Julia and Glenda walked together along the mountain path. Cal was behind them with his uncle, the Time Lord called Maestro, and Chrístõ’s father, Lord de Lœngbærrow. They were a cheerful group, enjoying the view as they walked and looking forward to stopping for a picnic once they reached the plateau partway up the mountain.

“It’s a beautiful view,” Julia commented. “Look at the way the red grass just pours down the mountain. It’s like a great scarlet cloak over the world.”

“It’s... amazing,” Glenda agreed. “Just how much of the land below does Cal own, exactly?”

“All of it, I think,” Julia answered her. “That’s the house over there. It looks tiny from here. But it’s as big as Mount Lœng House close up. It’s such a shame, really, that it’s all shut up and empty. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you and Cal would live there in the future. And Chrístõ and I in our own mansion...”

“No,” Glenda insisted. “No, we’re not going to do that. Cal doesn’t want it. We’re going to live on Beta Delta IV... in an ordinary, simple house like other people have. I really wish you were going to do the same.”

“Sometimes, so do I. But I like Mount Lœng House, and I am looking forward to being Lady de Lœngbærrow when Chrístõ and I are married. Valena has taught me everything I need to know about being the mistress of the house.”

“I don’t want that,” Glenda insisted. “I don’t want to marry a Time Lord, really. I just want to be with Cal.”

“But Cal is a Time Lord,” Julia pointed out. “Or he will be in a little while.”

“Yes.” Glenda sighed deeply. Julia noticed the sigh, but said nothing. They were meant to be having a pleasant day out. She didn’t want her friend to dwell on the problems ahead of her.

They reached the plateau and spread the picnic blanket on the ground. By the time the men reached them they had the food laid out.

“Don’t think we’ll do this every time,” Julia pointed out. “We’re not housewives. But just this once, we’ve got everything ready for you.”

Cal sat next to Glenda, of course. They shared each other’s food as they ate. Julia sat next to Lord de Lœngbærrow. She liked him. He was something of a surrogate father to her. He had always been kind to her. And now he smiled proudly when he saw her wearing the diamond ring that had once belonged to Chrístõ’s mother. He was delighted that she was going to be his son’s wife in the fullness of time.

“I still wish...” Glenda said, then stopped. She looked out over the red valley at the foot of Mount Perdition. “Oh, never mind. I’m being silly.”

“What is troubling you, child?” Maestro asked her.

“Does Cal really have to be a Time Lord?” she asked. “Does he even have to be Gallifreyan? He’s half Human already, on his mother’s side. What if... I heard about something... Isn’t it true that you have a way of changing your bodies... changing species, so that you don’t have to be Time Lords.... you can be Human if you want?

“You mean a Chameleon Arch.” Maestro said. “No, child, you misunderstand the nature of that technology. It is never meant to be used long term. If it were used for more than a few months, I dread to think of the consequences. I think the subject of it would go mad. He would lose touch with who he was entirely. Besides, the Chameleon Arch doesn’t just change the physical body. It changes the mind, the personality of the subject. Glenda, my dear, you fell in love with Cal, all that he is, his troubled past, the great heritage he is only just coming to fully understand. If all of that was replaced by a fictional Human history, he wouldn’t be the same man.”

Glenda looked at Cal. He reached out to her and she shifted position and sat so that he could wrap his arms around her waist and she could lean against his chest, the sound of his two hearts beating close by her ear.

“It took me a long time to accept who I am,” Cal admitted. “My hatred for my biological father extended to his whole people... this planet itself. But now... I am coming to understand who I am and who I can be. You’ll always be a part of that, Glenda. I will miss you when I am with my uncle and the Brotherhood. But when that year is over, and I have learnt all I need to learn for now, I will be coming back to you.”

And that was why they were taking this day out in the first place. So that Glenda and Cal could enjoy some time together before it was time for him to go to Mount Lœng with Maestro and begin his year of intensive training to be a Time Lord.

“Have you used the Chameleon Arch,” Julia asked Lord de Lœngbærrow, mainly to change the subject from Cal and Glenda’s troubles.

“Has Chrístõ never talked about it?” he asked in reply. “I thought the memory might have come back to him in time. Of course, he was a very young boy when...”

He and Maestro exchanged glances. Something may have passed between them telepathically.

“Chrístõ has done it? He’s changed to a Human?” Julia guessed. “He has never mentioned it.”

“Then I think we can be sure that he doesn’t remember,” Maestro told her. “That being so, there is no need to trouble his mind with it. But I don’t think we’re going to get away without telling you the whole story, now.”

Lord de Lœngbærrow looked at his future daughter in law. Her face was a picture of curiosity. Cal and Glenda were interested, too.

“Is that what you all want?” he asked with a wry smile. “A tale of escape and evasion, secrets and danger... on a sunny afternoon atop Mount Perdition?”

It clearly was what they wanted. Lord de Lœngbærrow made himself comfortable. Julia sat close to him. He slipped his hand into hers as he began to speak.

“Chrístõ was fourteen years old,” he said. “In Human terms he probably looked younger than that. He had some growing to do. He was a small, pale faced child who still had to learn how to fight his corner. I was working as the Southern Magister, a job I enjoyed and which allowed me to be with him every day. But there was a threat to our lives. My past caught up with me. We had word that an old enemy was at large, and my son was his intended victim.”

“Why?” Glenda asked. “What would killing a fourteen year old boy achieve?”

Cal shifted a little awkwardly. Nobody here, though, would remind him that he had once threatened young Garrick’s life out of misplaced jealousy. That was all in the past.

“My eternal grief,” Lord de Lœngbærrow said in answer to the question. Killing me would be easy. But to take my child... my only son... I would have been walking dead, hollowed out inside.”

“The Celestial Intervention Agency were doing their best,” he continued. “But I doubted their ability to protect us. The new agents weren’t a patch on Lee or myself in our best days. Maestro and I came up with a desperate plan. Chrístõ and I would disappear, not only from the planet, but from all existence for a while. The Chameleon Arch would change us physically and mentally. We would be humans with a Human life, a Human history. Maestro travelled with us. He was our ‘control’. He alone knew the truth. He alone could bring us back when the time was right.”

“It was a desperate plan,” Maestro admitted. “Putting a boy through the process... it is painful. His whole DNA was temporarily rewritten. His mind was altered. The only saving grace was that he didn’t remember afterwards. But to hear him scream as the process was going on... it was heartsbreaking.”

“I had lived on Earth as a teacher before,” Lord de Lœngbærrow continued. “Perhaps that was why the Chameleon Arch chose that as our cover. I was English literature master at King George’s School for Boys in the Northamptonshire village of Bleckton in the year 1956. Chrístõ... he was still my son. The fictional biography was written that way. He attended the school, of course. Sadly, Human nature being what it is, that wasn’t the happiest of circumstances for him.”

Maestro took up the story again, recalling a time some three months into the exile when he had found it necessary to look for young Chrístõ.

He had found him in the parish church. Maestro didn’t say anything to him at first. He sat a few pews away and listened to the boy’s prayers. He was murmuring them quietly. He was holding back tears as he said them.

Maestro moved from his place and sat next to the boy. He put his hand on his shoulder. The boy flinched before he recognised him.

“Professor!” he exclaimed in a loud whisper that even so echoed around the church. “Oh... hello. I mean...”

“You’re late home, Christopher. Your father is worried.”

“It’s not home,” the boy answered. “It’s just another house we’re living in while father is teaching here. We’ll go somewhere else, soon. I don’t have a home. Not since...”

He stopped and wiped his eyes. It didn’t help. They were still red and puffed out from crying.

“I didn’t want him to know. He thinks I’m a cry-baby.”

“They’ve been hitting you again? Was it Robertson and his gang? You should tell the headmaster.”

“Then they’d hit me again for being a sneak. They hit me for everything. For going to church... they call me St. Christopher and laugh. They hit me for getting good marks in class. They hit me because...”

“I’m sorry,” Maestro told him. “But come on, now. We’d better get you home.”

The boy nodded and stood up. He did his best to make his school uniform look presentable, but the shirt collar was ripped and there were two buttons yanked off his blazer. The bullies had really had a thorough go at him this time.

He walked beside Maestro, who he knew as Professor Oakwood, a fellow teacher at the school and a friend of his father’s, back along the cobbled road from the Parish church, past the market square where the stallholders were packing up for the day, past the school entrance and along the main road to the ivy-covered cottage that Professor Lyons, the literature master, had rented for the school term. The boy was right when he said it wasn’t really home. But it was comfortable, enough. The two of them should have been happy there.

Except they weren’t. Professor Lyons came into the hall as they stepped inside. He looked at his friend and then at his son. His expression was, at best, cold.

“You’ve missed your tea,” he said. “Go to the study and get on with your homework.”

The boy ran to do that. Maestro sighed as he watched him go and looked at his old friend. It was still possible, sometimes, to catch a glimpse of Chrístõ Mian de Lœngbærrow in the eyes of Christopher Lyons, the literature master. A fleeting glimpse. But Maestro couldn’t help thinking the Chameleon Arch had rewritten his personality just a bit too thoroughly.

“Don’t be hard on him,” Maestro said. “They’ve been bullying him again.”

“He needs to learn to fight back. He’s too soft.”

“He’s young.”

“Not that young. Another four years he’ll be old enough to be a soldier, should we ever have another war like the last one. He’ll have to be a man, then.”

“There won’t be a war and he won’t have to be a soldier. But he’s not soft. He just doesn’t know how to fight six boys who are all taller and heavier than him. Do you? Could you have managed those odds when you were his age?”

“He doesn’t even try. He just gives in to them. He’s a coward. I sometimes think...”

“Well, stop thinking it, Christopher. He’s a good boy. He’s just lost and confused. He needs your love, not your anger. If you want to be angry at anyone... six small minded thugs who think picking on a boy because his mother died is fair game... that makes ME angry.”

Professor Lyons looked shaken by that. Mention of his late wife always struck a chord with him. Then he shrugged and spoke in cold, measured tones.

“You and I have been friends for a long time,” he said. “And I am grateful for your kindness in these difficult years. But you have no right to tell me how to bring up my own son. I would thank you to cease your interference in matters that do not concern you.”

There was nothing else to say. Maestro turned and left what he knew to be a very unhappy household. It troubled him deeply. Chrístõ Mian and his son had difficulties enough back home on Gallifrey. The bit about missing his mother was not fictional. Eight years were an eyeblink for a Time Lord. It was nowhere near long enough for either of them to heal. They both missed her deeply. But Chrístõ Mian had done his best to be both mother and father to his son. He loved him deeply and Chrístõ Cuimhne knew it. He knew he could turn to his father when he was unhappy and receive love and assurance.

Chrístõ Mian had never called his son a coward. He had never even thought such a thing.

But Professor Christopher Lyons was an Englishman in the 1950s. Fatherhood was not about drying his son’s tears and reassuring him that he was loved. It was about discipline and order and getting his homework done on time. He almost certainly did love his son. But he didn’t know how to express that love. Father and son were locked out from each other.

It wouldn’t last forever. Once it was safe to do so, Maestro could break the programming. Both of them would return to normal. All this would seem like a strange dream.

But he worried about the consequences for his friends. Would this affect their relationship in the future? Would it change the way father and son felt about each other? Would Chrístõ Mian be locked out from his son’s affections the way Professor Lyons was? Would Chrístõ Cuimhne become a lonely, confused child like young Christopher was, unable to reach out to his own father for comfort?

If so, then maybe this was too high a price for security.

Maestro walked back through the small market town. Although they had set out from Gallifrey together, Maestro had arrived three years before Chrístõ Mian and his son. He had established his own cover story and taken up a post as music teacher at the school. He was supposed to be familiar with the town and its people. But he wasn’t sure he ever could be. It still felt alien and strange to him. He longed for this to be over so that they could all return to Gallifrey, where they belonged.

He heard a noise as he passed a side alley. He stopped and looked. It was the Robertson gang. Keith Robertson was fourteen, the same age as young Christopher. But puberty was well advanced. He could have passed for seventeen at a glance. He was tall and stoutly built, though not fat. The sports master was convinced he would be a champion boxer in the fullness of time. Maestro thought Robertson was just a malicious, mean-minded thug who preyed upon the weak. Boxing was a sport that came with a set of rules, a code of honour. Robertson hardly knew the meaning of honour.

And like most bullies, he had a cohort of lesser bullies who gathered around him and did his bidding because it gave them a feeling of power. Without Robertson as a focus, the five who gathered there in the alleyway, smoking cigarettes and laughing, would be average or less than average students who nobody paid any attention to at all. Bullying gave them status.

Maestro had been a teacher at the Prydonian Academy long enough to recognise the sort. But at the Academy there were rules. Tutors were not allowed to use Time Lord powers to punish the boys.

There were no such rules here. Maestro half smiled as he reached into the mind of Keith Robertson and bent it to his own will. He watched the boy start to scream in agony, convinced that he was on fire. He clawed at his clothes, pulling off his blazer and ripping his shirt in his hurry. The five cohorts backed away nervously and then began to run, tripping and falling because their shoelaces had mysteriously become tangled. By the time Robertson was down to his underwear and realised he wasn’t on fire, there was nobody left to witness his embarrassment. Maestro spared him that much. He wasn’t a cruel man. Just one with a sense of justice.

He watched to make sure Robertson dressed himself appropriately and ran home, then he turned back towards the school where he lived in rooms above the library. As he did so, he felt a strange sensation. It was like a sudden chill, but not of the body, more of the mind, and the soul.

He looked around, but he could see nothing out of the ordinary. The market place was quiet, now. There was just an old man sweeping up the rubbish. The town was quiet.

But something had brushed against him telepathically. A mere whisper of a presence, but a presence nonetheless. He knew he hadn’t imagined it.

They were supposed to be hiding here while the CIA tracked down the assassin who meant harm to Lord de Lœngbærrow and his son. This was not meant to be the battleground itself. And how could anyone have known that they had come here? Even his contact in the Agency didn’t know their exact location.

The brief, insubstantial feeling left him wary. His first instinct was to turn back to the cottage, to protect them both whether they wanted his protection or not. He wanted to break the programming and bring Chrístõ Mian de Lœngbærrow, the former Executioner, a man who knew how to deal with this sort of trouble, back to himself.

But without more to go on, without some specific certainty that there was a threat, he would just be blowing their cover prematurely.

He hurried back to his rooms and locked the door behind him. He went to the bookshelf in the corner and pressed carefully in a certain place. It swung back and he stepped into his TARDIS. He closed the door again. Nobody was likely to enter his rooms, but just in case it was as well not to have a door into a dimensionally relative space wide open.

There were no messages waiting for him. He didn’t really expect any. He switched on the communications array and sent a coded, cloaked message back to Gallifrey via a couple of relay stations that would mask the origin of the transmission. Presently the monitor resolved into a view of the CIA director’s office in the Capitol. The yellow-orange sky of late afternoon on Gallifrey through the window behind him made Maestro feel a little homesick, but he concentrated on what was important.

“No,” the Director assured him. “There is no reason to suspect that your present location is known. Our investigation is still ongoing. But we believe the suspect is on Karn at present. That is where we are concentrating our efforts. If there is any change, you will be informed immediately. But there is nothing else to worry about.”

“How much longer do you think this situation will go on for?” Maestro asked. “I am worried about them. Living with a false history... the boy is so young. I’m afraid it might affect him in the long term...”

“That is a chance we will have to take,” the Director answered. “As I said... you will be contacted if there are developments. In the meantime, carry on...”

Maestro was reassured about the threat level. But not about the immediate prospects of a resolution. He sighed deeply.

The problem stayed with him through the evening as he went down to the music room and gave private piano lessons to three boys whose parents paid for extras. Afterwards he took a walk around the town he had never learned to love. He saw familiar faces, humans who had lived their whole lives in Bleckton and its environs. He listened to bell practice at the parish church and cricket being played on the fields behind the school and all the peaceful, serene sounds of an innocent day in a small English town in a decade that was relatively peaceful in Human history.

He listened to those sounds and scanned those faces for something or someone that wasn’t meant to be there, that wasn’t so innocent after all. When it got dark, he walked up the back stairs towards his rooms, but he didn’t stop at his door. He kept on going up to the little door that led onto the library roof. There was an ornamental parapet and a few feet of flat asphalt before the tiled roof sloped gently upwards. Maestro leaned against the sloping tiles and closed his eyes. He dropped into a low level trance and let his mind reach out beyond the confines of his corporeal body. He let it spread out across the town, finding the Human minds in their homes, or going about late night business in the streets. He didn’t read their minds, just their emotions, their states of mind. He found most of them at peace, listening to the radio, reading newspapers or books, or those who could afford it, watching television. They had ordinary worries about health and finance and their families, but nothing to concern a Time Lord looking for something more sinister. There were a few whose minds turned over petty crimes, and some illicit love affairs going on. There was a man lying alone in his bed thinking about whether he dared tell another man about the feelings he had for him, and a woman thinking about a man who owned a hotel in Banbury and seemed dashing and exciting compared to her husband of twenty years.

There was nothing that seemed out of the ordinary. There was no trace of that presence he had felt earlier, no sense of danger.

But he still wasn’t prepared to put it down to his imagination, to paranoia. He felt there was something wrong here, something that was a clear and present danger to Chrístõ Mian and his boy.

But he had no opportunity to warn him. All he could do was wait and watch, his mind tuned in to the two humans who weren’t really humans, getting ready to go to sleep in the cottage not so far away. He found young Christopher Lyons easily. He was crying himself to sleep, as he seemed to do far too often. He was upset by the bullies, by his father’s indifference to his plight, and by the same thing that had troubled him every night for so long, his mother’s death.

In another room of the house, Christopher Lyons senior cried, too. Feelings he would never express publicly, or even privately in front of his son, spilled out when he was alone in his cold bed. Maestro watched him carefully for a long time. It occurred to him that this could, in some way, be cathartic. Chrístõ Mian had never cried for his wife, before. He was a Gallifreyan. He couldn’t cry. But now, as a Human, he could.

After a while, though, Maestro intervened. He let his mind touch his friend’s mind a little more emphatically, easing his tortured thoughts and letting him fall into a deep, dreamless sleep.

He turned to the boy. He was already asleep, having cried himself to exhaustion. But he was having bad dreams. Maestro touched those and gently turned them to soft, quiet, soothing dreams before he left him be.

“Rassilon keep you, both,” he whispered and withdrew back into his own head again, allowing himself to relax into a deeper trance that would refresh his mind and body more surely than ordinary sleep.

Then he jolted awake and stared up at the starry sky above him. He had felt it again, that presence, that inhuman mind that had no business being here.

He felt it more strongly this time. It was doing the same as he was. It was the psychic equivalent of a searchlight, passing over the town, seeking out the minds that stood out from the others.

Had it found his? Had it identified the minds he was connected to? Had he, in his effort to protect them, actually given them away? Maestro considered that dreadful possibility as he focussed his mind on that other searcher. He felt it ever more strongly now. It was a telepathic mind like his own. And its intention was clear. It wanted Chrístõ Mian’s son. It was looking for the boy.

“You won’t find him,” Maestro cried out telepathically, sending the mental equivalent of a shot across the bows of the malevolent mind. “I’ve hidden him too well. You won’t even get close.”

“I have found you, Magister,” an echoing voice replied. “And where you are, the boy cannot be far away. When I find you, when I find him... I shall rip him to pieces before your eyes... I shall butcher him as you butchered my child.”

“Did he really use those words?” Lord de Lœngbærrow asked his friend. “I never realised he was THAT insane.”

“Butchered?” Julia looked at Chrístõ’s father hesitantly. Cal and Glenda’s expressions were impossible to read. “You... didn’t... really...”

“No, I didn’t,” he replied. “I presided over a murder trial... about ten years before Chrístõ was born. The accused was a young man called Jaspin Gallos. His guilt was all too clear. I had no choice but to pass a sentence of death. Atomisation is not butchery, though. It is a clean, quick execution. It is far more merciful than he was with his victims. But his father never accepted the verdict. He vowed terrible vengeance... and then disappeared for twenty-four years.... returning to renew his threat... and forcing us into this desperate game of hide and seek.”

“And he had followed you to Earth? But how?”

“That was the thing I still had to find out,” Maestro said. “But I knew now that the danger was real and immediate. The one advantage I had was the obvious mistake. Gallos thought I was Chrístõ Mian. He had recognised that I was a Time Lord, but he hadn’t looked closer, at my psychic ident. I knew I could use that mistake to lure him away from my friends.”

“You won’t touch the boy,” Maestro said. “I’ll fight you... to the death.”

“Are you challenging me, Magister?”

“Yes, I am.

“Very well. Why wait? Come to the Brownstones in fifteen minutes. We will meet, face to face. Vengeance shall be mine according to the time honoured laws of single combat. And when you are dead, the boy will be killed, slowly.”

Maestro felt the psychic connection break. He knew there was no point searching for it again. The challenge was made. He heard the church clock chime once. One o’clock in the morning. Thirteen o’clock by Gallifreyan time.

He didn’t need fifteen minutes to reach the set of ancient standing stones known as the Brownstones. He had spent a thousand years in contemplative studies with the Brotherhood on Mount Lœng. He had learnt ways of travelling that were far beyond ordinary Time Lords. He didn’t even need devices like time rings to travel mere linear distance. He merely needed to concentrate his mind on the place he wanted to travel to.

It took a few gentle minutes. Even though he was using a lot of telepathic energy to do it, he actually felt relaxed and refreshed when he reached the stones. He stood on the cool grass and waited, preparing himself for the mental task ahead, alert for the disturbance in the physical and mental world that would tell him his enemy was close by.

He was aware of the mental presence, first, then the man creeping between the stones, dressed in dark clothes that made him almost invisible in the darkness.

He didn’t recognise him. He didn’t expect to recognise the Gallifreyan who had disappeared twenty-four years ago, of course. He had plenty of time to disguise himself. But he didn’t recognise the Human he was posing as, either. And he had lived in the town long enough to know every local face.

Which meant he had only just found them. He hadn’t been watching them all along, waiting for his chance.

“I was given some useful information,” Gallos said. “It led me right to you. Information from a reliable source on Gallifrey.”

“And you’re telling me this because...”

“Because knowing you were betrayed by one you thought you could trust will add to the torture you will know when you die knowing your son is left unprotected and at my mercy,” Gallos replied. “But you wanted a challenge... a duel, between men of honour...”

“I hardly think so,” Maestro answered. “Honour doesn’t run in your family. Besides, I am not interested in playing by the rules, either. I’m here to stop you, any way I can.”

One of Maestro’s brothers had been a warrior, the other a businessman. He had chosen contemplation and solitude for most of his life. He abhorred violence. He chose peace when he was allowed to do so. But he was no coward. And his life of contemplation had not made him soft. Far from it. His mental skills were primed. And this was a mental duel. The two men never drew any closer than they were already, one standing in the middle of the circle, the other at the edge, between two of the great stones. They carried no physical weapons. They hardly needed them when their minds could fight. The mental energy they created caused the air within the ancient circle to shimmer and glow in a myriad of colours and the temperature rose as the kinetic energy they created agitated the air molecules.

Their own body temperatures rose, too. Maestro perspired as if he was running at full speed as he resisted a searing attack that would have left his mind wounded. He thrust back with equal and greater force and felt his opponent weaken a little, but Gallos resisted that attack and came back with a painful blow that made Maestro’s vision blur. He redoubled his efforts and wounded his opponent again, but only slightly. Again he came back with a strong mental attack.

Maestro was strong. But he knew he had limitations. His opponent had gathered his strength for a quarter of a century in anticipation of this challenge, and bitter anger gave him an impetus. Maestro wondered if he could win the fight if it went on for much longer.

Another mental jolt nearly blinded him. When his vision returned it was like looking through a curtain of blood. He was hurting. He had to end this fight quickly.

He used his last ounce of mental energy, not on his opponent, this time, but on the two great stones either side of him. They had stood there for millennia. They were firmly planted in the ground. They could not topple.

But they could crack and break. Gallos screamed briefly as the top part of a heavy slab of limestone toppled onto him, knocking him to the ground and crushing his chest. Smaller pieces tumbled after it, smashing into his head as he lay there, helpless.

Maestro moved closer. He looked at the body. It was dead. The chest cavity was crushed and both hearts severely damaged. The skull was cracked open and the brain torn.

Could he regenerate? Maestro watched carefully, wondering what he would do if he did. He had said he wasn’t playing by the rules, but interfering with a body in mid-regeneration was considered the worst kind of murderous act in Time Lord society. And if he stood back and let him regenerate, Gallos’s body would be fresh and new, his mind intact, while his was wounded from the fight already fought.

But he didn’t regenerate. Instead, the body glowed briefly and then a gout of Artron energy shot out of the dead man’s mouth and into the sky like a brief, golden firework. Maestro touched the body and was assured that he was dead, completely and finally dead.

It was over. The threat was eliminated. Chrístõ Mian and his son were safe. They could all go home, now.


Maestro screamed as he felt the neural implosion inside his brain. He fell to his knees beside the broken body of his enemy. His own hands glowed, the veins standing out, glowing with artron energy pulsing through them. His hearts raced. His lungs burned. His brain shuddered.

He was more badly injured than he thought. Or he had put too much of himself into that last effort. He was regenerating. It was only the third time he had done that. His contemplative life allowed him to make the most of each body to the very full. The first two times he had been in a coma when it happened, suffering from renal failure and other ailments of extreme old age. He had been aware of little pain and woken feeling refreshed and renewed, surrounded by the familiar faces of the Brothers of the mountain, with only his own face to become accustomed to.

This time he was wide awake and it was agony. He tried to stand up, but his legs felt fused together. He was regenerating on his knees. Just before his brain completely imploded his last thought was that this was a humiliating way for a Time Lord to die.

He woke lying on his back in the dew-covered grass. It was dawn. He must have been unconscious for at least four hours. He slowly stood up. Gallos’s body still lay beneath the broken stones. He would have to do something about that. Forensic science was in its infancy on the Earth of the 1950s, but two hearts and blood without haemoglobin were the most easily spotted differences between a Time Lord body and a Human. He couldn’t leave him to be found by any passing rambler.

He could do nothing about it, yet, though. He was still in his post-regenerative phase. His mental powers weren’t yet up to speed. He couldn’t risk returning to the town the way he came. He had to walk. Granted he did so rather faster than most humans. But he was still walking in the ordinary way. At last, he reached his rooms above the library. He paused long enough to look at himself in the mirror. He appeared to be in his mid fifties by Human measure – much the same as his previous incarnation. But the physiognomy was completely altered. Eyes, nose, mouth, the shape of the jaw, the hairline were all changed. This body was thinner, too. The clothes, bedraggled as they were from lying in a field for hours, hung off his frame loosely.

But that could all be dealt with later. For now, that body was the first priority. At least it was safe to use his TARDIS now that Gallos was dead. He programmed it to return to the Brownstones. He quickly brought the body inside and then took the TARDIS into temporal orbit. He dropped Gallos’s body out through the open door into empty space. It would fall back into the atmosphere and burn up like any unprotected falling object. He was gone.

Maestro took his TARDIS back to the room above the library. When he stepped out of it, though, he was shocked to see Professor Lyons standing in the drawing room. The Professor’s face was pale and his immediate expression one of astonishment.

“Christopher,” Maestro said. “My friend... what’s wrong? What are you doing here at this hour?”

“Who are you?” Professor Lyons demanded. “Where is Oakwood... and where is my son... and what was that noise... what is that... a hidden room? No... never mind. My son...”

“Chrístõ is missing?” Maestro’s hearts thudded. “When? How?”

“Christopher... my son’s name is Christopher. And who ARE you?”

“I’m... one of your oldest friends, Chrístõ Mian,” Maestro said in a sad tone. “Please...”

He darted past the angry and grief-stricken man and reached for the mantelpiece above the unlit fireplace. He grabbed one of two silver fob watches that were placed there. He opened it and the air filled with strange, whispering voices and a golden light.

“What is going on?” Professor Lyons asked. “What....”

His body was enveloped by the light. Artron energy infused him. He screamed in pain as his DNA reverted back to the quadruple helix of a Time Lord and the memories of a man who had lived nearly four millennia were freed from their temporary prison.

“The pain is brief, my friend,” Maestro said to him. “When it is over, you will know yourself, and you will know me.”

The pain was relatively brief. Ten minutes was a short time for such a miraculous transformation to take place in. But the agony he went through must have made it feel like longer. At last the glow faded. He staggered dizzily, then stood up straight.

“Maestro!” Chrístõ Mian de Lœngbærrow embraced his old friend. “What happened to you?”

Maestro explained briefly. Chrístõ Mian took the news that Gallos was dead philosophically.

“He’s at peace, now,” he said. “I never realised, until I became a father myself, just what drove his madness. I’m glad it’s over for him. But... my own son... My Chrístõ... if Gallos is dead... who has him?”

“Maybe nobody has him,” Maestro answered as he pushed open the bookcase again and urged his friend to step over the threshold into the TARDIS. “These past months have been hard on the boy... You... Your Human personality.... left a lot to be desired.”

Chrístõ Mian opened his mouth to speak. Then the memories of three months living as Professor Christopher Lyons crowded into his mind. He remembered how unhappy those months had been. He remembered how often his son had cried, and had been met with either harsh words or cold indifference by him. He remembered it had been three months since he last held his child in his arms and told him he loved him.

“You think he might have just run away?”

“It’s entirely possible.” Maestro dematerialised his TARDIS then put it into cloaked hover mode, flying low over the still quiet town.

“Where would he go?”

“He’s your son,” Maestro pointed out.

“Chrístõ is my son. I know him. I understand him. But... the Human boy... even when I was Human, too, I didn’t understand him. I... Maestro, help me. Help him. My son is doubly lost. He doesn’t even know who he is. And it’s my fault.”

Maestro looked at his old friend and wondered when he had ever seen him look so desperate. He was The Executioner, the man who had disposed of some of Gallifrey’s worst enemies. He was The Peacemaker who had negotiated treaties between races who had fought for centuries. He was the Magister of Southern Gallifrey who dealt firmly but justly with all who came before him. To see him like this, a broken, worried man, was heartsbreaking.

“The church,” Maestro said. “When he is unhappy, he goes to the church. He sits there and prays.”

“He does?” Chrístõ Mian was surprised. “Why? We don’t even believe in...”

“Young Christopher Lyons, does,” Maestro pointed out. “He’s an English schoolboy in the 1950s. His mother taught him to pray...”

Maestro set his course for the Parish Church. Of course, it ought to be locked up at this early hour of the morning. But Christopher Lyons was small for his age and there was a small window in the sacristy that never shut properly... Maestro remembered that detail as he set his TARDIS down in the little room used for storing hymn books. He and Chrístõ Mian stepped out and moved quietly through the dimly lit church.

“He’s not here,” his father said in a disappointed tone as they looked around carefully. “He didn’t come here.”

“Yes, he did,” Maestro answered him. “He is here.” He held the other fob watch in his hand. He opened it and then closed it again very quickly. A whisp of golden light escaped. It flew towards the bell tower. Maestro began to run. Chrístõ Mian ran after him.

The steps were steep and winding. Their footsteps echoed as they climbed quickly, barely pausing for breath, barely needing a breath. Their Time Lord bodies were more than able to carry them upwards without undue effort. It was only fear and anxiety that made their hearts race faster than necessary.

“Chrístõ!” Chrístõ Mian called out in response to his son’s plaintive cry. “Chrístõ, my boy... I am coming.”

He and Maestro burst through the door that led onto the narrow platform around the two great cast iron church bells. They were both surprised to see that the boy who thought his name was Christopher Lyons wasn’t alone. He was being dragged unwillingly by the collar of his shirt by Keith Robertson.

“Give him back to me,” Chrístõ Mian cried out. He moved fast, grabbing the taller boy by the collar and pushing him against the railing. “You fiend. You won’t have him. I won’t let you hurt him. I should have known there was an accomplice. I never expected... I thought you were just an ordinary Human bully. I didn’t....”

“Chrístõ Mian, let him go,” Maestro said in calmly measured tones. “He IS just an ordinary bully. This is nothing to do with Gallos. Let him go. He’s a boy like your own... somebody else’s son. Don’t hurt him.”

Chrístõ Mian stepped back and looked at Robertson. Maestro was right. He was just a Human boy.

“He was stealing,” young Christopher managed to say. “The silver on the altar... I came in by the window... to pray. And he was there already... stealing. I tried to stop him. Then we heard a noise... and he made me come up here. I didn’t want to. I was scared. It’s so high...”

“Sneak,” Robertson snarled. He pulled himself out of Chrístõ Mian’s grasp and lunged at the boy. Christopher screamed as he fell through the fragile wooden railing. His father screamed even louder as he tried to reach him. Robertson looked in horror at what he had done and then ran down the steps as if the devil was at his heels.

“Quickly,” Maestro said. “He might just have one chance.” He and Chrístõ Mian ran down the steps, too. By the time they reached the bottom there was no sign of Robertson. But Christopher lay in a crumpled heap on the stone-flagged floor at the bottom of the bell tower. The ropes the bell-ringers pulled swayed slightly, but he was ominously still.

“He’s still alive,” Maestro confirmed as he knelt by his side. “But only just. Every bone in his body must be broken. His spine is crushed.”

“No!” Chrístõ Mian’s face was as pale as his son’s. “No... he can’t die... I promised his mother I’d take care of him...”

Maestro wondered if that was a promise made to his real wife or to the fictitious woman who he had grieved for in that Human life. It didn’t matter. Either way, his grief was real. But he was a Time Lord again, and he couldn’t cry.

“There’s still a chance,” Maestro said. He reached for the fob watch again and opened it next to the boy’s still beating heart. The Artron energy enveloped him. Maestro almost forgot to breathe for the long ten minutes it took for the boy’s DNA to be rewritten once more, for his second heart to grow, his blood to become the pale orange of a Gallifreyan not the red of a Human, for his skeletal structure to strengthen... and to mend.

He opened his eyes and looked up at his father’s face. He reached out to him.

“Papa,” he said. “Where are we?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Chrístõ Mian said. “Go back to sleep, child. When you wake, you’ll be home again, in your own bed.”

Maestro passed his hands over the boy’s face and sent him into a deep, dreamless sleep. Chrístõ Mian lifted him into his arms. He carried him back to the TARDIS. There was nothing in the cottage, or in the rooms Maestro had been living in, that either needed to collect. Maestro slaved Chrístõ Mian’s TARDIS to his and brought both back through time and space to Gallifrey. Chrístõ Mian’s diplomatic status was enough to circumvent any pettifogging bureaucracy at the Transduction Barrier. They went straight to Mount Lœng House, where the boy was put straight to bed.

“I didn’t stay,” Maestro said. “They needed to work out the rest between the two of them. I returned to my place of retreat on Mount Lœng. I didn’t even see young Chrístõ again for another ten years, when he came to the mountain himself, seeking refuge from the school bullies he encountered at the Prydonian Academy.”

“Chrístõ didn’t remember anything about it. The trauma of rebuilding his body after that fall seems to have wiped out the whole thing. When he woke, he was surprised to see ripe Cúl nuts on the trees outside his window. The last he remembered the flowers were blooming. I told him he had been ill for a long time. He accepted that. We spent some time together making up for the lost time. We both needed to do that. My own memories were a little hazy, but Maestro was right. My Human personality was not a particularly loving father, and that isn’t who I wanted to be.”

“There’s something else, though, isn’t there?” It was Cal who asked the question. But Glenda had worked it out. So had Julia. “Somebody DID tell Gallos where to find you.”

Lord de Lœngbærrow nodded. He sighed softly.

“I promised my wife that The Executioner had put up his sword long before we were married. But that is possibly the only lie I ever told her. I have never been allowed to do so. Yes, I found out that there was a corrupt agent in the CIA. I dealt with him. Then I took my son camping on the southern plain for the weekend.”

“Poor Chrístõ,” Julia commented. “What a terrible time he had. And then falling like that. It’s a good job he doesn’t remember.”

“If it’s as horrible as all that, I definitely don’t want Cal to try it,” Glenda confirmed, clinging to her sweetheart’s hand tightly. “It’s ok for him to be a Time Lord. That’s what I fell in love with, after all.”

“Quite right,” Lord de Lœngbærrow said. He was going to say something else, but Julia’s mobile phone rang. He frowned slightly and commented that there wasn’t a single spot on Gallifrey, not even the remote places like Mount Perdition, where phones didn’t ring. But he smiled warmly when she said it was Chrístõ, calling to say he was on his way home from his mission on Proxima Centauri with Paracell Hext.

“I’m fine,” she said in answer to his question. “We’re having a picnic. It’s lovely here. What about you?”

“No picnics,” he answered her. “Chance would be a fine thing. We’ve had one hell of a time. But I’ll tell you about it when I get home. I just wanted to hear your voice, sweetheart. I missed you.”

Julia smiled. Being missed was a nice feeling. She talked to her fiancé a little more before he said farewell to her and his father reminded them all that they intended to get a bit further up the mountain this afternoon.