Chrístõ relaxed as he dropped into a deep meditative trance. The cool, tranquil cloisters of the Brotherhood of Mount Lœng was a perfect place to do that. The fortnight he had spent with the Brothers had been a happy one that reminded him of those summer vacations from the Prydonian Academy. In those happy months he had honed his skills in meditation and martial arts and learnt many other lessons that changed him from a shy, hesitant and often bullied schoolboy into a confident, proud young man who was aware of his own self-worth and capable of so much more than anyone had expected of him, least of all himself.

This was the deepest meditation he had practised since those days when he came here as a student. He found at least an hour a day in his busy life for the simplest of the rituals, but he rarely had the time or the seclusion from worldly distractions to attempt anything further.

All those years ago, when he was still a student, his most ambitious attempt at deep meditation had almost ended in disaster. He had forgotten how to wake up from it. Only the intervention of the Brothers after several days saved his life. But he wasn’t worried about having such difficulties this time. It was a different kind of meditation for a start. The last time he had been told to exclude everything outside of the cave where he was kneeling. His universe had to shrink to within those rocky walls. He had succeeded only too well. His trance had excluded everything until he was the centre of a universe only a few metres in diameter and there was nothing to find his way back to.

This time it was different. He was not going to contract his universe around him. He was going to expand his own being out into the universe. The object of this meditation was to allow him to reach out beyond Gallifrey, beyond the Cruciform where so many Time Lords lived, beyond the Kasterborus system, and connect with the minds of beings light years – thousands of light years - from where his physical body was.

The possibility thrilled him. He had often practised sending his mind out over a city like London or New Canberra, touching the minds of its citizens. He had even done it in the Capitol where the presence of so many strong minds around him made it so much harder. But he had never even tried to read a whole planet, let alone a galaxy. He almost didn’t expect it to work. He would have been happy to be able to reach across the southern plains as far as the city of Athenica, or possibly even the Capitol on the shores of the northern continent, beyond the Straits. Karn or Polafrey would have been the ultimate achievement.

Maestro smiled when he told him that and reminded him that he was a Time Lord.

“I know I am,” he answered.

“You don’t think like one,” Maestro added. “You don’t believe that you are one of the most powerful beings in the universe. You don’t feel the whole of that universe, all of time, all of space, inside your own head. You don’t believe that you can do anything.”

“Somebody once told me I should temper my ambition with humility,” Chrístõ replied. The ‘somebody’ was Maestro himself, who laughed softly.

“When you were an apprentice, yes. But now you are a master. Now you should not be afraid to push beyond any apparent limits to your power.”

So he prepared himself carefully, eating a purifying meal and drinking clean fresh water from the spring that rose up in the courtyard of the monastery. He cleansed his body and dressed in a simple cotton robe with no markings of any kind. Then he came to this room near the top of the building. It had windows on all four sides looking out over the southern plain. In one direction he could see all the way to the straits between the two continents. In the other he could see all the way to the Calderon, and if he concentrated hard he could see through the perception filter that hid the Tower where Paracell Hext commanded the new Celestial Intervention Agency. The southern view was clear to the horizon. Thousands of miles away the land mass formed part of the southern polar ice cap. To the east, another mountain rose up – Mount Perdition, part of the demesne of the house of Oakdaene. Especially in the dawn light, with the western sun shining upon it, Perdition was fiery crimson all the way up to the ice cap because it was one of the places where the indigenous red grass still prevailed.

That was his immediate environment. That was the physical world that he embraced as he began his meditation. And he knew it wouldn’t take him very long to reach beyond what he could physically see with his own eyes. He was ready for that challenge.

He felt himself slipping down into the deepest level of meditation short of the very last level where the brain itself was almost shut down. His hearts were beating once every twenty minutes. He breathed even less frequently. His other organs ticked over slowly. But his brain was active. It wasn’t cluttered by all the problems and concerns of daily life, though. The whole power of his mind was given over to this one discipline, reaching out beyond his physical body.

Close by, the Brothers were all carefully concentrating their own minds to help him on his mental journey. He felt their goodwill as he reached out beyond the mountain. He stretched himself towards Hext’s Tower. There were psychic barriers there, of course. But he made contact first of all with Savang, whose own mental powers were formidable, and then with Hext, who wished him luck and reminded him not to get lost on the mental plain since they were meant to be having dinner in two night’s time.

His father gave him the same injunction when he reached northwards. He told him that Julia was barely missing him since she and Glenda, with Valena overseeing them,were too busy planning a formal party in the grand ballroom of Mount Lœng House for their last night on Gallifrey. Lord de Lœngbærrow confessed to being tormented by the domestic matters and tempted to spend a few days in meditative seclusion himself.

“You would be welcome to join me, father,” Chrístõ said before he let his mind stretch further. He felt himself mentally leaving Gallifrey altogether. The Transduction Barrier was no obstruction to him. Nor was the vacuum of space. It was a lonely place, and he reached gratefully towards those inhabited planets of Gallifrey’s solar system, Karn, Polafrey, even cold, remote Kasterborus where only a few determined Gallifreyan scientists lived in a bio-habitat and carried out their experiments. After that, he felt the vastness of deep space itself. He could easily have been discouraged, then. Being master of so much emptiness was frightening. He could almost have felt he was alone in the universe.

Some Time Lords might have given up at that point. Those who lived in the Capitol, constantly surrounded by telepathic chatter, always in the presence of others, would have been too lonely to go on. But Chrístõ had always felt alone even when he WAS in the Capitol and he had learnt not to mind it. The emptiness of space didn’t worry him.

Besides, he had travelled further than most Time Lords of the living generations on Gallifrey. He knew that there was far more to the universe than emptiness. He knew there were other worlds with minds he could touch, and he knew where to find them.

Two hundred and fifty million light years from Gallifrey, for instance, was the planet called Sol 3 to his teachers in the Prydonian Academy. To him, it was Earth. And he knew that Earth had minds of all kinds upon it. He touched that green and white planet. It was a far less homogenous place than the humans imagined. There were many other species living there in peace among them. And even the Human race had some extraordinary individuals who shone like beacons and attracted his mind towards them. They were humans with extra sensory perception, telepathy, even telekinesis. They were few, yet, but in a few centuries, in a dozen or so generations, their number would increase. They were the next step in Human evolution, and it was inevitable that they would succeed.

“Maybe not,” said a voice that broke into his thoughts. It was a voice that was familiar to him and he reached out to it, making a connection. “Chrístõ... is that you?”

“Yes, it is,” he replied. “Marle... Marle Benning... how did you manage to reach me? I’m on Gallifrey. And you’re...”

“I’m on Beta Delta V. Remember, we were planning a summer field trip. Laurence, Pieter, Angela and me, along with Vern and Geoffrey - to get them ready for life as undergraduate Chrysalids.”

“Yes, of course you are. But that’s thousands of light years away, again. Beta Delta is in the Orion sector... I was projecting my thoughts towards Earth.”

“We were projecting our thoughts towards you,” Marle told her. “The others are concentrating really hard so that I can reach you.”

“Colour me impressed,” he said. “It’s taken me a hundred and ninety-eight years to be good enough to project my thoughts across a galaxy. You’re nineteen. And my people actually believe humans are less advanced than we are.”

“Some humans are,” Marle replied. “Some humans have forgotten what it is to be Human, let alone anything higher or greater than Human.”

There was bitterness in her telepathic voice. Bitterness and grief. Chrístõ wondered why.

“Are you all right?” he asked her. “Has somebody hurt you?”

“Not me, no,” she assured him. “But Chrístõ... Do you know the Hydra system colonies?”

“I know OF them,” he answered. “I’ve never visited. They’re too fundamentalist for my liking. They don’t welcome non-humans. They wouldn’t be too thrilled by telepathic humans, either. You guys aren’t planning a trip there, are you? I’d seriously think again.”

“No,” Marle told him. “But... Chrístõ... we found people there... people like us. Telepathic humans. We’ve been communicating with them for three weeks, now. They’ve told us all about themselves. Only... we lost two of them. And the others are scared. And I think they need help.”

“Show me,” he said. “Wait a minute. Let me...”

He touched her mind more fully. Now he could feel the others concentrating their own minds, strengthening hers. It was a clever way of doing it. If they’d all tried individually they might not have managed to reach him.

“It’s what the others did to reach us the first time,” Marle told him. “Later, they were able to communicate easier, once they knew where to direct their thoughts. But to begin with only one of them tried. Their strongest, their leader. But he’s one of those who are silent, now.”

He said nothing, even though he had a lot of questions he wanted to ask. He let Marle and the others guide him across the light years of space that lay between the Beta Delta system and the Hydra system. It was, of course, another of the Earth colony systems that had been established in the century of valiant endeavour that began in the time of Marle’s great grandparents, when her family still lived on the homeworld. Humans had branched out from their first colony on the unsuitable Proxima Centauri and found the Beta Delta planets, only in need of a little terra-forming to make them habitable, and the Hydra and Gannymede systems where there were planets with similar atmosphere and topography to Earth. Beta Delta and Gannymede were both populated by a cross-section of Earth society, from all different countries and ethnic backgrounds and had become melting pots where, for the most part, perceived differences between humans had become irrelevant.

But Hydra III had developed rather differently. It was settled by a large group of devout Christians who quickly established a society based on daily worship and adherence to the letter of the Holy Bible. Within a single generation it had become an insular society with very few links to the Earth Federation. A generation later they closed the space port and refused to allow any new settlers. That also meant that nobody could leave, either. But the reports that occasionally came out of the system suggested that the Hydra III citizens were happy enough. They lived in small communities where they grew food and fashioned what tools they needed to serve their needs. They were semi-industrial, using wind and water to provide power to flour mills and forges and weaving looms. They lived quiet, devout lives and they seemed to be happy. They were the subject of jokes and speculation in space ports around the Earth Federation, but those were mostly based on ignorance, since nobody really knew much more about them than could be contained in a single page on any database of Earth colonies.

Chrístõ had visited planets where religious devotion was the primary focus of the people. Some of them were very beautiful places with peaceful, serene beings who radiated love and sought to share their happy state with anyone who was open to them. Others were dangerously paranoid people who suspected heresy at every turn and were afraid of any new ideas that strangers might bring.

He really hoped that Hydra was the first sort of religious community. But the fact that Marle was worried for the people she had made contact with there made him fear the worst.

“This is Sarah,” Marle told him as he felt another mind joining them. “Her brother was the one who first contacted us.”

“Hello, Sarah,” Chrístõ said. “I’m Chrístõ.”

“Christ?” She sounded scared by the name.

“No, Chrístõ. It means something completely different where I come from. There’s nothing to be scared of. I want to help you. Where are you?”

“I am in my room. Our house is near Jordan Lake. My father is the miller. He is a good man. I know he loves me. But if he knew that I can speak to people on other worlds... he would... I would be... just like Isaac...”

“Your brother?” Chrístõ asked.


“What happened to him?”

“He was denounced. Yesterday at the Meeting, my uncle, Joshua, told the Minister that Isaac is a seer. And...”

Her memory of what happened came strongly. The Meeting was part religious service, part town council, and part magistrate’s session. People who had infringed laws were called out from the congregation and their crimes listed. They seemed to be petty things, mostly. A man failed to perform the evening prayers before nightfall. His claim that he was busy with a cow that was in a difficult labour was dismissed. It was not a good enough reason not to bring his family together and say the required prayers of thanksgiving for a good and peaceful day.

He was fined and forced to kneel in front of the congregation praying for forgiveness for his lapse.

“How did the Minister know about something that happened in this man’s private house?” Chrístõ asked.

“His wife reported him,” Sarah answered. “It is the duty of every citizen to report any infraction. The fact that he is her husband does not excuse his sin. She would have been committing a sin of omission if she had not reported it.”

There were more cases like that, interspersed with very dull, pious hymns and long prayers. It seemed as if it was very easy even for good, devout people to break laws that demanded prayers and devotions at set times every day, without fail, no matter what else was happening. The laws also demanded the payment of tithes into a central fund, and took no excuses from those who struggled to meet those demands. It punished girls for paying too much attention to boys they had not been formally betrothed to and boys for paying too much attention to girls they were not formally betrothed to. ‘Too much attention’ seemed to be defined as any conversation that wasn’t about bible study classes.

“So it’s THAT kind of community,” Chrístõ sighed. “Love your god or face his wrath. Follow the letter of the law or be humiliated.”

“It is how it has always been,” Sarah pointed out.

“Define ‘always’,” he responded. “Hydra has only been colonised for a little over a century. And there were no laws like that on Earth before your great-grandparents left the homeworld.”

“I know,” Sarah told him. “That is why our forebears came here. They left the world of sin to begin a new life in paradise, according to the will of God. And he purged the sinful Earth with fire, destroying the wilful and the wayward.”

“I’ve tried to tell her that nothing of the sort happened to Earth,” Marle explained. “But she’s seen books that show it being consumed by fire.”

“It’s not true,” Chrístõ affirmed. “Earth is still the homeworld of the Human race. And it’s no more sinful than it’s ever been. But never mind that, now. Tell me what happened to your brother.”

It was just like the other, minor crimes brought before the Minister, except there was a deeper sense of shock among the community and the faces of those who judged and inflicted punishments were darker. Sarah’s uncle, Joshua, stood and gave evidence that his nephew, Isaac, repeatedly contacted demons from other worlds who told him heresies. These demons spoke to him in his head, and he spoke back to them without need of spoken words.

“How did he know?” Chrístõ asked as he observed Sarah’s vivid memory of what had taken place. Isaac, a boy of seventeen, strongly built, with broad shoulders and a tanned face from manual work in the sunshine, was taken from his place beside his sister and made to stand before the congregation. The Minister asked him what he had to say about the accusation. Isaac said nothing. The Minister repeated his question and demanded an answer. Isaac squared his shoulders and admitted that he did, indeed, have telepathic contact with other humans who lived far beyond the bounds of Hydra III. They told him about their world which, though it was not bound by the same laws that bound Hydra, seemed, nonetheless, to be a good place where people were happy and content.”

Of course, that didn’t go down well with anyone in the Meeting House. Not only was his telepathic ability the work of demons, but he had dared to suggest that people who did not follow the sacred law could live contentedly without fear of damnation.

“Then my father denounced him,” Sarah added. “He stood up and said he was no longer his son. Then the Minister sentenced Isaac to be whipped in the public square... and then...” Sarah’s mind lingered for a while on the whipping. It took an interminable time. Her father had watched impassibly. Her mother had wept until her father told her not to. When it was over, Isaac was taken away. The rest of his family returned home. They had eaten their dinner. Sarah’s father said nothing about the empty chair at the table. Her mother said nothing at all. She kept her watery eyes downcast as she served the food. Sarah didn’t dare speak at all. She listened to her father talking about his work at the mill, and the fact that his newest apprentices both needed to be called front and centre at the Meeting for slacking. He said nothing at all about Isaac. He had ceased to exist as far as their father was concerned. After the meal, Sarah did her evening chores and then went to bed. Alone in her room she cried for her brother and then contacted Marle to tell her what had happened.

“Marle is nice,” Sarah told Chrístõ. “I wanted her to know WHY I couldn’t talk to her any more. But she told me I mustn’t stop contacting her. She said I have to be strong. And she told me she had a friend who could help. She told me to be brave for a little while longer.”

“You are brave,” Chrístõ assured her. “But... tell me... have you spoken to your brother since he was taken away? Do you know where he was taken?”

“Heretics are taken to the Hall of Correction,” Sarah replied. “But... I haven’t dared try to talk to him since he was denounced. And he has not tried to reach me.”

“I can’t reach him,” Marle confirmed. “I really think something dreadful has happened to him.”

“Define something dreadful,” Chrístõ said in a dry tone. Marle didn’t do so in words. But he felt several images of tortures that seemed only too likely.

“Do they execute heretics?” he asked Sarah. But she couldn’t say for certain. She could confirm that nobody ever returned from the Hall of Correction. A man from their townland had been sent there five years before, when she was only a girl. His crime was a serious one, though she wasn’t entirely sure what it was. The words the elders used were beyond her understanding at the time, and even now she wasn’t quite certain what the man had done. But he was gone. His family never spoke of him.

Oddly enough, that made sense to Chrístõ. He knew it happened on his own planet. When a Time Lord rebelled against the ancient laws of Gallifrey and was declared Renegade, his name was expunged. His family never spoke of him again. His work was disregarded, even if he was the finest scientist in living history. He ceased to exist in the eyes of all.

But to be declared Renegade you had to commit a seriously heinous crime. Nothing either Isaac or that man who Sarah spoke of, had done anything close to that. Chrístõ understood the words, even if she didn’t, and he knew it wouldn’t even be regarded as a misdemeanour anywhere else in the Earth Federation, let alone on Gallifrey. Indeed, he was sure Gallifreyans didn’t even have words for what he was alleged to have done, let alone laws against it.

“Chrístõ, you CAN help them, can’t you?” Marle asked. “You WILL help them.”

Chrístõ got ready to answer. Then he felt something pull at him urgently, and he felt another voice in his head.

“Don’t make any promises you can’t keep,” it said. Then he felt himself being dragged away from Marle and Sarah, pulled back across the emptiness of space until he recognised the planets of the Gallifreyan solar system around him, and then his home planet beneath him.

Then he was kneeling in the middle of the meditation room at the top of the Monastery of the Brotherhood of Mount Lœng. He was not alone. He looked around to see Maestro standing over him.

And Paracell Hext. He reached and lifted him to his slightly unsteady feet. Chrístõ realised it was Hext who had spoken to him. He had brought him back out of his trance, forced him to cut his connection with Marle and Sarah.

“What did you do that for?” he demanded. “Don’t you know it’s dangerous to stop a deep meditation before its natural conclusion?”

“Don’t you know when you’re on the verge of committing treason?” Hext replied. “I had to stop you. For friendship’s sake.”

“Friendship?” Chrístõ glared angrily. “A friend of my friend is in desperate trouble. He might be dead already. What does THAT have to do with Treason?”

“Chrístõ, come to the refectory. Have a cool drink and listen to what Hext has to say,” Maestro told him. “It is important. When he is done, we shall decide what, if anything, can be done without causing you a great deal of personal trouble.”

“I don’t care about personal trouble,” Chrístõ replied. “I just want to help some people who desperately need help.”

But Maestro was insistent. So was Paracell Hext. He came with them to the refectory and drank a cold glass of spring water flavoured with citrus. His mouth was dry from the mental challenge of the meditation. He needed it. He needed time, also, to get over his anger before he began to explain to Hext and to Maestro just what was happening on Hydro III.

“I know,” Hext told him. “The boy isn’t dead, yet. But he is grievously injured.”

“You listened to my...” Chrístõ’s face darkened with anger again. “That is stretching friendship too far. Even the Celestrial Intervention Agency has no right...”

“I didn’t,” Hext answered. “My wife did.”

“Savang... you told her to...”

“No. She did it of her own volition. She was concerned for you. She DOES have a certain affection for you, after all. And she felt you were biting off more than you could chew. She was prepared to bring you back from the brink if you went into neural implosion. Out of sweet, loving kindness. But when she saw the way the wind was blowing she told me. Her duty was no less, to you and to me. Chrístõ... you were about to offer to go to that planet and rescue the telepaths from the intolerant regime under which they live.”


“So... what did you plan to give as your reason for leaving Gallifrey at the Transduction Barrier?”

“I’d tell them it was none of their damn business,” he answered. “It isn’t.”

“No. It would be mine, if a citizen of Gallifrey took it upon himself to break our rule of non-interference in the ordinary politics of a sovereign territory. And a territory we have, at best, a cool understanding with. A lot of the High Council still haven’t forgiven the Earth Federation for their cowardice when we were under the Mallus.”

“Then they should be pleased that I see fit to interfere with the politics of that sovereign territory. Assuming Hydra III still recognises the Earth Federation. I don’t think it does. Torturing seventeen year old boys is against every Earth Federation law I know of.”

“Even so, it is interference. That in itself is against our law. It might also bring a complaint upon us from the Earth Federation. You can’t do anything in any capacity as a Gallifreyan citizen.”

“Fine,” he said. “Then I will act as a citizen of the Earth Federation.”

“In a Gallifreyan TARDIS?”


“And then what? If you do succeed in rescuing these kids... where will you take them? They certainly can’t come back here. I used up that favour for Destri’s orphans. And they can’t go anywhere in the Earth Federation. In case you hadn’t noticed, telepathy isn’t openly recognised in any of the Human colonies. Your own friends keep their talents secret.”

Hext was right. Chrístõ thought about it for a little while. Then he made a decision.

“I will exercise my authority as the Crown Prince of Adano Ambrado. They can live there in peace. The king-emperor himself is a strong telepath. He will protect them.”

“Ok. Then the only problem is how you get off this planet without breaking the law,” Hext told him.

Chrístõ said nothing. He looked at Maestro and then at Hext. He waited for one of them to speak.

“I think it is entirely possible that a dangerous Gallifreyan Renegade, another scion of the Cult of Harpaindrix might be at large on the Earth colony planet of Hydra III,” Hext said carefully. “It would make sense if I sent the one agent I have with experience of Humans to investigate. Of course, he’s going to curse me for disturbing his meditations and ruining his last few days at home on Gallifrey. But I can live with that.”

Chrístõ looked at Hext and nodded.

“You can bring my TARDIS here,” he said. “If you want me to do your dirty work, don’t expect me to climb down that bloody mountain, first.”

With his TARDIS beyond the Transduction Barrier and flying through the space Vortex, Chrístõ contacted Marle again. He told her that he was on his way to her. He also told her to tell Sarah to find a safe place where they could meet her and any other telepaths who wanted to leave Hydra III and start a new life.

“She’s scared,” Marle told him when he reached Beta Delta V and she and her brother, and the others of the Chrysalids stepped aboard his TARDIS. “Leaving her mother and father, the only home she’s ever known... she has dreamed of doing that, of living free of the restrictions, and the fear. But I don’t think she ever expected it to happen. Now it has... I wonder if she will turn up at the rendezvous. I wonder if any of them will. They might prefer to stay and risk discovery... and whatever happens to them in the Hall of Correction.”

“They must come,” Laurence insisted. “Now that it is known that telepaths exist, the authorities will be looking for them. It will be a witch-hunt.”

“Like The Crucible,” Geoffrey Walker said. “Remember studying that in Chrístõ’s literature classes.”

“I was thinking of another text we studied with Chrístõ,” Vern Koetting replied. “Remember the very first book we ever read in his class.”

They all remembered perfectly. They had taken their collective name from it - The Chrysalids. They had always thanked providence that they didn’t struggle to survive in a society as intolerant as the one depicted in that novel.

But Sarah and Isaac and their friends WERE living in just such a society.

“In the end of that book,” Marle reminded the. “The ones who survived, only did so because the people from Zealand, where telepathy was permitted, came to rescue them. The terrible regime went on.”

“We’re going to do the same?”

“I have no remit to change the way any people choose to live,” Chrístõ pointed out. “Even if they’re sacrificing children and eating each other I can’t stop them. The laws of my world prevent me from such wholesale interference. But I can take those who want to leave to a place where they will be safe.”

“Sarah told me of a place where some of them meet. It’s in the hills beyond the river. She said they would all be there at noon on the second day after we spoke last.”

“They need that long?” Chrístõ asked.

“There are some coming from further away,” Marle explained. “They passed the message on to all of the telepaths, some in other townlands as well as their own.”

“Just how many people am I picking up?” Chrístõ asked anxiously. “I expected a dozen or so. I was going to try to find Sarah’s brother, too. I don’t like the idea of leaving him behind.”

“I’m sure there will be time,” Laurence told him. “But let’s get the escaping Chrysalids first. They might not have much time.”

Chrístõ timed his arrival carefully. The TARDIS materialised on the hill at noon on the arranged day. He looked at the viewscreen, first, and noted about fifty people, mostly teenagers, but some younger and one or two older ones, all gathered. They were dressed for walking with packs on their backs, but they looked exhausted. When they turned to see the TARDIS they were scared and excited at the same time.

Chrístõ stepped out of the door and glanced back to look at what his time machine had chosen to disguise itself as. He was impressed. It actually looked like a pair of heavenly gates. There even seemed to be a sort of mist beyond, so that the console room wasn’t immediately visible. And both gates opened wide were a much bigger entrance than his TARDIS usually had.

Marle stepped out with him, but the rest of the group stayed inside to direct the escaping children into the dojo where they could sit and rest and drink orange juice.

“Which one of you is Sarah?” Chrístõ asked. A girl with nut brown hair tied up in a pony tail stepped forward. “I’m Chrístõ,” he said. “I’m here to take you to a safe place. Just step through the gates.”

Sarah looked at the gates hesitantly. He could feel her thoughts even without trying. It looked like something the elders of her people had promised as the reward for living a sinless life. But there was just a fraction of doubt in her mind. What if it wasn’t heaven, but the kind of burning hell the elders said awaited the heretics and blasphemers.

Then she clutched the hands of two young girls nearest to her and stepped forward. The mist enveloped them. The others waited to see if she would return. If she didn’t, was that because it was a trap, or because it was true?”

“Chrístõ!” Laurence ran out of the mist urgently. “The lifesigns monitor... it’s showing about three hundred kids like these coming up the hill... and a posse of fifty men on horseback pursuing them.”

“Everyone get inside,” Chrístõ told them. But they didn’t need any more prompting. Knowing that they were being chased by the people they had run away from overcame their doubts about the misty gates. They ran in and they didn’t run out again.

“Three hundred?” Chrístõ looked down the hill at the stream of youngsters hurrying up the path. It was a rugged, rough path and it was clearly the only way.

He could see the pursuers, too. His Gallifreyan eyesight allowed him to see them much clearer than anyone else could. He could see that they were riding fast, even though they were going uphill and it must have been a killing pace for the horses. The narrow path made it impossible for more than two of them to ride abreast. But there were at least fifty of them and they were armed with crossbows. They were out of range yet, but it could only be a matter of minutes before they could shoot down the stragglers.

And he had little doubt that they would. He could feel the certainty in the thoughts of those who ran, stumbling, falling, picking each other up and running on towards the holy place of safety at the top of the hill. They knew that their fathers and uncles, the Ministers of their church, would kill them rather than let them escape. They had all revealed themselves as heretics and unholy creatures who spoke to each other without words and over great distances and consorted with demons from beyond the sky. Some of them had written notes to their mothers and other loved ones, saying goodbye, and the hue and cry had been raised. A posse came after them.

“Chrístõ, there’s a group cut off down on the plain,” Marle said. “They’re hiding among some rocks. But they have no chance of getting up here, now.”

“They’ll have to just stay put for now,” Chrístõ answered. “I can’t move from here until I get this lot on board. Did you have any idea there were THIS many?”

“I think only a quarter or half of them are telepaths,” Marle answered. “Some of them are brothers or sisters that they didn’t want to leave behind. There are some young mothers with children, too. They kept their telepathy hidden from their husbands, but now they want to get away.”

That was different, Chrístõ thought. Rescuing the telepaths from a regime that persecuted them for being what they are was all very well. But taking their families, too, was another matter. He was dangerously close to breaking that law about non-interference.

But if he was, so be it. His TARDIS had decided to be the Pearly Gates, but he was not Saint Peter or whoever it was meant to be, separating the goats from the sheep. He was not going to choose who got to escape from a regime he had heartily disliked from the first glimpse and who stayed behind. It would be death or imprisonment for anyone caught on this hill, now, anyway. He wasn’t going to have that on his conscience.

The riders were slowing as the hill got steeper, but so were the fleeing youngsters, and a tired horse was still faster than a tired teenager. Many of them abandoned their packs as they ran the last quarter of a mile, but it was still a terrible struggle and the posse was still closing in.

Chrístõ saw one of the posse raise his crossbow. The bolt fell between two of the stragglers. At that the fear increased ten fold and they were running in a panic.

Two more horse riders raised their crossbows and fired. This time they were in range, and the stragglers were too close to each other, packed in too tightly on the narrow path to avoid being hit.

But the bolts didn’t reach them. They rebounded off an invisible wall and fell harmlessly to the ground. The men stared in amazement and fired again. The same thing happened. The youngsters turned and saw it happen and then ran on, astonished by the miracle, and knowing that something had bought them a chance to make it.

Chrístõ knew what it was the third time the bolts hit it. He blinked at the right moment and saw the outline of a TARDIS in full perception filter mode. Once he knew it was there, it was easy. He noticed that the TARDIS was moving up the hill in hover mode, keeping pace with the last of the fleeing children, remaining between them and the very puzzled posse.

He looked back at his own TARDIS and saw a shimmer in the air. Another disguised TARDIS had materialised beside it. He was only slightly surprised to see Paracell Hext stepping out of it.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“I had some information that one of my agents was in trouble on a hostile planet,” he replied. “So I brought an extraction squad to get him back. A few years ago, now, he did the same for me. So I think I owed him that much.”

“There’s some kids trapped down on the plain,” Chrístõ said.

“Not any more,” Hext answered. “Spotted them already and picked the up. And I’ve got a kid called Isaac and a couple of others out of that vile place they call the House of Correction.”

“Is he all right?”

“It depends what you call all right,” Hext replied. “Some barbarian drilled into his brain... I think it’s called trepanning or something like that. It’s supposed to let demons out... or some such idiotic notion. He’s going to need some advanced medical care. But I suppose the Crown Prince of Adano Ambrado can cover that?”

“Yes, I can,” Chrístõ told him. “Seriously... they bored into his head! No wonder we couldn’t reach him. They’ve probably wrecked his telepathic nerves. It’s lucky he isn’t brain dead.”

“Time to get through your heavenly gates,” Hext said nonchalantly. “They’re all on board. The riders have all seen them do it, by the way. When the TARDIS vanishes, they’re going to think the kids have all been taken to the promised land.”

“Good. Maybe they’ll start to think again about what their god considers to be heresy and be kinder to any more of them that they find.”

“If they do, then our presence here will have effected a change in the social order of this planet. That’s actually getting close to treason again.”

“So charge me,” Chrístõ replied. “But my next stop is Adano Ambrado and I AM Crown Prince. I think I definitely have immunity from prosecution there. And taking me away from there against my will would be an act of war.”

“I’m not arresting you, Chrístõ,” Hext replied. “I’m just reminding you of your responsibilities as a Time Lord of Gallifrey.”

“I know my responsibilities.” He looked at the encroaching posse, still trapped behind the other TARDIS controlled by one of Hext’s agents. “Don’t you get tired of responsibility, though? What do you think about having a bit of fun? I was thinking we need a spectacular gesture, just to let that lot know we mean business.”

“I’ve got an idea,” Hext said. “You get into your TARDIS and stand by. You’ll want to watch.”

Chrístõ did as he said. A lot of the children were in the console room, sitting around the walls with orange juice packs. All of his own Chrysalids were standing by. Sarah was with Marle, anxious about her brother.

“He’s going to be all right,” he promised her. “Meanwhile... come and look.”

He brought her to the door. Marle and Laurence came too. The others looked on the large viewscreen. They all saw the two CIA TARDISes hovering just in front of their place of safety. They saw them create bolts of lightning that grounded in front of the posse. Their horses panicked as the lightning continued and rain began to pour down.

“Atmospheric excitation,” Chrístõ said. “A simple trick with two TARDISes. Harder with just the one.”

Most of the posse were unhorsed. They fell in the mud created as torrential rain poured down the mountain path. When Chrístõ got tired of watching them and closed the door most of them were trying to run back down to the plain on foot. When they got back to their townlands, they would have quite some tale to tell.

Unless they lied. But Chrístõ had a very strong feeling they wouldn’t. He thought there might well be an epiphany for the people of Hydra III.

“Like I said, I’m heading to Adano-Ambrado, next,” Chrístõ told Hext as he dematerialised the TARDIS. “I suppose you’re going to accompany me? The King-Emperor will be pleased. He likes inviting you to share his bath with him nearly as much as he likes it with me.”

“Since I’ve nothing to look forward to back on Gallifrey except a lot of paperwork, I suppose I can spare a day for the King-Emperor,” Hext replied. “Tell that young lady that her brother is conscious and asking for her. I’ve got transmat capability in my TARDIS. I’ll bring her over to be with him.”

That much was done. Chrístõ was satisfied. He still had to inform King Emperor of Adano Ambrado that he had over three hundred new citizens to find homes, schools and jobs for. But he didn’t think that was going to be a problem. After all, Penne owed him a favour or two over the years.