gasped out loud and hid his face from his brother.

“Don’t be ashamed, Remonte,” he told him. “You’ve endured this manfully, especially for one who was born to be a philosopher and a politician, not a warrior.”

“You’ve been through this before, haven’t you, brother?” Remonte said. “In the war that was being fought when I was born.”

Kristoph sighed. Yes, he had endured this and much worse. Year after year, as a prisoner of the Sarre, his life had consisted of nothing but pain and torture and brief spells of relief when he was allowed to sleep. Mental and physical torture had been his existence. The only question in his mind was how long they would allow him to live just to endure such pain.

His brother had been born while he was living that hellish existence. When he had returned home, when he had finally known his home after months of coma and slow recovery of his wits, a young stranger had been there, about to go to the Prydonian Academy and follow in his legendary brother’s footsteps there. They had slowly learnt to love each other as brothers.

“You’ve never talked about it. I never asked. But I was proud of you, my brother, the war hero. People at the Academy always talked of you proudly, too. And I was glad to be your brother.”

“I went to war to protect my people from pain,” Kristoph answered. “Then our own… our own people do this to you.”

“I told them nothing,” Remonte said. “They wanted to know where I was last night. When… when she was killed. But I didn’t tell them. I wouldn’t… I couldn’t…”

“They think you’re hiding something. That’s why they keep subjecting you to the probe. Remonte…”

“I’m not hiding THAT. I didn’t… I didn’t kill her. I couldn’t. Kristoph, you know I couldn’t. I hate her. She was a wicked woman who caused me so much pain. She tried to hurt you and Marion. And that was unforgivable. But I didn’t lay a hand on her.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Kristoph assured him. “Remonte, I know what it is you’re hiding. I know who you’re protecting.”

“I can’t let them drag Rika into this.”

“I know. But if you don’t tell them the truth, then it may be taken as proof of guilt. They will send you to trial and then at best your affair with Rika will come out in an open court. At worst, they will convict you. And… and me, too. They are convinced that I helped you to kill her.”

“Who put that idea into their heads? Why should they suspect you?”

“Because I am a killer. And enough people in high places know that I am. My past will not lie down. And because her neck was broken in a professional way. The medulla oblongata was pierced by the shattered vertebrae. She was killed instantly in the manner taught to CIA operatives.”

Remonte looked at his brother quizzically.

“Yes, I have killed that way. But I didn’t kill Idell. If I had my hands on her miserable neck I would have squeezed very slowly and made her suffer.”

“You don’t mean that,” Remonte said. “Not even for Idell. You don’t mean it. You were never a cruel man. For all you did in the name of Gallifrey, you were never cruel. And you wouldn’t…”

“No,” he admitted. “Perhaps not. I’m not exactly myself right now. I’m hurting a lot. That damned probe. We’re a civilised race, but our methods of interrogating prisoners would make a barbarian cry foul. I feel so angry. But no, I would not do that to a woman, not even Idell.”

They both looked around as the door to the cell block opened and guards entered. Kristoph wondered if the things they had both said just now had been monitored – they almost certainly were. Why else were they allowed to be together, talking. Were his words going to be used to convict him of murder? He cursed himself for such foolishness. He had been trained not to say anything that could be used against him. And yet he had forgotten that training. Yes, he was bodily and mental weak in the aftermath of the probe. But he should have been stronger than that.

The Castellan entered the cell block. He approached the cage where the two brothers were incarcerated.

“Not again,” Kristoph cried out. “He’s too weak, yet. Leave him be. You’ll kill him.”

“Then let him tell the truth,” answered the Castellan. “I have read the reports from my technicians. He is hiding something. What is it that you have to hide, Remonte de Lœngbærrow?”

“I am a government official,” Remonte answered. “I have many secrets not of my own keeping.”

The Castellan looked less certain.

“Is THAT what you are hiding? Government secrets?”

“No,” he answered truthfully. “But it is not the murder of my wife, either. Pol… Please… We were at school together. You know I am not capable of such a thing. Please, in the name of our Lord Rassilon, believe me.”

Remonte screamed out loud as, again, his brain reacted against the punishment and went into a painful seizure. This one went on much longer than before and Kristoph cried out for help. The Castellan, despite the murmurs of his guard captain, stepped inside the cell and helped Kristoph to put his brother into the recovery position and hold his head and limbs until the fit was over.

“You are right. One more session with the mind probe would kill him,” Castellan Braxiatel admitted as Remonte slowly regained control of his own body and was able to lie down on the bench again. “But we must have the truth.”

“Then let a TruthTaker find it,” Kristoph said. “Send for Bolar Lundar. He’s the best. He can find the truth without resort to torture.”

“Lundar is CIA. This is Chancellery jurisdiction. The murder was committed within the Capitol.”

“Fetch him,” Kristoph repeated. “Until then, leave this innocent man in peace. Let his body recover from the hurt inflicted on him by you. Or I shall defend him with my last breath right here in this cell.”

The Castellan looked around warily, aware that he was in a confined space with a man who could kill him with a flick of his wrist.

“Don’t be a fool,” he replied. “If you tried anything the guards would kill you instantly.”

“Then two innocent lives would be on your conscience, Pol. Dare you look my wife and mother in the eye after carrying out such a threat? Could you look at your own wife who is a friend to my Marion? Fetch Bolar Lundar and this can be finished easily.”

Pol Braxiatel looked at him long and hard. The two Lœngbærrow brothers had been his friends as long as he could remember. And he knew as much of the elder brother’s past as anyone did outside of the CIA. He knew he was not bluffing. Friendship or none, Chrístõ Mian would fight him if he forced his hand. He would die fighting.

He nodded to the guards. They turned and left the cell block.

“It will be done,” he said. “It may take some time. I will have food and water brought. And ethosuximide. It will stop any further seizures. He will recover.”

“Very well,” Kristoph answered. “Meanwhile, begone with you…”

The Castellan shivered as he felt the force of authority in those words from one who was supposed to be his prisoner. It was said that, of the Twelve Ancient Houses, Lœngbærrow was the first to be sired. The Lœngbærrow patriarchs were the elder sons of Rassilon himself. Most dismissed the idea, including the Lœngbærrow family themselves. But in that moment, Braxiatel wasn’t sure.

“All right,” Kristoph said to his brother when they were alone. “Rest now. It will be over soon.”

“Even to Lundar, I cannot reveal the truth,” Remonte told him. “I cannot betray Rika…”

“Lundar won’t give you any choice,” Kristoph answered him. “But it will be all right. I promise you.” He put his hand on Remonte’s forehead and soothed his fevered brain, drawing off the hurt caused by the probe and its aftershocks. A guard came presently with the promised drug. Kristoph injected it into his brother’s bloodstream and he relaxed enough to fall into a natural sleep. It would do him good. The Truthtaker’s method was thorough. It was not painful, but it was exhausting, and when traumatic events were involved it was mentally disturbing. But it was still far preferable to the mind probe. As long as Remonte didn’t try to put up any more walls, he would be all right.

It was three hours before the Truthtaker arrived. Remonte slept on. Kristoph remained awake by his side. He had learnt to forgo rest long ago.

“Come, both of you,” said the Castellan. The guards stood by to escort them, and manacles were applied before they left the cell. They were still prisoners. They were left in no doubt about that.

They were bought to the interrogation room. Bolar Lundar was there. He looked at them both impassively. Again, he was a family friend, but this was still an interrogation.

“Before we begin,” Kristoph said, asserting his authority again, even in chains. “I want one thing clear. This examination is to establish the guilt or innocence of either of us in the unlawful death of Idell Malthis. That is the extent of your remit. I want the word of both you, Lundar, and you, Braxiatel, that any other matter that may emerge here in this room is of no consequence and will not be officially recorded.”

“You speak of government secrets?” Lundar asked.

“Among other secrets that we both keep, and which other innocent parties are involved in,” Kristoph answered.

“Yes,” The Castellan decided. “I will grant that much if we can get on with this, now.”

“This is not a CIA matter,” Lundar said. “Nothing that I find that isn’t related to a murder or conspiracy to murder is of consequence.”

“Then you will not find any wall in our minds. Remonte… you may open your mind fully to the TruthTaker.”

Remonte looked fearful, even so, as Lundar stood behind him and put his hands on his head. The forcible entry of a powerful telepath into his mind was far from pleasant even if it was not actually painful. And it disturbed him to have his memories probed. He was mortified when his entire night of love-making with Rika was sifted through in fine detail by the TruthTaker.

“I am sorry to be so intrusive,” Lundar told him telepathically. “But it IS possible to use a memory like that one, involving such powerful emotions, to cover other deeds. You are very much in love with that woman, whoever she is.”

“She is nothing to do with this,” Remonte answered. “My love for her is not connected to my hatred of Idell. The two things… I would not taint the beauty and purity of our love with thoughts of that false-hearted harridan…”

“So I see,” Lundar said as he moved on. Remonte found his memories of his marital break up even more disturbing. But he let the TruthTaker see everything. Even the most embarrassing details. He was open to his probing and did not hold anything back.

“No,” Lundar announced at last. “There is nothing in his mind of any act of murder, nor of any conspiracy to commit a murder. He had not urged anyone to act on his behalf. There is no malice there. And no false memories, either.” He glanced at Kristoph as he said that.

“Very well,” the Castellan conceded. He looked relieved. Then Lundar turned to him. Kristoph took a little longer to allow him into his mind. Years of practice meant that his walls took time to fall even when he was willing. Kristoph knew that Lundar was being extra careful with him, knowing that he COULD, possibly deceive him. But eventually he felt the pressure of the examination relieved. It was over. Lundar announced that he, too, was innocent of any connection with Idell Malthis’s murder.

“But what is this about attempts on your own wife?” The Castellan asked. Kristoph was surprised by the question. Lundar, of course, knew of the attempt to sabotage Marion’s car, but not of other suspicious events.

“I am dealing with it,” he answered. “Marion is protected.”

“But it could be connected.” The Castellan looked at Lundar and something passed between them telepathically, blocked, of course, from Kristoph and Remonte. “I think it is possible that Idell was killed because she was an easier target than Marion, with the protection afforded her.”

“That makes it sound as if Kristoph IS responsible,” Remonte protested.

“No, but if he had made this official earlier, it is possible…” The Castellan shook his head. “No, recriminations of that sort are pointless. We, too, have let the trail go cold for almost twenty-six hours. We are at fault. Rassilon grant it is not too late to find the one responsible for all of this.”

“We are free to go?” Kristoph asked.

“Yes, of course you are.” The Castellan nodded to the guard at the door. The manacles were removed from their wrists and ankles. “Transport will be arranged. And please… accept my apologies…”

“We accept,” Kristoph answered for them both. “And be assured you are both welcome as friends in my home. No resentments will be held. By either of us.”

“That is good to know,” Castellan Braxiatel said.

“One thing more,” Bolar Lundar said. “It is true that our laws related to adultery are exacting. They make no allowance for a man whose marriage is irretrievably broken down. But you should know that the law was written in a precise way. It can only be enforced if an official complaint is made about one or both parties in the affair. No such complaint was made while you were married to Idell Malthis. No complaint can be forthcoming in retrospect.”

Remonte nodded. He said nothing. He wanted nothing more than to get home to the woman he loved.

The reunion was emotional, as they anticipated. It was a short one, too. Kristoph ordered his brother to his bed, reminding him that he had undergone an exhausting ordeal. Rika went with him, determined to care for him in every way. Kristoph arranged for his parents, and Lily and Isolatta to stay the night. He would have none of them travelling in the dark. And finally he was able to take his wife to his own bed. He slipped into the cool sheets and reached to hold her warm body next to his. He kissed her lovingly and pressed his hand against her as he felt for the spark of life still strong inside her. He had every reason to be content.

But for one thing.

The killer of Idell Malthis was still out there and still posed a threat to his family..