Tom Ek Fisher Investments

They slept another peaceful night in temporal orbit. Chrístõ thought his Human companions needed the breathing space. Bo, to his relief, was adapting amazingly well to TARDIS life, like a budding young entrepreneur facing the business world for the first time. She watched the view of Earth from orbit so avidly she actually did notice the continental drift as they slid back and forwards through the centuries. In the morning she tested Chrístõ to the limit again in what he already thought of as THEIR dojo. She was calmer now, though, and simply enjoyed pitting herself against him. One of these days, he thought, he would try her with Malvorian Sun Ko Du. He had a feeling she would manage what he considered the highest form of martial arts in the universe very well.

She had already begun putting her other skill to use as well. As they sat and ate their breakfast, prepared this morning by Terry, she gave each of them a glass of a green liquid that she said they should drink. “It is a strengthening tonic,” she told them. “It will give you vigour and energy.”

“Chrístõ already has vigour and energy,” Cassie said.

“You, also, my Chrístõ,” Bo said to him, and he drank the potion. It was, of course, a green tea with a skilful combination of herbs that did, indeed, have invigorating properties. Well, they had an invigorating day ahead. So why not.

“There.” Chrístõ smiled triumphantly as they materialised and he turned on the viewscreen. In truth there was not a lot to be seen. It was night time outside. But Chrístõ assured them it was the year 1215 BC and that outside were the temples of Abu Simbel in pristine condition having been completed just before the death of Ramesses II in his 67th Reginal year.

“So,” he said. “Let’s make ourselves look like visitors to ancient Egypt.”

No matter how Chrístõ dressed, Terry thought, he looked like an aristocrat. If they ever decided to visit revolutionary France they would have to lock him in the TARDIS. He would be first in the queue for the guillotine. Right now, in his robes and headdress, he looked like a cross between an Arab king at the United Nations and Lawrence of Arabia.

Terry, as usual, felt like he was just dressing up.

But the women – Cassie looked fantastic. She emerged from the wardrobe in a long robe of blue tied at the waist with a golden girdle and her long dark hair held back from her face with a beaded headdress. Bo was in a red robe and her hair was piled up in an elaborate top-knot which was similarly adorned with beads.

“Bo, precious,” Chrístõ said, his voice filled with admiration and love for her. He kissed her tenderly, as Terry did with Cassie. There was no resisting them when they looked so.

They stepped out into the pre-dawn aboard a Royal Barge with Chrístõ’s symbol hidden among the hieroglyphs that adorned the prow.

“Does the TARDIS enjoy being a boat, do you think?” Cassie asked.

“It's a machine, it can’t enjoy anything,” Terry told her.

“It's a living machine,” Chrístõ said. “And yes, I think it HAS been enjoying itself.”

Chrístõ sat by the prow and pulled Bo down on his knee. Terry did the same.

“Another beautiful sunrise over the Nile awaits us.”

And it was a beautiful sunrise. The first rays glittered off the Nile and slowly made way to the sandstone facades of the two Temples. They had seen it now from so many perspectives. And each time it seemed the more wondrous.

They were not the only ones watching the dawn, either. As the light grew they became aware that there were people gathered on the shoreline in front of the Temples. All were bowed in supplication apart from those in the most elaborate clothing who were clearly the priests and high priests.

The ceremony came to an end as the sun rose fully. The people rose from their places of supplication. And Chrístõ could tell that they had become aware of their presence. He rose, in his most regal way, his hand outstretched to Bo, who also rose in a graceful and commanding way. Terry and Cassie did their best to emulate them.

As they stepped off the barge the crowds parted and two of the priests, in golden robes and headdresses, moved towards them. They stopped a few feet from them and bowed. Chrístõ stepped forward.

“I am Prince Tepemkau of Athribis,” he said. “This is my brother, Prince Menmaatre. This lady here is the Princess Sithathor, and may I present the Princess Nodjmet. We are here to pay homage to Amun and to Athor at the great temples of Abu Simbel in Nubia.”

“I am Asim, High Priest of the Temple of Hwt Ramesses Meryamun,” the high priest said. “I bid you welcome. Honoured are we by your presence.” The High priest knelt and bowed his head before Chrístõ and his companions. The other priest knelt even lower and the people behind them prostrated themselves. Chrístõ moved forward with Bo’s hand in his raised regally. Terry and Cassie followed. The priests stood and walked just behind them and the crowds parted for them to pass.

They were thus escorted to the Temple of Ramesses II - Hwt Ramesses Meryamun, beloved of Amun. They walked through the Hypostyle hall, noticing how new and finely made all the statues looked yet, and came to the inner sanctuary they knew so well by now. There, taking their cue from Chrístõ, and never wondering how he knew what to do, they went through a simple ceremony of homage to the four gods of the Sanctuary, Ra, Ramesses II, Amun and Ptah. In the rushlight they all noticed the one obvious difference. Chrístõ’s cryptic message to the future was missing from the wall.

“So whatever the reason for it, it happened here and now,” Chrístõ said afterwards when they were royally seated in a tent of fine silks and brought wine and fruits to eat.

“Prince Tepemkau?” Terry asked. “Menmaatre? Are you pulling rank again?”

“Yes,” Chrístõ grinned.

“Tepemkau?” Terry dug into his memory of Egyptian etymology. “That means “The Best of Souls.”

Chrístõ smiled disarmingly.

“That sounds like you, my beautiful alien,” Cassie said. And Bo just smiled and kissed him.

“Menmaatre… means Eternal is the justice of Re.” Terry went on.

“You are a bringer of justice,” Chrístõ said. As for our princesses…. Sithathor….”

“Thats easy,” Cassie said. “Sithathor is daughter of Hathor – that’s the goddess Nefertari’s temple is dedicated to.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said. “And seeing as you look so much like a Nubian princess, it is appropriate. And my Precious Bo is Nodjmet – the sweet one.” And he kissed her lovingly.

“Oh well, as long as we sound the part.” Terry said. “So are we going to hang around here being treated as princes and princesses for a while?”

“I see no reason why not. We are in no danger as far as I can see.”

“I do hope so,” Cassie said. “This IS fantastic. It's WHY we wanted to be Egyptologists. Oh, the ESSAYS we’ll be able to write when we get back to university.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” Terry said. “What can we write that anyone would believe? But being here… It IS why we got into it - because we LOVE this whole culture. This is perfect. We can really feel what it is like to be ancient Egyptians.”

“Rich ancient Egyptians,” Cassie said. “I bet it's not this great for the poor ones.”

“Show me a time in history when it was,” Terry said. “Even in our time, there is poverty. I bet even Gallifrey isn’t totally perfect.”

“We have no poverty,” Chrístõ said. “Nobody is really poor. Even the servants of our House have good homes and are well paid. But we do have a very strict caste system and there ARE those of us who are richer than others.”

“Servants of our house?” Cassie said. “So you’re one of the high ones who have others to serve you?”

“That explains why you take to this kind of life so well,” Terry said.

“The House of Lœngbærrow is one of the oldest and greatest of the Houses of the southern continent,” he said proudly. “It is said that Rassilon himself sired our line.”


Chrístõ smiled. “He was the Creator of the Time Lords.”

“Your God?”

“No.” Chrístõ shook his head and smiled. “I’m not explaining myself very well. The race of Gallifreyans is many hundreds of millions of years old and has a history that is mostly lost and forgotten. But about ten million years ago there was one among us, Rassilon, who was a powerful scientist – some say magician. He discovered the way to rewrite our DNA to allow us to live longer through regeneration of our bodies. He deemed that the best of our people – the brightest, the most intelligent – should have this gift and be the leaders not only of our people, but eventually the galaxy. Those of us with the gift were called Time Lords and are above those ordinary Gallifreyans who live only one life - even sometimes above brothers and sisters who did not make it.”

“And you have the gift?” Bo asked him.

“Yes. I transcended ten years ago. That is when our DNA is changed and we become Time Lords, after proving ourselves academically. But we are not allowed to regenerate until we are much older. I don’t know why. I think maybe it teaches us to value our own lives, knowing that we cannot take reckless risks with our regenerations.”

“So Rassilon really WAS a God in his way,” Cassie said. “He created you all.”

“Yes. But nobody really worships him. Not in the way they do around here, or like in Christianity. There are a lot of statues and icons of him. We all know what he looked like. And he is supposed to be the only one of us who is truly immortal. But he hasn’t been seen for millennia so nobody really believes that.”

“And the Houses he sired?”

“Well, being ‘immortal’ he had plenty of time for that, I suppose,” Chrístõ laughed. “I don’t know if that’s true or not. I do know there are a couple of planets in our galaxy where Time Lords ARE treated as living gods, but I’ve never been to any of them.”

“No wonder you walk as if you own the world,” Terry said.

“Do I?” Chrístõ asked, surprised.

“Yes, you do. When you’re in full autocrat mode – like when you are the Marquess de Lœngbærrow or Prince Tepemkau you are VERY believable. But even in black leather on the Isle of Wight you looked like a rock star at the very least.”

“I never knew I had that effect on people,” Chrístõ said. “I don’t know where it comes from. I was the lowest of the low at the Prydonian Academy, the half blood who was never expected to get through the course, let alone transcend. I must be more like my father than I thought I was.”

“Your father must be a great man,” Bo said. “You are wonderful, my Chrístõ.”

He smiled. “I know you think so, my precious Bo. But I only try to do what is right. No more. But yes, my father IS a great man. He has been twice President of the High Council, and an Ambassador to other planets. And now he is a learned and respected Judge. I am nothing yet. I still have to graduate and make my way in our society.”

“What will you do for a job, do you think?” Cassie asked.

“My father hopes I will follow him in the diplomatic corps,” he said. “I could be a lawyer. I took law as part of my studies. But I don’t care for it much. I think I WOULD like the diplomatic corps. It means I will be able to continue travelling. I like being in different places. Gallifrey is beautiful. It's my home. But we can be a very annoying society sometimes.”

“How so?” Cassie asked.

“Well, imagine a society where almost everyone walks like they own the world.” He grinned. They all laughed with him. The servants who had been in attendance before them made signs of relieved obeisance. Chrístõ knew that their conversation among themselves, in English, would not be understood by them. But their laughter had given an indication that the ‘royal party’ were not displeased with the homage paid to them at Abu Simbel.

How the poor are treated here, Chrístõ really rather wanted to know, in fact. He wondered if any of the servants would speak to him without bowing their heads and hiding their faces. He tried speaking in the local dialect. All he got in answer was bowed heads and faces hidden behind hands, and mantras like “Re is good. Praise be to Amun, blessed is Hathor….” Since the Egyptian pantheon had hundreds of gods that could be praised he didn’t expect to get a lot of sense out of them. He let them be.

“Why do they act as if WE are Gods?” Bo asked looking at the way the servants acted.

“In this society, they believe that their kings and queens are themselves living gods,” Terry explained. “A bit like in Chrístõ’s galaxy.”

“That’s why Ramesses II is sitting there in the sanctuary, with the other Gods,” Cassie added. “Imagine being so full of yourself you have your own statue seated among the gods even before you’re dead.”

“I don’t think even anyone on MY planet is THAT arrogant,” Chrístõ said. And their laughter rang out again.

Their experience for the day of being Egyptian royalty was one of being waited on hand and foot. Later, the ‘princesses’ were royally treated to a perfumed bath and returned to their princes in clothes even more fine and regal than they began with. Cassie’s magnificent hair was braided into hundreds of fine braids by the patient and nimble work of four serving girls, the braids woven with glittering beads. Bo’s was trained around a fine golden headpiece. Neither of the men had any trouble believing they WERE princesses.

“This kind of thing could go to a girl’s head,” Cassie said. Bo smiled brightly. For her to be treated this way was a magnificent change. For five years of her young life she had been abused and beaten, sold as a bedroom slave to appalling men. Now she was a princess, if only for a few days. It would do her good, Chrístõ thought as he lay on a silk-covered palette and watched her enjoying the attention of her handmaids.

She must have come from a good home in her native village, of course. For a girl to be dedicated to the Shaolin was something that only happened in the better off homes. Poor men could, if they had the aptitude, rise above their backgrounds and join the monasteries. But it was expensive to raise a non-productive female just for her to go and be trained to a discipline that meant she would likely remain unmarried. She was born into a time when unwanted girl babies in poor Chinese families tended to be exposed to die. She was born to a much better life than she had lived until now. She deserved a better future. Chrístõ thought over Li Tuo’s words. “She is not the one. Your destiny is to love her for a little while, to show her that men’s love CAN be trusted, to mend her broken heart, her wounded spirit. But I see you giving her up to another after that.” Whoever that other was, Chrístõ was determined he would be a good man who would treat her well.

For a moment he wished it could be otherwise. He knew she would make a perfect Gallifreyan wife. Even those who criticised the mixing of Time Lord and Human bloodlines could not fail to see that she had as much fine breeding as any pure Gallifreyan woman. And her upbringing in a strict hierarchical society would make it so much easier for her to understand the sometimes medieval ways they had. Far easier than a free spirit like Cassie would. He smiled at the thought, momentary thought it was, of bringing Cassie home as his promised bride. But of course, she belonged to Terry. He had seen their timeline clearly. When they returned to their own place and time, they were going to finish their studies and get married and have several beautiful children who would further prove what a diverse race Humans were, as well as being successful Egyptologists who would solve many of the mysteries of the ancient wonders of that nation.

As the sun went down on a beautiful day by the Upper Nile, the followers of Amun and Hathor gathered once more before the two temples. And it was clear that the ‘royal’ visitors were to be honoured guests at the proceedings. They were escorted by the high priests to a dais in front of the temple of Nefertari, dedicated to Hathor, where four gilded and silk covered thrones were placed. The people all supplicated themselves before them as they passed.

Chrístõ looked at them as best as he could while maintaining a suitably regal air of looking straight ahead and not noticing the lower orders. They all looked reasonably well dressed and healthy, he thought. And the obeisance was not a bad thing in itself. He had an idea Terry and Cassie might disagree, with their ideas about free love and equality. But a hierarchical society was not inherently bad as long as those at the top treated those at the bottom well.

There was an element to this ceremony which was not evident in the dawn ceremony, which had simply welcomed the rising of the sun. Chrístõ looked at the small group of young girls, all, he judged, in their mid-teens, 14 or 15, the age when girls might be married in such a society. They were dressed in fine fabrics and their hair was done in the beaded headdresses and they looked as if they might have been young priestesses or some kind of vestal virgins, dedicated to the Temple of Hathor. That, too, was acceptable as long as the girls were not taken by force from their families. It was no different to the way Bo would have been dedicated to the Shaolin Way.

As the ceremony went on, though, Chrístõ began to have some suspicions about it that made him less comfortable. There were words being used in the ceremony which suggested that more than dedication was going on. He let his mind drift through the crowd, fixing on the emotions of the people. Something like fear was all too prominent. There was also grief. And as he focussed upon that, he realised it came from people whose daughters it was who were being dedicated to Hathor.

That didn’t ring true. Such a dedication would be a proud moment for ordinary people. It was an advancement for their daughter. He did what he rarely did when he looked at group minds in such a way. He focussed on one and read it fully. What he learnt shocked him to the core. This was just one of a dozen such ceremonies which had taken place since the high priest had reported that Hathor herself was among them and had requested that hand-maidens be brought to her temple every night. These handmaidens, chosen from among the people for beauty and youth, were brought to the inner chamber of Nefertari’s temple, which was then sealed. The next day the chamber was unsealed and the girls would be gone – to serve Hathor, it was said.

And naturally, Chrístõ did not believe a word of it. Something was going on here, but it was NOT service to any God. Chrístõ did not especially believe in gods anyway. A certain awe and respect to the memory of Rassilon was the only worship his people had. And he had not seen any evidence in his study of other cultures that any of their gods actually existed. He had a healthy respect for religious beliefs. Christianity, when observed in the way it was intended had something to commend it. Love one another was no bad philosophy. Earth’s many other religions, when they were not corrupted by fundamentalism or obsession were fine. Other planets with religions based on an ominiscient and caring god or gods tended to do all right. But those that asked for sacrifice of life, the more so when they LIED and called it service, he abhorred. He could do nothing to prevent it. Interfering with the religion of a planet was definitely against Gallifreyan law. But he had very clear ideas about what he thought of that sort of thing.

But WAS this real religion? There was another thought that he could detect. Many people were questioning why this was happening. Hathor had never appeared before and demanded handmaidens, and many people were asking just WHERE their daughters were. How COULD even a God take people from a sealed chamber they were asking themselves. Then because they were a loyal people, who respected their Gods, they immediately tried to crush the thought, lest their Gods should hear them.

But it was not the Gods who were listening. It was Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow of Gallifrey and he was even less happy about the situation than they were. And he did not intend to let it go unexamined.

The ceremony seemed to be heading towards some kind of climax. The handmaids were brought forward, flanked by priests, and led into the temple. There was a deathly silence among the people as this happened. No chanting, no prayers, and his wandering mind caught a kind of fearful expectation.

Then it happened, and his suspicions were confirmed by it. A bright beam of light shone down from the sky onto upon the Temple of Queen Nefertari, dedicated to Hathor. The people prostrated themselves. Even the priests knelt in awe and Chrístõ focussed on them for a moment, wondering if they believed in what was happening or were they part of the lie. He concluded they were genuine. But that only meant that the lie was even bigger.

For it WAS a lie. The light was not from any God. Not unless Gods these days were using transmat beams. This was an elaborate plot to kidnap people from this village. For what reason, he did not know. But he hazarded a guess that pleasing Hathor was not it.

The apparition clinched it for him. It came as the transmat beam faded, a hologram against the night sky that might well have been taken as Hathor by a simple people who believed in their Gods and wanted to be told in an ethereal voice that Hathor was pleased.

Chrístõ was not even impressed by the broadcast quality. He could produce better holograms from the TARDIS. And THEY had proper lip synch.

After the ceremony was over, the royal party were brought back to the ‘pavilion’ where it was expected they would spend the night. But Chrístõ told the High Priest that they would sleep upon the Royal Barge. There was a flurry of obeisance and inquiries as to whether they had received the best of service from the people of Abu Simbel, and Chrístõ assured them it was so, but that the Princesses preferred to sleep upon water. And at that there was no argument. They were escorted to the Royal Barge, where Chrístõ imperiously dismissed all attendants.

“Something is wrong, isn’t it?” Terry said.

“Yes.” Chrístõ replied. “And we’re going to find out what.” He went to the console and pressed buttons and pulled switches. They felt the TARDIS dematerialise and then rematerialise in stationary orbit above the Upper Nile. He slowly turned it to the right and a spaceship came into view.

“It's not…. The ones that grabbed Cassie at the festival?”

“Traactines?” The way Chrístõ pronounced that word made Terry shiver. It even sounded evil. “No. It's not them.”

“How can you be so sure?” Cassie asked, joining them at the viewscreen. Bo looked nervous as she slipped her hand into Chrístõ’s. She had never seen an alien spaceship before – well, not counting the one that was her home now. Come to think of it, Cassie thought to herself, how many were she and Terry familiar with? She didn’t especially want to remember her time as a captive of the Traactines. She wondered, on an average, how many space travelling aliens there were who wanted to kill her, and how many were nice people like Chrístõ.

“I know about 3,000 different space craft by sight,” Chrístõ said. “This must be 3,001. But I know it's NOT Traactine. Anyway, they just grab people. They don’t worry about elaborate hoaxes.”

“Are we going to do something about it?” Terry asked. “Don’t tell me THIS is against the rules to interfere with.”

“Yes, I’m going to do something,” he said. “But not yet.” He pressed the buttons again and brought them back to the shore of the Nile. “We need to show these people that they WERE being deceived. We’ll act tomorrow night when the ceremony goes on again. Leave it to me. Meanwhile, everyone get some sleep. Even with Bo’s invigorating potions, you must all be tired.”

Cassie admitted she was, and she gave Chrístõ a goodnight kiss on the cheek and then she and Terry went to their room. Bo went as far as the bathroom and changed into a long nightdress and came back to the console room. She sat on the cabin bed combing her hair. Chrístõ came and sat next to her and took the comb. He gently ran it through her hair until it was soft and shining. She turned and put her arms around his neck and kissed him on the mouth. He enjoyed her kisses. They were sweet. And in truth he had not been kissed very often in his life. But he stopped it after a while. She lay down in the bed and he pulled the blankets around her. But as he moved around the console, checking the databanks, she watched him with her almond eyes wide open.

“You should sleep, precious,” he said to her.

“I’m… afraid to,” she said. “I don’t want to wake without you there.”

“You mean you’re still afraid this is a dream, and you’re really still with HIM!” Chrístõ came and sat by her, taking her hand in his. “Precious Bo, you don’t need to be afraid.”

“This place… how can it be real? How can you be real? A man from the stars… The stars are jewels on the curtain of the sky.”

“The stars are many millions of suns like the one that warms the Earth, with millions of planets orbiting them. And I come from one of them. There is no magic. It is just the universe. And you don’t have to be afraid of going to sleep. When you wake, I WILL be here. I will always be here for as long as you need me, my precious Bo.”

“I will sleep happy knowing you are near,” she said. Then he kissed her once again and turned down the lights in the console room and lay down on the mat beside her bed. He let his body slow down as he slipped into a much needed meditation to restore his own body.

Chrístõ woke himself very early and dressed in a simple plain robe such as the local people wore and covered his face with the headdress. There was a literary reference in the back of his mind. Henry V before Agincourt, in Shakespeare’s imagination, donned a cloak and wandered in the camp, finding out what the common soldiers thought of his campaign. Chrístõ had a similar mission. He wanted to see how things were among the common people.

The people were up and about. Doors were open into the meagre homes built of mud and straw bricks and fires warmed the people as they prepared to welcome a new day. Welcome? Chrístõ wondered. He stopped by a house where a woman sat grinding corn. She looked up at him with some fear for he WAS a stranger.

“Do not be afraid,” he said. “I am but a servant of the Prince Tepemkau, he who is the Best of Souls.”

“You are welcome, sir.” The woman said. “May your master be blessed with many sons.”

“In the fruition of time,” he said, smiling at the thought. But the woman had left her work and brought him into the house, where her husband was at his breakfast already. She prepared a portion of cornbread and a kind of buttermilk and gave it to Chrístõ, who thanked her and sat opposite her husband. The woman returned to her work.

“Your master is a great man, I am told,” the man of the house said. “And he comes to our humble place to pay homage at the Temple of Abu Simbel.”

“Abu Simbel is blessed by Hathor,” Chrístõ said.

“Or cursed!” the man said, forgetting himself for a moment.

“Why DOES Hathor want so many handmaidens?” Chrístõ asked.

“I know not. But many have given their daughters up. We…” the man’s face clouded.

“You have given a child of yours?”

“We are honoured. Hathor has blessed our home.”

“Hathor has taken the jewel of our home,” the woman said, standing by the door, and her husband told her to hush before their guest.

“I will not,” she said. “If your prince pays homage to Hathor, he pays homage to a stealer of girls.”

“My Prince seeks the truth,” Chrístõ said.

“Then I pray he finds it,” the woman said and turned away.

“Forgive a woman’s foolishness.” The man said. “We live to serve Hathor and Amun.”

“That is commendable,” Chrístõ said. “But my master is not convinced that all is well here. Have courage and faith. And do not be afraid.” And he stood and bowed to the man of the humble house and left him. At the door he stopped and looked at the woman. She was sitting there crying softly. He put his hands on hers silently. She looked at him and seemed comforted, though he was hesitant to make any promises he could not keep. He hoped he could find out where the girls who had been taken were and bring them home. But he did not want to give false hopes to anyone.

He returned to the TARDIS. It was quiet still. He went to the dojo and changed into his gi and began to warm up with tai chi exercises. He was not too surprised when Bo joined him a few minutes later. They enjoyed a vigorous workout. Chrístõ felt he needed it. He wasn’t sure if, later, they might have to fight. He wanted to feel he was ready for anything.

Again, at breakfast, Bo made them drink one of her invigorating potions. Nobody doubted they would need it. Least of all Chrístõ. Then they went to join the people of Abu Simbel in greeting the dawn. They were given places of honour before the Temples again. This dawn gathering seemed, Chrístõ thought, the real thing. There was no jarring note to it. It was about greeting the morning sun, the sun that warmed them and made their crops grow - a simple ceremony not unlike those of any agrarian society. And more than ever he felt that the priests were being duped as much as anyone else here. But he felt angry at them, as leaders of these people, for not questioning the validity of what they were being asked to do.

When the ceremony was over and the people went about their daily business, he noticed the two priests going into Queen Nefertari’s Temple. He told the girls to go to the royal tent, while he and Terry followed them to the temple.

The priests were unsealing the inner chamber. It was dimly lit inside the temple, but Chrístõ’s Time Lord eyes allowed him not only to see well in the dark but to see close up as well. And he spotted something about the method of unsealing the chamber that surprised him.

“On three,” he whispered to Terry. “You take the one on the right….” And he counted it down on his fingers. They moved together, Terry grasping the man on the right around the neck, Chrístõ disabling the High Priest with a grip on the back of the neck that he had learnt from the gentle monks of the Malvorian mountains who, despite being pacifists, knew some fascinating methods of unarmed combat. Chrístõ snatched the tool he had been using to unseal the door and looked at it.

“This is a sonic tool,” he said. He reached in his pocket for his sonic screwdriver. “See this, Terry.” He held them up together in his free hand. “Same technology. ALIEN technology.”

“It was given to me by the grace of Hathor,” the high priest said. “My lord, why do you handle me so roughly? Why do you speak so strangely? I live to serve our Gods. I honour the princes of our land who walk with the gods.”

“The creature that gave you this was a false god,” Chrístõ said. “Evil is being done here. And you are a tool of that evil.”

“Sire…” Belief that Chrístõ was, himself, a prince of Egypt and therefore divine added to the fear and confusion of the man. Christo could see it in his emotions. He had genuinely believed that he was doing the work of Hathor. But now somebody whose credentials were equally impeccable was telling him he had done a great wrong. Chrístõ almost felt sorry for him, but his sympathy was with the victims, like that couple he saw earlier, whose names he never learnt, but who were just one of many couples whose lives had been destroyed by the mischief that was going on here.

This ends,” Chrístõ said. “At the ceremony tonight, you will denounce the false god. You will tell the people that no more girls will be taken. Have you got that?”

“Yes, Sire,” the high priest said.

“Very well, you may go now.” Chrístõ released his grip and indicated to Terry that he, too, could let go. The two priests ran from the chamber.

“What now?” Terry asked.

“Now, we relax until this evening,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do until then. The people have got to see the lie exposed.”

He was looking at the instrument the priest had used. “Interesting. It IS the same technology as my sonic screwdriver. But more limited functions. What it basically does is alter the molecular structure of anything solid – like metal or rock – sort of makes it remember being a liquid form. It can be used to seal and unseal a door or as a sort of space age cutting tool for going through metal.” He put it in his pocket with the sonic screwdriver. “Dangerous in the wrong hands, like most power tools.”

They went back to the royal tent where they were, as yesterday, treated well. He filled the girls in on the situation but told them not to worry. Bo, however, WAS worried.

“That girl…” She pointed to one of the handmaidens preparing the table with their midday meal of the choice cuts of meat and fruit and bread and fine wine. “She did my hair yesterday. Her sister has already been ‘chosen by Hathor’ last week. And tonight….” Bo’s face was pale. “Don’t let her be used as I was…”

“We don’t know that’s why these girls are being taken,” Cassie said, soothingly.

“Why else would it only be young girls?” Bo said in a whisper, for she was so full of grief that was the best she could manage. Chrístõ enfolded her in his arms but there was nothing he could say to comfort her. She had, in fact, expressed exactly his own thoughts on the matter. If it was merely a way to get slaves, they would have wanted youths as well, who would be able to perform manual labour. If it was for some kind of sacrifice, it would not matter what age or sex the victims were. It was all too likely these girls were destined for a life such as Bo had been forced into.

He was dismayed by the thought. But he had a plan. He would make it right. That thought buoyed him as the afternoon wore on.

Chrístõ made everyone eat well, even though Bo, especially, was reluctant. She was too sad at what was happening around her, but he persuaded her, by the simple method of sharing everything he ate and drank with her as she sat on his knee, cuddled close against him. It meant that he ate and drank more than he usually would. His Time Lord constitution needed far less food than Humans did, but it did him no harm. Even the wine had little effect other than quenching his thirst in the afternoon heat of the Upper Nile Valley. Time Lords were never affected by alcohol unless they chose to be. And Chrístõ had never found a reason why they would choose to be.

Again, the “princesses” were royally treated in preparation for the evening ceremony. Chrístõ noted that there WERE different girls attending on them tonight. Bo looked very distressed about it. He consoled her with the promise, that he hoped he could keep, that he was going to make things right tonight. The easy way she believed he was capable of making it all right was comforting to him. He DID have a plan, but it depended on a lot of things going exactly right as the sun went down.

And at first, it seemed as if they were going right. They were seated, as before, on the gilded thrones before the temple. The priests were in their finery and the people gathered before them. Four girls waited to be taken into the temple as handmaids to Hathor. Chrístõ recognised the girl who had served them earlier among them. She looked beautiful in the ceremonial robes, and did not seem distressed by the ‘honour’ of being chosen. But it was wrong. So VERY wrong.

When all was ready, the High Priest stepped forward by the temple entrance. He raised his arms for silence and the people looked on. Chrístõ held his breath. The man was going to denounce the gods and then he could make his move.

“People, a great and terrible blasphemy has been committed,” he said. “Falsehood and deception is among us.” Then he turned and faced Chrístõ and pointed an accusing finger. “He is no Royal Prince. He is a deceiver and a blasphemer.”

Chrístõ’s hearts sank. He had read the man wrong, or he had thought things through and come to a different conclusion. He began to stand up, and found that his legs were made of lead. When he tried to speak, his jaw was frozen. As he slid to the ground, he saw Terry and Cassie both pass out. Bo had enough strength in her to wrap her arms around his neck as she, too, collapsed. They were all unconscious. He was merely paralysed. His different biology meant that the poison, the drug, whatever it was, affected him differently, though no less devastatingly. Too late he realised – the wine, the food. Why hadn’t he brought everyone back to the TARDIS where they would be safe? He had trusted those who were serving them.

He felt his robe being searched and the high priest took back his sonic tool. Chrístõ was relieved that his own sonic screwdriver and his other possessions were left with him. When the drug wore off, at least he might be able to effect some escape for themselves. But his hopes of helping these people were destroyed.

The girls were taken first. He heard the high priest say Hathor would have two royal handmaidens tonight. His hearts reached out to Bo. She had been so afraid that the nightmare would return and now it had. And sweet Cassie, the child of peace who gave her love so willingly to those who captured her heart. The thought of her sold to slavery of some man who would treat her as Lord Marley had treated Bo brought tears to his eyes. Painful tears as his eyes were as paralysed as the rest of his body and he could not blink them away.

Then he and Terry were also manhandled away, and he felt they were being taken to the Temple of Ramesses. He could not move his head, but he thought he could recognise the dark outlines of the statues that lined the hypostyle hall. They were left in the sanctuary and he heard the sound of the sonic tool sealing the room.

It was up to him. Nobody else was going to help him. He knew that. Besides, HE was the one with the superior intellect and the supposedly superior strength. His body’s strength was neutralised by whatever drug had poisoned his system. But his mind was still free and alert. He turned it inwards and looked at his bloodstream and his central nervous system in the same way as he had looked into Bo’s when he rid her system of the opiates that had kept her docile and pliable. He found the drug. He didn’t recognise its molecular structure, but it was, he thought, just one of the secrets of ancient Egyptian society – skill with subtle poisons – not anything provided by the space age manipulators who were, he hoped, still unaware of his presence.

He focussed on that molecular structure and forced it from his body, little by little. Every nerve screamed in pain as he expelled it and as he found a voice at last he screamed out loud, too. The pain of expelling it was far worse than an opiate itself. For a moment he lay on the ground aching in every fibre of his body. But he knew there was no time to waste. He looked at Terry and was relieved to see he was coming around, slowly. It must have been in the wine, he thought, and stupidly he had drunk more of it than the others because he would not get drunk by it. His father would probably say there was a lesson in that. He half smiled and agreed.

He lifted Terry up as he moaned groggily and reached in his pocket for his TARDIS key. Terry groaned again and shut his eyes against the bright light of the TARDIS console room as it solidified around them in place of the dark sanctuary.

“Where are the girls?” Terry asked as the shock did as much to push the drug from his system as Chrístõ’s self-examination had done.

“Sealed in the central chamber of the Temple of Nefertari,” Chrístõ said moving to the console. “Terry, take the flight control. I’m navigating this time.” Terry did as he said, following his instructions to the letter. “To materialise inside a building, the TARDIS needs an accurate co-ordinate. Otherwise it could materialise through a wall or something. Luckily, we HAVE an accurate co-ordinate.”

“Do we?” Terry said. Then he smiled “Oh yeah! We do, don’t we.”

“Theta Sigma rules!” Chrístõ said, laughing despite his concern for his friends and for the people of Abu Simbel. He keyed in the co-ordinate that he had written up on the wall of the sanctuary and told Terry to flip the switch.

It took only a few moments for them to dematerialise from the Sanctuary and re-materialise in the inner chamber of the Temple of Nefertari. Against all hope, they solidified around the half conscious forms of Bo and Cassie, who had been left in the middle of the chamber. Terry went to them as Chrístõ bounded to the door and opened it.

“Anybody who DOESN’T want to die in the service of Hathor, get in here, now!” he said, standing at the threshold. “You will be safe here.” Three of the four girls sitting unhappily on the floor of the chamber immediately stood up. One remained crouching in fear. Another girl bent to her, clearly urging her to come. Chrístõ went to them and spoke in perfectly articulated ancient Nubian, the dialect these girls spoke. He discovered that they were sisters and the youngest believed that she MUST serve Hathor even to her death. The older one did not believe it and wanted her sister to come with her to the safety he had promised. He marvelled when he looked back at the TARDIS which had appeared simply as a square portal of two stone uprights and a cross beam with bright, warm light spilling from it. And these girls had taken his word when he said he could rescue them.

Did the TARDIS give off some kind of aura? He hoped so. He bent and touched the frightened girl on the forehead with a cool hand. She DIDN’T really want to stay there. He could feel her fear of the dark, of the Gods, of death. But that fear also made her docile and obedient and willing to die. Who needed drugs when people had religion to control them, he thought bitterly.

He concentrated on passing calming thoughts to her and he felt her fear subside. She looked up at him and asked if he was a god.

“No, child, I’m not. There are no gods here. Nobody is stopping you going home with your sister.”

And he lifted the girl in his arms, reflecting that rescuing scared girls had become something of a full time occupation for him lately. He carried her, with her sister beside him, into the TARDIS. He looked around. Everyone was accounted for. He closed the door. Bo and Cassie were standing up, shaky and upset and confused, but no worse than that.

“What are we waiting for?” Terry asked as Chrístõ stood by the console watching the viewscreen. “We should get out of here before they send that transmat beam down.”

“THAT’S what I’m waiting for,” Chrístõ said. “I want to see their faces when they beam the TARDIS up.”

“You are kidding?” Terry said. “Let’s get these girls to safety.”

“There is no safety for them unless we deal with the false gods who are kidnapping them. We have to end this once and for all. Besides, there are others.” He turned to the girl who had attended them in the royal tent. “When was your sister taken?” he asked her.

“Five nights ago, my Lord,” she said, bowing her head as she replied. Not only did they think he was a royal prince, but despite his assurances there was a whisper going around that he WAS a god. As if there weren’t enough false idols around here.

“Here we go,” he said as he felt the vibration that told him the TARDIS was being moved under some power other than its own. He looked at the viewscreen and smiled. He opened the door and looked out. The scene was almost identical to that below on the planet, except this time there were at least forty girls huddled together in the spaceship’s holding cell. He repeated his message from earlier. This time nobody hesitated. Every one of the girls stood and came gratefully to the portal. Inside, he heard the sounds of tearful reunion between friends. But he was not done. He closed the door, sealing everyone safely inside the TARDIS.

The door of the cell was not difficult to open with a sonic screwdriver that melted locks. Outside, he found two guards who were so surprised to see him he had rendered them unconscious with the minimum effort before they even had chance to reach their weapons.

“Theta Sigma rules,” he whispered with a smile as he stepped over the prone bodies, picking up one of the blast guns and turning into the corridor.

He took out several more guards before he reached the bridge. They were pathetically easy, he thought. Bo gave him more trouble in their practice sessions.

The Bridge was not far away and not especially big. This ship was intended for a small crew and a large cargo – Human slaves. There were only four people there, including the one he took to be the captain. For a long moment he wasn’t noticed. He raised the blast gun and aimed it at the transmat control console. The resulting explosion not only disabled their means of kidnapping any more girls, but it satisfactorily got their attention.

“First question,” he said with all his race’s high-handed and autocratic force. “Who are you people? Second question, WHY are you kidnapping girls from a primitive race? Third question, why the trite little game of pretending to be gods?”

“Who are YOU?” the Captain responded, not quite so autocratically as Chrístõ.

“Chrístõdavõreendiamondheartmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhne de Lœngbærrow of the Time Lords of Gallifrey,” he said. “But you can call me My Lord.”

“Time Lords?” The title clearly meant something to them all. The Captain looked positively pale. “I thought the Time Lords didn’t interfere with the affairs of the galaxy.”

“They do now,” Chrístõ said. “Now, back to the point. Question one….”

“We are of the Drezx,” the Captain said.

“And question two?”

“Our planet has suffered a terrible plague for more than ten star cycles. Our people are ravaged and reduced. It struck most thoroughly at the females of our race. Those that did not die were rendered infertile. Our race will die in another generation unless we have new blood. We sought out populations with females of good health…”

“How pathetic,” Chrístõ said. “How utterly pathetic. If you had the means of space travel you could as easily gone out among the stars and found Humanoid colonies that would have welcomed you among their communities as equals. This is a pathetic plan. You disgust me. You disgust the Time Lords.” He played on the fact that they seem to have taken him as an official representative of his race. Truth be told, the Time Lords, for all their power, too often ignored exactly this sort of thing all over the universe.

“My Lord….” The Captain protested.

“And Question three…”

“My Lord…we are not a cruel people. We wanted women who would be helpmates and companions to the men they were paired with, not slaves. And we did not wish to take them from families who would grieve for them. We saw that giving up the women to the service of the gods was an honour. The parents would be proud. And the women… would be well cared for in their new homes.”

“No,” Chrístõ said. “You are wrong. You think people don’t grieve because they are obeying their gods? Your actions caused untold harm to those people. Quite apart from tearing families apart you have changed their perception of their gods. You could have caused a schism in the time continuum. Then the Time Lords really WOULD want your blood. As it is, I will take your assurance that you will leave and never come near this planet. Earth is under the special protection of the Time Lords. This GALAXY is. Go back where you come from and never interfere with the lives of the innocent again.”

It was the biggest bluff he had played in his life. Chrístõ was amazed that they actually believed him. He was a STUDENT. He hadn’t even graduated yet. But such was the reputation of his people among those races that had mastered galaxy-wide space travel that the Captain of the Drexz ship practically grovelled.

“We will do that, My Lord. We will leave immediately.”

“Not that immediately. Give me chance to leave, thank you. And he decided a spectacular proof of his power as a Time Lord might be useful, as well as saving him a walk. He pressed the TARDIS key and smiled at the familiar displacement of air before it materialised around him. He wasn’t sure what the exterior looked like, but it must have been something quite startling judging by the faces of the Drexz captain and crew.

He didn’t see their faces as the TARDIS dematerialised because Bo was clinging to him.

“It's all right, precious,” he said. “It's all over now. We’re all safe. Let me take the TARDIS back to the village now. These girls need to go back to their families.” She would not let go of his hand even so. It was not so difficult, though, to take the TARDIS back to a place it had been already. He made a slight adjustment to bring it to a more spectacular place to rematerialise.

When the viewscreen cleared they saw the villagers dropping to their knees in awe at the sight. He opened the doors and told all the girls to go to their families. The only ones who hesitated before running to the door were the two sisters from the last group of ‘handmaids’. They came to Chrístõ and hugged him and thanked him profusely. “Go on now,” he said to them. “Your family are out there. Go to them.”

When the last girl was gone he turned to his friends. He lifted Bo’s hand regally. “Are you all ready to be princes and princesses of Egypt one more time?” And he walked to the door with Bo. Terry and Cassie followed behind.

“Well done, my TARDIS,” Chrístõ said when he stepped out and glanced behind. It had appeared in just about as spectacular a form as it could. A sphinx at least as high as the temple, with a door between the two front legs – but the door appeared as a fiery curtain that they had all stepped through. The younger of the two priests was prostrate in fear, even though the ordinary people had forgotten their awe in their joy at being reunited with their children. The high priest was standing before them, frightened but not cowed. Chrístõ raised his arms and a hush came over the people.

“You have been deceived by false gods. The REAL Hathor does not wish to take your children. Pay homage to the REAL Hathor, to the REAL Amun. Do not be afraid.”

“No!” The High Priest screamed. “No, Hathor commanded me. Hathor spoke to me. YOU are the false god!”

“I am not a god at all,” Chrístõ said. “I never claimed to be.”

“You will die, blasphemer!” the high priest screamed and pulled his sonic tool from his robes, pointing it at Chrístõ. Instinctively his muscles bunched to spring to defend himself and his friends, but Terry got there first. He pushed the priest’s hand up and the beam from the tool went above their heads shattering one of the statues in front of Ramesses II’s Temple. As he pushed the girls safely out of the way of the falling debris Chrístõ remembered that an earthquake had been blamed for the destruction of the statue.

Oh well, he thought. In 1,000 years it would not make a lot of difference.

Terry wrestled the man to the ground and disarmed him of his futuristic tool and two of the villagers came forward and took him in hand. Chrístõ told them to go easy on him. Let him realise his mistake. There was no need for retribution. He was afraid of a lynching party.

“Go back to your homes,” he said to the assembled people who seemed unsure what to do next. “In the morning, rejoice that the sun comes up and warms you and makes your crops grow. And go on with your lives.” Then he turned and the four of them walked back into the fiery door, into the TARDIS.

“I think that’s as much of Abu Simbel as even you two should need,” Chrístõ said with a smile as they dematerialised.

“Yes,” Cassie agreed. “And do you think, next time we’re in a scrape, Bo and I can rescue YOU from the bad guys?”

“We’ll see,” he grinned. “Just one thing more, I think.” And he re-materialised the TARDIS inside the sanctuary in the temple of Ramesses II. He told them to stay put while he stepped up to the wall where the four Gods sat in silence. He took out his sonic screwdriver and carved his and the co-ordinates of the inner chamber within Queen Nefertari’s Temple. Because you can’t leave paradoxes in time, he told himself. Then he stepped inside again and the chamber saw one brief draught of wind before the silence of eternity.