Chrístõ had represented his planet at international trade conferences and political treaties. He had once taken part in a singing competition in front of millions of television viewers. He had fought space vampires and megalomaniacs. He thought he could do more or less anything with absolute self-confidence.

But Parent’s Night worried him.

“I don’t know why YOU are nervous,” Julia said to him as he parked his car in the staff car park. “All you’ve got to do is meet parents. I’ve got three presentations to do in the gym. You are going to get to see one of them, aren’t you?”

“I’ll try,” he promised. “If I’m not too busy. Last year I only had fourteen students. But this year, since I’m joining the main faculty after the summer I think a lot of the other parents might want to see me.”

“I’m proud of you,” Julia told him. “Being promoted to Senior English master.”

“It’s not really a promotion. But it does mean I’m a ‘real’ teacher from now on. I won’t just be in charge of the Chrysalids. I’ll have to do some REAL work with ordinary kids who aren’t already clever. I’ll have to actually TEACH!”

Julia laughed and leaned over towards him. In a minute she had to get out of the car and be a student. He had to be a teacher. But for a brief moment she could be his girlfriend. He smiled and reached to kiss her briefly but lovingly.

“Still think this is a strange idea, though, parents evening,” he said when they got out of the car. “We didn’t have anything like it at the Prydonian Academy.”

“The Prydonian Academy doesn’t have to prove itself to anyone,” Julia pointed out. “New Canberra High has to show the parent-governors that it is delivering a quality educational service.”

“Well, I will try not to let anyone down,” Chrístõ answered. “Least of all you. I’ll try to get to see your performance.”

Julia smiled happily and dared to hug him again before grabbing her kit bag and heading towards the gym. Chrístõ headed to the assembly hall and the desk set up for him with samples of the work done by his students. He took up his place and waited for the first parents to arrive.

It didn’t take long. He smiled warmly as Glenda Ross’s parents came to talk to him about their daughter’s prospects. Glenda was looking at the art exhibition with Cal at her side as Chrístõ assured her mother and father that he would be writing a reference for her to take to Nova Lancastria University and he was quite certain she would be accepted there.

Most of the parents of his Chrysalids were equally satisfied with their children’s progress in his class. Many of them thanked him for the time and effort he had given them.

The first problem came when he met the parents of one of the new senior literature students he would be teaching next year.

“I understand that you have excellent credentials, Professor de Leon” said Mr Vernon as his wife sat next to him looking hesitant. “But I have to say I have heard some quite disturbing things about you.”

“What sort of things?” Chrístõ answered. Though he knew what was going to come next and got ready to reply to their queries.

“Well…” Mrs Vernon began. “It’s silly really. It’s just the things the children say. I’m sure…”

Mr Vernon cut her off quickly.

“We’ve heard that you are an alien.”

“We are all aliens here, Mr Vernon,” Chrístõ calmly replied. “This is a colony planet.”

“That’s as may be,” the man responded. “But we know where we come from. What about you?”

“I am a citizen of the Earth Federation,” Chrístõ answered calmly. “I have full right of residence in the Beta Delta system. I would not have been employed by the New Canberra education authority if I were not.”

“That’s not an answer to the question,” Mr Vernon insisted. “Where did you come from? What planet?”

Chrístõ hesitated. Usually the fact that he was a citizen was enough. Most people didn’t query it further. But Mr Vernon obviously wanted a definitive answer.

“Look,” Mrs Vernon said, plucking up the courage. “I don’t want any trouble. But we have heard things….”

“I’ll deal with this, Marcie.” Again, Mr Vernon interjected. “Look, Professor… if you actually ARE a professor. You look far too young, if you ask me. It was all very well when you were just in charge of the special needs students. But if you’re going to be teaching our son, then I want to be sure there will be no funny business.”

“Funny business?” Chrístõ raised an eyebrow. “Exactly what…”

Mrs Vernon again tried to have her way.

“I am sorry Professor,” she said. “But…”

“Don’t play games with me.” Mr Vernon again cut her off. “Are you or are you not an alien who can read people’s minds and bend them so they don’t know whether they’re coming or going.”

Chrístõ again paused before answering. It was an unfair accusation. He WAS skilled in hypnotism, which could be classed as bending minds. He was a telepath. But he didn’t read Human minds if he could help it. He regarded that as an intrusion upon them. And hypnotism was a tool he used only in extreme cases.

He was wondering if Mr Vernon qualified as an extreme case. He reached out as if to shake hands with him. The man pulled away quickly, but Chrístõ had enough physical contact to read his short term memory. He saw a collection of prejudices. A few minutes before sitting at his table, Mr Vernon had been to talk to his son’s future maths teacher, Mr Ogamba, whose grandfather came from Zambia. He saw the plain ordinary racism that festered in his mind. He had detested every minute that he had sat being polite to a man whose skin colour he hated.

He was not allowed to be rude to Mr Ogamba whose ancestors were from Africa. So he was being rude to him, instead, because his ancestors were not Human.

He could have hypnotised him into thinking that he had given perfectly straightforward answers to the question, proving that he was fully Human and of Earth origin. That would have solved the problem.

But that would have made him exactly what Mr Vernon was accusing him of. An alien with power to manipulate minds.

“Mr Vernon,” he said calmly. “If you have any evidence that I am incapable of teaching in a public school under the New Canberra Education Department, I suggest you make an official complaint. But you should be aware that unsubstantiated stories about mind-reading and hypnotism, even if they were taken seriously by a complaints adjudicator, could leave you open to a charge of slander which my union representative would almost certainly urge me to pursue.”

Mr Vernon’s eyes burned with anger. Chrístõ wondered if he was going to get violent. He wondered what he should do if he did. He didn’t particularly want to get hit by a bigot, but he didn’t think fighting him would be a good idea in front of so many other parents.

There was a long, dangerous moment. Then Mr Vernon stood, glaring contemptuously at him, and turned away. His wife hesitated for a moment and Chrístõ had a feeling she wanted to say something else to him. But her husband said a sharp word to her and she scurried after him.

Chrístõ watched them. Mr Vernon pushed his way through the crowds in a bullish way. His wife had to practically trot to keep up. He tried to remember if he had ever seen their son. A quiet looking boy who never seemed very good at games came to mind, but he wasn't absolutely certain if that was the one or not.

Another parent slid into the seat in front of him. She introduced herself as Mrs Glazer and wanted to talk to him about her daughter’s lack of enthusiasm for her school work.

“I understand that you are a very good teacher, Professor de Leon. I was hoping that you might be able to help Dorea to take her academic work seriously. She isn’t interested in anything except drawing.”

Chrístõ looked at the woman and then turned briefly to the built in visual display screen in his desk. It was angled away from the parents and towards him. A few keystrokes brought up Dorea Glazer’s academic results. She appeared to be an average student with mostly C’s and a few B’s, and just one A – in art.

“She is good at drawing?” he asked.

“Yes, I suppose so,” Mrs Glazer said. “I know she’s always doing it. She has dozens of sketch pads.”

“Buy her a good quality set of artist’s pencils and let her carry on doing what she likes doing best,” Chrístõ said. “She’s doing fine as she is.”

“But…” Mrs Glazer began. “Surely…”

“Academic results aren’t everything,” he said. “She’s not cutting any classes. Her homework is done on time. She gets the best marks she can in these subjects. But she’ll need a good portfolio to get into art college.”

“But…” Mrs Glazer said again. “But… what kind of career can she get from that? I mean… an artist… it’s so… so…”

“Creative,” Chrístõ suggested. “Mrs Glazer, let me assure you, when Dorea is in my classes, learning English literature, I will make sure she puts in her very best effort – as I expect from all my students. I won’t let her slack off. But if her true talent lies in another classroom, then there is little else I can do.”

Mrs Glazer seemed to accept that. She moved on. Chrístõ glanced around the room and noticed that Mr Vernon was talking to a small group of parents. Some of them glanced at him, and hurriedly glanced away again as they noticed him looking towards them. He closed his eyes and reached out telepathically, feeling their mood. He didn’t like it one little bit.

He glanced at his watch. Julia’s gymnastics team would be doing their second demonstration performance of the night very soon. He decided this was a good time to take a break from meeting parents and go over to the gym. He stood up and left the desk, slipping quietly out of the hall.

He was halfway across the lawn that lay between the main building and the gym when he became aware that he was being followed. He glanced back and his heart sank. It was Mr Vernon and five other men who had been in the angry huddle. And they were catching up with him rapidly. He increased his pace only very slightly and was at the corner of the gymnasium building when he felt them closing in behind him.

“What can I do for you gentleman?” he asked, turning around and greeting them with a friendly smile.

“You can get back where you come from and stay away from decent people,” replied Mr Vernon. “We don’t need any green-blooded aliens here.”

Green blooded? It would be laughable if it wasn’t so unpleasant, Chrístõ thought.

“I think you really ought to go back into the hall,” he answered carefully. “This is not the time or place…”

He saw Mr Vernon’s fist coming towards his face and at the same time the others surrounded him. He adopted a defensive gung fu position and then struck back with agile hands and feet. But even given that he was fitter and stronger than all of them, and an expert at martial arts, he was expecting to be hurt any moment. At best he could fight two or three of them at the same time.

He was holding his own despite the odds when a lucky punch actually connected with his jaw and he reeled back. A foot tripped him as he did so and he felt himself falling to the ground. He raised his hands to try to protect his face as a foot stamped down. He felt somebody else kick him in the kidneys.

Then he heard an angry cry and two of his assailants were thrown aside. He saw Cal Lupus take on two more of them as he pulled himself up from the floor, bringing Mr Vernon down hard before finishing off the remaining trouble makers.

“Just for the record,” Chrístõ said as he raised his hand to his nose and wiped away the blood that had flown briefly. “My blood isn’t green.” He looked at the men lying on the ground, then at Cal, who looked back at him with a solemn expression.

“I think we’re both in trouble,” he said telepathically. “I’m a teacher, you’re a student, and we just beat up seven parents.”

Cal got ready to reply to him, but their dilemma was forgotten in the next terrifying thirty seconds.

It began with a low rumble and a vibration that they felt under their feet, almost gentle at first, then increasing in intensity. Then the sound of alarms tripping, in cars and on the school buildings, and further away on the street, made a shrill counterpoint to the rumble, followed by the sounds of glass shattering and masonry falling and the screams of terrified people who didn’t know what was happening.

“An earthquake?” Cal queried as he and Chrístõ steadied each other. “But New Canberra isn’t on a fault….”

“It’s an earthquake,” Chrístõ answered. “I’ll worry about the geology later. Right now…”

The shaking stopped. So did the rumble. The other noises continued. But what concerned Chrístõ immediately was the sharp cracking noise he heard very close to him. He looked up at the plate glass front of the gymnasium and remembered what had happened the last time there was a problem with that glass. This time it hadn’t shattered, but the long crack running all the way up the glass wall was nearly as frightening.

Then the fire doors opened and students, parents and teachers began to pour out. Somebody was shouting instructions about fire assembly points.

“No.” Chrístõ countermanded the instruction with one sharp word. “No, the fire assembly point is too close to the building. Get out onto the football pitch. Go on… quickly. Everyone.”

He turned to look at the seven men he and Cal had been dealing with. Nobody coming out of the gym was worried to see them picking themselves up off the floor. Then Mr Vernon screamed in a visceral way and pointed.

“My… my… son is in there!” he yelled. “My wife…”

Chrístõ looked around at the main school building and his hearts thudded. The building had collapsed in on itself. The roof and top floors of the three story building had simply pancaked in onto the rest.

How many people were inside? Mr Vernon wasn’t the only one screaming now. Panic was setting in along with grief.

Most of them would be in the main hall, he reasoned. That was on the ground floor. It was relatively intact. If they were lucky…

“Football pitch,” Chrístõ repeated. “Go, quickly. Everyone. Mr Thompson, Miss Waverly, you’re in charge…”

“Chrístõ!” Julia ran to him. She was one of the last out of the gym, wearing a school coat over her leotard as several of the girls were. He hugged her briefly. He WAS relieved to see her. But there were others he had to worry about.

She saw the state of the school building and gave a heart-rending cry.

“Aunt Marianna is in there… with my cousins,” she said. “And…”

“Go to the football pitch,” Chrístõ told her. “You can’t do anything. Go where you’re safe.”

“What are you going to do?” she asked.

“What I have to do,” he answered. “As always. Go on, sweetheart. I’ll… I’ll find your family for you. I promise.”

That was a promise he shouldn’t have made. He didn’t know if he could keep it. He didn’t yet know if anyone was alive or dead in there.

“Miss Waverly, Mr Thompson,” he repeated. “Please get the students to the football field. Anyone who thinks they’re strong enough to help move tons of broken masonry follow me. That would be you, Mr Vernon, for a start. Shut up yelling and do something useful.”

He wasn’t unsympathetic. Even a bigot and a thug could feel pain when his family were in danger. But hysteria helped nobody.

His fellow teachers had taken notice of his instructions at last and were bringing the students and parents who had been in the gym to the safety of the football pitch. Julia was with them. He didn’t have to worry about her. But there were others to think of. He turned and ran towards the collapsed building. Cal ran beside him.

Some had got out, of course. Dusty, dishevelled, frightened, with cuts and bruises, some more serious wounds and broken bones that would need attention, Chrístõ found himself repeating his order to get to the football field again and again.

“Mr Gallighan!” He grasped the arm of the headmaster. The man gave a soft cry of pain. His arm was broken. His leg was damaged, too. “Go to the football field with the others,” he said gently. “How many people do you think are inside, still?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “Everyone got out of the hall… but… other rooms…” The headmaster looked up at the wrecked building. Tears rolled down his dusty face. “There must be so many dead…”

Chrístõ knew that. He could feel death in this place. He could feel people dying, painfully.

“Chrístõ,” Cal said to him as Mr Gallighan limped away, helped by the school nurse. “It’s not just the school. There are houses… cars on the overpass…”

“I know,” he answered. “But the school is my priority just now.”

His telepathic senses were almost overwhelmed. He could feel so many people nearby in desperation, he hardly knew where to start.

“Here!” Cal called out. Chrístõ followed him to where there should have been a fire exit except that it was blocked by spars of wood and a large chunk of prefabricated concrete. He could hear people calling out from inside. Dozens of them trapped behind the door.

“Glenda’s there,” Cal added. “And her parents.”

“What about my wife and son?” Mr Vernon demanded. “Who’s going to help them?”

“I will, when I find them,” Chrístõ answered him. “Make yourself useful here. Take the weight of this.”

He had lifted away the wooden spar that blocked the door, but the concrete section was in danger of collapsing and bringing tons more rubble down after it. He couldn’t hold it on his own. Mr Vernon stepped forward tentatively and then, to his credit, he did bear the brunt of the weight with Chrístõ as Cal forced open the fire door.

As the door burst open, Cal grabbed a girl in his arms. She had been right behind the door, pressed against it and was in a near faint because of the sheer weight of the crush behind her. Cal ran with her to the open space of the playing field. A woman ran after him. Chrístõ recognised her as Mrs Glazer. The fainting girl must be her daughter who was good at art. But he didn’t have a chance to find out if she was all right. He and Mr Vernon were holding back the crumbling, creaking wreckage until those who had pressed into the corridor and then found their exit blocked had escaped.

“Ok,” Chrístõ said at last. “Let it go.” He stepped back, pulling Mr Vernon with him. The concrete section collapsed, obliterating the door.

“Chrístõ, there are still loads of others,” Glenda Ross told him as she stood by Mrs Glazer and watched admiringly as Cal carefully resuscitated the girl. “All the rest of our class… and there are some people in the science block, still.”

“My boy was doing a presentation in the biology room,” Mr Vernon said. “He must be there, still.”

The science block was a modern annex to the original school built by the first colonists. It was six floors high and usually towered over the main building.

It wasn’t towering over it now. It must have pancaked, too.

He close his eyes and reached out mentally, seeking the telepathic minds of the Chrysalids trapped in their classroom. He was relieved when he felt all their voices in his head and carefully filtered them until he focussed just on Rudie Dutea.

“We‘re all alive,” he confirmed. “But Gretta has a broken arm and Vern is bleeding from where a piece of wood stabbed into his leg. But we can’t get out. The window is gone and the door is blocked.”

He could visualise the room through Rudie’s eyes. It was dark. The window was blocked by fallen debris and the electricity had cut out. One of the students had found a battery torch, though, that lit their scared faces.

“Save the torch if you can,” he told them all. “Sit quietly on the floor between the desks. They’re strong desks. They’ll protect you if the roof gives in. Put pressure on Vern’s wound and somebody try to make a splint for Gretta’s arm and… and stay there until I come and get you.”

They believed him. Their relief was palpable before he drew back from the telepathic contact and looked around. His students were all right. They were relatively safe even though they were trapped. They weren’t his immediate priority.

“Cal,” he said. “Can you take my car and…”

“Car?” Cal queried. “Chrístõ, don’t be daft. The roads are blocked.”

“Yes, they are,” he realised. “Ok, steal Mr Norris’s motor bike. Get to my house. Bring the TARDIS. It’s the best chance for everyone.”

Cal nodded and then ran to do as he said. It was a calculated risk on Chrístõ’s part. Cal, with his Gallifreyan DNA had the strength of three humans and could have helped in the rescue work. But if he could get the TARDIS then they could save a lot more lives in the long run.

Meanwhile, his priority was that science block where students had been putting on special presentations. He was horrified when he ran around the side of the main school building and saw what was left of the annex. He couldn’t begin to guess how many people had died instantly when the top three floors collapsed in on themselves. Below that, the whole front wall had disintegrated. The laboratories and classrooms were exposed, their floors looking dangerously fragile.

He couldn’t help those who were already dead. But there were dozens trapped on those broken floors, calling out for help.

Others were helping, too. Somebody found a ladder and managed to make it safe. It reached the two lowest floors. But the third one was too high.

He heard angry voices. It was Mr Vernon, complaining about the ladder being too short.

“Your kid isn’t the only one trapped,” somebody snapped. Surprisingly, Chrístõ recognised the speaker as one of the men who had helped Mr Vernon beat him up. But their comradeship seemed to be at an end right now.

Chrístõ sighed as he watched a third man stop the two from fighting by reminding them that there were lives at stake and they ought to be helping. He sighed because he knew the best help he could give would reveal once and for all to Mr Vernon and to all of those helping in the rescue effort that he really was an alien.

He closed his eyes and concentrated on the forces of gravity as they related to his own body. As he felt his feet leave the ground he couldn’t help remembering how Professor Chronotis had railed at him for using levitation to show off. This wasn’t showing off, and he thought the Professor would approve of his use of his powers this time. But then again, his teachers at the Prydonian Academy would be appalled at him revealing his abilities to hostile humans.

If his teachers were here to see him do this, he would certainly like to hear their alternative plan, he thought hotly.

He heard murmurs of surprise from below. But they were nothing to the cries of those above when he stepped carefully from empty air onto a floor that felt less secure than standing on nothing. He counted fifteen people crouched on the floor of the biology laboratory, including parents, students and two teachers. Then he saw another parent and a teacher under the largest desk, with an unconscious student. He recognised the parent as Mrs Vernon.

“Let me see,” Chrístõ said to them. He examined the boy quickly. He was breathing shallowly, and his heartbeat was irregular. Chrístõ put his hand over the boy’s chest and steadied the heart. Then he examined his other wounds and was dismayed.

“His back is broken in two places,” he said. “Don’t move him. Not an inch. What’s his name?”

“He’s Keith,” Mrs Vernon said. “Keith…. My son. Please… don’t let him die.”

“I’m not going to,” Chrístõ answered. “But I can’t move him right now. He’s safer where he is. I’m going to get the others down and come back for him… and you…”

“I’ll wait with them,” said the teacher, Mr Agasti. He reached out his hand to Mrs Vernon. She looked at him gratefully, even though her husband had had things to say earlier about the fact that the biology teacher was of Indonesian origin. She managed to smile weakly at him in gratitude.

Chrístõ turned from them to the others who were trapped. They all looked scared. The senior student who he took hold of and brought to the edge of the broken floor turned pale as she realised what he meant to do.

“I promise I won’t let you fall,” he said. “Put your arms around my neck and hold on tight. Don’t worry. I’m better than a ladder.”

She hesitated, obviously torn between the terror of being trapped and the terror of being rescued in such a way. Then she clung around his neck and closed her eyes. He closed his and set his mastery over time and space against the forces of gravity as he stepped off the precarious floor onto empty air again.

He descended much more quickly than he ascended, but not because of the extra weight he was carrying. Rather it was because he was anxious to get down and back up again. He ignored almost all of the questions that began with ‘How…’

The one he couldn’t ignore came from Mr Vernon, who was looking at him with an expression between anger, awe and fear.

“Don’t start,” Chrístõ said. “Your wife and son are up there, and their lives may depend on me being able to do something that ordinary humans can’t. So please just stay out of my way and make yourself useful until this is over.”

Mr Vernon was too astonished to say anything else. Chrístõ turned and headed straight up again to the third floor. He looked at the scared, anxious faces of those waiting to be rescued. He knew what they were thinking – who would be next. Who would be left to wait?

The ones left to wait might have less chance of living. They all wanted to be rescued, quickly.

“I think I can take two of you at once,” he said. “Come on.”

He took one woman on his back, and her son in his arms. Again he descended quickly, mainly because even a Time Lord who could recycle his breathing would be in trouble if his trachea was actually crushed by a terrified woman gripping hold of his neck so tightly.

“We’ve had word,” somebody told him as he prepared to levitate again. “There’s an air ambulance on its way.”

“Good,” he responded. “It can take Keith Vernon.” He took off again and brought two more of the stranded people down. Then another two. He went back up and collected everyone he could. Having defied gravity once, it was easy enough to carry on until he had brought everyone down except Keith and his mother and his biology teacher.

As he descended with the last two, the air ambulance landed on a safe piece of ground. He ran and asked for a stretcher with back and neck restraints. The paramedics tried to tell him that they couldn’t give such a thing to a civilian, but Chrístõ had no time to argue about it. He used power of suggestion to get his way. Another example of his alien nature. But he didn’t care. Keith needed a stretcher and he was the only one who could get it to him. He ascended yet again and set to work carefully moving Keith onto the stretcher, fixing him into the restraints so that his neck and back were kept rigid.

“All right,” he said. “I’m going to take Keith down first. Then I’ll be back for you two.”

“Just look after my boy,” Mrs Vernon said.

He was ready to do that, when the aftershock shook the already precarious building. Chrístõ shielded the stretcher with his own body as tons of rubble from above came crashing down, taking with it most of the floor. When everything was still again, he dared to look around and saw that he, Keith, his mother and Mr Agasti were trapped on a very small ledge - all that remained of the biology laboratory floor.

“Could you carry us all out of here?” Mrs Vernon asked him. “At once, I mean.”

“No,” Chrístõ answered. “I’m not even sure I dare try right now. If any of us moves what’s left of this floor could collapse. Try to keep still for a little while.”

Mrs Vernon gave a little sob. Until now she had been brave, holding back her fears. But now she cried. And there wasn’t much Chrístõ could say to make her feel better. He was scared, too. He knew just how dangerous their situation was and how little hope of rescue they actually had.

Then he heard a sound that gladdened his hearts. He looked up to see his TARDIS, in its default form as a grey cabinet, materialise in hover mode on the edge of the drop. The door opened and Cal was there. He took in the situation and then dropped to his knees. He reached to carefully pull the stretcher inside very slowly.

“Both of you, now,” Chrístõ said to Mrs Vernon and Mr Agasti. “Very carefully, but as quickly as you can.”

They were both scared and a little puzzled by the unusual rescue craft, but they did as he said. That left Chrístõ still laying flat on what was left of the floor. He moved forward slowly, aware of the ominous creaks and the way the surface beneath him was sloping.

Then it disintegrated altogether. He felt the floor fall away in fragments and for a second or two he envisioned his own body breaking apart as he fell with it.

Then a hand grabbed his and he stopped falling. His shoulder muscles screamed as he dangled in mid air with Cal desperately holding onto his wrist. He swung his other arm up and Mr Agasti caught it. Between the two of them they pulled him up over the threshold to safety.

“Humphrey, calm down,” he called out as he heard a familiar trill of concern. “I’m alive. I’m ok.” He scrambled to his feet and ran to the console. He brought the TARDIS to a gentle stop beside the air ambulance that was waiting to take Keith Vernon and his parents to hospital.

“We’re not done yet,” Chrístõ said, turning back into his TARDIS. “Next we get our friends. Then anyone else still left alive in this mess.”

He reached out and found Rudie again. His news was not good. The aftershock had brought part of the roof down in the classroom. Nobody was hurt, but they didn’t know how long it would be before the rest came down on top of them.

“I’m coming, right now,” he said, and almost instantly the TARDIS materialised in front of the stationary cupboard it was often disguised as. He opened the door and called out. His students moved quickly towards the blissful safety. He looked at Vern’s wound which had stopped bleeding now, thankfully, and Gretta’s broken arm which had been expertly splinted by one of her classmates and though painful would come to no further harm before she was seen by the emergency triage that was waiting that the city hospital.

“Chrístõ,” Cal said to him. “There are still a lot of people trapped.” One glance at the lifesigns monitor confirmed that. He sent the TARDIS to another classroom just like the one his Chrysalids were in and found a dozen weary and frightened people. Unlike his own students who had faith that he would be with them, these had been petrified that a perilously bulging roof over their heads was about to engulf them.

Some others were less easy, even for him. People trapped in classrooms or air pockets in the corridors were all right, but there were some lying bleeding in tiny voids in the pancaked layers of the upper floors. He couldn’t materialise the TARDIS in those without the debris collapsing and perhaps risking the lives of others. All he could do for those was alert the ordinary emergency services to their location.

“Chrístõ, you’ve done enough,” Cal told him after three frantic hours of searching. “Let’s get the rest of the wounded to the hospital. That’s the best thing you can do now.”

“There’s a lot who aren’t going to come out of it alive,” he said mournfully.

“Not as many as there might have been without you, Chrístõ,” Cal told him. “You’ve done as much as you can. Come on.”

Cal was right. He turned and set the TARDIS down in the place where the air ambulance had just taken off. He brought all of those waiting to go to hospital into the console room and then set the co-ordinate direct to triage.

He was surprised to find Julia there when he arrived. She ran to him as soon as he stepped out of the TARDIS. She told him that her aunt and Michal were all right, but Cordell had been pulled out of the wreckage of his classroom unconscious and they were waiting to hear if he was all right.

“He’s in the right place now,” Chrístõ told her as he hugged her thankfully. Everyone he cared about was alive. Later, when the lists of injured and dead were compiled, he would probably mourn as much as anyone would the students and teachers who he knew. But for now he could be thankful for the lives of his personal loved ones.

“You!” A voice called out accusingly. Chrístõ looked around. There was a man standing there who he didn’t recognise. “You freak. I saw what you did… flying… you’re… an alien. You’re a….”

Chrístõ sighed. There was no denying it now. He had clearly demonstrated the most extreme of his extra-ordinary and superhuman powers in front of so many witnesses.

“Back off,” said an authoritative voice. “This man is no freak. He’s no alien. He’s my son’s teacher.”

Chrístõ blinked as Mr Vernon stepped between him and the one who had accused him. He was no less surprised when a dozen other men, including three of those he had been fighting with, also stepped forward. He was still further astonished, though not displeased when Mr Vernon turned and shook him by his hand.