Cal had never climbed a mountain before. But he was fit and healthy and he had a Gallifreyan constitution, after all. He was managing to keep up with Chrístõ as he led the way up the side of the peak called Mount Lœng.

He would have kept going a bit further, but he recognised that Cal needed to take things a bit slower. He reached a small ledge and they took a rest. Chrístõ reached into his pack and found a bottle of water and two energy bars. He gave one to Cal and advised him to drink plenty of water with it.

“They are made of pureed Cúl nut protein,” he said. “In this dried form you need a drink with it or it’ll lie on your stomach for hours afterwards.” He looked at the biodegradable label. “These ones are grón and gellic flavoured. Gallifreyan equivalent of cheese and onion crisps.”

Cal bit into the energy bar and chewed before swallowing a mouthful of water with it. He looked up at the yellow-orange sky of mid-morning on Gallifrey before looking down at the red-brown and green plain below and into the distance where it was possible to see the northern coastline of the southern continent. If he squinted, he could even make out another landmass beyond that.

Chrístõ noted the squint.

“Your eyesight mustn’t be fully developed,” he said. “I could always see the shield over the Capitol from here. It might come in time. If not… short-sightedness isn’t the worst handicap.”

Cal laughed.

“Short sightedness? I can see clearly for about three hundred miles. I think I’ll live with a handicap like that. I’m just not sure… this sky… isn’t there ever a clear blue sky on this planet?”

“This is a clear day. The sky is meant to be this colour. When you come to live here you’ll get used to it. I must admit, when I’m home, after travelling so long, it takes me a day or so to get used to it.”

“What if I never get used to it?” Cal asked. “You know… everyone is assuming… You, your father, your stepmother… It’s not that they haven’t been very kind to me. I’ve enjoyed staying with them. But they all assume it’s going to be easy for me to become the “patriarch” of the House of Oakdaene….”

“No,” Chrístõ answered him. “None of us think it’s going to be easy. But we think you’re up to the challenge.”

“It would be easier not to go through with it. I could stay on Beta Delta IV, where people think I’m seventeen years old, pass the exams, go to university, get a job, ask Glenda to marry me and live a normal ordinary life.”

“Yes, you could.” Chrístõ tried to hide his disappointment. It seemed as if he had gone through this discussion with Cal too many times. For a while, the idea of being Lord of his own demesne, with power and money attracted him. But then he seemed to panic and remember he was only forty years old and that Gallifrey was an alien world to him.

“If I become a Time Lord, and live here… as this patriarch… in that house we visited yesterday… I certainly couldn’t marry Glenda. I’m not old enough to do that on this planet, for one thing. I still need to spend about a hundred years in school.”

“Do you really want to marry Glenda?” Chrístõ asked. “I didn’t think either of you were that serious.”

“Maybe I’m not. Doesn’t have to be Glenda. Could be any girl.”

“They have girls at the Prydonian Academy,” Chrístõ pointed out. “Become a Time Lord, a powerful one. Marry a woman of high rank and position and live a long, fantastic life.”

“Why does it matter so much to you?” Cal asked him. “You and your father and the other Time Lords that I’ve met…”

“Because we’re all traditionalists and the idea of the House of Oakdaene having a patriarch is important to us.”

“But it doesn’t mean anything to me. All I know of the House of Oakdaene is a man who used my mother for his amusement and a brother who is such a dangerous criminal people on this planet hardly dare speak his name. I have every reason to turn my back on this ‘House’.”

“Yes, you do,” Chrístõ admitted. “I know you’ve had thoughts like that. And that’s why I want you to spend time with Maestro.”

“My uncle who lives at the top of this bloody mountain…” He noticed Chrístõ wince at his use of a relatively mild swear word.

“On top of this sacred mountain,” he corrected him. “Your blood kin known to all as Maestro waits to meet with you in the peace and tranquillity of the Brotherhood of Mount Lœng.”

“And remind me again why we couldn’t fly your TARDIS to the top?”

“Because reaching the Brotherhood should be an effort on your part. It shouldn’t be easy. It should involve sweat and muscle ache and thirst with the sun beating down on your neck, and the odd bruise and scrape and sprained ankle, too. Considering that your new heart and lung are only just functioning you’ve done well, so far.”

“That was a compliment, was it?” Cal asked.

“Yes, it was. Don’t be moody. It doesn’t suit you. And it’s not the right attitude for climbing this mountain.”

“Where is… that house from here?” Cal asked, ignoring the rebuke. “My… house…”

“The Oakdaene estate is to the south-west of here. We don’t have a good view from this side of the mountain. The lands join onto the Lœngbærrow demesne. It’s good land. Well watered. You’ve got two diamond mines and rich seams of silver. No gold, but there are traces of Lutanium….”

“Now you sound like a geologist. I don’t really care how many silver mines there are. I’m still not sure… you take me to this grand house, all closed up and dark and empty. And you tell me it’s my house, and I can do what I want with it. And… I don’t know…. I can’t imagine living there. I can’t imagine any of it.”

“That’s why you don’t have to decide. This is just a visit so that you can see Gallifrey, see how we live here, and to talk about what might be possible in the future – the far future. For the immediate and foreseeable future you’re staying on Beta Delta IV as Mrs Richards’ favourite lodger and my star student. Nobody believes you’re ready yet for anything else. But right now, let’s carry on up this mountain. Talk to Maestro, and let the future look after itself.”

They took it steadily. The next part of the climb was a steep, narrow path. It wasn’t difficult as long as they kept their nerve and didn’t try to go too quickly. Chrístõ would have gone faster on his own. He had climbed this route countless times. But he didn’t want to appear reckless and encourage Cal to take risks. He kept the pace steady and they made it to the next plateau where they rested briefly and took more water.

“This next bit’s harder,” Chrístõ told him. “Sheer cliff. Real climbing. Luckily there’s a couple of good strong ropes. The Brothers come up and down the mountain from time to time. They leave the ropes hanging.”

He tested their strength, all the same, before they started to climb. He held back and kept pace with Cal and made sure he was coping with the advanced part of the climb. So far, he was managing.

Then something happened that he never expected. Chrístõ grasped his rope tightly as he heard the pistol shot echoing off the cliffside and Cal crying out in pain as it missed his head by a hair’s breath and ploughed into his shoulder.

A pistol shot? From the top of the mountain? He looked up, but he could see nobody. Even if he could, he couldn’t pursue. Cal needed his help. He swung his own rope across to where the boy was barely holding on with his good arm, blood pouring from the wound in his right shoulder. Chrístõ caught hold of him and held him steady as he made a cursory examination of the wound.

“The wound will repair itself,” he told him. “It’s a clean through and through. Just keep still. Breathe deeply. Give your body chance to mend.”

“Chrístõ!” he gasped. “I’m… I’ve been shot… halfway up a cliff. You want me to just… just hang on a minute.”

“Just until it stops bleeding and starts to mend,” Chrístõ answered, applying pressure to the wounded area. “If I try to move you, yet, it will be agonising.”

“Who shot me?” he asked. “I thought you said these were peaceful monks or… whatever.”

“They are. I doubt if it was one of the Brothers who shot you. Unless their recruitment policies have seriously changed lately. Just hang in there, Cal.”

He covered him with his own body, protecting him as they both hung on the side of the mountain. He didn’t know if the shooter would try again. It seemed a long way to come to take one potshot at an easy target. If Cal was the intended victim, though, it would not be quite so easy the next time.

Of course, they could shoot him and then Cal, he reminded himself. But that was a chance he would have to take.

Except they didn’t need to shoot. Not when they were both hanging there. He felt the ropes vibrating and knew somebody was trying to sever them. He reached out instinctively for a hand hold. There were plenty in the rock face. Experienced climbers among the Brotherhood never used the ropes.

But he couldn’t hold onto the rock itself and hold onto Cal, too. If he saved himself that way, Cal would fall. He was still too weak to hold on for himself. His shoulder was only just starting to mend.

“Grab this, both of you,” said a voice by his ear. He looked around and saw Maestro by his side. He was levitating. Chrístõ was astonished. Levitation was something that the Brotherhood practiced as the ultimate form of meditation, allowing their bodies to act as if they were lighter than air. But nobody would dare to do it over the mountain side.

What he held out was a time ring. Chrístõ recognised it as such. It was a simple, portable transportation device favoured by some Time Lords. Using them made him nauseous. But he would rather be ill than dead. He could feel the rope breaking above him. He and Cal had one chance.

They took it.

Between the shock and pain of his injury and the jolt that using a time ring gave to the internal organs, Chrístõ wasn’t at all surprised that Cal fainted when they materialised. He reached to hold him, then swayed dizzily himself.

“Easy, boy,” Maestro said as he caught them both in his own strong arms. “That’s the trouble with being the one everyone else leans on, Chrístõ. Sometimes you need somebody to lean on yourself.”

Chrístõ was feeling too weak to reply. He was aware of other Brothers in their simple robes coming into the room where they had materialised. Cal was lifted from him. He refused to be carried but accepted Maestro’s shoulder to lean on as he walked with him to one of the simple rooms where the Brother’s slept on the rare occasions that they didn’t spend their nights in meditation. He accepted the necessity of lying down for a little while, though he remained awake as Cal was attended to. And he listened as Maestro conferred with his fellow Brothers about the attack on them.

“You didn’t see anyone?” he asked wearily. “At the top of the cliff… somebody fired on us. Then tried to cut the ropes.”

“We saw nobody,” Maestro confirmed. “But we all felt the psychic disturbance. The presence of a mind intent on murder was strong. It’s not something we expect here in a House of Contemplation. That intent was almost strong enough to override the perception filter that he was using. Unfortunately, ‘almost’ was not good enough. The assailant slipped through our net. He is still at large.”

“Did you… did anyone pick up any sense of what the motive was. Why would anyone shoot Cal? He’s just a boy… what enemies could he have?”

Maestro didn’t answer that question. If Chrístõ had been less disorientated he wouldn’t have asked the question. Cal already had plenty of enemies. There were few on Gallifrey who had accepted his existence calmly, let alone his formal recognition as the rightful heir to the Oakdaene title. And then, quite apart from rumblings in the pureblood ranks, there were plenty who would hate him simply because he was of the House of Oakdaene. His father’s blood running in his veins would be enough to incur the enmity of many who thought of that blood as tainted and unworthy of recognition.

But would either of those be motive enough to kill an unarmed boy, or to attempt to kill him at the same time?

“There is also the possibility that you were the target, Chrístõ,” Maestro reminded him. “You are a high profile figure in Gallifeyan society for many reasons, and it would not be the first time.”

Both of them remembered only too well Chrístõ’s graduation speech and how that day had turned out. Maestro’s hearts lurched as he remembered holding him in his arms and willing him to live. Chrístõ remembered the same strong arms that had come to his aid today closing around him.

He was a graduate, a Time Lord, a war veteran, a seasoned offworld agent of his government, a diplomat. He was a prince of the universe, a guardian of time.

But right at that moment he felt like a boy of Cal’s age, and he was scared. The reassurance of Maestro’s arm around his shoulders briefly was welcome.

“The boy is awake, Maestro,” said one of the Brothers. Maestro nodded and went to him.

“Your wound has mended, as we expected,” he told him. “But nobody expects you to throw off the trauma of what happened easily. Lie still a while longer. You can eat and rest and we’ll talk later.”

“I don’t need to eat… or rest…” Cal replied. “I want to leave this place… this planet. I want to go home… home to my mother’s world. Where I belong. I want all of you to leave me alone.”

“Cal…” Maestro spoke his name gently. “Cal, my boy, I understand that you’re hurting. You have a right to be angry. But do not reject those who wish you well…”

“You don’t wish me well. You just want me to fill a hole in your Time Lord society. But nobody else does. And somebody would rather I was dead. I’ve seen enough of Gallifrey to know I don’t want it. I don’t want any of this. And… I don’t want you. Leave me alone.”

“I am your blood kin, boy,” Maestro told him. “Don’t reject that kinship so easily. You must not…”

“Must not?” Cal was really angry now. “Who says what I must do? Who decides what I should feel? Who are you to me? Where were you all my life? My uncle? Brother of the criminal who fathered me… Why should I trust you? What do you expect from me? Love? My mother was the only one who loved me. She died in my arms, begging me to let go of the anger. But I couldn’t. I hate my Gallifreyan blood. I wish I could drain every last drop of it out of me. I don’t want your kinship. I don’t want any of this.”

Chrístõ heard everything Cal was saying and his hearts sank. His bitterness wasn’t without foundation. They were all guilty of letting their ambitions for him race too far ahead. And this attack on him had opened up the deep scars upon his soul. They hadn’t healed at all. He had only managed to suppress them for a while. Now the anger and frustration that lay under the surface raged once again.

He felt the effects throughout the Brotherhood. His negative emotions were so strong they were affecting them. There was disconcertion throughout the whole community. He could feel them gathering in the Hall of Meditations, or simply pausing in their work, and trying to repair the aura of peace and tranquillity that their combined minds usually engendered. But Cal’s anger was breaking it down as fast as they built it up.

Then he felt them change their approach. The whole force of their mental power was turned directly upon Cal, not defending themselves against him, but attacking his mind. Attacking him with positive energy, bombarding him with kindness, love, peaceful feelings. But it was still an assault upon his mind and Chrístõ’s first instinct was to stop them.

“Don’t interfere,” he heard Maestro tell him orally, not attempting to break the telepathic wall closing in around them. “It’s the only way we can stop him. The boy has very well-developed but raw mental energy. If he lets his anger drive him, he could do untold harm to himself and others. We have to neutralise him.”

“Not… permanently?” Chrístõ was horrified. His own anger threatened to drive him. He always thought of the Brotherhood as wise and enlightened people who used their psychic powers for good. He was having trouble seeing the good in what they were doing to Cal.

The boy struggled against them at first, but as strong as his mental power was, he was outnumbered. He cried out once and then succumbed to the superior forces pushing down the walls of anger and bitterness and rendering him insensible.

“What good did that do?” Chrístõ demanded.

“Immeasurable good,” Maestro answered. “He is in an induced trance. He is calm and peaceful. His mind is quiet. When he wakes again, we can begin the work we intended to do with him. But it will be much harder… I never expected so much bitterness to remain in his hearts.”

“I think being shot at when he was helpless to defend himself has a lot to do with it,” Chrístõ answered. “And… I still don’t think it was necessary to do that to him. It’s just another attack on him, from another direction. Your will forced on him again.”

“Chrístõ,” Maestro said. “Your resistance is threatening to become as disruptive as his. Calm yourself. Trust me. As you always trusted me. Come. Join with the brotherhood in restoring the harmony of our community.”

Chrístõ sighed. Maestro was right about that, at least. His own feelings were as self-destructive as Cal’s. He closed his eyes and cleared his mind and let it reach out and connect with the other minds around him. there were something like a hundred and fifty Brothers in this retreat at the top of the mountain. He felt each and every one of them touching his own soul as they literally joined their minds into one gestalt of mental energy, radiating peace and calm until it was a psychological carapace around them all, protecting them from any baleful influence from without, and ensuring that those within it were at peace with themselves and with their fellow beings.

At least that was the idea.

“I can still feel something,” Chrístõ said out loud as they broke apart and became separate minds again. “There’s a jarring note. Somebody here isn’t part of the harmony. And it’s not me, or Cal.”

“You are right,” Maestro said. “I feel it. too. The one who attacked you and the boy. He is here, within these walls.”

“We’ve got to stop him,” Chrístõ said. “Before he tries to kill him again.”

“You think this is about Cal?” Maestro asked. “Not you?”

“If somebody wanted to kill me, they could do it any time,” Chrístõ answered. “They’ve tried often enough. But Cal… Yes, it’s about him. We’ve got to protect him.”

Maestro was already doing that. He called in four of the Brotherhood. They were all solemn looking men who said very little. Chrístõ was oddly reminded of the Agents Hext was training in his Tower some seventy miles across the Southern Plain. Only their hooded robes and a certain calm aura that they carried about with them differentiated them from the equally dedicated men who mostly wore black and who never smiled, and who were capable of killing with a flick of their wrist. The Tower and the Brotherhood on their mountain made a curious kind of ying-yang of opposites that Gallifreyan society needed even though most of that society went through their lives never seeing or thinking about either.

And he stood between both. He had been an ‘associate’ member of the Brotherhood since he was in his twenties, spending his weekends and much of his vacation time up this mountain, training in their disciplines. And he was, at the same time, a founder of Hext’s resurrected Celestial Intervention Agency at the Tower and an ‘associate’ agent.

“That’s why you need to come with me, now,” Maestro said to him as the brothers took up positions around Cal’s bed, ready to protect him from physical or mental attack. More of them stood outside the room. Maestro spoke to them as he passed them by, warning them to be aware of the use of perception filter technology.

“Your people can detect a perception filter?” Chrístõ asked.

“Now they know to expect one, yes,” Maestro answered. “We were, I admit, caught out by the attack on the two of you. But now we are aware that there is danger, we will rise to the task. We may seek peace and tranquillity here, Chrístõ, but you know very well our disciplines fit us for much more than contemplation. This mountain was a fortress during the Mallus Invasion. We held those creatures off and offered a place of safety for many who would have died otherwise. And many of our number came down from the mountain and fought. Some did not return.”

“I know that,” Chrístõ said. “But if the enemy is within your fortress…”

“We will find him. Your own skills will prove useful. You were right, you know. This place of contemplation and the Tower where young Hext trains his secret agents – you stand between the two, the best of both worlds, a man of peace with the skills of an assassin. One day your destiny will become clear and we will all understand why it is necessary for Gallifrey to breed one such as you who can be both a warrior and a peacemaker at the same time.”

“That’s… Maestro, don’t do that. Don’t give me all that ‘destiny’ stuff. I thought fighting the Mallus… I thought that WAS what everyone used to talk about. The Son of Rassilon defeating the enemy, saving Gallifrey. Now, you’ve all moved the goalposts again and the future looms again, dangling that destiny in front of me. Besides… when you do it… it reminds me too much of Li… He used to talk that way, too.”

For a moment, Maestro looked as if mentioning his brother in that way had hurt him, but then he smiled and shook his head.

“We shall leave destinies for another day. We have a more immediate task to concern ourselves with.”

They stepped into the Great Hall of Contemplation, the central part of the building. It seemed even bigger than it did the last time Chrístõ had visited, and it seemed to be even more crowded. Of course, relative dimensions were used throughout the House of Contemplation. The Great Hall, the refectory, library, observatory, the dojo, the individual meditation rooms, and the bedrooms would never actually fit within the monastery building as seen from the outside. There was no surprise there.

Every one of the Brothers had gathered there apart from the ones doing their duty by protecting Cal. Maestro walked with Chrístõ to the great Seal of Rassilon that stood where, in any other monastic order in the universe an altar of some kind might be found. The ‘religion’ of Mount Lœng, of course, was not about any deity. It was about inner spirituality and oneness with the universe.

For the moment, being one with each other was enough. Chrístõ felt them join together again as that Gestalt psyche. He and Maestro joined with it briefly. They found strength in that unity of purpose and spiritual renewal in the aura they created.

Then they broke away once more. They could still feel the gestalt mind as a cushion of support, but they let their thoughts reach out, searching for that jarring note.

“I’ve got it,” Chrístõ said. “Oh… oh no. He’s near Cal. He’s there already.”

Chrístõ turned and ran from the Great Hall, his anxiety causing ripples in the harmony. Maestro followed as he ran back to the room where Cal was sleeping, supposedly under the guard of four of the Brothers.

The jarring note came from that room. One of the Brothers was an attempted murderer, and he was preparing to do it again.

“No,” Maestro protested. “That isn’t possible. I know all these men. They would never…”

“You can’t be sure,” Chrístõ answered. “There are bad apples everywhere. Even your community might have one.”

He ran past the two outdoor guards and into the room. The four men inside looked perfectly normal. They were standing by Cal’s bed forming a mental and physical wall against harm, just as they were doing before.

“No,” Chrístõ said. “That one… look behind his mental wall. There’s something else there… he’s got another agenda. I can feel it.”

The Brother looked started. So did the other three. Maestro was ready to shake his head in disbelief and tell Chrístõ that he was mistaken. Then the man raised his hand and there was a glint of metal, a concealed blade that he started to bring down into Cal’s heart.

Chrístõ reached him in an eyeblink and the blade slithered across the floor as he brought the man down. He held him with a knee in his back and put his hands either side of his head. He forced his way into his prisoner’s mind. He felt Maestro projecting his own psyche as well. He didn’t stop him.

On the surface of his memories, there was a frightened man who didn’t know what was happening. Chrístõ fully believed him. So did Maestro. They both looked deeper. They found a mental wall and attacked it until it crumbled.

Beneath it they found a set of subliminal instructions, telling the young Brother to attack and kill the Oakdaene heir by any means he could, urging him not to stop trying until it was done. The conscious mind of the Brother wouldn’t even be aware of it. The whole thing was so subtly done. But he had concealed the gun in his robe without even knowing it was there. He had cut the ropes on the clifftop while at the same time summoning his fellow brothers and alerting them to the deed done by some invisible enemy. He had stood here, protecting Cal, while holding the knife in his hand to cut out his heart.

“Broc, my friend,” Maestro said in a kindly but insistent voice. “Who did this to you? Where did these instructions come from? Who turned you into a traitor and a killer against your very nature?”

Of course, he couldn’t answer in words. But Chrístõ and Maestro both saw it.

“Get me one of those Time Rings,” he said. “You look after Broc. Rip that programming out of his head. Make sure he’s all right. I’ll deal with this.”

“Time Rings make you nauseous,” Maestro told him. “It’s only a matter of seventy miles. We may have an easier way.”


It was far less nauseating than a Time Ring, Chrístõ thought as he found himself standing by the huge lake called the Caldera. It was an eerie sensation, though, being transported through seventy miles of southern Gallifreyan topography by the power of thought. It had happened in seconds, and yet if he thought about it, he could remember every inch of the plain he had travelled over in those seconds. It had been a little like floating on a cloud over it. Except, actually, nothing like that.

He wondered if the brothers had enough mental energy to get him back again or would he have to climb the mountain again?

But that could wait. He turned and sprinted towards The Tower. He knew that anyone else standing there on the lakeside would have seen nothing. The Tower had been built, several generations ago, with a strong perception field in its very fabric. But Chrístõ knew it was there and he headed straight for the door. He was challenged, at first, by two earnest young men in leather, but as soon as they recognised him they stood aside.

“Tell Commander Hext I’m on my way up,” he said. “I’ll meet him on the interrogation suite level.”

He stepped onto the hydraulic lift that was the slow way to get up the Tower, though not as slow as the winding steps that started on the ground floor. There was a school of thought that, what with all the relative dimensions going on inside here, the steps were never ending. There was another that said climbing them was Commander Hext’s initiation test for all would be Celestial Intervention Agency operatives.

Chrístõ had never had time to try it. He certainly didn’t now. He gathered his breath as he waited for the lift to stop at the right floor.

Hext was waiting for him. He smiled warmly, though he knew Chrístõ’s unexpected visit had to be for a good reason.

“This has to be business,” he said. “Otherwise you’d have gone on up to the apartment and said hello to Savang.”

“I might do that later,” Chrístõ promised. “But right now I need to see a prisoner of yours.”

“Dare I ask which one?” Hext asked.

“Whichever one has some connection, however loose, with the House of Oakdaene,” Chrístõ replied.

“I thought it might be. Come on. Keep your wits about you, though. He’s a nasty piece of work.”

Hext led him along a brightly lit passage that was definitely not in the same relative dimensions as the physical tower. It contained thirty cells, and Chrístõ was disturbed to find about half of them occupied.

“Who are these people?” Chrístõ asked. “There can’t be so many traitors on Gallifrey.”

“We’re still processing collaborators,” Hext answered. “Some of them… all they might have done is billeted the Mallus in their homes just a bit too enthusiastically. They’ll get fairly light sentences in the end when they go before the magisters. They’ll probably be grateful for anything by then. I’m taking no chances. They’re getting the full process here. If any of them were giving more than just succour to the enemy I’ll find out.”

Hext sounded utterly ruthless when he said that. Chrístõ actually shivered in sympathy with those prisoners. Then he remembered some of the foulest deeds committed by the Mallus and his sympathy was short lived. He disliked the methods of coercion and torture employed by the Celestial Intervention Agency, and it chilled him sometimes to think that a man he considered a close friend was so adept at those methods. But it chilled him even more to remember faces of friends and comrades, people he once knew, literally butchered by that enemy

“One day we will all put the Mallus invasion behind us,” Chrístõ said. “What will you need thirty cells for, then?”

“Scum like this,” Hext answered as he nodded to two of his agents and had them form a guard at the entrance to the cage, their guns ready. He and Chrístõ stood outside the cell looking in. The prisoner glared at them both. He could do very little else. He was manacled to the wall by both arms and both legs. When ordered to stand up, he did so with a clanking of chains and was able to take two steps towards his gaoler before he had reached his limit.

Chrístõ noted that he was wearing telepathic suppression cuffs.

“The Tower is shielded,” Chrístõ pointed out. “And yet he needed…”

“He was giving my wife nightmares,” Hext said with a disgusted tone. “He’s a supertelepath. Rare in men. Usually it’s only women who are as strong as that. Savang is, of course. The shielding here is excellent for her because she doesn’t have to consciously tune out half the continent’s thoughts. But then we found he was channelling into her mind and upsetting her. She’s been really happy since she came here. She loves the Tower. She adores the lake. She loves being able to visit her parents and have them visit her in our own apartment. My father even came to tea last week. She actually entertained the Lord High President… the girl everyone had written off as damaged goods. But this… &(%$£@# had her shaking with fear in the middle of the night.”

It was probably just as well that the prisoner did have his telepathy suppressed, because the thoughts Hext was having about him were frightening.

“What’s his connection with the Oakdaene family?” Chrístõ asked getting back to the point.

“He was Lord Oakdaene’s personal servant for something like eight hundred years,” Hext answered. “He seems to have learnt a lot of skills from his master. The telepathy is natural. But he has a gift for hypnotism. Two of my people nearly succumbed to him when he was first brought in.”

“What was he arrested for?” Chrístõ asked.

“Threatening to kill the new Oakdaene heir – your friend, Cal. He was publicly claiming that it was his duty to dispose of the dirty-blooded usurper two days before you were due to arrive. So he’s here as a precaution. We haven’t actually found any evidence other than his long, dull, boring statements and confessions. So after you’ve gone back to Beta Delta he’ll probably be released and watched carefully. But I’m about half sure he’s in the harmless crank category.”

“He’s not,” Chrístõ said in a remarkably calm voice. “He’s clever. He’s got some guts, too. He’s put himself in harms way, here, risking the mind probe and the other unspeakable things you do to suspects here in your Tower… so that he has the perfect alibi. Hext, there have been three attacks on Cal today. He hypnotised an innocent man, hid his instructions behind a mental wall… set him up to be the killer, while he sat it out here.”

Paracell Hext stared at his friend in astonishment, then he looked at the prisoner. Then he ordered his men to open the cell.

“No,” Chrístõ said, grabbing his arm. “He’s not worth it.”

“He used me… he made a mockery of the Agency… And he tried to assassinate an innocent boy who I’ve been trying to protect. Give me one good reason not to beat him to death.”

“Going back upstairs and being able to kiss your wife with a clear conscience,” Chrístõ answered. “He’s in your custody. He’s going nowhere. The man he tried to use is being looked after by his friends on the mountain. It’s over. I needed to see him to find out what he had done and why he did it. Now I know. But don’t do anything to him that crosses the line between justice and thuggery, Hext. He’s not worth it.”

Hext turned to him as his anger subsided.

“You’re right,” he said. “He’s not worth it. When I’m ready I’ll be having a very long session with him. And it won’t be pleasant for him. But I’ll restrain myself. Don’t you worry. Now… if we’re done here… do you want to come upstairs and say hello to my wife?”

“Not this time,” Chrístõ answered. “I… feel contaminated just being near him. I’ll get back to the mountain… spend a few hours in meditation while Cal talks to his uncle. We’ll drop by socially in a day or two before we head back to Beta Delta. I think Julia would like to visit, too. But we’ll stay well away from this floor.”


The Brothers were ready to bring him back when he was done. It was a strange experience again. But far better than climbing the mountain twice in one day. And he was greeted with two bits of good news.

First, Broc was feeling a lot better now that his mind had been cleared of the hypnotic instructions hidden within it. He had spent a quiet hour in meditation with his fellow brothers and was recovering from the shock of almost being a murderer.

And Cal was spending the afternoon in a private meditation session with Maestro. Chrístõ found a private room and spent a quiet session of his own with his mind cleared. He really did feel the need to cleanse himself of the brief contact he had with the twisted mind that had almost done so much harm to two innocent people.

When he emerged, feeling much better, he joined the Brothers in their evening meal. Maestro and Cal were there, too, but neither said anything until later, when they walked together outside the monastery and sat down on a ledge looking out over the southern plains.

“I’ve been thinking a lot,” Cal said. “And I’ve talked to my uncle.”

That was a huge step all by itself, of course. He had actually called Maestro his uncle.

“I’m not ready for any of it, yet,” he continued. “To be a Time Lord, to be patriarch of a house. I’m not sure I’m even ready to look at a yellow sky every day. It scares me. And that’s half the reason I was so angry.”

“Having somebody trying to assassinate you couldn’t have helped,” Chrístõ noted. “That’s sorted, now. We have the one responsible.”

“I’m not ready to have people hate me so much they would do a thing like that,” Cal added. “But… actually the one thing I do like about Gallifrey is here… this place. The Brotherhood.”

“Yeah, I think so, too,” Chrístõ agreed.

“I’m going to stay here for the rest of my visit to Gallifrey,” Cal said. “I know your father has been hospitable to me. And I thank him for that. But I feel I need to be here. I need to get used to having an uncle. And I need to get used to trusting him. And this is the place to do that. But I am coming back to Beta Delta. So don’t think of leaving without me.”

“As if I would, Chrístõ told him. “But does that mean…”

“He still needs a lot more tuition from you,” Maestro said. “At least a year, maybe two. Then we’ve agreed he should come and spent a few years here with the Brotherhood. He can learn to channel his raw abilities and gain the strength of purpose he will need to join the Academy as a late starter. After that…”

“Maybe by then, I’ll be ready,” Cal said. “If I’m not, I still have other options. And one of them is to leave Gallifrey and live whatever life I choose, wherever else in the galaxy I choose to live. But nobody else will pressure me into making that choice. Not you, Chrístõ, or your father. Not Maestro. And definitely not any half-blood hating Gallifreyan who doesn’t want me to have any choices at all.”

“Ok,” Chrístõ said. “I can live with that.”