The tragic Fixed Point event of April 13th 1919 that Chrístõ knew from studying the history of Earth from a Time Lord perspective wasn’t happening in isolation. It was the political equivalent of a catastrophic landslide that started with a few pebbles slipping down a hillside and gathered momentum until it was unstoppable. Small rumblings of discontent had been going on for a long time. The origins of the trouble lay long before the World War that had just ended. They were tied up in the demand for Indian independence from British Rule. They were also intertwined with events elsewhere in the world including the Irish Republican movement and the Russian Revolution. An economic depression in the India to which so many demobbed soldiers returned to didn’t help either.

Nor did it help that the responses of the British authorities to even the mildest forms of protest were draconian. Suppression of political movements, arrests of leaders had been going on for some time. There had been skirmishes and clashes with the police and military that had resulted in casualties on both sides. By April 1919 the Punjab was under something akin to martial law. A nightly curfew had been imposed to prevent local disorder from escalating. The authorities had also prohibited gatherings of four or more people in public places and put political agitators under house arrest. Reinforcements had been called to the region to maintain law and order.

Such was the situation on the afternoon of April 13th when Chrístõ and his two students joined Singh in his home, prepared to sit out the coming crisis without being caught up in it.

“You are the father of two daughters?” Chrístõ smiled at the idea as he looked around the finely furnished drawing room in one of those villas on the outskirts of the city where political machinations seemed a world away, not merely a few miles. The daughters he referred to, Amita and Vela, were on the shaded veranda talking with Axyl and Diol and drinking cooled lemonade in the heat haze of midday. The conversation was mostly the history and philosophy of the Sikh gurus, subjects that Chrístõ and his host both thought safe enough. “I thought you were a wanderer, always seeking new adventures in time and space.”

“I am. The twenty-five years I have spent in this place was an adventure of a different kind. I met a charming young woman… and I see from your face that this is something you have experience of yourself, so do not judge me too harshly.”

Singh stepped towards a sideboard where a portrait of a very beautiful woman dressed in a traditional Indian sari, her head covered in silk, was displayed among symbols of mourning.

“Suraj, the light of my life. She died trying to bring a son into this world. Before then she had given me two daughters who are the jewels of my eye.”

Chrístõ thought they were currently the jewels of the Malcannan brothers’ eyes, and that could well be a complication to this field trip.

“Are they… like you?” he asked tentatively.

“No, they are Human. There is more of their mother than myself in them. I have raised them as Human, and more importantly, as Indians. They know a little of my background. I could not lie to them. But they belong here, in India, in Amritsar. I have no wish nor need to introduce them to Gallifreyan society, where they would be, at best, curiosities, at worst, objects of derision.”

Chrístõ said nothing about that, but he wondered if Singh knew he was a half-blood who knew all about being an object of derision.

“Even after losing my most precious jewel, I have still found this to be a place I could make my peace in, for all the reasons you yourself have been impressed by it, I think. I am not a convert to the Sikh religion, as I am sure you were wondering. Three thousand years as a Prince of the Universe isn’t easily given up. But I have come to respect those that follow that religion and I have fitted into their way of life, giving the outer impression of a middle class Punjab man. My daughters HAVE been raised in the faith. I fully expect to make marriage contracts for them both in the near future. Perhaps when they are settled I can resume my life as the wandering adventurer again. Without them this respite may lose some of its attraction and I will be ready to go.”

“I understand,” Chrístõ said truthfully.

“I think you do,” Singh replied. “You have the eyes of a wanderer yourself. And the darkness of the soul that makes a simple duty to Gallifrey sit uneasily upon you.”

“Let’s leave my soul out of this. Why is it that every Time Lord I meet sees a Renegade screaming to get out? I am loyal to Gallifrey. It’s observing the universe from behind the Transduction Barrier that sits uneasily with me, that’s all. I can’t just sit back and let things happen….”

“Which brings us to your great test,” Singh reminded him. “We sit in peace this noon time, but there are tensions in the air. Political strife is perilously close upon this place.”

“Political strife has come to this place before,” Chrístõ pointed out. He glanced towards another portrait on another sideboard. It was Singh himself, dressed in the uniform of one of the Sikh regiments of the Indian Army. He had fought in what humans in 1919 called The Great War. He had involved himself fully in the affairs of this world.

“Why do I stay? That’s the question you are trying to ask. Why did I join that war? Why am I here, sitting right upon the powder keg that is about to blow? I know full well what is going to happen. I grieve for those who will be dead by the time the sun goes down this evening, many of whom I know and count as friends. I grieve that I can do nothing but watch events unfold. So why do I stay?”

“Because you care for these ordinary, amazing humans,” Chrístõ answered. “Despite all their faults, their frailties and their capacity for doing the wrong thing… you admire them.”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it quite so loquaciously,” Singh answered. “But you have judged correctly.”

Chrístõ nodded.

“I’ve always had a fondness for them myself,” he said. “My father, too. But I thought it was an aberration peculiar only to the men of my House. Unless…. You AREN’T a relative of mine are you? We do seem to have such a lot in common, and my father must have held you in good regard….”

“Is that a subtle way of asking for my true name?” Singh asked.

“No,” Chrístõ assured him. “I know better than to pry into such a secret. A Time Lord without a Time Lord name is….”

“I’m not a Renegade,” he said quickly. “There is no warrant for my arrest in the archives of the Celestial Intervention Agency. I left my name burning among the stars.”

Chrístõ wondered if that was a metaphor of some kind. He was searching for a way to ask without seeming to be prying again when Singh answered his question anyway.

“No, it is not a metaphor. I mean it literally. So will you when you do the same, as I believe you are destined to do.”

“Oh don’t start all that destiny stuff again,” Chrístõ protested. “I hate it. Besides, I’m never sure whether half of it is real or if people like you say it to me just to sound portentous.”

Singh laughed at his response. His laugh was deep and sonorous. Chrístõ liked the sound. He liked this Time Lord of Amritsar. He reminded him in so very many ways of Mai Li Tuo. He thought, also, of Professor Chronotis, another man who had left Gallifrey under a cloud and might have been a wise mentor if he had met him earlier in his life.

Amar Deep Singh would make a good mentor, too. There was so much he knew, so much he could teach him.

“You don’t need a mentor, son of Lœngbærrow,” Singh told him. “You are a man, not a boy. You lead, you don’t follow. And you have been doing so for a long time, I think. Those youngsters who accompany you – they are not the first you have travelled with. You enjoy being a teacher.”

“Yes, I do,” Chrístõ admitted. “Yet I would not be so presumptuous as to think I know everything, and I would value your wisdom… and your friendship.”

“The second is willingly offered to any honourable son of Gallifrey. But the first… as I said… you do not need it. You are ready to be a leader among our people. Trust yourself.”

“Isn’t that wisdom from you?” Chrístõ ventured.

“Call it a little friendly advice.” He laughed again. Chrístõ laughed with him. For the length of that laughter he forgot the imminent Fixed Point Event. He even forgot he was a teacher to two students. He just enjoyed being with that rare species, a Time Lord whose company he enjoyed.

Then a noise distracted him. He looked around. It was the sound of a motor car starting up. That was a rare enough sound in this time and place. Singh had a horse drawn caleche for personal transport. Most of his neighbours had something similar. Cars were still expensive and rare here in the suburbs of Amritsar. The car accelerated noisily and then the engine noise died away as it gained distance.

“Amita, Vela?” Singh was suddenly alert. He ran to the veranda to find his daughters gone. So were the Malcannan brothers. In the distance a dust cloud was receding. The motor car was too far away, now.

“Where are you going?” Chrístõ demanded telepathically. “What’s going on?”

“The girls wanted to take us to a festival,” replied Axyl. “Their friend Malik has a car. He’s going there with his brother. They took us with him.”

“It’s called Baisakhi,” Diol added. “It’s a religious festival, but there’s a sort of fair, and a bit of public speaking, more of that communal food thing like this morning, but in the open air. A bit more informal than at the temple, noisier, but it sounds interesting.”

“A festival? Where?” Chrístõ asked. “And why didn’t you ask. You can’t just go off on your own without permission.”

“I thought we were all supposed to be equal here,” Diol protested. “We shouldn’t HAVE to ask permission to do anything.”

He had a point, but Chrístõ wasn’t ready to admit that in these circumstances.

“Come back, right now!” Singh demanded, his telepathic voice almost as sonorous as his spoken words. “Bring my daughters home at once. It is dangerous for all of you.”

“They’re not listening,” Chrístõ said. “I think I let them take the equality thing a bit too much to heart.”

“They’re going to the Jallianwala Bagh,” Singh told him. “The very place we DIDN’T want them to be.”

“We’ve got to stop them. Where’s your TARDIS?”

“Lahore. It’s been there for the past twenty-five years. I have had no need for it during that time.”

“Mine is at the railway station,” Chrístõ groaned before uttering the low Gallifreyan swear word that he had been resisting since he was at the Temple. Then he turned and ran.

“Don’t be silly,” Singh called out to him. “That car of Malik’s can do up to twenty-five miles per hour. You can’t outrun it.”

He knew he couldn’t, but that didn’t stop him trying. He time folded as often and for as long as he dared. His one hope was that there would be a traffic jam near the city centre and he might catch them up.

He slowed after the first mile, when he remembered he had to breathe. All the years he had lived among humans and he always forgot to do that when he was running.

He couldn’t see the car. There wasn’t very much traffic. This was the midday hour in a country where people knew that it was sensible to seek shade when the sun was hottest. He tried to remember if that song about Mad Dogs and Englishmen was around at this time or was it later. In any case, nobody had thought to add impatient young Gallifreyans, disobedient sons and daughters and frantic Time Lords to the list of people who go out in the midday sun.

Anger at the way the Malcannan brothers had disobeyed him was mixed with his anxiety as he ran once again, aware of the surprised glances of people sitting quietly in the shade of their houses. This was more like Cinnamal’s kind of mischief. He was disappointed in them.

Then he was disappointed in himself. He had let them go astray. He had been more interested in meeting Singh, in looking to him to be his new mentor, his replacement for Li Tuo, to remember that he was supposed to be THEIR mentor. He had let them down, and now they were mixed up in something they didn’t fully understand – two children, not even a hundred years old, yet.

It was his fault that this was happening. If they were killed, he could blame nobody else but himself.

Or was that entirely true? Was somebody else responsible? Singh had made the point earlier. They were brought here by a preset from his TARDIS database. Somebody might have set that destination so that he would be trapped in this dangerous situation. In that case the Malcanan brothers were innocent victims of a plot to entrap him.

He stood still again and breathed deeply.

There was another possibility.

It had been Singh who had suggested staying in Amritsar, despite the danger. It was his daughters who had persuaded Diol and Axyl to go with them to the Jallianwala Bagh. Was he a part of the trap? Were he and his daughters there in the Temple in order to meet with Chrístõ and spring the trap? Perhaps he was the one intended to be smiled upon by pretty girls and be lured into attending the festival in their company. Perhaps Amar Deep Singh – or whatever his true name might be – was low enough to use his daughters in such a way, knowing they could die along with him.

“Do you really think I am capable of such duplicity?” He felt Singh’s voice in his head. It had the echo of distance. He had run at least three miles already. But that was nothing for experienced Time Lords.

“I don’t know what you are capable of,” Chrístõ answered. “I only met you a few hours ago, apart from the encounter when I was a child which I can’t even remember. I don’t even really know who you are. Perhaps you ARE in league with those who would wish me harm.”

“Son of Lœngbærrow, trust me,” Singh answered him. “Please trust me. Because the lives of six young people, your students, my daughters, and the sons of my neighbour, are at stake. Please look beyond the pettiness of Gallifreyan politics and think of them first. I promise, when this is over, I will reveal to you what you want to know.”

“Why not now?” he demanded angrily. “Prove to me that I can trust you.”

“My word as a Time Lord of Gallifrey should be enough. Call that your personal challenge, Chrístõ Cuimhne – to trust me with no more reason than that. But there is far more at stake right now. Run, now. Find my jewels. You are their only hope.”

He still wasn’t sure about Amar Deep Singh, but he was sure that his friends were in danger. He ran again. He was coming close to the city centre. The traffic was building up on the road. But he couldn’t see the car he was trying to catch up with.

He wasn’t even sure where he was going. His knowledge of Amritsar came from the TARDIS database. He knew that the Jallianwala Bagh was no more than a quarter of a mile away from the Golden Temple, but he didn’t know anything else about the maze of streets around the two locations.

He was, incredible as it might seem, lost.

Then he thought he recognised the white outer walls of the Golden Temple Complex at the far end of a long, narrow alleyway. It was dull between the high walls of two silk warehouses either side, even in the afternoon sunshine, but he could see the wider street beyond it. He turned down the alleyway, hoping to come out in a familiar place and be able to get his bearings.

But he was wrong. The building he had seen was white but it wasn’t the Golden Temple of the Sikhs, it was just an ordinary mosque for the Muslim population of this city that had not yet heard of the word ‘multicultural’ but practiced it nonetheless in an uneasy way.

He looked around but nothing about this street was familiar. It was jammed with traffic, mostly horse-driven. There was no sign of a car full of young people. If he went right, it was possible he would rejoin the main road. It was also possible he would get completely lost.

If he went left he would come to the railway line. That seemed like a better idea. His TARDIS had been taken to the station. If he followed the railway he would find that, and everything would be all right.

Turning left also meant getting deeper into the streets where the artisans and unskilled workers of Amritsar lived. He was more often in shadow than light in the narrow ways. The streets were more often unclean, and the same was true of many of the people who stared at a man wearing a silk shirt and good shoes.

It was also possible, he considered, that multicultural didn’t necessarily mean integrated and that some of the people didn’t like somebody dressed in Sikh clothing in ‘their’ street.

Or perhaps it was just the fact that he was wearing deeply dyed, expensive fabric. The men who surrounded him in a narrow defile didn’t seem interested in either religion or politics. They just wanted his money bag and his silk clothes. He considered that as he fell unconscious with a dent in the back of his skull from some kind of heavy wooden object. This wasn’t sectarian. It was just a mugging.

When he came around, he was cold and he had a headache. He was naked apart from his underpants. The thieves had even snatched the length of turban silk from his head.

The concussion had repaired itself while he was out of it, but his brain still throbbed and he thought his telepathic abilities might be out of action for a while.

Two people were standing over him. He recognised Diol Malcannan and remembered that in another Earth culture he had been named the ‘devout disciple’.

Singh was there, too. He wrapped a kameez around his shoulders and offered him a pair of salwar pants to go with it. He dressed quickly, aware that he had been unconscious for more than an hour.

“I couldn’t find you,” Diol said. “I knew you were hurt. I felt your pain. But I didn’t know where you were. The others… went on to the park. I searched for you.”

“As did I when I knew you were in trouble,” Singh added. “But even with my better knowledge of the locality it was difficult. I think the blow affected your psychic nerves. It wasn’t even possible to find you that way. I was deeply concerned.”

Torn between finding him and finding his daughters. Even without his telepathy Chrístõ could read the conflict on Singh’s face.

“We’ve lost too much time. Let’s get going.” He accepted a pair of sandals that Singh gave him. The clothes and shoes were all second hand and didn’t fit very well. He recalled a stall in the market he had passed a little time ago and assumed that Diol had been sent running to fetch something so that he could walk through the streets without attracting comment.

Singh knew his way across the city far better. They took a more or less direct line, and three of them together were unmolested even in the less savoury parts.

But when they reached the city centre they discovered a military cordon blocking their way. The Golden Temple and the Jallianwala Bagh were within the area that the soldiers were calling ‘restricted’. They would not let anyone through. Many people argued that they needed to reach homes or workplaces, but they were turned away. Those who lingered to protest were threatened with arrest.

“The railway station,” Chrístõ said. “Can we still get to it?”

“We might,” Singh answered. “But only by a circuitous way. We must move quickly. The afternoon is passing. The soldiers will close in on the gardens by four o’clock. The shooting will begin half an hour after that.”

Chrístõ’s body clock told him it was two and a half hours since he set out from Singh’s house at a little after twelve-thirty. It was three o’clock. They were running out of time.

“Diol, try to contact your brother,” he said. “Tell him to get the girls out of there.”

“I’ve tried, but they won’t leave. They’re not involved in the political meeting. They really wanted to go to the bazar for dress silks, but the two young men who drove us in are trying to get near the front of the stage to talk to some of their friends from college, the ones who are into the separatist movement, whatever that is. The girls won’t leave without them, and Axyl won’t abandon the girls.”

“Tell him to make them go to the far end of the field, at least,” Chrístõ said. “As far from the main entrance as possible. They might be safer there.”

Diol told him, but Axyl’s response wasn’t good. He and the two girls had become separated from the two young men because the crowds around the political demonstration were surging one way and another crowd was surging in a different direction to look at a dance troupe performing.

“Tell your brother not to let go of my daughters, whatever happens,” Singh told him. “Just hold onto them until I can reach them. Tell them I’m not angry, just worried.”

“Same here,” Chrístõ said. “We’ll do angry when everyone’s safe,” he added to himself.

It was close to four o’clock in the afternoon by the time they arrived at the railway station. There was a delay then because Chrístõ had no papers or identification to prove that the freight belonged to him. They were in the purse that was stolen from him along with everything else. When polite persuasion failed, Singh used Power of Suggestion to persuade the freight depot guard to allow them in.

The guard didn’t see the three of them all step inside the large upright trunk which then disappear noisily. Later when the mesmerism wore off he might wonder why they didn’t return from the yard, but it would remain an unsolved mystery.

Chrístõ had one eye on the local time clock and one on his navigation drive. It was nearly four-thirty. Diol’s frantic telepathic messages to his brother were hurting his head and making it hard to concentrate on what he hoped would be a precision materialisation. It had to be. There was barely a few feet of ground within the Jallianwala Bagh that wasn’t occupied by people and he couldn’t risk materialising around anyone.

“Chrístõ, the soldiers are shooting at people!” Diol cried out. “They marched into the garden and lined up and started shooting without any warning… directly into the densest parts of the crowd. Oh sweet mother of chaos, they’re killing people. They don’t seem to care who, they’re just killing them.”

“I’m sorry,” Chrístõ answered. “I can’t do anything to stop it. That’s the terrible thing about a Fixed Point. We can’t do anything to help them. We can’t save anyone. If Axyl or either of the girls are shot… or their friends… I can’t prevent it.”

Amar Deep Singh knew well enough why that was so. Even Diol, who still had a hundred years of education before he could hope to be a Time Lord himself, understood about Fixed Points. He also understood why Chrístõ couldn’t just take the TARDIS back half an hour in time and find his brother. He didn’t waste his breath asking.

Chrístõ materialised the TARDIS against the brick wall of one of the buildings that surrounded the Jallianwala Bagh on all four sides leaving only one narrow entrance that the army had blocked off with a wagon on which a machine gun was mounted.

“Wait,” he ordered as Diol ran for the door. “You can’t rush out there while the shooting is going on.”

“But I can’t leave them….”

“There’s already one person there who shouldn’t be. We don’t need two. Besides, I’m not risking your life as well. Just wait.”

Singh nodded grimly. They all had to accept the inevitable.

“I can’t get a fix on Axyl’s lifesign,” Chrístõ said looking at the lifesigns monitor anxiously. There were as many as twenty-thousand people immediately outside the TARDIS. Finding one Gallifreyan signature among the humans was harder than it ought to have been. Twice he thought he had spotted a distinctive pale blue blip among the multitude, but then he lost it again. “Diol, do you know where he is?”

“I can’t reach him. There’s too much chaos out there. I can’t focus.”

“I’m afraid he’s right,” Singh told him. “The noise and the panic, everyone running and crushing each other… even my psychic nerves are overwhelmed. So many humans with such heightened emotions. We can’t do anything until the firing stops and it is safe to search for them on foot.”

Singh looked at the temporal clock. Diol caught his expression and rounded on him angrily.

“You KNEW this was going to happen. You knew… and you let us… my brother and your daughters… you let us….”

“I seem to remember telling you to come back because it was DANGEROUS,” Singh answered. “And you disobeyed. Your anger is misplaced, young man.”

It was no longer than a half hour, but it felt longer. Humphrey trilled mournfully around them all, echoing their anxiety in his empathic way. Chrístõ was on the verge of telling him to stop it when he realised that his most unusual friend couldn’t help it. He was channelling the mood within and without the TARDIS.

“It should be safe now,” Chrístõ said. “The records show that the soldiers were running short of ammunition now. General Dyer ordered them to stop shooting.”

The same records showed over 1,600 rounds fired into the crowd. The numbers of dead and wounded were curiously harder to calculate with a difference of more than a thousand between the British and Indian estimates.

Chrístõ decided that Diol didn’t need to know that.

He pressed the door control. Diol yelped as a body fell in through the opening. It wasn’t his brother. It was an elderly Indian man. He wasn’t shot, but he was clearly dead. Chrístõ examined him carefully.

“Crush injuries,” he said as he reached to close the victim’s eyes. “There was total panic. They knocked each other down trying to get away from the bullets.”

“Axyl?” Diol questioned.

“I don’t know. We just have to hope. Come on.”

It was after five o’clock, still another two hours to sunset. A curfew order would be imposed an hour before then.

Knowing that, many people streamed out of the garden, watched by the soldiers, some of them stopped and searched, more or less at random, just to further intimidate them. But many more remained, searching for friends and family they had become separated from. Wailing cries of grief filled the air as some of them were found among the dead.

There were injured, too. Some had bullet wounds. Others were crushed or stamped on. Chrístõ was anxious to find his friends, but he couldn’t walk past injured people without doing something to help them. He bent beside one man and examined him quickly. He had internal bleeding and a burst lower intestine. The two injuries combined to make a lingering and painful death.

“You know what you must do, Son of Lœngbærrow.” Singh whispered in his ear. He nodded. He knew only too well. Even without this being a Fixed Point, there were rules. He couldn’t give anyone life-saving treatment who was meant to die. He couldn’t use any technology or medicine that didn’t belong to the time.

Not that he had any technology or medicine. He had nothing but his bare hands and his Time Lord mind. He concentrated hard, ignoring the pain in the back of his head where his psychic nerves were screaming. He drew off the pain the other man was suffering and added it to his own. The man died in his arms, thanking him for his kindness and calling out for the Hindu god of the dead to take him to her bosom.

Others had injuries he could treat. He ripped his shirt to pieces to make bandages and used bits of wood lying around as splints for broken limbs. He treated the less difficult bullet wounds and comforted the grief-stricken as the sun went down on a tragic and terrible day.

The sunset meant that nobody now could leave the garden. The soldiers were there at the entrance to enforce the curfew. No plea for mercy for the injured was heard. They lay among the dead, some of them with friends to console them, others alone.

“Chrístõ!” Diol ran to his side as he helped another man die peacefully and without pain and commended his soul to Allah as he closed his eyes. “Chrístõ, Axyl is….”

“Dead?” His hearts thudded in his chest.

“No, not yet anyway. He’s trapped. There are lots of people… come quickly, please.”

Chrístõ came with him, prepared for just about anything, but still shocked to the core by what he found.

Amar Deep Singh was among the small group of men gathered around a deep round hole in the ground. It was a well that had long ago been abandoned as a source of drinking water. Another man was climbing up a rope with a body on his back. It was a young man. He was dead. Three other bodies were already laid out beside the well.

“There are dozens more,” he said as he deposited the body on the ground and climbed back down. Singh looked at the dark hole and then climbed down after him. They both returned with bodies.

“Are there none alive?” Chrístõ asked, examining the dead. They had all suffocated, though there were also crush injuries from being piled one upon the other. “How did they get down there?”

“They jumped, thinking they’d be safe. Chrístõ, Axyl is down the well. He’s alive, but trapped. I can feel him, now. He’s calling out to me. He was unconscious, but he came round, in the dark, with bodies crushing down on top of him…. Chrístõ, there’s hardly any air down there.”

“I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do. There isn’t room for anyone else to climb down, and we can only bring the bodies up two at a time.”


“No, it’s not possible. I can’t materialise in a space like that.”

“You don’t have to fully materialise,” Diol told him. “Do a partial materialisation, just long enough for Axyl to be inside the console room. Then dematerialise again.”

“That won’t work,” Chrístõ argued.

“It will if you have the Kerrs regulator at three-fifths and the Bron-Esthon Eliminator closed.”


“Lord Azmael taught us. It was an experimental method. He didn’t know if it would work or not… but it did.”

“Lord Azmael has a top of the range Type 60 TARDIS. Can a Type 40 do it?”

“It might be his only chance.”

“I know. I was… thinking aloud. Three-fifths? How did Azmael come by a calculation like that? Never mind. Come on, let’s try.”

Nobody noticed them slip through a door that appeared briefly in a brick wall and disappeared again. Humphrey greeted them with a hopeful trill, but there was no good news yet. He hovered close by as Chrístõ set the co-ordinates with Diol’s assistance.

“You’d better hunker down under the console, old friend,” Chrístõ told him. “I don’t know what’s going to happen here, exactly.”

He had a very strong hunch about what was going to happen, and he didn’t like it. But he took a deep breath anyway and pressed the materialisation switch with the Kerrs regulator at three-fifths and the Bron-Esthon Eliminator closed.

For a nano-second, the well materialised inside the console room – then it vanished and what was left was a pillar of Human bodies pressed together in a mass of arms, legs, heads and torsos. The pillar toppled. The dead fell limply onto the floor. Axyl Malacanan groaned weakly and tried to pick himself up from among them. He was still clinging to the two girls in crumpled and stained saris – Amita and Vela.

They were alive. The two of them opened their eyes and breathed the sterilised air of the TARDIS deeply. They looked around at the bodies that Chrístõ was trying to make decent and cried. Axyl and Diol comforted them.

“Everyone else down there suffocated,” Chrístõ said. “How did you girls stay alive?”

“Axyl shielded us,” Amita explained. “He made a small space under him and stopped the others pressing down on us. We were scared. It was so dark down there. And we knew everyone else was dead…. We were lying on dead people… and there were more on top. It was….”

She cried again. Both girls did.

“The crowd was all around us, pushing every direction,” Axyl continued. “I tried to stop the girls falling, but I couldn’t. All I could do was try to keep them alive and hope.”

“You did all right. Sit quiet for a while and breathe deeply, all of you. I said sit quietly. On the chairs. Breathe the air in the room, not in each other’s lungs. You girls will be in trouble with your father if you carry on like that.”

There couldn’t have been much wrong with either girls’ lungs the way they were kissing the Malcanan brothers. Chrístõ thought of saying something about that, but decided it was Amar Deep Singh’s problem, not his. He brought the bodies out of the TARDIS and left them in a dignified line, arms and legs straight and eyes closed, and hoped somebody would identify them in the morning. Amar Deep Singh reached him as he finished the work. He went first into the TARDIS where there was an emotional reunion with his daughters, and then came back outside to stand beside Chrístõ in a moment of respect for the dead.

“Those two are Muslim,” Singh said quietly about the bodies at his feet. “And these are Hindu, those three Sikh… and that boy is an Indian Christian…. Four religions that have so often been at odds with each other… and now their families are as one in grief.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered him. “Yes, they are. But if there is a lesson to be learnt in that, I’m afraid it’s going to be lost in the complicated politics of this world.”

“I am thankful that I am not among those mourning. Even the two fools who lured my girls and your students into this chaos are alive. I had word that they both left with a group of their college friends minutes before the soldiers closed off the garden. They left my girls to their fate.”

“They’re alive. That’s all that matters,” Chrístõ reminded him. “They said it was Axyl who protected them. But I don’t think he could have done that unless they actually do have at least some Gallifreyan physiology. Their skeletal structure was strong enough to stop them being crushed, and they recycled their breathing to preserve their air. You taught them to do that?”

“I did.”

“You told me they were Human.”

“I lied. I beg your forgiveness. I have raised them as Human. I didn’t want anyone to know they are different. Not even you.”

“Lying is unworthy of the faith you seek to emulate, as well as your Time Lord honour.”

“I am guilty on both counts. Do I have your forgiveness?”

“You do. There was another secret you promised you would reveal to me when this is over. It… isn’t over by a long shot for the people here. But there is very little more we can do for them. Our part is done. It is time….”

“It is. Son of Lœngbærrow, when you were a boy and I drank whiskey with your father I was known as The Corsair.”

THE Corsair. A definitive article.

Yes, the name seemed familiar. Chrístõ thought he remembered hearing it when he was a boy, even though the details of that meeting were still sketchy in his mind. He had been excited when he heard the name. In Gallifreyan it meant something like ‘Adventurer’. On Earth, by complete coincidence, it was a French word for a privateer. It was an exciting name, either way, redolent of travel and exploration beyond the constraints of the Transduction Barrier, the adrenaline rush of jumping into dangerous exploits feet first.

The kind of exploits he himself, even at a young age, had longed for.

“I also promised to reveal my family name.”

“You don’t have to,” Chrístõ responded. “I ought to trust you without such a revelation.

“But I promised.”

The Time Lord smiled inscrutably and pulled up his loose sleeve. Chrístõ noted the tattoo on his forearm. It was an Ouroboros, a serpent curled around in a perfect circle eating its own tail. He knew that it was the symbol of an Oldblood House – one that was defunct because there was no known heir living on Gallifrey.

“You are the living Patriarch of the House of….” Chrístõ began. The Corsair touched him on the lips firmly but gently.

“I promised to reveal my true name, but there is no reason why it should be spoken aloud. When it is time for Amar Deep Singh to depart from this world I will be The Corsair again. I shall be known by that name until the day I die. It is enough.”

“Yes, it is,” Chrístõ agreed. He turned and looked once more at the terrible scene of a senseless massacre that would polarise opinion about India’s future and have repercussions for the next century and beyond. He could do nothing more to ease the grief and agony of those left behind. It was time to go. He stepped into the TARDIS followed by The Corsair. They both noticed that the Malcanan Brothers were again kissing the daughters of Amar Deep Singh.

“It’s a good job you DID teach them to recycle their breathing,” Chrístõ noted. “Or Vela would be suffering hypoxia by now. What should we do about this, do you think?”

“They seem to have made their minds up. They take after me in that respect. I knew within an hour of meeting their mother that I would love her for eternity.”

“I know that feeling,” Chrístõ agreed. “And yet… as their teacher… I am ‘in loco parentis’ as they say on Earth. If you want me to put a stop to it….”

“They are Caretaker sons. They have nothing with which to pay a dowry for my daughters. As a Gallifreyan father that would be a serious matter.”

“Then you will have to accept them as a Sikh father who believes all men are equal under God.”

“Chrístõ,” Diol stood up, leaving Amita to breathe freely for a few minutes. “Would it be all right? I know it wasn’t part of the plan. We were supposed to go back to Gallifrey when you finished teaching us. But… what if we stayed here… with Mr Singh… He could teach us just as much as you can. Maybe even….”

“Maybe MORE than I can teach you?” Chrístõ smiled to indicate that he wasn’t offended by the thought that crossed Diol’s mind.

“It would help you, as well,” Diol pointed out. “You could take that job as escort for the Beta Delta Olympic team that you were thinking about. You’d be able to go with Julia after all.”

“I never told you about that,” Chrístõ pointed out. “I never told anyone, not even Julia, because I didn’t want her to be disappointed that I couldn’t do it.”

“Well, now you can.”

“This is a big decision,” he added. “You can’t just decide to marry a girl you only met a day ago and give up your whole future in minutes.”

“It wouldn’t be our whole future,” Axyl pointed out telepathically so that he didn’t have to stop kissing Vela and she wasn’t worried by the way her whole life was being planned for her. “Come back for us in eighty years. One Human lifespan… long enough to live a good life with the women we love. Long enough for us to learn enough from their father to graduate from the Academy and be done with all of that. Then your work will be done, and we can decide the rest of our future after that.”

“It looks as if it’s all decided,” Chrístõ conceded. “You’ll have to explain it to your father, and to Lord Azmael. I had enough trouble explaining Cinnamal’s plans to the Lord High President. I’m not taking the blame again.”