“He’s a Time Lord?” Hext questioned Chrístõ as he watched the prisoner kneeling before the Mandarin. “He’s….”

“He is Lee Koschei Oakdaene,” Chrístõ said in a mournful tone. “He was a CIA agent long before your time, Hext. He was my father’s best friend. And… Oh, sweet mother of chaos. What have I done?”

He masked his telepathic conversation with Hext, but even so, Lee looked at them both sharply, as if he was aware that they were talking about him.

The Mandarin stood above the prisoner and glared at him, then he gave a short, sharp order to the guards. Chrístõ’s hearts thudded. He thought Lee was going to be executed right there and then. He was almost relieved when he saw them rip his shirt off and begin to beat him across the back with bamboo sticks that did not break the skin, but raised ugly bruises and welts on it as they burst the capillaries beneath. The beating went on for nearly twenty minutes, and Chrístõ was glad that Julia and Romana, and the Mandarin’s dainty wife, for that matter, were not there to see it. He knew that Lee’s back would mend easily enough. But it was still horrifying to watch, and to sense his agony as he endured the punishment.

“Take him away,” the Mandarin said when the punishment was over. “Put him in chains within the dungeon, alongside the other fiend who was brought here this day. They shall both be tried later today, and since there is little doubt of their guilt, their heads shall be parted from their bodies at the first light of tomorrow’s dawn.”

“That is only right and proper,” Chrístõ said, and Hext made agreeable comments to back him up. “However… may I beg an indulgence. The miscreant claimed to come from the Southern Province… if you recall, Excellency, I am also from the Southern Province, where several good men were killed some time ago in a similar way. It is possible the crimes are linked. Might I be permitted to interrogate the criminal? My father would be most gratified to hear of your co-operation in the matter.”

The Mandarin considered that idea carefully and then nodded.

“An hour or two hanging by his wrists with the lice of the dungeons eating at his body will make him more amenable. Meanwhile, let not these distressing events prevent me from offering hospitality to you, my honoured guest. Do you play Mah-Jongg? I have not had an opponent who can challenge me for some time.”

“I do,” Chrístõ answered, and he let himself be guided to a small, black lacquered table where a very fine Mah-Jongg set was laid out. The last thing he wanted to do was play a game, but it seemed as if nothing could be done for the prisoner just now, and it might at least be a time to gather his thoughts and consider a plan of action.

Hext came to sit on a spare cushion and watched what to him was something new. He understood from the first few moves by Chrístõ and the Mandarin that it was a game of skill dependent to some extent on chance, but he didn’t think he would grasp the rules if they were explained to him. Besides, he had more important things to think about.

“Chrístõ…” he said telepathically. “Lee Koschei Oakdaene. An agent before my time… That he must have been. I have never heard of him.”

“You wouldn’t. He became a Renegade. His name was expunged a generation before we were born. I know him, though. In his future…” Chrístõ paused and concentrated on the tiles before him and made his move before coming back to the telepathic conversation. “In his future, he was a friend to me. A very good friend.”

“A Renegade was your friend?”

“It’s a long story, and not mine to tell. But a lot of my recent past was concerned with him. I made many decisions based on advice given to him. If he dies now…” Chrístõ’s thoughts wavered. He actually made a mistake in the Mah Jongg game that the Mandarin took full advantage of, though he came back with his next move and regained his lost position. “Never mind that. If Lee is killed now… I don’t even know… My father’s life will be altered. It was because of Lee that he left the Celestial Intervention Agency. It was… He came to Earth to hunt Lee as a Renegade. He met my mother when he was on that assignment. If Lee dies now…”

“Then there will be a monumental paradox with you at the centre of it,” Hext said. “And even if you survive it… which is doubtful… I’ll be in trouble for allowing it.”

“If I never existed, then you’ll be dead already. I saved your life, remember.”

“I remember that every day. Chrístõ,” Hext told him. “And you’re right. The domino effect would reach me, too. We have to prevent Lee from being executed, even if he is clearly guilty of the murder of Tong…. Whatever it was.”

“Tong Fu Wa,” Chrístõ told him. “That’s why you’re my aide, by the way. I speak Mandarin fluently and I can remember those sort of names.”

“Fine by me. As long as you don’t expect me to fetch and carry.”

“Why would Lee assassinate the Mandarin’s advisor?” Chrístõ asked, getting back to the point.

“You’d better ask him that when you get the chance. By the way, what do you make of the Mandarin?”

“He seems to be an honest man who leads the people of this province well,” Chrístõ answered. “That’s the vibe I get from him, sitting this close.”

“Vibe?” Hext found Chrístõ’s use of an Earth slang word amusing. “Yes, I get that feeling, too. I’m trying to reach out, to feel the minds of the guards outside and the servants moving about the house. “I get loyalty, borne out of real respect, not fear of a tyrant. He is known to be tough on the criminals brought before him, but he treats the innocent kindly, and the people are happy under his care and protection.”

“Yes.” Chrístõ sighed inwardly, though the Mandarin saw nothing but his eyes casting over the Mah Jongg board to decide his next move. “We’re going to have to deceive him even more than we’re doing already, and I don’t like doing that to honest men.”

“We can’t afford to have scruples,” Hext told him. “We have to save Lee Koschei Oakdaene. And when we’ve done that, we still have to find your father.”

“Lee and my father worked together. It’s possible he witnessed what happened and has a plan of his own.”

“It’s very possible. But in case he hasn’t, we need to think of something.”

“I need to talk to Lee,” Chrístõ said. “Then we’ll get a plan together.”

That thought stayed with him as he finished the game of Mah Jongg. He let the Mandarin win by a very small margin, but refused the offer of a glass of Shaoxing wine saying that he needed to keep a clear head for the interrogation. That brought the Mandarin back to the matter and he called for two of his guards to escort him to the Palace dungeon.

As opulent as the Mandarin’s private and state rooms were, the prison below was grim and frightening. Chrístõ suppressed a shiver as his feet loudly echoed on the bare stone floor of the upper level. He kept his face expressionless as he walked with his escort past cells containing ordinary prisoners with shaven heads and loose fitting grey prison clothes. He felt their eyes on him, and a mix of curiosity and general hatred of him as a representative of the class that condemned them to this grey life. But the guards urged him on down to an even deeper dungeon level where the most notorious prisoners were being kept.

Lee was in the same cell as the outlaw, Wu Rong Feng. Both were hanging from their wrists from manacles suspended from the ceiling. The manacles were fixed so that their feet only just touched the ground. The pressure on their arms and shoulders must have been terrible by now. Both men were shirtless, and Wu bore the bloody stripes from being whipped a few moments before Chrístõ and his escort arrived. The torturer was just leaving the cell. He offered the whip to Chrístõ. He took it without a word and stepped into the cell. Behind him the guards watched in case the prisoner attempted any kind of treachery.

“I was hoping I could speak to you alone,” Chrístõ said to Lee in Low Gallifreyan. “But if they’re going to watch. He looked at the whip in his hand. “I’m sorry. They expect me to use this.”

“Do your worst,” Lee responded bitterly. “We’re both condemned thanks to you. What can a whiplash do?”

“It can… truly… hurt me more than you,” Chrístõ replied as he cracked the whip against Lee’s back. “We have to talk. Please forgive me this… and listen to me.”

“What is that language?” asked one of the guards suspiciously. He turned and replied.

“It is the dialect of the Southern Province. Do you not know it? This man knows none of your northern dialect. If any truth is to be had from him, then it will be in the southern tongue.”

That seemed to satisfy them. He wielded the whip once more and though he tried to pull back at the last minute he was shocked to see it raise a bloody stripe on Lee’s back.

“I am sorry,” he told him. “Lee…”

“So you know me now?” Lee’s voice was still bitter. “Now that you’ve as good as signed both of our death warrants.”

“What do you mean, both?” Chrístõ glanced at the other prisoner. He was surprised to see that the wounds on his back were mending before his eyes. Chrístõ reeled in shock as he read the other man’s Time Lord imprint.

It was his father.

“You…” He was aware of the guards watching and again he raised the whip and cracked it authentically against his dearest friend’s back. Lee groaned, despite a great effort not to. “But… your faces. You look oriental. Both of you.”

“Temporary facial re-ordering surgery,” replied Chrístõ Mian de Lœngbærrow telepathically, since any word from his mouth, in any dialect would have invited punishment. “For the duration of this mission we were supposed to look like Xiang Xien people.”

“Why?” Chrístõ asked. “What was the mission?”

“As if we’re going to discuss that with you,” Lee responded angrily.

“I’m here to help,” he answered. “Please, tell me, what’s it all about? I am sorry for my part in your capture. I truly am. But you have to trust me. I promise I will help you. Both of you.”

“Did you pass Emotional Detachment, boy?” Chrístõ Mian asked. “You ARE a graduate of one of the academies, aren’t you? They do still teach it as a compulsory subject.”

“To hell with emotional detachment!” Chrístõ screamed out loud, cracking the whip loudly against the floor and making the guards jump. “Just tell me what’s going on here. Why are YOU posing as a notorious outlaw and why did YOU assassinate the chief advisor to the Mandarin. Why are two Time Lords – two Celestial Intervention Agency operatives involved in any of this?”

“Because Tong was not a citizen of Xiang Xien,” replied Lee. “He was the chief henchman of Lissandro Harpaindrix Gellovia.”

“Gellovia?” Chrístõ was young, but he knew that name from infamy. Gellovia was a Time Lord, but one who had disgraced their race three thousand years ago. Three thousand years ago in his own timeline, anyway. It was in his father’s youth that Gellovia did his foul work.

“The mass murderer and… and… despoiler of women?”

“Despoiler?” Lee laughed telepathically. “What good manners you have, boy. Were you raised by women? Gellovia was a vicious rapist and so was the one now calling himself Tong, who took his share of the spoils in any community he and his followers ravaged. Gellovia’s soul is freeze drying on Shada, where he belongs. But his men – our government sees no purpose in a series of trials that force witnesses to relive the horror over and over. Sentence of death was passed and the executioners are sent to carry out that sentence.”

“So it was a legitimate assassination?”


“Well… then how was he…”

“It was part of the plan, you fool,” Lee responded. “Tong was safe within the Mandarin’s Palace. We could not get in here. But it was known that he came to the gate whenever prisoners were brought in. Chrístõ Mian allowed himself to be captured and identified as Wu Rong Feng, the outlaw. He was brought to the palace under escort and Tong was sure to want to gloat. That was my chance.”

“You LET yourself be captured, just to arrange that scenario at the Palace gate? No!” Chrístõ looked at his father. “How could you be involved in something so…”

“I was supposed to overpower my guards and get away in the confusion. Lee would find me in his TARDIS and we’d have been gone,” his father answered. “Even if I wasn’t, Lee could have spirited me away from the cell before dawn. But you… I saw you in the crowd. I sensed your Time Lord ident. You and your friend. I never expected you to be so stupid. You brought the guards down on Lee, and now we’re both trapped. What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that a man had been murdered in front of my eyes and I had seen his killer,” Chrístõ answered defensively. “I saw the laser sight. I saw the rifle in the window. What else was I supposed to think? But I am sorry. You have no idea how sorry I am. You don’t know how vital it is that I get you both out of here.”

“I think it’s extremely vital, considering the alternative is that we both lose our heads in the morning,” Chrístõ Mian answered.

“I know that,” Chrístõ answered. “But there are other reasons. I can’t let either of you die.”

“What do you plan to do?” Lee retorted. “What can an untrained boy like you do?”

“I’m not a boy, and I’m not untrained,” Chrístõ answered. “One day you will know… you will understand. But right now… on… on my mother’s soul…. I will rescue you both. Lee… I am sorry you don’t trust me. Chrístõ Mian… you of all people… please believe in me.”

“You are too emotional,” Chrístõ Mian answered. “Calm yourself or you will be no use to anyone. Are you done with the interrogation? It looks to me as if the guards want you out of here.”

Chrístõ turned. There were a lot more guards there than there had been before. And they all had their swords drawn. At the same moment, he heard an urgent voice in his head. It was Hext.

“Chrístõ, we’re in trouble. The real son of the Mandarin of the Southern Province has shown up with an extradition warrant for Wu Rong Feng. The Mandarin thinks you’re an imposter sent to rescue Wu.”

“Good guess,” Chrístõ replied. “Where are you? Have you been captured?”

“I got out of the Mandarin’s room before the story came out and they started looking for me. I’m in the female quarters, with Julia, Romana, the Mandarin’s wife and a very big sword. I’ve threatened to cut off her head if I don’t get a couple of fast horses and free passage out of here.”

“Not likely to work,” Chrístõ told him. “But try to get into a room with only one entrance and make it look like you mean it. It buys you a bit of time while I sort things out this end.”

The guards were distinctly restless. Chrístõ stepped towards the still open cell door, his hand gripping the whip firmly in one hand and reaching into his pocket for his sonic screwdriver with the other. His wrist flicked and the nearest guard cried out in pain as his sword was wrenched from his hand. Chrístõ turned on his heel and threw the sword. It sliced through the chains holding his father’s arms up over his head. At the same time he turned the sonic screwdriver to laser mode and aimed at Lee’s chains. Both men dropped and rolled and came up fighting.

“Not bad,” Chrístõ Mian told his future son as the three fought off the guards with the martial arts they were all proficient in. “Very good aim. Maybe we could make an assassin of you, boy.”

The thought made him shiver. He tried to reconcile that comment with the father he knew who abhorred the very idea of him being involved in that life.

“Don’t kill any of them,” Chrístõ said. “If you can help it. These are good soldiers obeying their Mandarin. They think we’re three dangerous criminals. They don’t deserve to die for doing their duty.”

“This one does,” Lee retorted as he attacked the man who had been whipping Chrístõ Mian earlier. “He enjoys torturing the prisoners just a bit too much.”

“Even him,” Chrístõ insisted.

“He’s right,” Chrístõ Mian admitted. “Lee, this is no time for revenge. We’re both skilled in not taking life as well as taking it.”

There were at least a dozen guards. They were all armed with dadao swords that could slice off a man’s head in seconds. It should have been impossible for them to fight so many. But they stood back to back and put up a strong fight, their Time Lord stamina giving them the very slightest edge on their merely Human opponents. Slowly they gained the strong door to the lower dungeon and slammed it shut behind them. Chrístõ adjusted his sonic screwdriver and welded the lock. They had bought themselves a respite, though they were still in the dungeon and it was only a matter of time before more guards appeared.

“Julia… my girlfriend… always teases me about taking this everywhere with me,” he said as he put the sonic screwdriver back in his pocket. “But it gets me out of plenty of trouble.”

“We’re still in trouble,” Chrístõ Mian told him. “We’re never going to get out of the Palace alive.”

“We need a TARDIS,” Chrístõ answered. “I don’t suppose yours is remote activated?”

“No such luck,” Lee answered. “It’s not more than a few hundred yards away – in the street beyond the Palace gate. But it might as well be a hundred miles. He’s right. We can’t fight our way through the palace. The Mandarin has a whole militia billeted here.”

“One of us can.” Chrístõ reached into his pocket again. “Julia teases me for carrying this, too.” He held up his personal perception filter on it’s piece of ribbon.

“Then go,” Lee told him. “We’ll do what we can until you get back.”

“No, you take it,” Chrístõ replied. “Your TARDIS is closer than mine. Go, quickly. I can hear more guards coming.”

Lee took the perception filter and slipped it over his head. Both Chrístõ and his father knew he was there, so he wasn’t invisible to them, but he somehow seemed to merge into the grey wall behind him like a chameleon. They watched him run along the corridor as the two of them braced themselves for a new fight, hand to hand, with however many men the Mandarin could throw at them.

“Time fold,” Chrístõ Mian suggested as they saw a dozen guards heading towards them, swords raised. “You can do that, can’t you?”

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered and they counted down together. Standing this close to each other they had to enter the folded time simultaneously or risk injuring themselves mentally and physically. They timed it perfectly. The soldiers were still several yards from them when time slowed and their charge appeared to be through treacle. Chrístõ and his father disarmed six of them before they knew what had happened. As they let the time fold collapse they were confident they could handle the others.

“Come on, Lee,” Chrístõ murmured as they fought for their lives, using unarmed methods of combat against men with deadly swords.

Then he saw a blade flash and heard his father groan out loud as the sword sliced into his stomach and was turned and pulled so that it nearly gutted him alive. He stumbled and slid to his knees. Chrístõ couldn’t help screaming in horror as he saw blood pouring from the grievous wound. He grabbed the weapon that had dealt his father such a blow and another that had fallen from the hand of a man he had knocked senseless with a Shaolin Gung Fu kick and stood over his father, defending him from the encroaching soldiers. He tried to work out how long it would take Lee to reach his TARDIS if he ran as fast as he could, if he time folded, if he got across the Palace gardens and climbed the gate without anyone realising he was there.

“Now would be a really good time, Lee,” Chrístõ whispered. “Now would REALLY be a good time.”

It wasn’t exactly a prayer, and it wasn’t exactly a miracle, but it felt like both as he heard the sound of a TARDIS materialising and the panelled walls of a console room solidifying around him. He saw Lee running to his father’s side, letting him down on the floor and examining the wound.

“It’s bad, my friend,” Lee told him. “Too much damage to repair. A regeneration is your only hope. And you’ve only had this body for three hundred years.”

“No,” Chrístõ cried out. “No, not yet. He can’t. I need him to do something first. You have to get me to my TARDIS.”

“I need to get your friends,” Lee answered. “You stay by him and help him through it. Have you seen a regeneration before?”

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered. “But he can’t. I’m telling you, not yet.” He reached out and touched his father’s face and spoke the trigger word that reminded him just who he was and why he was here. His father looked at him with wide eyes and tried to struggle to a sitting position despite his friend’s protestations.

“He’s right,” he said to Lee. “I have to get to his TARDIS. His friends will just have to hold on a little longer. Can you find it, Lee?”

“You won’t be able to,” Chrístõ answered. “It has a cloak on its dimensional recognition device.”

“On what?” Lee asked, and Chrístõ remembered that the DRD hadn’t yet been fitted to TARDISes in their time.

“Never mind. Just… quickly… You need a code… 873564OF.”

“Found it,” Lee answered. “Now give me your dimensional override code, boy. I can materialise within the console room.”

Chrístõ told Lee a second long alphanumeric code and he felt the TARDIS dematerialise. Chrístõ Mian gripped his shoulder and forced himself to stand up. They stood by the door as the rematerialisation began and Chrístõ pushed it open as soon as it was possible to do so. He helped Chrístõ Mian to walk to the side of the Zero Cabinet where his older self lay so quietly. There was little time to spare. He had to give him that part of his memory he held before his own regeneration began. Lee stepped out of his own TARDIS, which had taken on a default mode of a simple grey rectangular cabinet with a symbol of a sword and oak leaves that marked it as the TARDIS of the Heir of the House of Oakdaene, and a warrior. He obviously knew as soon as he saw the Cabinet, what it was all about.

“I’ll take care of them both,” He told Chrístõ. “You get to your friends. Don’t forget to compensate for my TARDIS as well as yours.”

Chrístõ was reluctant to move from his father’s side, but it was true there was little he could do for him. He left him in Lee’s care and went to his console.

“Hext, are you still with me?” he asked, reaching out telepathically to his friend. “Do you have your sonic screwdriver?”

“Yes,” he replied. “But we’ve got problems. There’s half an army, led by the Mandarin himself, trying to batter the door down. And I don’t want to have to kill any of them.”

“Use your sonic to give me your co-ordinates and stand by,” Chrístõ answered. Hext did so. He punched buttons frantically and gripped the console as he programmed a wide materialisation.

He sighed with relief as he saw Julia and Romana solidifying within the console room. A few feet away from them was Hext, holding a sword to the throat of the Mandarin’s wife.

And near the TARDIS door was the Mandarin himself, who had obviously broken through and was still running towards the man who held his wife hostage, his own sword held menacingly. As he became aware of his new surroundings he stopped in his tracks and stared.

“Please,” Chrístõ said, stepping forward, his hands held out at his side, palms up, to indicate that he was not armed. “I am sorry for deceiving you. And my friend is sorry that he has scared your wife. I assure you he did no more than that, and had no intention of harming her. Let her go now, Hext.”

Hext released Lady Liu Shu. She ran to her husband, who embraced her tenderly.

“We are not from the Southern Province,” Chrístõ added. “We are from another world. It is only for the most grievous reasons that we came to your world, and to your Palace, Excellency. We are going now, and will not trouble you again. Please accept my apologies as the honourable man I believe you are.”

Chrístõ put his hands together and bowed respectfully. The Mandarin and his wife looked at him in astonishment. The Mandarin still held his sword in his hand, but to strike a man who was paying him obeisance would be dishonourable on his part.

“Go, now, both of you, and may you live well and be fruitful in due time,” Chrístõ said as he reached for the door release. The Mandarin and his wife turned. They saw their own palace outside the strange room and their own guards looking puzzled. They stepped forward, out of the TARDIS. Chrístõ closed the door and went to the console. He put his TARDIS in temporal orbit and then turned. He saw the Zero Cabinet sealed once again, and Romana and Lee kneeling beside the still form of his father’s injured body. Hext was holding Julia back from the scene, but Chrístõ couldn’t stay away any longer

“It’s beginning,” Lee told him as he, too, knelt at the dying man’s side. “He’s regenerating.”

Chrístõ reached and touched his father’s forehead and knew Lee was right. He was almost brain dead in this incarnation. His face was already chalk white from blood loss before it began to turn icy cold and took on a waxy texture. His whole body glowed orange as the Artron energy held within his cells began to reform every molecule of his being. As the glow faded his features seemed to melt away until there was nothing but a wax-like mannequin face. Then slowly, eyes, nose, mouth reformed. So did skin colour and texture and lines around the eyes of a man who looked something like fifty in Earth years. His frame was broader than before, though he was just as tall. His hair was dark brown going to grey slightly. He was a new man. All except the eyes. When he opened them, they were the same deep brown eyes Chrístõ had known all his life. The same eyes he, himself had.

Their eyes met. Chrístõ felt a rush of emotions. This was the second time he had seen his father regenerate. The first time he had been a frightened boy who only partly understood what was happening. This time, he knew. But it was still a strange experience to look into those eyes in a different face and still love him deeply.

And not be able to tell him that.

Chrístõ Mian reached out his new hand, stretching the fingers as if they felt strange to him. Then he gently stroked Chrístõ’s face.

“What is it about you, boy?” he asked. “I don’t even know your name. Your mind has so many mental walls up against me that it’s like a maze. Yet I feel as if… as if I have known you all my life.”

“No,” he answered. “But I have known you all of mine. Don’t probe my mind. The walls are there for your own good. You know that.” He glanced at the Zero Cabinet. “Before… you were able to finish….”

“Yes,” Chrístõ Mian answered. “I did my duty for my future self. “And now… if you help me up, boy, I can do the same duty again.”

“Are you strong enough?” Lee asked him. “You’ve only just regenerated.”

“I’m far better than I was, before. My fifth life… And I’m barely 1,000 years old. Never mind what I said before, boy. Don’t become an CIA man. Not if you want a long life.”

Chrístõ Mian stood and stepped towards the Zero Cabinet. He knelt and performed the same ritual he had done already in the last minutes of his previous incarnation. Each life contained, even from the first moment after regeneration, that split portion of his mind.

Five of those incarnations had now given back what he needed. Seven more, yet.

Chrístõ Mian stood up and looked around. Chrístõ did, too. So did Romana. All of them had been more concerned with Chrístõ’s father in both of his incarnations. None of them had noticed that Hext was no longer holding Julia. She was holding him as he swayed dizzily.

“The regeneration affected him,” Julia said. “I think it was that, anyway. He nearly passed out on me. I think he’s ok, now.”

“Just give me a minute,” Hext said, weakly. “I’ll be all right.”

“Let me see, Chrístõ Mian said, striding across the room and touching Hext’s forehead gently. “That’s odd. How old are you?”

“Three hundred and sixty….” Hext answered.

“Too young… Did you… Were you put through a forced regeneration?” He looked around at Chrístõ who confirmed his guess. “When?”

Chrístõ had trouble answering that question. He consulted the console clock and worked out that it was a little over a hundred Gallifreyan hours, slightly more than three days, since they left Gallifrey. Nearly four days since Hext had been mortally wounded in battle.

“So soon?” Chrístõ Mian was shocked. “I endured a forced regeneration when I was younger than he is. But I was nearly a year in a coma. I knew nothing of the trauma. My mind and body had time to adjust. He should be resting. He should be looked after.”

“Sir…” Hext answered. “I could not rest so long as… I came on this mission for you. For all that I owed to you.”

“I don’t ask anyone to put their life on their line for me,” Chrístõ Mian told him. “Only Lee, my friend and comrade, for whom I return the honour. Does this TARDIS have a Zero Room? You need to rest in it before you have a neural implosion. A second forced regeneration on one as young as you has never been heard of.”

“I’ll make sure he does just that,” Chrístõ promised. “But… sir… it is time we parted company, I think. I need to reset the trigger so that you don’t remember too much about our part in this.” He turned to Lee. “One day, in the future, you and I will have a lot to talk about. But I don’t think this occasion will be a topic of conversation. I need to do the same for you. You need to forget who it was that you met here on Xiang Xien and why. In your case… I am glad. I should hate for you to remember what I had to do to you in that dungeon. But… first… May I have your forgiveness for the wrong I have done to you?”

“That much is freely given,” Lee told him. “Do what you must do.”

Christo went with them both into Lee’s TARDIS before he reset the memory trigger for Chrístõ Mian and carefully reached into Lee’s mind and blurred his memory of the faces and names of the young Time Lords he met this day.

“I will see you again, my friend,” Chrístõ whispered to him. “And it will be a day I shall treasure in my hearts.”

Then he turned and left them both. He stepped out into his own console room and the door closed. A moment later the default TARDIS cabinet dematerialised. He looked around and saw Julia sitting by the Zero Cabinet. Romana had taken Hext to lie down in the Zero Room. Julia saw him and came to his side as he set the next co-ordinate, fervently hoping that things would be a lot easier next time.