It was mid-afternoon of the Day of Liberation. In the streets of the cities and towns, the people celebrated that they were still alive, and mourned those who were dead. They thanked the alien strangers who had come to their rescue. The Allied forces rounded up what was left of the Mallus still in occupation and brought them to a prison ship in orbit around Gallifrey.

Chrístõ had not taken part in either the celebrations or the mopping up operations. He had spent the hours in the Zero Room under the Junior Senate House. There, his father had been brought on a stretcher. He would not get any better, but in the quiet calm of that room he would not get any worse. Chrístõ remained with him, needing the quiet and the calm himself. He didn’t meditate in the usual way. But he did sit in the formal, legs crossed, straight backed way of the Brothers of Mount Lœng and cleared his mind of all distractions for as long as he could.

He was surprised when the quiet was disturbed by two visitors. Paracell Hext came in, accompanying Remonte, who still needed help to get around. Chrístõ embraced his uncle fondly.

“I came to give you this,” Remonte told him, pressing a small object into his hand. It was a memory wafer that fitted into a TARDIS guidance system. “You will need it,” he said.

“Thank you,” he answered. “But… Uncle… Are you all right?”

“I am recovering. I will recover much better when I reach Ventura IV. One of Penne Dúre’s fast ships has been detailed to take me there. My wife… by good fortune… was visiting her friend, the Lady Ambassador on that planet, when the invasion began. She was safe there, as you were on Beta Delta. But I will go to her now. We will remain as guests of the Ambassador until I am recovered.”

“I am glad of that,” Chrístõ told him. “But what of… of my father.”

“The President will explain to you very soon,” Remonte answered him.

“We don’t have a president,” Chrístõ answered.

“My father has been sworn in by the Inquisitor, by the unanimous decision of the remaining High Councillors,” Hext told him. “He was second choice, I might add. YOUR father was the one they would have wanted. But as he is unwell…”

“Unwell doesn’t begin to describe it. And I still don’t understand what is wrong with him.”

“Come on, now. He will be looked after here.” As Hext spoke, a woman came into the Zero Room. She was dressed from head to foot in the pale coloured silk of one of the Sisters of Contemplation. She knelt by Lord de Lœngbærrow’s prone figure and began to pass her hands over him, not touching him at all, but the action looked as if it was soothing and gentle and good for the patient. Hext took Remonte de Lœngbærrow by the arm again and Chrístõ walked by his side back up to the Panopticon.

The Panopticon was a sombre place, still. It now contained the coffins of several important casualties of the war. Among them, Hext’s uncle, the murdered president. Chrístõ didn’t like to ask where his body had been for over a year of the occupation. Another was Silis Bonnoenfant. Having seen his uncle taken care of by two of Penne’s personal bodyguards, Chrístõ went to pay his respects by that coffin. Hext came with him.

“Silis Bonnoenfant…” Hext said to him in a low voice. “Long before our time, before our fathers were born, he was sentenced to Shada, for a crime he didn’t commit.” Chrístõ looked around in shocked surprise but his friend kept speaking. “He was cryogenically frozen for thousands of years. But unlike most, he didn’t go mad. The knowledge that he was innocent kept him sane. But he did become bitter against Gallifreyan society.”

“I can understand that,” Chrístõ said dryly as he remembered the surprised expressions of the High Councillors when Silis had been the one who offered himself to save Hext’s life. If he was so notorious, then no wonder.

“He was released, eventually. He took himself to the property his family owned by the Calderon, and lived a free man, but a recluse, in his tower hidden by a chameleon cloak so that few people even knew it was there. For centuries he was undisturbed and knew peace. Then, one day, a young woman almost drowned in the Calderon. He rescued her. She learnt his story. She prevailed upon her husband – the then Magister of the Southern Continent – to look into his case. He did, and discrepancies were found. Silis was exonerated. But even Time Lords cannot give back time. He still had the memories of his years as a prisoner, the knowledge of what was taken from him. He still shunned society and lived in his tower. The Magister visited him occasionally, the one man he came to trust… And when our world was in peril and he asked a favour… Silis granted it, in memory of the Magister’s wife, who had believed him to be innocent when nobody else did.”

“The Magister… the young woman. You mean…”

“It was your mother, of course,” Hext said. “She was the one who believed in him. He was touched by her honesty and kindness. He painted her picture. She never saw him again, but he remembered her as a spark of warmth in his cold soul.”

“My mother…”

“He promised to tell you about her,” Hext said. “He left me the memory to pass on to you.”

“He sacrificed himself in the end. For… you…”

“Yes. He was a brave man. Braver than anyone thought.”

“Thank you for sharing that with me.”

“It was my duty to him,” Hext answered. “And to you.”

Chrístõ began to say something else, but his attention was required. The newly sworn President and the Inquisitor waited to have an audience with him.

“Chrístõ, it is up to you now,” said the Inquisitor.

“What is up to me?” he answered.

“Your father’s life,” replied the President. “You don’t yet understand what happened to him?”

“I know the Mallus tortured him and now he’s…”

“It was not the torture that left him as he is. That was something he did to himself to protect the secrets of Gallifrey and the Matrix.”

“He… did it to himself…”

“Chrístõ, you are young. You have not yet regenerated. You perhaps don’t know everything about the process. Have you ever heard the axiom ‘A man is the sum of his memories?’”

“No,” Chrístõ answered. “Though I would accept it as a truism.”

“It is even more true of a Time Lord. One who has regenerated many times has the memories of each of his lives in his head. He lives with his multiple personalities in balance. And more than that, each of his previous incarnations holds in his brain a portion of the complete memories of the latest incarnation – retrospectively. Even you, as young as you are – in a closed portion of your mind that you are not even aware of, you carry your own future. I believe you have met one or more of your later incarnations. You know that they exist in your future.”

“Yes… but…”

“That is what has happened to your father. He knew that the Mallus were going to use mind probes that might break down even the strongest mental walls. He knew he might be forced to reveal the secrets despite all his efforts. So he forced a brainstorm. He wiped his whole memory except for a very small portion that keeps his brain alive now. His memories since his last regeneration – which you remember, I think, Chrístõ. All before then, including the secrets of the Presidency, the key to the Matrix, was erased.”

Chrístõ said nothing. He could think of nothing to say, and he didn’t want to burble another string of ‘buts’ that were all he felt capable of.

“That is why it is up to you, now,” the President continued. “You have to take your father… we are arranging for him to be placed into a portable Zero Cabinet. You must travel in time to find each of his previous incarnations and they will return to him the portion of his mind that they hold within them.”

“Twelve of his incarnations… his previous lives… I have to go to each of them and tell them… that his last incarnation needs something from them?”


“I will do it, of course. But my TARDIS is on Beta Delta IV. And…”

“Come with us,” said the Inquisitor. It wasn’t an order, rather it was a request. But Chrístõ had no will to refuse. He felt as if he wasn’t even walking on his own two feet as he followed the Inquisitor and the President. Hext walked by his side. He was grateful for his company. He almost felt like reaching out and gripping his hand, but that might be taken the wrong way by everybody concerned.

He was brought to a place where some semblance of a communications room had been set up. Chrístõ noted that some people, Gallifreyans and Adano-Ambradans, were setting up controls for the Transduction Barrier. Others were co-ordinating the distribution of food and medical supplies to civilians in outlying parts of the planet and ensuring that the same was happening on the other planets of the system. Penne and the Dragon-Loge were there, both talking to the other Allied commanders about the surrender of the Mallus. Penne took time to greet Chrístõ, though.

“You’ve got a mission, I believe,” he said to him. “I had hoped we would have time to talk. But we are both busy. Perhaps there will be time in the near future. It seems a long time since we bathed together and talked of trivialities.”

Hext blushed as Penne mentioned bathing. Chrístõ recalled that Penne had invited him to share that ritual with him when he had been on Adano-Ambrado.

“I can think of nothing I would like better,” he said. “When all is done and I have the leisure.”

Then Penne was called away to attend to an important matter and the President commanded Chrístõ’s attention again. The door to the communications room was held open by two of Penne’s guards, now wearing their powder blue uniforms. What looked like a rectangular coffin was carried in by two more of the same guards, followed by the veiled young woman. Chrístõ saw that the ‘coffin’ had a glass top and his father was within. It was unnerving, even though he knew his father was alive.

“You need not do this alone,” the Inquisitor said. “Young Hext has said he will accompany you. And this young lady will attend to your father’s needs.”

“It is my honour,” said the young woman, and Chrístõ looked around at the sound of her voice. He knew it well.

“Romana…” he cried, stepping close to her. He wanted to hug her, but then he remembered that she was of the Sisterhood. She extended her two hands and took them in his. That was as intimate as he might expect of one who had chosen the cloister. “My dear… I am so glad you are well. What happened… I heard terrible stories about what the Mallus did to women… Are you… the Sisterhood.”

“We are well. We invoked a chameleon cloak around the House. All of the Sisterhoods did. So did the brothers on the Mountain. Most remained safely cloistered. We took in refugees and protected them as far as we could. A few of us came to render assistance. I have sent word that I have one more mission to do in the outside world before I return to my chosen life. Caring for your father is my solemn duty until he is restored.”

“Thank you,” Chrístõ said. “Thank you, so much.”

“Your TARDIS,” said the President. “We have sent a recall signal…” Chrístõ turned in surprise as he heard a familiar sound. His TARDIS materialised in the middle of the floor. It was still disguised as the wardrobe in the corner of his bedroom on Beta Delta IV. And the reason for that was soon obvious. The door opened and Julia ran out. Chrístõ caught her in his arms and hugged her tightly.

“I was in the TARDIS,” she said. “I have been spending time in there… because it is comforting. I’ve missed you. But… suddenly it began to move. I saw on the viewscreen… before it disappeared… Aunt Marianna running into the bedroom, but I couldn’t get out.”

“Then first things first,” Chrístõ said. “We need urgent access to a videophone.” He looked at the President, who immediately made a terminal available to them. Marianna and Herrick were relieved that Julia was with Chrístõ, but adamant that she should be brought home at once.

“Please,” Chrístõ answered them. “I have missed her so much. Would you let her stay with me for a few days. There is something I must do. It is not dangerous. But it would be a comfort and a help to me.”

“Please, let me stay.” Julia added her plea. “I want to help Chrístõ. And there are still two weeks of the school holidays left…”

“Those are weeks you should be preparing for the new term. You have exams in the coming school year. And Chrístõ still has a job here…”

“I know that,” Julia said. “But please… let me do this one thing.”

“Sir…” Romana stepped forward. She folded back the veil from her face and spoke in a soft, sweet, subtly persuasive voice, assuring Marianna and Herrick that Julia would be chaperoned by her.

It did the trick.

“So… where are we going?” Julia asked when she had her guardians’ permission.

Hext explained. Julia was shocked. She turned and looked at the Zero Cabinet and shuddered.

“He’s alive? We can make him well again?”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said.

“So… what are we waiting for?” Julia asked. “Let’s get on with it.”

“One more person who wants to wish this mission well,” replied the President. “She will be here shortly. Chrístõ, you have the memory wafer that Chancellor Remonte gave you? That contains a history of your father’s life as far as his brother was able to put it together. It will help you select the times and places where you will encounter his past lives. As far as possible, you should try to find those lives offworld. Travelling back in time on Gallifrey itself is difficult and normally prohibited on pain of death. The danger to us all is too great. If you must do so, the Council will be willing to give you the code which will allow you to breech the protocols. But your father was well travelled in all his lives. It ought to be possible to find him elsewhere.”

“I will try to do that,” Chrístõ said. “With Hext and Romana both helping, there should be no difficulty in piloting the TARDIS to precise destinations.”

The door to the communications room was again opened and Chrístõ was glad when Valena rushed in, carrying Garrick. He reached and took his half-brother from her, holding the child in his arms as she knelt beside the Zero Cabinet. The lid was opened for her to reach in and caress her husband’s face and bend to kiss him.

“He knew me,” she said as she stood and stepped away. “I am sure he knew me.”

“He will know you again, when we return,” Chrístõ promised her. “I’ll bring him back to you, Valena. To you and Garrick. I won’t let you down.”

He hugged his half-brother tenderly, then reached and embraced Valena, too.

“I brought this to you,” Valena said, reaching into a bag she had brought. She gave him his leather jacket. He had left it in the tower when he and Hext set off from there to their mission in the Capitol. He gave Garrick back to her and slipped it on over his battle fatigues. He almost felt himself again in the jacket that was so much a part of his being.

Then he and Valena both turned and saw a phalanx made up of Penne’s Gardia Real and the Chancellery Guard. They saluted as the Zero Cabinet was taken into the TARDIS. Julia and Romana followed. Hext turned and said a heartsfelt goodbye to his father before stepping inside, too. Chrístõ shook hands with the President and Inquisitor, and hugged Penne, who came from his own work once more to see him off. He hugged his stepmother and half brother one more time and then stepped between the honour guard into his TARDIS.

As he closed the door, Humphrey greeted him enthusiastically. He, too, had been brought from Beta Delta in the TARDIS. He was glad of that. He stepped up to the console and inserted the memory wafer into the receptacle on the navigation drive. He noted that his uncle had marked the best possible temporal and spatial locations to meet up with his father’s past lives, and he selected the first of them. Then he turned and reached out his hand. Julia came to his side at once. He hugged her around the shoulders as he watched the TARDIS enter the vortex, spinning backwards through time.

His new mission was begun.