Julia was not the only teenager on Beta Delta IV who was thrilled when Ice Garden were billed as the headline act of the Winter Festival in The Park. Even Chrístõ’s students were distracted from their lessons. On the Friday before the festival, he gave up trying to hush their telepathic chatter and decided to go with the flow.

“My girlfriend still thinks I’m more exciting, good looking and altogether more fantastic than Brian Drennan,” he said. “Is she the only girl in the solar system with her head not spinning over this ‘performer’?” -

“Your girlfriend is just as excited as the rest,” Marle answered. “She showed me her autographed microdisc of their greatest hits at lunchtime. She told me that you know their manager.”

At that point, all the girls in the class gave up the slightest pretence of being interested in theoretical physics and asked him about Brian Drennan instead.

“He’s just a guitar player,” Chrístõ insisted. “Honestly, I don’t know what any of you see in him. The boys are just as bad. Just less giggly. What if I were to hypnotise the lot of you into thinking that he looks and sings like a goat?”

“Could you do that?” Carlo asked him.

“Yes, but mass hypnosis gives me a headache and since I’ve got to escort Julia to the festival, tomorrow, I’d rather avoid that. Perhaps I should tell you about the way the doctors of Earth in the mid 19th century treated female hysteria. That would sober you all up, I can tell you. You do realise, that all this giggling is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain…”

“I don’t care, sir,” Angela Wright said. “Brian is a muffin.”

“I pity him,” Chrístõ retorted. “The poor man has to go through life being compared to a variety of sweet cake. I’m so glad I chose teaching as a career. Nobody regards me as ‘muffin’.

Actually, he thought as the clock turned towards three o’clock and he dismissed his class, both parts of that last comment were wrong. He had been cheerfully informed by Julia a few weeks ago that the female half of the student body had voted him the best looking teacher in the school. And he didn’t choose teaching as a career - It chose him when all other doors were closed to him. He didn’t mind that so much. He liked teaching. He looked forward to every day of challenges for both him and his students. He liked his students and wanted to do his best for them.

But he was still a Gallifreyan, he told himself. A Time Lord. And he was a teacher only so long as his exile lasted. The hope that he would return to his real life, as a diplomat of Gallifrey, following in his father’s footsteps, was ever present.

Ice Garden were a painful reminder of what he had lost. It was their manager, Deccan Rowe, who had brought him the news about the invasion of Gallifrey eight months ago.

And yet, at the same time, the possibility of meeting Rowe, and perhaps learning some news of what was happening at home, was one reason he was as interested in the festival as any of the hysterical girls, and why he was glad when the day came.

He did his best to enjoy the festival itself, not just for Julia’s sake, but for his own. After all, it was a rock festival. He found himself remembering another rock festival, a few years ago in his personal time line, more than three hundred years ago in Human time. Isle of Wight, 1969, when he had met Terry and Cassie for the first time, and told them that he had come to Earth because Humans were the only species who made good rock music. And that was true. It was one of the many things Humans were good at that his own people could never accomplish.

Of course, music appreciation was a part of his education. He was familiar with all the great Gallifreyan Operas and concertos. He loved Earth classical music. Puccini was his favourite opera composer, and he shared his father’s appreciation of Vaughn Williams and others of the early 20th century English movement. He also shared his mother’s love of jazz. But good rock music was his own personal favourite, for preference that of Earth in the 1960s and 1970s. Rock touched his soul.

He let it touch his soul this weekend as a great marquee, vans, caravans, power generators, beer tent and mobile food outlets covered several acres of Earth Park, playing host to the best of the contemporary bands who recognised those same musical influences from the ‘classic’ era. He still thought that “Hope I die before I get old” was a sad kind of lyric, but the music set his heart racing and he allowed himself to enjoy the noise and the excitement as the evening wore on.

Then, about half an hour before Ice Garden were due to perform their set, Chrístõ felt a hand on his shoulder and a voice speaking close by his ear. He turned to see the very man he had been thinking of, Deccan Rowe, the Tiboran manager of the band.

“Sire,” he said. “Would you and your young lady please come with me?”

Chrístõ was puzzled but he did as he asked. Julia was upset at first, since they had a good position right by the crash barrier in front of the stage. But when she found that they were taken backstage to the green room where Ice Garden were resting before their performance she was delighted.

“Brian will look after your young lady,” Rowe said. “She can watch the concert from the wings. I’m sure that will be to her liking.”

Julia didn’t have to say anything. Her face beamed with joy. Chrístõ smiled at her before turning his attention to Rowe.

“You have some news… from home?” he asked. The word ‘home’ caught on his lips and he betrayed his feeling. Deccan Rowe saw the pain in his eyes and though Chrístõ was of the race his people revered as demi-gods, he empathised with him as a man with a weight of troubles on his shoulders.

“For myself, no more than spaceport rumours,” he answered. “But there is another who can tell you more. That is why I asked you to come backstage.” Chrístõ glanced at Julia. “She’ll be perfectly happy. Will you come with me?”

“I will,” Chrístõ answered. He wasn’t sure what this was all about, but he willingly followed Rowe out of the ‘green room’ backstage and out of the marquee to the secure area, watched over by uniformed security guards, where the band members had luxury trailers for their rest between performances. Rowe brought him to his own trailer, with ‘Ice Garden – Manager’ on the door.

There was somebody else there. Chrístõ suppressed a gasp of astonishment as he saw the young man who unfolded himself from the comfortable armchair and stood up. He was wearing an Ice Garden Road Crew sweatshirt and cap and a pair of sunglasses, despite it being dark outside. He pulled off the cap and glasses and smiled warmly at Chrístõ.

“Paracell Hext!” he exclaimed.

“We meet again in the middle of a crisis, Lœngbærrow. We never have managed that luncheon date at the Conservatory.”

Chrístõ didn’t even know if the Conservatory was still there. Thinking of the restaurant in the Capitol brought a lump to his throat but he managed to answer in the same joking tone.

“We will, one day,” Chrístõ said. “I’ll… I’ll bring you a corsage.”

“I’ll bring you one,” Hext answered. “I’m older than you. So I’ll be the one to bring the corsage and pay for the meal.”

They both laughed at what was an ongoing joke between them. then Chrístõ stepped close and embraced him.

“Chaos!” he cried. “I’ve thought of you, Hext. I wondered if you were safe… if you were alive… I wondered if you were an exile, too… or if you were home when the invasion… do you know… what’s happening on Gallifrey? What about my father? Is he alive?”

“You seem to have caught the Human habit of asking more than one question at once,” Hext told him. “And you have forgotten all those lessons in Emotional Detachment that Lord Drogban drummed into you.”

“Let Lord Drogban be emotionally detached when Gallifrey is…”

“Lord Drogban died,” Hext said. “In the bombardment of the Academy. He led forty petrified tyros from the burning philosophy department. He went back to see if anyone was left and was trapped himself…”

“Oh…” Chrístõ remembered one of the dourest, hard-nosed, often downright cruel masters in the Academy. Lord Drogban had treated him harshly all through his years of schooling. He was convinced a half-blood couldn’t become a Time Lord and tried to break his spirit in every Emotional Detachment class. He had said over and over that Chrístõ could never learn that discipline. And when he heard of his death, Chrístõ nearly proved him right. He burst into tears. He hadn’t cried openly for months, now, since the first days of his exile when the loneliness overcame him. But it had all been there, deep down, thanks to those hard lessons he learnt under Lord Drogban about suppressing his own feelings.

And now it all poured out. And Paracell Hext, who had shared the Emotional Detachment master’s opinion about half bloods, who had detested the very idea of one wearing the Prydonian Academy’s scarlet and gold, now held him in a brotherly embrace as he cried.

The irony was not lost on either of them.

“Chrístõ,” Hext whispered. “Deccan Rowe is Tiboran, remember. He has been taught to revere the Time Lords of Gallifrey as deities. You’re severely disappointing him right now.”

That did it. Chrístõ stopped crying and dried his eyes. He looked around at Deccan Rowe, who did, indeed, seem a little disturbed by what he was witnessing.

“Be assured, Lords,” he said. “Anything I should hear in this place is a confidence I shall never betray.”

“We’ve said nothing that needs to be a secret, yet,” Hext assured him. “But there are grave matters that must be discussed. We are secure here, of course. I have checked for listening devices…”

“My trailer is at your disposal, Lords,” Rowe told him. He bowed to them both and made his exit. Chrístõ waited for Hext to say something, preferably in answer to his questions about his father.

“Come and sit down,” Hext told him. Chrístõ did. Still Hext said nothing. He began to wonder why. How bad was the news? Was his father dead?

“You’ve been among Humans too long,” Hext told him finally. “I think you are losing what it is to be a Time Lord. The pride, the certainty of yourself as a supreme being in the universe.”

“How can we be supreme beings?” Chrístõ asked. “We were so easily beaten by an inferior race.”

“Yes, we are,” Hext insisted. “We are intellectually, physically, morally greater than the savage upstarts who have invaded and conquered systems across the galaxy by brute force and fear. We are greater than them, and don’t you ever forget it, Chrístõdavõreendiam?ndh?rtmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhne de Lœngbærrow, Time Lord of Gallifrey, Son of Rassilon, Heir of the Twelve Houses, Prince of the Universe, Guardian of Causality, Warden of Time…”

Chrístõ was stunned. He hadn’t heard his full name spoken for so long, let alone the collection of epithets that went after it. It had the effect Hext sought. He felt his hearts stirred with pride in his race and its long, magnificent history.

“I swear…” Hext whispered. Chrístõ gave a half smile and spoke the words of the Time Lord oath along with him.

“I swear to protect the ancient law of Gallifrey, with all my might and main, and will to the end of my days, with justice and honour, tender my actions and my thoughts.”

There you are, still a Time Lord after all. I knew you wouldn’t fail. You worked so hard… we made it so difficult for you to be a Time Lord. You would never give up so easily. And now… now forget it all again. Go back to being Human. For your own safety and the safety of our race, be a weak, pathetic, flawed Human again, Chrístõ.”

“What was that for?” Chrístõ asked. “Why make me remember who I am, and then tell me to forget? Why…”

“You must stay hidden, that’s why. You can’t be found by the Mallus or their spies.”

“Why must I? Why AM I hidden here, on an Earth colony, so far from home, cut off from all the news. Why can’t I fight for Gallifrey?”

“You’re less than two hundred years old, Chrístõ. We should be ashamed to have our children fight for us. Yes, I know you’re an exception and the High Council have expected you to be a man far too often. They’ve asked you to do things that men with the experience of centuries couldn’t or wouldn’t. But you are still a boy by our standards. And, besides, if it should come to the worst, they want you safe. In case the Codex of Rassilon should come to pass.”


“I’m only a junior man in the CIA,” Hext pointed out. “But I have heard of the Codex. It is legendary. A prophecy hidden in the depths of the Matrix. It has to do with the end of Gallifrey, the destruction of the Time Lords. The Codex says that there will be one Time Lord who will survive, who will become a lonely god with no home but the universe itself. He will bear the remembrance of what the Time Lords were. That man will bear the Mark of Rassilon and he will be a singular man even from an early age.”

Hext reached and touched Chrístõ on the nape of his neck where a scar covered the birthmark that was called the Mark of Rassilon.

“They think that Gallifrey is going to be destroyed…. And that I will be the only one left?” Chrístõ’s mouth felt dry as the horrible implications sank in. “No… oh, no…”

“Doesn’t make good hearing for me, either,” Hext pointed out. “If you’re the only one left, then I’m dead.”


“Personally, I think it’s a lot of superstitious nonsense. And even if it isn’t, I think they’re wrong. I don’t think you’re the one the Codex refers to.” He paused and his expression was – there was no better word for it – abashed. “Chrístõ, I like you. You’re a great Time Lord. A better one than I ever thought you would be. But I don’t believe that the Codex refers to a half blood. No offence…”

“None taken,” Chrístõ told him. “I hope you’re right. I don’t want to be the last Time Lord in the universe. But please, Hext, enough of this prevaricating. Tell me… what is happening at home? How did you get away? And when? Have you seen my father?”

“Those multiple questions again.”


“Gallifrey is in a bad way,” Hext answered. “We almost crumbled. The Capitol is devastated. They knew exactly where to attack. Yes, we were betrayed. And the one who did it… on the day we are liberated he will know the meaning of retribution. His name doesn’t matter right now. What does matter is the names of the bravest who stood up against the invaders. The President, chief among them. They killed him. Executed him. They showed it on the public broadcasting service as an example to us all.”

“Oh, Hext!” Chrístõ exclaimed. “The president… your uncle…”

“Yes. He was… he died bravely. He gave us…. His last words were ones of defiance to spur us all. He was an example, but in the opposite way. I’m proud of him.”

Hext was letting Lord Drogban’s Emotional Detachment class down badly now. Chrístõ reached out and caught his hand. He felt him tremble with emotion and steadied his hand for him.

“There is a resistance movement. They are fighting the Mallus at every turn. Chrístõ, your father and mine are leading the effort. I was working with them… still am, but they got me away from Gallifrey to do… what I have to do.”

“My father is alive?” Chrístõ grasped the one important fact for him.

“He is,” Hext assured him. “At least he was when I saw him last. You must understand, it took me six weeks to get here. I don’t know what might have happened since…”

“Six weeks outside of the Transduction Barrier… is only three on Gallifrey,” Chrístõ reminded himself and Hext. It was a fact known only to Gallifreyans, that time moved more slowly on their home planet. The Transduction Barrier, as well as being their last line of defence, served as a dampener on time itself. “Eight months for me… four for them. But he was alive… you spoke to him. That’s something. What of my stepmother and my… my half brother?”

“They were safe the last I saw of them,” Hext answered. “The resistance have a hiding place on the southern continent, a place the Mallus don’t know of. Valena and your brother are there. So is my mother and my own brother and a few others that we were able to get to safety. Most of the population were not so lucky. They live in fear, forced to work for the Mallus. The women…” Hext shook his head. He couldn’t even speak aloud of the abuses the enemy was inflicting on innocent women. Chrístõ felt his revulsion and made a guess.

“Four months of occupation. But what is the point? Surely the object was to get control of the Matrix?”

“They haven’t got that. It still eludes them. They didn’t know that the key to the Matrix can only be operated by the President – and they killed him.”

“A former president could…” Chrístõ pointed out. “There are…” He closed his eyes and brought the faces to mind. “If my memory is correct… there are four living former presidents. Lord Patriclian, Lord Borrusilan, Lord Patrexean and… my father.”

“Patriclian is dead,” Hext answered him in a dry voice. “They tortured him for the secret but he killed himself. He was on his last life – an old, old man. He forced himself into a thirteenth regeneration. You know what happens…”

“No, I don’t,” Chrístõ admitted. “But I can guess. Damn them. so many good men. Your uncle, Lord Patriclian, Lord Drogban… so many innocents… What of the others?”

“Hiiden by the resistance. But… Chrístõ… You ought to know this. They have all taken a vow… a suicide pact. They will follow Lord Patriclian to the grave rather than let the Mallus have the Matrix. Yes, your father, too. It is harder for him. He is the only one with young children to care for. I heard him say… He was holding Garrick… and he said, he hoped that you would be kind to your stepmother and her child… make fair provision for them… It worried him that you are not yet of age.”

“He has actually considered that he might have to…”

“He was alive when I saw him last,” Hext assured him. “But you understand… If the Matrix should come under the control of these barbarians… if they had the power to conquer worlds retrospectively…. The galaxy would fall. All beings would be slaves. We have to hold out, not just for ourselves this time… but to prevent that scourge from darkening other skies. Your father’s life… is a small thing compared to the lives of countless billions.”

“I know,” Chrístõ said. “But it makes it no easier to bear. Rassilon save us all. Let our day of deliverance be at hand. The resistance… do they have a plan?”

“They do. And it is why they sent me away from Gallifrey. Lord, it was rough. No TARDIS travel, of course. I spent two weeks holed up in a Mallus supply ship. Then I got on board a Tiboran freighter. That’s when I ended up with this lot - Deccan Rowe and his band. They were heading where I wanted to go – Adano-Ambrado. Rowe let me pose as a ‘roadie’ to get me through customs control. And then I went to see the Emperor.”

“Penne?” Chrístõ smiled despite himself. “How is he?”

“He… took me by surprise. I never met him before. I don’t do the diplomatic circles. He really is the image of you. Except… He has enough Oldblood arrogance and self-assurance for both of you. Even so, when I told him I was a friend of yours he greeted me as a brother. Then he invited me to talk… in his bath.”

“Yes, Penne likes his baths,” Chrístõ said and left it at that. He sighed deeply, though. He missed Penne and his un-Gallifreyan habits. He almost felt jealous of Hext.

“You talked about Gallifrey?”

“We talked about you, first,” Hext admitted. “But we discussed what has to be done. He’s a strange man, but he is a magnificent one, too. How one so young wields the power he does… Most of what passed between us I cannot tell you, Chrístõ. For your own good. The Emperor told me you would understand and not press me. But some of it you should know.”


“The Codex of Rassilon… we spoke of it already. The Mallus have heard of it. But they don’t know that true legend. The resistance wove a false story, seeded it among the people. The slaves in forced camps have been making songs and poems. The High Councillors they have tortured have spoken of it under duress… The Mallus believe that the Child of Rassilon is an exiled Time Lord, one who will return to defeat Gallifrey’s enemy. It’s a false legend, but… you wouldn’t believe it. People are actually clinging to it as a scrap of hope. They really believe the Child of Rassilon is coming to save them. And the Mallus are getting scared.”

“Me?” Chrístõ was puzzled. “I'm supposed to… lead a counter revolution? I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time. Penne and I sorted out Ravenswode’s clones. But how can I do anything from here?”

“No,” Hext assured him. “You’re the real subject of the Codex. They want you safe. You stay put here, in case the real Codex prophecy comes to pass.” Hext reached out and touched Chrístõ’s neck again, feeling the rough scar tissue. “Keep your shirt on,” he told him.

Then he took hold of Chrístõ’s hand and put it on his own neck. Chrístõ was surprised at what he felt. He pulled down the collar of the ‘roadie’ sweatshirt and starred at what appeared to be a birthmark on Hext’s flesh, just below the hairline. A birthmark in the shape of the Seal of Rassilon.

“It’s bigger than mine. I never even knew I had it until…”

“Until it was obliterated by… by me and those idiots who did my bidding,” Hext said. “Having several layers of flesh grafted on to make the birthmark look real was excruciating. The worst pain I’ve ever felt, including a couple of times I was shot and having my eyes gouged out. I think… we’re fully even, Chrístõ.”

“Granted. But why?”

“I’m going back to Gallifrey, the long way around, via a few space stations and freighter ports where I’ll make it known that I’m a Gallifreyan and let a few choice people see the birthmark. The Mallus will hear that I am coming. Then when I do get home, I’m supposed to make myself conspicuous… make it look like I’m gaining followers….”

“You’re bait!” Chrístõ was aghast as he realised what it was about. “You’re… a diversion? From the real offensive?”

“Yeah. Although, I reckon I could probably gain enough followers to make some trouble. It’s a damn good legend.”

“Sweet mother of chaos. They’ll kill you if they capture you. And… in place of me? I’m the one the legend is really about…”

“The real Codex is about you. I’m a false prophet for a false legend. But your father and mine, and the Emperor thought you should know what was going on. They need you to be ready…. I can’t tell you what for, but be ready.”

“Ok…” Chrístõ reached again and touched Hext’s neck. “When you and your friends attacked me, all those years ago… when your mutilation covered my birthmark… do you think that was… predestined? Setting us both up for this day?”

Hext looked at him solemnly for a long time. Then he shook his head.

“I helped them do that to you because I hated half-bloods. I wanted to cause you pain… make your alien eyes leak water. Pre-destination never came into it. I know we’re supposed to believe in the order of things, that nothing happens by coincidence, and all of that. But this time… it would be just a bit too cruel, don’t you think?”

“I forgave you for it,” Chrístõ said.

“Yes, you did. But… I don’t think I ever told you I’m sorry. I want to say it to you now. In case I never have the chance… I am sorry, Chrístõ. And I was wrong to think you wouldn’t make a good Time Lord.”

“I never thought you would make a good CIA agent,” Chrístõ answered. “But maybe I was wrong, too. Hext…”

He wasn’t sure what he wanted to say to him. Maybe he didn’t have to say anything. Their eyes met and Hext nodded. He knew.

They both looked around as the door opened and Deccan Rowe returned, bowing to them both.

“Lords, if your conference is concluded… would you care to join the young lady in the wings. There is something I think you might want to see.”

He would say no more. But they followed him. It was pitch dark now, beyond the brightly lit festival area. Midnight would see the end of the concert. Ice Garden were playing one of their biggest hits and the fan hysteria could be heard beyond the walls of the marquee. Backstage, there was an electrical excitement about it all.

“Chrístõ!” Julia looked around and smiled at him. She didn’t recognise Hext. He had put his cap and glasses back on. “You missed the best of it. But come here… they’re going to do a special encore.”

Chrístõ and Hext both stood with her and watched as Brian Drennan addressed the audience of thousands.

“We’ve got to finish soon. But there are two pieces I want to play… for two friends of the band who are a long way from home tonight. This is to remind them what the fight is for.”

Hext wasn’t familiar with 20th century Earth rock classics. Chrístõ was. But both saw the meaning in the words of the song Brian sang, accompanied by an electric guitar picking out the melody.

Here we are, born to be kings
We're the princes of the universe
Here we belong, fighting to survive
In a war with the darkest powers…

Then both of them gasped in astonishment as that song ended and a single spotlight turned on Brian Drennan and his lead guitar. He played a tune that was certainly not a rock classic. For a few bars even Chrístõ and Hext didn’t recognise their own national anthem played on an electric guitar. When they did, both stood to attention, their hands over their left hearts. They remembered the words of the anthem, all about being Brave Sons of Rassilion, Proud Daughters of Gallifrey. As the tune ripped at their hearts, Chrístõ thought he could have cried, but he remembered Lord Drogban and his lessons and he bore himself, dry eyed, as a Time Lord should.

As the last bars of the anthem died away, he turned to say something to Hext. He wasn’t there. He had been there moments before. But now he was gone. Chrístõ understood. His journey home to Gallifrey had begun.

“Mine is yet to come,” he told himself.

But he knew what he wanted to say to Hext now.

“Good journey, my friend,” he whispered.