It didn’t take Cassie and Terry long to pack their tent and their possessions and come back to the TARDIS. Chrístõ had sorted a few things out ready for them. He showed them a bedroom off the corridor that led from the console room to the heart of the TARDIS.

“All yours,” he said and left them to unpack and make themselves at home. He felt good. He hummed Dylan songs cheerfully as he worked. When they joined him he smiled brightly at them.

“So, where would you like to go?” he asked. “We have all of time and space to choose from.”

Cassie and Terry looked at each other. One thought crossed their minds. “Abu Simbel.”

Chrístõ looked at them and smiled. Where ELSE would two student Egyptologists want to go? Of course it would be Abu Simbel. He looked at his list of presets and wondered if his tutors had some precognition of his meeting Cassie and Terry. “I have preset co-ordinates for 2000, 1964, 1845 and the 13th century BC, he said. Pick one.”

“Any reason why we can’t do ALL of them?” Terry asked

“None at all. We’ll work backwards, shall we? 2000 first.”

“Did you say, 2,000?” they both said at once. But Chrístõ was already at the navigation console.

“This is a preset my tutors put into my TARDIS so none of us need to do anything much, but come on up here and I’ll show you what to do if we WERE doing the driving.” And he thought his tutors might actually be impressed by the way he taught Terry to operate the basic functions of the navigation controls and taught Cassie how to monitor the environmental controls while he took the most important time and space flight controls.

They arrived an hour before sunset. Lake Nasser glittered in the slanting rays of the setting sun, and above it rose the Temples of Abu Simbel with their artificial mountains protecting them. The TARDIS had handily disguised itself as a yacht – with the identification mark across its blue and white sails - anchored in the middle of the lake. They sat on top of its ‘cabin’ to watch as the sun dropped lower and lit the fronts of the two temple complexes with red-orange light that slid lower and lower until the sun was set. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Even Chrístõ, who had seen quite a few of the wonders of the universe, enjoyed it. The temples were lit with atmospheric uplighting after dark, and there were tours with special commentaries going on. But they stayed where they were. It was cold now the sun had gone, but none of them seemed to feel it much. Chrístõ was not especially affected by temperature changes anyway, with his unique physiology. His Human companions were too enthralled in the joy of finally being in one of the places that they had longed to visit all their lives to notice anything.

Chrístõ looked up in the velvet night sky. The stars were in a slightly different position here than they were in England and he was disorientated. “Terry, he whispered. “Please… find it for me…” Terry knew what he meant. He knelt and looked around, locating the familiar constellations of Earth’s sky.

“There,” he said, touching Chrístõ’s arm and pointing upriver where the sky was unspoilt by light pollution and the constellation of Sagittarius was bright against the black of infinity. Chrístõ knelt upright and gazed at it for a long time. His home was there, though so far, far away that his Human companions only had the smallest inkling of how far. Terry put his arm about his shoulder and Cassie took his hand in hers. They both wanted him to know they understood his loneliness and wanted him to feel less it less keenly.

“Thank you,” he said to them both when he stirred at last. “It is cold out here. You two ought to go and sleep for a few hours. I’ll wake you in time for the dawn.”

“What about you?” Cassie asked.

“I don’t need sleep,” he said. “I’ll be all right here.”

They climbed down and went inside the TARDIS and he looked up again at the star on the bowstring of Sagittarius. Like Earth, they never gave their sun a name. It was just there, warming them by day and giving reflected light to their moon, Pazithi Gallifreya, by night.

Of course, he told himself, as much as he missed it, so much that it was a physical pain, there were plenty of reasons not to be on Gallifrey. If he went home now his life would not be his own. His stepmother would be trying to find him a wife in the ‘best’ Houses of the southern continent; his father would be pulling strings to get him a job in the diplomatic corps. Even the Academy would be pressurising him about his graduation. As the top student he was going to have to give some kind of speech and he still hadn’t decided if he was going to be a good and loyal Prydonian and praise his teachers for all they had done for him or a rebel and remind them that his achievements were DESPITE those who had doubted him and those who openly resented him.

For his father’s sake, and possibly for the sake of getting a good job, and a good marriage, all of which were important in Gallifreyan society, and even for going back to the Academy to get his post graduate doctorate, he probably WOULD conform. The rebel in him saw merit in making a glorious stand at his graduation. The proud Gallifreyan citizen in him told him not to be so daft. You’d ruin your future for making their mouths drop for a few minutes?

The rebel replied - Ok, I’ll wait till I’m inducted as Lord High President of all Gallifrey and do it THEN.

And the proud Gallifreyan had no answer to that.

He smiled. He raised his hands above his head and blessed his home so far away and the few people there he genuinely loved and the few more he wished no harm to. Then he shifted position, sitting cross legged and straight backed in the way of the monks of Mount Lœng and put himself into a slow, deep meditation. His hearts slowed to less than one beat every ten minutes. His lungs slowed to match them, his one deep breath as he began the exercise sufficing. His other organs matched those most vital ones. Finally, even his brain relaxed and let go of all its cares. His eyes remained open, but they were vacant and empty. His last thought was that he had to wake again before Terry and Cassie or he would frighten the hell out of them. He would look dead to them.

He “woke” an hour before the dawn, his brain becoming active first and demanding that his heart and lungs provide it with oxygen. He was aware of a pleasant breeze that ruffled his hair and cooled his face as he stretched his legs out and jumped down onto the ‘deck’ of his disguised craft. Inside the cabin door, of course, was his familiar console room. He noticed that Terry and Cassie had crashed for the few short hours on the bunk in the main room rather than going to the bedroom he had made available to them. He smiled at the way Terry lay enfolding Cassie protectively in his arms and shook him gently awake. “Come on, or you’ll miss the best bit,” he said.

They left the TARDIS where it was and travelled to the shore in the dingy that formed part of the disguise, tying it up on the shore just below the great temple complex and walking uphill.

“Oh, it's even more wonderful than I imagined,” Cassie breathed as they stood in front of the great temple to Ramesses II. The subtle uplighting enhanced it beautifully, and more importantly, allowed them to find it in what would otherwise be pitch dark.

They were not the only people there. There was a small group already waiting outside the main temple. Their tickets were checked, and Chrístõ made use of a very handy item he kept in his pocket. To him it was a grubby piece of paper in a plastic holder. To anyone looking at it, it was what he wanted them to see. It was called psychic paper and it told the organisers of the solstice at Abu Simbel that he was Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow, a VIP guest with two friends accompanying him.

Presently a tour guide, a pretty young woman of Egyptian physiognomy but a mid-Atlantic accent, called them together and led them inside the great tomb, through the hypostyle hall containing eight columns depicting Ramesses II. From there they continued into an inner sanctuary with statues of Ra, Ramesses II himself, considered a God by his people, Amun and Ptah seated against the far wall. With a half hour till dawn, she told them how the chamber they were in had been built by the ancient Egyptians in such a way that on two mornings a year, in February and October, the sun shone directly into the chamber, illuminating three of the four statues, but never touching that of Ptah, the god of darkness.

“Poor old Ptah,” Chrístõ thought. “Always in darkness.” But he waited as breathlessly as any of them for the moment when the sun rose. Although they knew what to expect, none of them really were prepared for how wonderful it was as all artificial lights went out and they stood in darkness for a few minutes. Chrístõ felt Cassie’s hand slip into his and Terry’s too as they formed a circle of friendship together among the invited guests. Then the light seemed to creep down through the temple, along the hypostyle and into the sanctuary, illuminating the first three Gods but not the last. There was a murmur of appreciation and awe from the crowd. Chrístõ, Cassie and Terry hugged each other closer, feeling the joy of being alive in a unique and wonderful place and time.

“Chrístõ,” Terry whispered loudly to him. “Look…” He gasped in astonishment at what he saw when he followed the line of Terry’s pointing finger. Between the statues of Amun and Ptah, etched on the wall, and a double line of figures that looked like the most complicated map reference Terry had ever seen. Chrístõ moved towards the wall and touched the etched letters.

“Sir…” the tour guide turned to them. “Please don’t touch anything.” Terry turned to her and asked about the symbols. “Oh! That! People often ask. We don’t know. Nobody does. It was there when the chambers were first opened.” The guide shook her head and then apologised for her lack of knowledge of the Greek alphabet. “I can never remember what the symbols are. But people have analysed them and there seems no hidden message of any kind. They are just two random Greek letters. The co-ordinate below is far more interesting. Before the temples were moved, that would have been slap bang in the central chamber of Queen Nefertari’s temple. But nobody is sure why that would be.”

“The symbols are Theta Sigma,” Chrístõ said. “And they represent ‘The Outcast One’. And he then turned such a hard stare on the tour guide that she turned away, instantly forgetting his explanation of the symbols, or, indeed, that he and his companions were part of her tour at all. Chrístõ turned and stared hard at the cryptic message and blinked twice almost like his eyes were a camera taking a picture of it. So it seemed to Cassie as she watched him.

“It must be meant for you,” she said. “That’s YOUR symbol isn’t it?”

“It was my nickname at school.”

“The Outcast One?” Cassie shivered despite herself and closed her hand over his arm gently. “My beautiful alien,” she whispered. “I wish your own people had been kinder to you. You shouldn’t be so sad and troubled in your heart.”

“Hearts,” he said turning to her. “I have two.”


“Yes,” He faced her and took both of her hands and placed them where his two hearts beat either side of his chest. She gazed at him in amazement and then kissed him on the lips quickly.

“I don’t know what it means to you medically,” she said. “But that seems to mean that you hurt twice as much when people don’t love you as much as you deserve.” Then she turned and put her hand in Terry’s and kissed him to remind him that she WAS still his girl despite the affection she had for their unusual companion. But Terry understood it well enough. There was something about Chrístõ that made such gestures of affection easy.

After a while they left the chamber and walked beside the waters of Lake Nasser reflecting on the amazing place they were in, and on the cryptic message intended for them, or at least for Chrístõ.

“What does it mean?” Terry asked.

“It means for some reason I need the exact co-ordinates of the middle of Queen Nefetari’s Temple,” Chrístõ said. “That’s all I know yet. I’m sure it will make sense eventually. Most things do.”

“Can you believe that they took this whole thing apart and rebuilt it here. It should be way down under the lake.” Cassie mused on the engineering achievement it had been.

“I’d sure like to have seen how it was done,” Terry said. And Chrístõ smiled.

“Funny you should say that…. 1964 anyone?”

The TARDIS again turned itself into a yacht, but a smaller and less sophisticated one, moored on the River Nile as it wended its way through the valley that was going to be Lake Nasser in a few years time. The three time travellers walked up to the great archaeological project that was in full swing. Chrístõ’s psychic paper identified them as members of the UNESCO restoration team and they watched in wonder as work went on to slice the two great temples into manageable blocks for re-assembly at the top of the valley.

“You Humans are amazing,” Chrístõ said. “You find solutions for all your problems. The dam that is being built is to bring life to the desert and give people clean water and irrigated farms. And because creating it would destroy such a great ancient wonder, you take the wonder apart and re-assemble it. What a fantastic species you all are.”

“It's amazing,” Terry said. “When we saw it – yesterday – you would never know. What a great job they did re-assembling it up there.”

“It WAS incredible,” Chrístõ said. “Though I suspect 20 or 30 years later protesters would demand the lake was moved, not the monument.”

“ALL our problems?” Cassie said thoughtfully. “The Atom bomb?”

“Will never be used in anger on Earth,” Chrístõ promised. “Humanity does get it right eventually.”

“The War in Vietnam?” Terry asked.

“Some things just had to run their course. If you’re asking will that war end, yes it will, but then there will be other wars. It will take a long time for that to change. But it will. Human destiny is to colonise the stars. By the time Earth is destroyed by the supernova of the sun, billions of years from now, Humanity will have many other planets to call home.”

“Is that why your race is so against mixed marriages?” Cassie asked. “Are they afraid of Humans?”

“Could be,” Chrístõ said. “Silly really. Stupid, arrogant and short-sighted. WE, too, are descended from the same species as Earth’s Humanity. That’s WHY we look like you. All Humanoid life-forms are distant kin.”

“That is such a cool way of looking at life,” Terry said. “It's what we wanted it to be about… free love, no war, brothers and sisters in peace.”

“Yes, you have the right idea. I’m afraid it will take a long time yet, though.”

“But you’ve seen it?” Cassie asked. “You’ve seen Earth in the future.”

“So did you, yesterday. The year 2,000. It was still hanging in there. Honestly, it's not going to be a free ride. The Blessed Generation will wonder if they are cursed too, but you’ll make it. Humanity will make it. Believe me.”

“I believe you, Chrístõ,” Cassie told him. “My beautiful alien who knows the future.” She smiled and hugged his arm as they walked past the stone-cutters and archaeologists into the tomb of Rameses II. Chrístõ wanted a closer look at that inscription which had been there in the temple when it was first opened in the 1820s.

They needed a torch this time. No solstice light lit and warmed the chamber. But there was nobody telling them not to touch, either.

“This was carved by a tool that uses heat,” Chrístõ said as he looked closer at the inscription. “Not a chisel or cutting tool.”

“Is that significant?” Terry asked.

“Yes. I only know of one tool that does that.” And he took out his sonic screwdriver and twisted it to a new setting and pointed it at a section of the wall that had been marked out with some kind of graphite pencil as one of the lines to cut through. With a steady hand he scored a neat line about half an inch deep in the sandstone. Terry put his hand to it and felt the heat dissipating rapidly, then to the S of the inscription. They were identical marks.

“That means…” Cassie said. “That YOU left this inscription, in the past.”

“Yes. And since we ARE planning to go back to the past that’s no real mystery. I wonder…” Without another word he turned on his heels and strode out of the temple and headed towards the smaller one, the one dedicated to Queen Nefertari. It was not yet ready to be dismantled and there were less people about. They walked in silence to the inner chamber. Chrístõ stood where he judged to be dead centre and adjusted the screwdriver again. He lifted it up and read a digital reading from it. “Well, there’s a thing! The co-ordinate is spot on. I could put this into the TARDIS from anywhere in space and it would materialise right where we are standing.”

“Ouch,” Cassie said.

“No,” Terry corrected her. “If we WERE standing here, it would materialise around us, wouldn’t it? Like when we were in the Traactine engine room.”


Cassie looked around at the chamber. She noticed that it had doors that could be sealed up. She could think of a lot of good reasons to wish a craft like the TARDIS could get in and out of the tomb-like room. She shivered.

“Let’s go outside,” Chrístõ said presently. He could tell Cassie was not happy. He felt it himself, the feeling of being entombed. Of course, this was a temple, not a tomb. But it FELT like one.

“This is terrific, though,” Terry said, when they were out in the daylight again, looking around at the work going on to transport the great temples uphill away from the deluge that was to come. “Cassie and I were at school when all this was happening. It's what got us interested in Egypt, but we only got to see it on the news on TV. But now we’re here. We can be a part of it. Do we have time? Could we stay and get involved for a bit? Is there any limit to how long we can stay in any time zone?”

“No. I was three years in the 1860s before I met you guys.” Chrístõ looked at his friends. Their faces were eager and excited. They wanted to stay. And it was for him to decide. “Well, of course we can,” he said. Why not? It was HIS field trip, too. He was supposed to learn about Earth culture. This WAS Earth culture.

They stayed two months. It was, Chrístõ thought, the nicest two months he could remember for a long time. As much as he enjoyed his years in the 1860s, the strain of hiding his alien identity told on him every day. But here there were two people who understood him, who sat with him in the dark of the evening and watched the southern sky with him, gazing on his home star while he talked to them about his planet and his life there; two people who shared their own ambitions with him, and didn’t mind that he was an alien, giving their unconditional love and friendship to him as he had never experienced before. Finally, though, even they knew they had to move on.

“Ok, here we are,” Chrístõ said, with a triumphant smile. “Abu Simbel, 1845.”

“Why so late?” Cassie asked. “It was discovered in 1813 by JL Burckhardt.”

“Yes, I know,” Chrístõ said. “And I suppose I could have adjusted the preset easily enough. But it was left more or less the same throughout the nineteenth century. It was a popular tourist spot for the rich and influential. So any time would do.”

“Then why….”

“Because slavery was only abolished in the British Empire in 1833. And I have no intention of taking you to any time when you would be treated as anything less than a lady.”

“Oh.” Cassie smiled weakly at him. “I hadn’t thought of that. It… was kind of you to think of it.”

“Even in 1845, there are a lot of people who will be mean to Cassie,” Terry said. “Making a law doesn’t take away the attitudes in people’s minds.”

“That is certainly true,” Chrístõ said.

“Maybe she could dress as a maid or something. Then they won’t take any notice of her.”

“She will not,” Chrístõ objected at once. “And I’m surprised at you for suggesting it, Terry. Cassie, you know where the wardrobe is. There are dresses in there suitable for this period. Go make yourself look pretty. You’re going out there as a LADY. And NOBODY will be mean to you while we’re around.” Cassie smiled at him and ran off to change. Chrístõ looked at Terry. “Come on, if she’s going to be a lady, we have to look like gentlemen.”

Chrístõ looked more than a gentleman. Terry realised as he saw him that he WAS a Time LORD. He was an aristocrat of his world. And in an elegant suit of clothes of the period, all of silk and fine cloth, he looked every inch a LORD. It wasn’t just the clothes. Terry was dressed in similar fashion, but he just felt as if he was dressing up. Chrístõ LOOKED and walked and held himself erect like he was born to it. Terry realised that he ALWAYS did. Even in the midst of the flower children of the Isle of Wight in 1969 he had carried himself with that same air. But now he radiated nobility.

When Cassie emerged from the ‘wardrobe’ she took their breath away in a dress of pure white voile which immediately set off her milk chocolate skin. It had a fan shaped bodice coming to a point where the wide, flared skirt began at the waist and fanning out at the shoulders into sleeves that again fanned out at the wrists. She wore a bonnet of the same fabric and carried a little white frilled parasol.

Chrístõ was nearest to her as she came into the console room. He took her hand in his and kissed it.

“You are lovely,” he said. She glowed with pride. And so she should. She was, Chrístõ thought, a very beautiful woman by anyone’s standards. Her ethnic mixture made a very pleasing combination. She had fine Caucasian features but the sultry skin colour of her Caribbean ancestry. She was a beautiful example of Humanity’s wonderful diversity. He stepped towards Terry and placed her hand in his and squeezed them both together.

The TARDIS had AGAIN disguised itself as a yacht of the period, and they emerged onto the deck. It was early evening at Abu Simbel. The sun was low in the sky but not yet set. They looked around at a view that was quite different to that they had seen in 1964. The temples were only partially to be seen, obscured by sand dunes. And yet there were crowds all around. The TARDIS was not the only yacht anchored on that stretch and ashore there were tents set up, the large tents of those who could afford luxury even when ‘camping’.

As they sat on deck they were hailed from the nearest of the other yachts, and a boat was sent over with a smartly dressed sailor requesting that their party come over for drinks. Chrístõ grinned at his friends and reminded them he was here to meet people. The sailor did give Cassie an odd look as she settled herself in the boat, but when he met Chrístõ’s full on aristocrat stare he made himself busy.

The upper class Englishman who greeted them when they came onto the deck of the other yacht was practically an archetype. His clothes were as rich as Chrístõ’s and he spoke with a lazy voice of somebody used to having things easy. He had a thin face with a tight, thin-lipped smile that Terry took an instant dislike to.

“Viscount Marley,” the man said, shaking hands with Terry and Chrístõ, who he took to be equals.

“The Marquess de Lœngbærrow and this is my cousin, Terrence, Earl of Guildford.” Terry was not an expert on the peerage, but by the look on Marley’s face Chrístõ had made them both outrank him. “And may I present the Marchioness Cassandra.” Chrístõ took Cassie’s hand and brought her forward from the shadows. Lord Marley began a smile that seemed to freeze as he saw Cassie’s face for the first time.

“Yes, well,” he said, recovering his poise. “It's a trifle chilly up here, shall we go below deck?”

Below deck they were brought to a well appointed lounge where they were served drinks. Cassie sat beside Chrístõ and Terry the other side of her. Beside Marley was a pretty oriental girl in a green dress. She said nothing.

“Your wife?” Terry asked of Marley, who gave a cruel laugh.

“Hardly. Just an exotic amusement I picked up in Shanghai. Speaking of which, I take it you WERE joking about the ‘Marchioness’ You know, rather bad idea, old chap, to be TOO cosy with the bought goods.”

“Not at all,” Chrístõ insisted. “Cassandra is very dear to me.”

Cassie smiled when he said that, but the look Marley was giving her froze her. If it had been racial prejudice she would have understood. But it wasn’t even that. It was more like lust. Cassie looked at the oriental girl. She had such a blank expression on her face. Her eyes looked empty of emotion. Marley thought of her as a possession. WHEN was slavery abolished? Nobody seemed to have told Marley.

They did not stay for long. The conversation was too uncomfortable. Marley was an insufferable man. He was a snob, and a cruel one at that. None of them felt comfortable about him. As they left Chrístõ came as close as he had ever been to killing a man.

“Name your price for the Negress, and I’ll throw in the Chinese girl as a bonus. She’s learnt a few manners by now. She’ll please you, anyway.”

“Cassie is not for sale at any price,” Chrístõ said.

“Come on!” Marley said. “What about a loan then… straight swap, one for the other. For the one night only.”

“Sir, you overreach yourself,” Chrístõ said. “And you insult a virtuous lady.”

“Lady?” Marley sneered. “I see no lady.”

“I DO.” And he took Cassie by the arm and ushered her away.

“I’m sorry about that,” he said as they were escorted to the boat and returned quickly to their own yacht.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Cassie said. “That man…”

“How come she was YOUR Marchioness and not my Countess?” Terry asked.

“I thought he might be snob enough to accept Cassie if she outranked him enough,” Chrístõ said. “I was wrong.”

“It wasn’t because he didn’t like my colour,” Cassie said. “I’ve seen that in people all my life. It was…. He wanted me in his bed.”

“Over my dead body,” Terry said.

“Mine, too. Don’t you worry.”

“I feel sorry for that girl he has.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said. “And I don’t like the idea of ‘bought goods’. Slavery IS illegal.”

“Can we help her?” Terry asked.

“No,” Chrístõ answered. “We’re not…supposed to interfere with anything that happens in history.”

“She’s not history,” Cassie said. “She’s just a scared girl. And what about when we were on that spaceship? You helped then. Isn’t that interfering?”

“That didn’t belong on Earth. THAT was interfering. I STOPPED the interference. But Marley is a Human being. Whatever he is doing to that girl is normal behaviour for him on this planet in this time. And I can’t stop it.”

“It's not fair,” Cassie told him. “That girl is miserable. You should have been able to tell that, Chrístõ. With your ‘powers’. Did you look at her mind?”

“I tried. I couldn’t get through. But Cassie, even if that’s true – and I think it very likely is - I CAN’T. Don’t you understand?”

“No,” she said with tears in her eyes. “I DON’T understand.”

Cassie went to bed cross with him. He felt sorry about that, but he couldn’t help it. He sat for a long time on the ‘deck’ of the TARDIS yacht before going inside. He DID feel sorry for the Chinese girl. Being the mistress of one such as Marley could not be pleasant. He doubted she had any love for him. But he COULDN’T do anything.

“Haven’t you interfered in enough lives anyway?” his inner voice asked, reminding him that he had planned to marry Elizabeth in the 1860s, when she was actually supposed to marry somebody else. He had taken Cassie and Terry out of their timeline, interfering with them. And whenever it was that he put the and those co-ordinates into the temple that, surely, was interference.

“Yes, but…” he argued back with himself. “Those were all different.”

“Different how?” his inner voice said. “Because you WANTED to do those things?”

“NO,” he said. And the reason he knew that was not true was that he did WANT to rescue the Chinese girl from Marley. But he knew he couldn’t.

He went inside. The console room was quiet. Terry and Cassie were in bed, probably asleep. Chrístõ actually felt a little lonely thinking of the two of them together, comfort and warmth to each other, while he was alone. It wasn’t fair. He had as much love to offer as any man, and he was always alone.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” he chided himself and prepared to meditate for a few hours. He was just starting to relax and slow his body down when the TARDIS signalled to him that there was an intruder. It did so by means of a piercing alarm inside his own head that would rouse him from the deepest meditation. Since he was not there yet, it was painful and uncomfortable. He was on his feet immediately and out through the TARDIS door to where the chameleon circuit had extended its physical presence into the yacht’s deck.

There were three men, all dressed in black, which they supposed made them invisible in the dark. As any camouflage expert could confirm, dark-grey and green were more like it. Black just showed up against the shadows as a distinct shape. Especially for a Time Lord with night vision.

They were clumsy anyway, bare knuckle street fighters with no finesse. Hired muscle from Cairo, he judged by their voices. Not that he heard them say much. The way he fought, they barely had time to groan before they were unconscious.

Terry reached the deck just as he dispatched the last of them.

“I heard a noise. What’s….”

“At a guess, some of Marley’s men come to make me an offer I can’t refuse.”

“For Cassie?”

“It's ok,” Chrístõ assured him. “They can’t get in the TARDIS. She’s safe there. And we’ll look after her tomorrow.” He was busy as he spoke, pulling the three unconscious assailants together. He found a length of rope on one of them and tied them all up together.

“What are you going to do? Throw them overboard?”

“Certainly not. They’d drown. I don’t kill… unless I have to.” It was a curious definition of pacifism, but it was HIS definition. When alien cannibals were feasting on Human flesh he had no compunction about destroying their ship. But throwing three unconscious men into deep water that was, in addition, infested with crocodiles, was murder.

He had a better idea. He and Terry bundled the three men over into the dingy and rowed it to shore. Twenty minutes of work later they returned to the TARDIS leaving the three assailants to sleep it off, as Chrístõ confidently supposed they would. They would not be very happy or popular in the morning, though.

Chrístõ was sitting on the ‘deck’ of his TARDIS yacht enjoying the early coolness of dawn on the Nile before the sun began to bake the air when there were shouts of alarm on the river bank.

He turned towards the excitement. His Time Lord eyes had, among other special abilities, binocular vision. He focussed on the spot where three semi-naked men had been found tied to a stake very firmly imbedded in the compacted sand, close to the shoreline, but not close enough to have drawn the attention of the Nile crocodiles. In case there were ladies present he had left their underwear on. But…

He patted the pocket where his sonic screwdriver was. He had learnt a new use for it. It made really nice instant, but permanent, tattoos. He doubted any of them had a ‘classical’ education, but there were two Greek Symbols these three men would recognise whenever they looked in a mirror from now on.


Neither of them said anything to Cassie about the late night adventure. She was still very cool towards Chrístõ and he was not happy about that. Nor was Terry, who begged her to make it up with him. The result of that was that she didn’t want to talk to either of them, and walked ahead in a huff as they went to view the temples.

“She’ll be ok,” Terry told Chrístõ as he looked anxiously after her. “When she calms down, she’ll be herself again.”

“I know,” Chrístõ said. “Women on Gallifrey sulk, too.” They both laughed. “But, Terry, honestly, I CAN’T do it. It IS against the rules. I don’t mean of the Academy – I don’t mean that I’d be chucked out and not get to graduate or anything. But it's against the LAW of our people. Actual interference in causality – if you cause a major paradox they can take one of your lives.”

“Take… what?” Terry asked.

“Time Lords have the ability to regenerate into new bodies if they are fatally injured. But we can only do it 12 times. Having a life taken from you…. Well, it's a kind of death penalty. REALLY bad criminals have them all taken at once.”

“You can become another person?”

“I will be able to, when I’m older. We can’t until we’re about 500 years old. I’m not sure why. Until that age I just have to try not to get killed.”

“You can live till 500… and then have 12 more lives… You’re immortal.”

“No. Not quite. Our average lifespan is about 5,000. An ordinary Gallifreyan who hasn’t got the Time Lord’s regenerative ability lives about 900 years.”

“That’s immortal for us. No wonder you go to school for 200 years. But…” Terry was about to say something else, but they heard Cassie scream. Both of them ran. Chrístõ got there first. He was always likely to outrun any Human, but Terry was not so far behind, concern for his lover giving him an impetus.

“Cassie?” Chrístõ came over the sand dune that partially masked the great temple of Ramesses II. He saw her on the ground and ran to her. She was dazed and frightened but otherwise all right. He lifted her to her feet and held her.

“Somebody grabbed me,” she said. “Tried to drag me into the temple.”

“Did you see who it was?” Terry caught up and he let him take her and hug her. The love of her own sweetheart was the medicine she needed best.

“One of Marley’s men, I think. But I couldn’t see his face.”

“We’ve no proof even to take to the authorities,” Terry said, angrily.

“Let’s go see this temple, as we planned, and then get away from here,” Chrístõ told them. The two of them took Cassie’s hands and they walked together up to the temple. Marley, they noticed with disgust, was there already.

“You think you’re clever, LongBurrow,”

“Lœngbærrow,” Chrístõ corrected him. “Marquess de Lœngbærrow to you. You may call me My Lord.”

“You’re no member of the British aristocracy, anyway,” he snarled. “And neither is HE.” Marley pointed a long, well manicured finger at Terry. “You’re frauds.”

“You are a cad and an abuser of women,” Chrístõ said and turned away. “And beneath my dignity to associate with.”

“I will have satisfaction for that insult to my honour,” Marley shouted after him. “Dawn tomorrow. If the knave with you has enough gentlemanly breeding to act as second, bring him with you. I shall run you both through before I have my second wind.”

“As you wish, Marley,” Chrístõ sighed. “Meanwhile, my Lady and I wish to see the Temple of Ramesses II.” He took Cassie’s hand and led her away, Terry caught up with them as they entered the temple.

“You’re really going to fight a duel with him?”

“Of course I’m not. We’ll be long gone by morning.”

“Thank heavens for that.”

“Lucky escape for Marley,” Chrístõ said. “I am a crack shot with a pistol and expert in three different forms of swordsmanship.”

“Show off,” Cassie said with a laugh and then took both his and Terry’s hands in hers as they entered the dark temple, lit only by rush lights every few yards. They knew it well enough by now, of course. They had seen it in 2000 at the solstice dawn and in 1964 in various states of dismantlement. But this was how it was when it was largely undisturbed since first being discovered. In the inner sanctuary, they checked the wall and smiled to see Chrístõ’s cryptic message still there.

“Will we ever know what it was for?” Cassie wondered.

“Yes, eventually,” Chrístõ said. “I think it must have been put there when the temple was new.”

“We’re going there next?” Terry whispered, aware that their conversation was a strange one and that there were other people about.

Then the rushlight behind them was extinguished. Chrístõ’s night vision kicked in just in time to see the pistol aimed at them. He threw himself in front of his friends and screamed as the bullet tore into his chest. He fell, covering Terry, who was knocked out as they hit the stone-flagged floor.

“I decided not to wait till dawn for satisfaction.” He heard Marley’s voice through a red haze of pain, and then he heard Cassie’s voice muffled and sounds of struggle and knew she was being taken. But for the moment he was powerless to help her. He was having trouble helping himself. He struggled to stay conscious as the sounds of heavy footsteps disappeared. He heard Terry groan and rolled off him, lying on his back, his hand over the bullet hole in his chest.

“Chrístõ?” Terry called weakly. “Cassie?” His voice quavered as he guessed what had happened.

“I’m here,” he replied. “They took Cassie.”

“Well, let’s get after them,” Terry said scrambling to his feet.

“I can’t, yet,” Chrístõ groaned. “I’ve been shot.” He was struggling. The bullet had pierced his lung and lodged in one of his hearts. It was possibly one of the worst injuries his tissue regenerating abilities could cope with. His other heart was racing, and he slowed it carefully and tried to think. He could taste his own blood in his mouth as it welled up from the damaged lung.

“Terry, get my sonic screwdriver from my pocket,” he said. Terry did so, feeling his way in the dark and pressed it into his hand. He turned it to one of the few settings he knew by heart. It made it into a very powerful magnet and he inserted the end into the bloody hole in his chest. He gritted his teeth as he felt the bullet slowly extracting itself from his heart and moving back along the track it had made going in. It hurt more than being shot but at last he withdrew the misshapen metal ball. In the pitch dark Terry didn’t see that. He only heard the sound of the bullet falling onto the floor.

Chrístõ adjusted the screwdriver again, and it lit up with a blue glow that was enough for Terry to see the anguished look on his friend’s face. He reached and held his hand. Chrístõ grasped it tightly as he concentrated his mind on repairing the damage to his body.

The hole in his flesh was easy. But the lung and the heart were a lot harder. They took time. He shut down the damaged lung, breathing harshly with only one and concentrated on mending the tissue for a long time. When that was done he breathed deep to kick it back off again and turned his attention to his heart. That had shut down as soon as he was hit, the right side heart immediately taking over the job. The damage was extensive, but his body knew what to do. It just hurt so much while it was doing it. And when it was repaired…

“Terry,” he said at last, “Do you know CPR?”

“Huh?” Terry was very much glad his friend was alive. He thought he was dying on him, and he had been wondering what he was going to do in 1845, alone, without Cassie. But his question puzzled him.

“My heart isn’t working,” he said. “I need you to massage it for me.” He lay down flat and took Terry’s two hands and showed him how to place them over his sternum. “Now push, firmly but carefully. Don’t crack my ribs or I’m in more trouble. Fifteen times, then pause, then again. Until I feel it kick in.”

Terry did as he was told. Chrístõ felt his blood being manually pushed through the dysfunctional heart. He willed it to start beating again. There was nothing wrong now. It just hadn’t started up again. Terry counted his 15 compressions and rested and began again. Four times he tried before Chrístõ gave a sudden gasp and stayed his hands.

“You’ve done it. It’s beating again.”

“That’s incredible,” Terry said. “You should be dead.”

“I’m a Time Lord. Surviving being shot is something we can do. It’s bloody painful though.”

“We have to get Cassie. If Marley has her she….”

“I know.” Chrístõ stood up and wobbled a little. Terry took hold of him. “I’ll be ok in a moment.”

He took the TARDIS key and pressed it. They felt a rush of air and the ship solidified around them in the relatively confined space of the sanctuary.

“They’ll be on Marley’s boat,” Terry said. Can we land the TARDIS on there?”

“Yes. But I don’t know where she is on it. I can’t get any kind of lock on like I just did with us. We will have to land on deck and fight our way through.”

“For Cassie, I can do that,” Terry said. “I’m not as good as you, but I’ve done some boxing, that kind of thing.”

“These people are armed,” Chrístõ said. “Let me do the fighting. You grab Cassie.” He disappeared for a few minutes into the corridors beyond the console room and returned with a sword that he buckled onto his belt. “I don’t want to kill anyone. But they have Cassie and they mean to do harm to her. I can’t let them do that. Even if it means I commit a capital offence before the High Council.” He went to the console and set the destination for Marley’s yacht.

The TARDIS materialised around the wheel house of Marley’s steam yacht, automatically disguising itself as that part of the ship. Two sailors who were in the wheel house found themselves standing in the TARDIS’s console room. Terry rushed at the nearest one and took him out with a short jab with his closed fist that connected in a very satisfactory crunch to the jaw. Chrístõ used even less energy in a flying front forward karate kick that landed square in the chest of the second man. He was knocked unconscious as he hit the floor.

“That’s two we don’t have to worry about,” Terry said, tying the two men back to back and leaving them there.

Remind me to kick them out before we take off,” Chrístõ added. “They’re not invited back to the 13th century BC with us.”

Cassie was scared and grieving. She knew one of her companions had been shot. She didn’t know if it was Chrístõ or Terry but she heard the pistol shot and heard somebody cry out in pain. One of them was dead, and it was hard for her to say which hurt more. She thought of Terry, who had loved her since they were at school and had looked after her since they were both turned 18 and went off on their life’s adventure together, the man she fully expected to spend her life with. And then she thought of Chrístõ. She had known him only a few months, but what exciting, wonderful months, in which she had fallen more than a little bit in love with her beautiful alien. One of her dearest men was dead, the other maybe injured, and she was Marley’s concubine.

And that was too polite a word for it. Sex slave was more like it. He hadn’t tried anything yet. He said something about letting her rot until her spirit was broken. She sighed.

It was pretty broken already.

Somebody else sighed, deeply and painfully. She looked at the Chinese girl who was lying on the grubby mattress in the corner of the room. Cassie’s gentle heart went out to the girl and she sat by her side and touched her face. The girl looked at her with frightened eyes.

“He will kill me now,” she said. “He has you now.”

“No, he won’t,” Cassie promised her. We’re going to get out of here. I have a friend…” Her heart sank. For a moment she had forgotten the awful sound of that pistol shot. If Chrístõ was alive they would be all right. He would rescue them. BOTH of them. But that would mean Terry would be dead.

If Terry was alive and Chrístõ dead, they were all in terrible trouble. Chrístõ was the only one who understood the TARDIS. She didn’t even know how to open the door of it, let alone drive it. For all their sakes, she hoped it was Chrístõ who had survived. But the thought of Terry being dead distressed her deeply.

“Chrístõ will help us if he can,” she said. She looked again at the girl. She was only partially dressed, and Cassie saw with horror the whiplashes on her back, a few very recent, still bloody and raw, others looking very old as if she had suffered this indignity for a long time.

“What is your name?” Cassie asked. But the girl shook her head.

“My name is no more. I am dishonoured. I am his property.”

“Chrístõ will get us both out,” Cassie said. And again she knew that if Chrístõ was alive then her Terry wasn’t, and being rescued only to be without him would be grief in itself.

There was a noise outside the door and the girl recoiled in fear, trying to push herself as far into the dark corner as possible. Cassie sat by her, afraid herself. At least until she saw that the lock on the door was melting. Only one tool she knew could do that. A moment later she cried with joy as both the men she loved dearly stood at the door. She ran and embraced them both.

“I thought… the gun… I thought one of you…”

“Not now,” Terry told her. “We have to get away quickly. You’re not hurt are you?”

“No, I’m all right. But…” She turned and looked at the Chinese girl who sat on the bed, her eyes cast down and frightened. “I’m not coming unless we bring her, too. Marley is going to kill her.”

Chrístõ went to the girl. He reached out and she pulled away. “It's all right,” he said gently. “I won’t hurt you.” His voice was soft and tender and she turned her face towards him. He touched her forehead, and at once he saw the depth of her suffering in his mind’s eye. He didn’t need to see her flesh to know what had been done to it. He felt her endless agony.

He didn’t even hesitate. He lifted her into his arms. She looked at him and pressed her head against his chest, and her arms tight around his neck. He was amazed how light she felt.

“Come on. We still have to get out of here.”

“I thought one of you had been shot,” Cassie said, holding tight to Terry’s arm as they made their way back up to the deck, stepping over sailors and assorted henchmen who had tried to stop Chrístõ and Terry on their way down to them. All were alive, but weren’t going to be aware of anything for a few hours.

“Chrístõ was,” Terry said. “He had a rough time of it for about twenty minutes. But he’s just fine now. Time Lords have this thing, you know. They can mend their own bodies just like that.”

“Not QUITE just like that. I hurt all over still. Being shot in the chest hurts even for us. And I would have been in trouble without you, Terry.”

“I’m just so glad you’re both alive!” Cassie told them. “I was so worried.”

“We’re both ok,” Chrístõ assured her. He and Terry looked at each other and both wondered which of them she had most hoped to be alive. And both decided it was best not to know.

They were at the promenade deck of the steam yacht when they were challenged. Chrístõ groaned. It was Marley himself, brandishing a sword.

“Thief!” he screamed. “That girl is mine.” He lunged at Chrístõ, or more correctly, at the girl he held in his arms. Chrístõ swung away just in time and carefully put her on her feet. Cassie ran to her side as Chrístõ unsheathed his sword and turned to challenge Marley, parrying a blow that would have come down across his shoulders and cleaved him in half if he hadn’t turned.

Marley meant business. And the business was murder. Chrístõ was fighting for his life. He glanced at his friends and reached with his free hand for his TARDIS key.

“Terry, you know how to open the TARDIS… get everyone inside.” He threw the key and Terry caught it. He took hold of both women and ran for it.

Christo saw them go out of the corner of his vision as he parried another attack from Marley.

He WAS a more than competent swordsman. But Chrístõ knew he was better. In practice, at least, he was excellent. But this was a fight to the death. And he wasn’t sure he could kill Marley no matter how much he hated him. For a moment his courage failed him. Then he thought of his friends, and the tortured girl whose life literally depended on him. He KNEW Marley would kill her if he got hold of her again. He knew he had to fight. He knew, also, that killing the man WAS a capital crime on Gallifrey. He stood to lose everything if the authorities there discovered what he had done – as they would if Marley’s death unravelled a time line. But he had to protect his friends.

If Chrístõ doubted his ability to kill, Marley had no such compunction. He came at him again and again and at first all his moves had to be defensive. Twice Marley’s sword came within an inch of his face. He parried him skilfully though and he had youth and agility on his side. He span on his heel as he blocked a thrust that would have taken his head off and came back with an attack that surprised Marley who had, until that moment, taken Chrístõ as a callow youth of no experience or skill. He blocked him, but not skilfully and Chrístõ turned his blocked thrust into a sideways lunge that sliced across Marley’s chest, ripping through his clothes and leaving a long red cut across him, though not a fatal or even an incapacitating one.

He had drawn first blood, but his opponent was still on his feet. He blocked twice more, but then his chance came. Marley was caught wrong-footed as Chrístõ again span around and turned a defensive parry into an offensive lunge. Marley fell and Chrístõ stood on his hand and forced him to relinquish his sword. As he kicked the sword away Marley got to his knees, but no further. Chrístõ’s sword on his neck stayed him.

“You would kill me for the sake of two whores?” Marley said and possibly regretted it when he saw the look of hate in Chrístõ’s eyes.

“Say that again and I WILL kill you,” he said. Marley spat in his face and said the bitter word again. Chrístõ wiped the spittle from his face with his right hand while his left, his strongest arm, stayed on the sword that now pricked Marley’s neck. He saw a bead of blood fall. Chrístõ’s blood boiled with rage and he raised his razor-sharp sword and brought it down towards Marley’s neck. He would have taken it clean off like the top of a hard-boiled egg, but in the split second of time it took for the sword to travel through the air, he had a vision of his mother and knew she would never understand him doing something like this. Cassie’s face seemed to come beside hers, and he knew she did not want to see him do this either. He didn’t even think the poor abused girl they had taken from Marley wanted him killed in cold blood.

He stayed his hand with the blade actually scoring a track on Marley’s neck. Christo’s hands were as steady as a rock as they held the sword there for a long time. He detected an odd smell and looked to see a damp patch on the ground spreading around Marley. “If you touch another woman I will see you don’t even have the ability to do THAT.” Then he sheathed his sword, laughing aloud at the humiliation of his enemy. He started to walk away, then returned. He lifted Marley with one hand, and with the other, punched him hard in the face, not using any special art, just sheer adrenaline. “THAT was for Cassie,” he said and released him from his grip. Marley sank to the floor unconscious, those words the last he would hear for several hours. Chrístõ walked away up the last few steps to the ‘wheelhouse’ which currently had a TARDIS interior. On the top step he had to stride over the two sailors they had captured and bound. Terry must have thrown them out.

Cassie ran to embrace him as he came in through the door. “I’m glad you’re ok,” she said.

“I’m glad I am, too.” Chrístõ returned her embrace before going to the console to initiate the dematerialisation and set the TARDIS in temporal orbit. Then at Cassie’s bidding he went to the Chinese girl as she sat on the floor of the TARDIS crying.

“It's all right,” Chrístõ said, touching her forehead and trying to radiate calm thoughts to her. “You are safe. Nobody here will hurt you, least of all me. I’m here to help you.” He put his arms around her and she flinched. “It's all right.” He said again. “What is your name?” She shook her head. He tried again with the calming thoughts. Now he had physical contact with her it ought to have been easy. But something seemed to be stopping it. She seemed to have some sort of inhibiter on her own thoughts that was preventing him getting into her mind. In future worlds, in far away planets, he knew plenty of nasty ways to do that, but on Earth in the 1840s the only thing that messed with anyone’s head that way was opium.

“She’s been drugged, maybe for years, to keep her docile and prevent her running away from him.”

“Oh hell!” Terry whispered and Cassie knelt beside Chrístõ and touched her arm.

“Help her,” she begged him.

“I am,” he said. And he put his hand on her again and willed his mind to connect not with her mind, but with rest of her body. He found her bloodstream, with the opium carried in it, and he concentrated on the molecules of the drug, willing them to come out of her blood and out of her body. Those watching the strange scene saw her skin suddenly shine silvery before the stuff evaporated in the air.

The effect on her mental state was instant. Fear was replaced by grief, anger, pain. She screamed out loud and lashed out with arms and feet so hard that Chrístõ was thrown away from her, landing painfully against the navigation console. He gasped and put his hand to his chest that had been painfully kicked in the same place he had been shot only a few hours before.

“This is not fair,” he said. “Why am I the one taking all the hits?” But he stood up and returned to her. Her eyes flashed with rage and she put out her arms defensively. Chrístõ knelt a few feet from her and put his hands out towards her, palms extended to show he was unarmed and meant no hurt to her. She looked at him and through her rage and pain she saw the kindness in his deep brown eyes and calmed enough to let him reach out to her.

Chrístõ touched her thoughts and again radiated calm - a mental opiate to shield her from the worst of the memories until she felt safe. Then he probed her deeper thoughts. “I know your name,” he said and smiled. “You are Hui Ying Bo Juan.” Her lovely almond shaped eyes widened as he said it, but in surprise, not fear. To his other friends he said. “Bright, Precious, Beautiful. That’s what her name means. Bo…. Precious. That’s what we’ll call you. Bo…. The precious one.”

She smiled as he said that and spoke in rapid Mandarin. Chrístõ was taken aback for a moment. He was not used to hearing languages that needed translating. The TARDIS gave anyone who travelled with it the ability to hear any language in the universe in their own native tongue. But he himself KNEW countless languages. Five billion, he claimed, and nobody had ever challenged him to name them. Mandarin was one of the more complex ones, but he managed it perfectly well. When she heard her own language spoken she forgot all of her fears and replied to him easily.

“Good girl,” he said at last in English, and patted her shoulder. She winced in pain and he remembered what he had not yet seen with his own eyes. “You hold her, please.” he said to Cassie. She did so while he gently unfastened the tight dress and exposed her back. He uncharacteristically swore out loud when he saw the marks of years of abuse. Then he took his sonic screwdriver and adjusted it. He slowly worked it across her back. Cassie could see what was happening, but Bo couldn’t, though the feeling was comforting to her. It took him a long time. The tissue repair mode was only for small cuts and bruises. He was starting to worry it wouldn’t be up to such a huge job. But finally, he turned the sonic screwdriver off and put it in his pocket. He gently touched her on the back. She winced at first, expecting pain, but then she looked about in amazement trying to see.

“It's fine,” Cassie told her. “Every scar is gone.” She looked up at Chrístõ. “Oh, my beautiful alien.”

“I can’t take away the scars in her head, though.” Chrístõ closed her dress and held her close in his arms. She looked up at him with her lovely eyes. He kissed her on the lips. “You deserve to be kissed,” he said. “Because you ARE lovely.” Then he lifted her up and took her to the cabin bed in the corner of the TARDIS console room. He laid her on it and pulled the blankets around her, and he sat next to her, caressing her face gently as he began to sing a gentle mandarin lullaby. She sighed gently and he felt her drift to sleep.

“She’ll be all right,” Chrístõ told the others. “She’s had a lot of shock, a lot of pain. But when she knows it's over and she is safe, she’ll be all right.” He looked around at the console room of the TARDIS. “This is not going to look like ‘safe’ to her. This place is strange, it's alien. But I can’t help that.”

He looked up at the viewscreen. They were in temporal orbit around Earth. That meant that they orbited the planet without being in any particular time zone. If you looked long enough you could see the continents drift. It was a perfectly safe way of ‘parking’ the TARDIS for a while. It was invisible to the radio telescopes and probes of later Earth years and would not distress any more primitive centuries by seeming to be a new star in the sky. The respite they all needed after a stressful time could be had. Cassie said she wanted a shower and to get out of the dress that felt contaminated by the rough hands that had held her. Chrístõ realised then that she, too, had suffered a trauma and became concerned for her.

“I’m fine,” she said. “I was only stuck there a few hours. I’m more worried about her…”

“Bo…” Chrístõ said. “That’s her name.”

“Bo… Poor thing.” And she kissed him. “That’s for bringing her. After you said you wouldn’t.”

“I couldn’t do anything else,” he said. “He WOULD have killed her. If she was going to die at his hands, then she has no place in the timeline anyway. So taking her out of it didn’t affect anything. But you must understand. It's a fine line between helping somebody and making a huge cataclysmic error in time. And I could get into a lot of trouble.”

“Terry told me,” she said. “I’m sorry I was so mad at you. I should have known you were doing it for the best.” And she kissed him again before heading for the showers and the wardrobe. Terry followed her and he was alone apart from Bo, sleeping soundly now. He slipped away and quickly changed his own clothes back to his comfortable and timeless black. As he emerged he saw the viewscreen flicker and change from their view of Earth in temporal orbit to the signal of an incoming video-phone transmission from Gallifrey. Chrístõ’s hearts lurched. Was he about to be reprimanded for his actions even though he HAD avoided killing anyone?

He was relieved as well as pleased when his father appeared on screen.

“Chrístõ, my son,” the old man seemed emotional as he spoke. “You’re all right?”

“Yes, I am. Why?”

“I have been trying to contact you. A few hours ago I felt… deep in my soul I felt you in pain. You were hurt.”

“Yes. I was.” He had almost forgotten being mortally shot in all the excitement. “But I’m all right now. My regenerative cells work fine. Just like a pureblood.” There was bitterness in that last word.

“I never doubted it,” his father told him. “But what danger are you in? Chrístõ, my child, you are so young and so far from home.”

“I’m not a child, father,” he said. “I know what I’m doing. Trust me.”

“I do trust you, Chrístõ. But you ARE young. You ARE far away. I worry about you.”

“You don’t have to do that, either. I can look after myself.”

“You’re my son, Chrístõ. I love you.”

“I love you, too, father,” he said. And he meant it. For all their fights, for all their bickering, he DID love his father. For a moment he wished he could be near him. “Father… I need some advice…”

In a rush of words he told his father what had happened with Marley, about his fight, about his desire to kill the man, about how close he had come to doing it.

“But you didn’t?” his father asked, anxiously. “Chrístõ…”

“No. I didn’t. I couldn’t take a life. Not just like that.”

“Then there is nothing for you to worry about. You made the right decision. You acted well. Chrístõ, my son, I’m proud of you. You acted with courage, and with compassion. They may not be qualities recognised by the Prydonian Academy, but they are good qualities. They are Human qualities, Chrístõ. They are qualities your mother’s people valued. She would be proud of you, proud of her part-Human son.”

“That…” Chrístõ was lost for words. His mother would be proud of him. Even his father, who had loved her dearly, had never told him that before. His Gallifreyan blood was what he had been taught to take pride in. His Humanity was derided, scorned. He had been trained to rise above it like a disability to be overcome. But it wasn’t worthless. It wasn’t a disability. Courage and compassion… his Human traits, WERE valuable. He stood by the viewscreen and touched it. “Father…”

“I love you, my son,” his father said, reaching out the same way, their hands seeming to connect over the light years between them. “Never forget that.”

“I won’t,” he said. Then the transmission ended. He felt sorry that it could not have gone on longer. But at least, for once, they didn’t end with a row. Too many times, these days, they did.