Hext traced Chrístõ’s lifesign to his bedroom. The door was closed, but not locked. He opened it and stepped inside. He noted that it seemed to be a replica of his bedroom in his home on Gallifrey. Even the window was an illusion of the view over the Lœngbærrow demesne on the Southern Continent.

“I thought you might be interested to know. We located your father in his tenth incarnation… at the Treaty of Mesuda. He knew what he had to do, of course. He’s not in the CIA now. He’s making a name for himself as a diplomat.

“The Executioner becomes The Peacemaker.” Chrístõ stared up at the ceiling from where he lay on his bed. “Just like that. He puts away his sword, forgets all the blood he has spilled… and creates a new career for himself.”


“I always thought that was brave of him,” Chrístõ said. “But now… I realise it’s just hypocritical. To talk of peace… when he was… when he had done so much…”

“You still blame him for what happened in Amsterdam? No matter what he told you about it, or what I’ve said to you.”

“I always understood that he did difficult tasks. I thought of him as a surgeon, cutting out the cancer of treason and corruption from our society. I thought what he did was necessary.”

“It was. It is. I do the same job. And it’s not easy. I’ve done things that don’t fit into any ordinary morality.”

“Have you put a gun to the back of a man’s head and pulled the trigger?”



“Because he was a fiend who tortured prisoners who were under his ‘care’ in experiments that our government would never have sanctioned. When he was discovered, he burnt the building – prisoners and all – to destroy the evidence. He would have found a way to avoid the punishment he deserved. So I was given leave to administer the swiftest justice.”

“That’s a better reason than saving face for the president,” Chrístõ commented.

“It makes no difference. We are tools of a higher authority. We do as we are ordered. If he had been ordered to do that, then he had to carry out the execution…”


“Nothing I can say will change your mind, will it? But you’re wrong, Chrístõ. You’re completely wrong. Your mind is set in this brooding, festering bitterness. And you won’t let yourself listen to any other point of view.”

“That’s what you think.”

“It is.”

“Fine, go away. Leave me alone. There are two more destinations, and then we can all go home. You and Romana and my father to Gallifrey – Julia and I to Beta Delta IV. Do them quickly and get it over with.”

“Chrístõ!” Hext tried once more, then sighed and turned away. He left the room. Chrístõ heard his footsteps moving down the TARDIS corridor. A few minutes later he felt the TARDIS dematerialise. They were on their way to that eleventh destination.

He closed his eyes and cleared his mind of everything but the sound of the TARDIS as it flew through the vortex. It was the purest, most uncomplicated sound he knew, that quiet thrum from deep within the ship. It soothed him like a lullaby.

He was aware, some time later, when the vibration changed and he knew they were in temporal orbit ready for their next mission. They hadn’t yet landed. They probably intended to have another go at getting him to come with them. Somebody would try to appeal to him. Most likely Hext would send Romana or Julia, knowing he could not be angry or rude to either of them.

He heard a soft noise by the door, but not of it opening. Nor were there any footsteps. Humphrey didn’t make any such sounds when he moved around. He felt the shadow creature’s all encompassing hug. He opened his eyes and looked at his room through the grey-black haze.

He felt Humphrey’s emotions. Usually they were of two basic types – happy and sad. Mostly happy. Being around the TARDIS with his friends made Humphrey happy.

This time it was different. He felt as if Humphrey was disappointed – with him. Humphrey was chastising him.

“Why are you siding with them?” he asked. “Besides, your people don’t kill. What do you know about having an assassin for a father?”

Humphrey didn’t know about that. But he did know about relationships. Chrístõ almost cried as he felt the darkness creature’s memory of the family he once had, and the sorrow and grief when they faded away and he was left, the last of his kind, lonely, craving love, friendship, family.

“I’m sorry, Humphrey,” Chrístõ said. “There’s nothing I can do to bring them back. It’s not within my power to turn back time, only to acknowledge its consequences.”

But Humphrey wasn’t asking him to do that. He was reminding him that he was lucky. He had a family, he had that love, and he had to hold onto it and cherish it, because one day it might be gone.

“I’m not making any promises,” he said as he sat up on the bed. “But I’ll go with them, all right.”

Humphrey purred encouragingly as Chrístõ slipped on his shoes and jacket and went to the console room. The darkness creature slipped quietly through the brighter light and hunkered down under the console itself making soft noises that matched the ticking over of the TARDIS in parked mode.

“All right,” he said as the others all turned to him. Where are we and when?”

“We’re on the bio-moon of Ligattya,” Romana answered him. “On the Eve of Dominion.”

“What? My father was… there…”

“Well, obviously he survived,” Hext pointed out. “And it wasn’t the cause of a regeneration. Ambassador De Lœngbærrow’s eleventh regeneration is notorious in the Celestial Intervention Agency. We were found negligent in offering protection for…”

Hext stopped. There was a glitter in Chrístõ’s eyes that made it clear he didn’t want to hear that story right now. “Anyway, I don’t think Julia and Romana should come out this time.” Chrístõ agreed.

“Why?” Julia asked.

“I’ll explain,” Romana promised. “But Chrístõ is right. It would be better if we stayed here. We have to protect The Ambassador.”

“Protect?” Julia looked at her in alarm. “Protect him from what?” She looked around at the Zero Cabinet. It was where it had been all along, on the floor of the console room, surrounded by the calming aura that she and Romana continuously maintained. Why would he need protection? What was it that made all three of her Time Lord companions look at each other with such trepidation?

“If it’s so dangerous, why do you have to go out?” she asked. “You said your father is one of the survivors of…whatever is going to happen. So… just wait until after.”

“No,” Chrístõ answered. “I’m not… I’m no coward. I’m not afraid to…”

Hext looked at him carefully.

“It’s not about that. Nobody would ever call you a coward, Chrístõ. You have nothing to prove. But she is right. We could wait…”

“No, you can’t,” Romana told him. “You have to go and get The Ambassador. You don’t know… maybe the reason he survived was that you brought him into the TARDIS at the right moment. We’re here… we’re part of events… a factor to be considered.”

“He could be perfectly safe where he is… and then get killed because we were bringing him to the TARDIS,” Hext pointed out. “Damn, I hate predestination. It gets you coming and going.”

“Then I’m making the decision,” Chrístõ said. “I’m going to get my father and bring him here before…” He headed to the door. Hext watched him and then turned to look at Julia and Romana.

“Romana, please, do explain it to Julia. And make what preparations you can. If we’re not back in…” He looked at the temporal clock on the TARDIS console and his own wristwatch. “Rassilon be with us. We have nineteen minutes. Do what you have to do. I’m… going with him. That’s my responsibility.”

He stepped out of the TARDIS door. Julia turned to Romana. She actually looked scared. Her face was pale and she was trying not to tremble.

“What… happens… here… in nineteen minutes time?” she asked.

“An outrage notorious in our history. Ligattya is a planet that orbits the star called Arina.” She pointed to Julia’s pendant with the stars of the Kasterborus system picked out in diamonds. “Gallifrey’s sun, Pazithi, is in the middle of the arrowhead. Arina is the point of the arrow. It has only three planets, and of them, only Ligattya is inhabited. The people were known to us long before we were known to them. In the past ten thousand years we watched them rise from primitive people to a technological society. We watched them discover space travel. And then we made ourselves known. We found them to be like us in some ways. Shorter lifespans – more like humans – but latent telepathy and high intelligence. Our government invited them to become a Dominion Planet of the Shining System – of Gallifrey. We could offer them much. They had culture and art and learning to share with us. They accepted. The formal Treaty of Dominionship was signed in the Hall of Peace on the Bio-Moon – their satellite. There was jubilation there and on the planet itself. Then… this happened before I was born, you understand. I know of it from history books. Those books say it was a suicide bomber… a man from a small, fanatical group that had railed against Dominionship. The bomb killed seventy-nine people - delegates and their families who were celebrating together – Gallifreyan and Ligattyan. Many more were wounded. It was a terrible, terrible, pointless deed. The Dominionship continued. But it was tainted by that awful, foolish deed.”

“Chrístõ will stop it,” Julia said. “You know him… He won’t let it happen. He has time to stop the bomber… save everyone.”

“No.” Romana shook her head sadly. “He can’t. Even if he had time… fourteen minutes left… even if he could, he wouldn’t. He knows… at least I hope he does… that this is a fixed point in time. It can’t be interfered with.”

“Fixed point?”

Romana was working as she spoke, locking all of the cupboards under the console and the compartments in the walls where things were kept. Anything loose that could fall or be damaged was secured. Julia took her cue and helped in the work while she explained.

“We’re Time Lords. We have the ability to move in time and space. Sometimes we come to a place in time where events are fluid and we can change and effect them with no significant consequence. Other times… fixed points… usually catastrophes, terrible times… they must not be altered. We all know when they occur. It’s instinctive… we know in our heads. A fixed point resonates. But we’re taught as students, too, about the dire consequences of trying to stop a fixed point event from happening. It’s hard, because they do tend to be the most horrible events, the ones that are shocking and terrible to hear about – let alone witness – and being able to do nothing is heart-breaking. But there is nothing we can do.”

“What sort of catastrophes?” Julia asked, despite herself. “Where do they happen? Have any of them been on Earth?”

“I don’t know a lot about Earth history,” Romana answered. “Chrístõ does, of course. But there was a ship called Titania or… Titan…”

“Titanic,” Julia corrected her.

“Yes, that was the one. And another one… a volcano… at a place called Pompeii… and… a little before that… or was it after… there’s a very particular fixed point. We’re all warned about it. Not a big disaster, but an execution… a man… at a place called Jer…usalem…. Is that the name of a place on Earth? Anyway, we’re forbidden to even take a TARDIS into that time period on planet Earth...”

“I think I know why,” Julia said. “But… Romana… it’s… there’s only a few more minutes. Chrístõ… what if he… Chrístõ could die out there, couldn’t he? We know his father doesn’t. But he could.”

“Come and sit by the Cabinet. We will create a calming aura around The Ambassador and around us, too.”

Julia nodded. She didn’t feel calm, but she took up her position and began the ritual she had learnt in the past days.

Christo and Hext moved through the crowds in the Great Hall of Peace, the cathedral like building on the Bio-Moon of Ligattya. It was a beautiful building and it was full of people celebrating the Dominion that was going to be so significant to the people of Ligattya and Gallifrey alike. Chrístõ looked back at the huge gallery above the main floor where several hundred people were holding hands and singing a song of fraternity and friendship. His TARDIS was below the gallery, disguised as a mirrored cabinet with his Theta Sigma identity mark etched into it. He could hardly see the TARDIS for the people milling around.

In a matter of minutes this beautiful place of happiness and joy would be a tomb for some, and a place of pain and grief for others. The thought dismayed him. He knew he could do nothing. The Fixed Point nagged at him like a sore tooth. He couldn’t even shout a warning. He wasn’t even sure if he was allowed to save himself when the time came.

Something else nagged him as he mentally scanned the people in the room, trying to find his father – not easy when almost everyone here had telepathic abilities and at least half of them were Time Lords. There was a jarring note in the song of joy – somebody in the room with something other than celebration on their minds.

“It’s him!” he said, gripping Hext’s arm and looking towards a man dressed in a black gown who walked past them both with a much more determined and purposeful stride than any of the dancing, singing, celebrating people. “He’s the one…”

“Yes,” Hext agreed. “Chrístõ… come on…”

“No… I could… I could stop him… He’s the one. He’s got the bomb strapped to his body. He’s going to…”

“No.” Hext grabbed hold of Chrístõ firmly and pulled him in the opposite direction to the bomber as he headed towards the great archway that supported the gallery above.

“Julia!” Chrístõ gasped as he realised the bomb was going to go off near where he left the TARDIS. “Julia… Romana…”

“Keep moving,” Hext told him. “Keep moving away.” Hext glanced at his watch as he dragged Chrístõ towards a big, elaborate glass door leading to the peace garden outside the building. It was a chance of safety. He wished he could have shouted to everyone to do the same, but he knew if he did, assuming he was even believed, their own chance of getting through the door would be gone. Besides, he couldn’t. He had to let this fixed point take its course.

“What’s all the pushing?” somebody complained as they stumbled through the door. Outside there were many people enjoying the cool air under the huge bio-dome that provided a viable atmosphere on the moon. Hext looked up at it. Beyond the see-through dome the planet of Ligattya shone in the reflected light of its sun, not knowing what was about to happen.

The bio-dome would hold, of course. It would take a nuclear strike to destroy that. This was just a foolish man with plastique taped to his body.

“My friend is feeling sick,” Hext replied. “Move out of the way. Seriously, it’s not pretty when he’s had too much to drink.”

“Thanks!” Chrístõ protested. “I’m not…”

“You want to be dead?” Hext told him. “Keep moving. The blast will be felt out here, too.”

Seconds before the fateful moment, Hext pushed Chrístõ into the diamond shaped reflecting pool and dived in after him.

“Hold your breath and stay down,” he said as he heard the explosion behind him. He felt the heat as the great glass door shattered and people standing near it were cut to ribbons by pieces of glass being driven by the force of the blast. He heard somebody screaming that they were burning. He felt a splash and a hiss as a body fell into the pool beside them. He pushed his own head under and clutched at Chrístõ to stop him struggling.

At last, Hext judged it safe to get up. He helped Chrístõ to stand. The two of them stood in the knee deep water for a moment staring at the devastated building. They were both startled to see that it still stood, and that it wasn’t on fire. The heat of the blast had lasted only seconds. Where there would have been fire, at the seat of the explosion, it had been smothered by falling debris.

But the consequences were obvious even from outside where bodies lay in awkward, broken positions, thrown around like leaves on a wind. Some people were miraculously unhurt, picking themselves up and looking around, wondering at the miracle that they were alive, screaming in grief and horror as they saw people who were less fortunate.

Worse sounds were coming from within the building.

“Now we find your father and get out of here,” Hext said.

“No,” Chrístõ replied. “We help… we can help. The fixed point was the bomb itself. We can help the wounded… Besides… Julia… Romana… They’re in there…”

Chrístõ broke away from Hext and ran into the building. It was half dark. The power was out. The great electric chandeliers in the ceiling were shattered anyway. The soft tinkling of the crystal glass, still slowly disintegrating, was a background noise to the groans and cries of the injured and dying.

As somebody ran into the room with a portable lamp and set it up, Chrístõ looked to where the TARDIS had been. The gallery had collapsed. There was nothing but a mound of plaster and wood, ornamental stone, and bodies buried within it, people clinging on, falling, dying as he watched in horror.

“The TARDIS is strong. They’ll be all right inside,” Hext said. “Come on… you’re right. People do need help here. And you’re a doctor.”

Romana came around slowly. She noticed at once that the TARDIS was at a tilt. Not a huge one, but it had resettled that way after being flung about by the explosion. She remembered falling against the console. Her head must have been cut, because there was blood on her cheek, but it had repaired itself quickly.

“Julia?” she looked around and her hearts sank. Julia was pinned against the TARDIS wall by the Zero cabinet. She was unconscious. That was probably a blessing. She would have been in agony if she was awake.

“Humphrey, please stop,” Romana called out as she realised where the wailing noise was coming from. “I know… but you can’t help Julia by making that noise. And I can’t even think…”

She pulled herself up and looked at the environmental console. She saw their situation at once. She could see that they were buried under the debris. The TARDIS was actually holding up part of the fallen gallery. She detected lifesigns nearby. She didn’t dare move the TARDIS or they would be crushed. They had to stay where they were for now. She tried Julia’s mobile phone. It worked, but Chrístõ’s didn’t. It must be damaged.

She tried to contact him telepathically, but there were several hundred people nearby, all with some telepathic ability, and their screams for help overwhelmed everything else.

She was on her own.

“Romana?” She heard Julia’s voice call to her, weak and hurt and frightened. She turned and went to her.

“Julia, keep still,” she urged her. “Be brave. It hurts now… but when I move the Cabinet it will hurt even more.”

It did. Julia screamed in agony as Romana used all her strength to pull the Cabinet away. As soon as she was free she laid Julia down flat on the floor.

“I’m going to draw off some of the pain,” she said. “Be strong. Chrístõ would want you to be strong.”

“Where is he?” Julia asked. “They didn’t come back…”

“I’m sure they’re alive and trying to reach us, right now,” Romana answered as she pulled Julia’s blouse and skirt open to examine her bruised and swollen stomach where the Cabinet had crushed her terribly. The damage looked bad enough at a glance. But the way she groaned even with the lightest touch on the affected area Romana knew it was probably worse.

She was a healer. But she doubted her ability to heal this time. All she could think of was to take away the pain. Maybe that was all she could do.

“Don’t let me die before Chrístõ gets here,” Julia whispered.

So many people needed help. They were told that paramedics were on their way, but they had to come from the planet below. In the meantime, Chrístõ was the only person there with any medical experience at all. He did his best. With a few able bodied people who could be spared from the work of rescuing those still trapped in the rubble, he set up a triage. He examined each wounded, broken body that came to him, mostly to see if they could be helped or not. Those that just needed bandages or bones setting he let somebody else handle. The more desperate cases he treated himself with the few medical supplies that had been found.

The ones that were dying….

Chrístõ knelt beside a man – a Ligattyan – who was beyond all medical help. Both his legs had been blown off. He was bleeding from the gaping wounds. His chest had been compressed by the blast, too. Every rib was broken, and some of them had punctured his lungs. He was breathing his last, bubbles of pink blood and saliva poured from his lips with each attempt.

The paramedics were only twenty minutes away, but this man didn’t have twenty minutes. He had five at the most, and they would be agonising minutes. Chrístõ reached out and touched his face and felt his inner thoughts. He asked him a terrible question and got the answer back. He reached in further and found the beating heart that was still struggling to keep going, and he stopped it. He felt the man die in his arms. He laid him down and covered him and moved to his next patient. Again, the wounds were terrible. This woman had lost an arm and a leg, and her face was a ragged mess on one side. Chrístõ held her hand and saw her timeline. He saw her recovering, coming to terms with the physical disabilities and the scars, coping with the memory of what had happened to her. He staunched the bleeding and drew off her pain so that she stopped crying and lay more easily on the makeshift mat with a bloodstained coat folded under her head.

But the next one… again he asked the question deep in the consciousness of the dying woman. Help could not come in time. Letting her linger in agony was cruel. She gave him her answer. He did what he alone could do.

“Sleep peacefully,” he whispered. “Rassilon’s blessing on your soul.”

“If anyone but you did that, it would be murder,” said a voice that reached into his head as he closed her eyes and covered her body with a ragged cloth that had once been a velvet curtain.

“If anyone but me did it, yes,” Chrístõ answered. “I’m not even sure if I have the right. But…” He stood wearily and then bent to the next patient, trying not to look at the man who had spoken to him. This one would live if he could remove the shard of metal from her side. He felt movement behind him and his father was there, the one who had spoken to him. He held the woman in his arms while Chrístõ physically pulled the shard from her body and reported, with relief, that no internal organs were damaged.

“But you choose for them?”

“No, they choose. I just ask the question,” Chrístõ answered. He looked at his father carefully. He was unhurt himself. The blood that stained his clothes was the darker red of the Ligattyan species. His face was grimy with dust and dirt, sweat and blood. He had been one of those pulling the dead and injured from the rubble.

“Is your TARDIS nearby?” he asked. “I need to get to mine… under there. Romana and Julia are in there and I can’t reach them. My phone is wet. And I can’t break through the telepathic noise to Romana.”

“I’m sorry,” his father answered. “I came by shuttle. My TARDIS is on the planet.”

Chrístõ’s hearts sank. He had clung to that one hope for a moment.

“Doesn’t the Type 40 have a remote control?”

“It broke,” he answered. “But even if it did…I couldn’t… If I moved it, the debris would pancake… I’d kill people still trapped in there. But I have to get to them. Julia…”

“They might be all right,” his father told him. “Try again to contact Romana telepathically. I’ll help you to filter the noise. Join your mind with mine.”

Chrístõ let his father reach much further into his mind than he had dared let him before. He felt him create a quiet, peaceful shield around him. The screams and cries of the dying and the grief-stricken were still there, but they were more remote, distanced from him. He could focus on his TARDIS, where it lay beneath the rubble, and the telepathic mind inside it.

Romana felt the touch of Chrístõ’s mind on hers with relief, but also sorrow. Julia was in a terrible state and she didn’t know what to do to help her. She didn’t want to tell Chrístõ that she was dying.

Chrístõ’s reaction was just as she expected. He was distraught. But he seemed to have an extra strength from somewhere. She felt him rallying his thoughts.

“Put your hands on her again,” he said. “Let me see.”

Julia groaned out loud, unable to take even the lightest touch on her flesh, now. Her stomach was distended and sore.

“Internal bleeding,” Chrístõ noted. “Probably the spleen. There’s blood welling up in the stomach cavity. It has to be released first. Then you’ll need to repair the damage.”

“I don’t know if I can,” Romana said. “I know I healed you when you were shot. But this is more complicated.”

“I know. It’s harder. But you can do it, Romana. Listen to me. Don’t try to move Julia. The shock would kill her. But run to the medical room and bring equipment. Go, please, do it for her.”

Romana did as he asked. Chrístõ kept his connection with her, so that he could show her what to get when she reached the medical centre. At the same time, though, he looked around the devastated hall. The paramedics were here. They were asking who organised the triage. They needed information from him. He tried to satisfy their questions while keeping Romana fixed in his head. The noises got louder. He felt his father reach out and hold him physically. It helped him to make the mental connection stronger.

“All right,” Chrístõ said to Romana once she returned to Julia’s side. “The used blood needs to be evacuated from her stomach. That means making an incision and actually drawing it out. But first…she’s lost so much of it from her veins. She’ll need a transfusion. You have what you need for a simple gravity transfusion.”

“But who’s blood do I use?” Romana asked.

“Mine,” Chrístõ Mian answered, the second voice startling her for a moment. “My mind is inactive, but my body is strong. I have blood enough to give to that slender child.”

“It won’t work,” Chrístõ protested as Romana set up the transfusion and attached one tube to Julia’s arm and the other to The Ambassador lying in the Zero Cabinet. “Gravity. They’re both at the same level on the floor.”

“Can you keep connected with Romana if I stop concentrating?” Chrístõ Mian asked.

“I’ll try,” Chrístõ answered. He felt the shield collapse and the noise assail him, but he kept the connection with Romana and tried not to let it break. He and Romana both registered surprise as The Ambassador began to levitate from the Zero Cabinet, high enough for the gravity transfusion to work.

“That’s amazing!” Romana commented. “Oh, it’s working. Julia looks better already. Less pale.”

“It can only be for a few minutes. Even a Time Lord cannot lose all his blood. But two, three pints will be enough to give Julia strength. Now, Romana, you have to take the scalpel and make an incision. Cut about two inches long, just above her navel. Get the swabs ready to clean away the blood.”

Romana followed his instructions carefully. The sight of the dark, red blood that poured out as soon as she cut into Julia’s stomach was sickening. The way it covered her white hands as she swabbed, the pile of used, blood filled swabs was frightening. But gradually Julia’s stomach began to look less swollen and she was in less pain.

“Stop the transfusion now,” Chrístõ Mian said. “I’ve let you have rather more than three pints. More like five. But I’m simply resting there. My body will replace it in a few hours. And I think…”

“Romana… let me see,” Chrístõ said. “Show me the damage to her spleen.”

He looked through Romana’s telepathic eyes. He gave a sigh of relief.

“It’s all right,” he said. “Romana, keep on swabbing. Get all of the used blood out of her. But it’s going to be all right. She’s got more Time Lord blood in her now than her own Human blood. Her wounds are mending by themselves. Even the incision you made should mend in time. Just… just look after her for me.”

“You put yourself at risk,” Chrístõ said to his father. “Your future self. After all our efforts to save you.”

“It was my choice. My sacrifice. But I will be all right. I’ve given as much as that to a wounded comrade when we were fighting the Gyrewarriors. Have no fear. Meanwhile… why don’t you try to talk to her. She has my blood running through her. It’s close enough to yours. See if she can hear you. Feel the blood in her veins.”

Chrístõ was surprised. But he tried. And he was amazed, after a few misses, to find himself reaching into Julia’s thoughts. She was still only semi-conscious and she was in shock and a little pain still. But she knew him when he spoke to her.

“Chrístõ… I wish I could see you.”

“I look a mess,” he answered. “I’ve been busy. I’m dusty and sweating. Not very pretty.”

“I don’t think I look too great, either,” she responded. “There’s a lot of blood.”

“I know. But you’re going to be all right, now.”

“Who is that I can feel with you? Is it your father?”

“Yes, it is,” Chrístõ answered. “He saved you. He gave you his blood.”

“Thank you,” she said.

“That’s all right, child,” Chrístõ Mian answered. “You rest now. That’s what you need most. Try to sleep. It will still be a while before we can reach you. So sleep easy and don’t worry.”

“I love you, Julia,” Chrístõ told her. “Remember that. I love you very much.”

“I love you, Chrístõ,” she replied. “I was so afraid I’d never see you again.”

“You will,” he assured her. “We’ve just got to shift half a building before I can reach you.”

And essentially that was the issue now. He wasn’t needed as a medic now the professional help had taken over. There was still a need for hands to pull away the rubble and debris and lift the last of the survivors, the last of the bodies still trapped under spars of wood or metal or lumps of stone. It took a long time. Even for technologically advanced people there was nothing else to be done at a time like this but bare hands and brute strength.

Chrístõ worked alongside his father and Hext. None of them stopped for a moment. Hours passed and he reached, now and then, to speak to Romana. She told him that Julia was sleeping, and that his father was perfectly fine in the Zero Cabinet. He was relieved on both counts.

“You knew me?” he said to his father as they lifted a heavy piece of the gallery floor together and found a cavity beneath where a woman was curled up, unharmed but frightened.

“We joined minds. You still have a lot of mental walls up, but you couldn’t hide behind them all. Yes, my son. I know you. And I’m proud to do so. You did well. You eased a lot of suffering.”

“Some would still call it murder.”

“Yes.” Chrístõ Mian paused. “I don’t. You did what you had to do. I hope you can understand now… when I did the same… the last time we talked it was in anger.”

“That’s not the same. I still don’t understand…”

“This isn’t the time or the place to discuss it. But at least think about it with a little less bitterness, until the time is right.”

He began to say something else, but Hext called to him. He gave a cry of relief. There was his TARDIS. It was still covered in rubble. The door was blocked. But he could see that it was intact. Even the mirrors were unbroken. And he saw, too, that there were four people hunched by the side wall, in a small cave of protection. The TARDIS had saved them. He looked at the debris still covering the roof and knew what would have happened to them if his remote control did work and he had moved the TARDIS away.

“I need to see Julia,” Chrístõ said as the door was finally uncovered. “I’ll come back out and help again. There’s still a lot to do. But I need to see her.”

He opened the door and stepped in. He noted that it was slightly tilted. But there was no damage to the interior.

Julia was lying on the sofa. She was awake now, and looking much better than he had expected her to be. He ran to her side. She pulled herself up into a sitting position and reached her arms around his neck. Romana had cleaned her and put her in a loose nightdress. Chrístõ quickly looked with a professional eye and noted that all signs of bruising and swelling was gone from her stomach, as well as the surgical incision. There was no scar at all. He touched her and knew that there was no internal damage now. She was healed.

“I feel strange,” she said as he straightened her nightdress and held her tightly. “Sort of fizzing. My mind is full of strange colours.”

“You’re temporarily half Time Lord,” he told her. “Until your own blood replenishes – about a day, more or less. You get to feel a little of what it is to be me.”

“You fizz all the time?”

“Something like that. I’m used to it. Enjoy it while you can.” He half turned and saw his father go to the Zero Cabinet and perform that necessary duty.

“Once more,” he said when he stood and turned. “And then it will be over for you. Your quest is almost at an end. But you’ve all had a rough time. I suggest you take at least a day of quiet. Spend a day at the Singing Towers of Darillium. My father took my mother there when he was courting her. Only telepaths can really appreciate the singing fully. It’s a perfect place for Julia to make use of her temporary gift.”

Julia looked interested. Chrístõ decided they were going to Darillium next.

“When we meet again… the last time… I hope we can talk…” he said. “There are many things we should talk about.”

“I hope we shall,” Chrístõ Mian answered. “Meanwhile… when your TARDIS is safe to move, I think you should go. There are enough of us to finish the work here. You won’t be missed.” He turned and looked at Hext. “Once again, I need to forget that I have met my son, a brave, clever young man – and I have still to know his mother.”

“I’ll sort that out, sir,” Hext promised and stepped outside of the TARDIS with him. When he returned, he reported that the TARDIS exterior was now free and clear and they could move it.

“Let’s set a course for Darillium, then,” Chrístõ said as he left Julia’s side and went to the console with Hext to programme in their detour before the last part of their mission.