Chrístõ woke in his bedroom in Mount Lœng House on Gallifrey. It was exactly as it had been the last time he lived there, before he left in his first TARDIS on his extended field study. It was the bedroom of a slightly bookish teenager with a table given over to a collection of artefacts like a tooth from a Pazithi wolf, a meteorite, a piece of magnetic rock from the Dark Territory. There was a desk cluttered with half finished pieces of electronic circuitry that he was working on, a big oak wardrobe full of his clothes, a full length mirror, a door leading to his private bathroom, another that went into his study where most of his books were.

The slanting sun of a warm Gallifreyan morning shone through the window just as it had done every morning of his young life. Waking in this room was always a pleasant experience. It meant he was home from the Academy, home from his travels.


The strange thing was he couldn’t remember why he was home this time. He lay in the bed and thought about it for a while. Of course, he and Julia were still officially on their way to the Olympiad aboard the Starship Harlan Ellison. Most weekends, though, and quite a few free evenings, they left the confines of the ship in the TARDIS. He must have decided to pay a visit home. He hadn’t seen his father for months, or Valena and Garrick. He missed them all much more than he ever admitted.

He got out of bed and looked out of the window at the rose garden that was still kept in impeccable order by the gardeners. His mother’s rose garden, her own special place. His bedroom was above the white drawing room which led out onto the terrace and into the rose garden. It was still called the White Drawing Room even though it had been his schoolroom in his younger days and now it was where Garrick sat with his tutors and prepared for the Prydonian Academy entrance examinations.

He glanced at the clock by his bed. Nearly breakfast time. He thought about spending a leisurely meal with his father, his half-brother chattering to him, Julia swapping fashion tips with Valena. Strange how such domestic normality appealed when he thought what he wanted was adventure and excitement.

He stepped out onto the landing. Oddly, he couldn’t remember getting showered and dressed, but he was wearing a black and silver day robe as befitted an Oldblood heir in his home demesne. A door opened and his half-brother stepped out, dressed in a tunic and leggings suited to an eight year old with a morning’s tuition ahead of him.

“Hey, kid,” he called out. “I’ll take you for a drive later. We’ll go up to the Tower and see Paracell Hext.”

Garrick didn’t respond. The boy looked down at his feet and then turned towards the stairs. Chrístõ was puzzled. Garrick was always excited when his big brother was home. He loved going out with him to see places his mother wouldn’t think to take him like the headquarters of the Celestial Intervention Agency.

Of course, Garrick had a lot on his mind. He was preparing for the Untempered Schism. That was the most terrifying rite of passage any child in the galaxy went through. But surely he wasn’t THAT distracted by it? He needed talking to if he was. Chrístõ made a note to sit down with his half-brother and dispel some of the worst myths about how dangerous the Schism was.

He looked into the guest bedroom, but it was empty. Julia must already be up. He headed for the stairs himself. At this rate he would be the last to the table and be teased mercilessly for his tardiness.

The house was hauntingly familiar. He loved every inch of it. The furniture that was all at least a thousand years old but perfectly preserved as everything was on Gallifrey, the wall hangings, the moulded ceilings and chandeliers. This was his home, the place where he was born, the place he would live his life once his adventures off world were over.

He walked into the dining room. Everyone was there. His father was at the head of the table, as always. Valena was at his side. So was Julia. Garrick still sat on a cushion to reach the table.

Caolin the butler was there, as he had always been. The maids were unfamiliar. Maids came and went. They got married and left the service. But Caolin was as constant as the furniture itself.

“Julia,” his father said in a concerned tone. “Please eat something, child. It would do no good to make yourself ill.”

“I… am trying,” she said. “But it tastes… of nothing. Food, drink… what is the use without….”

She started to cry. Chrístõ was shocked. Why was she upset?

“Julia?” he stepped closer. She looked pale and her eyes were red-rimmed as if she had cried a lot.

“My dear,” Valena left her seat and came to comfort her. Julia sobbed into her shoulder. Garrick jumped down from the table and ran from the room. Chrístõ started to go after him. Caolin was ahead of him. He found the boy in the White library. He was sitting hunched up on the floor next to the low table where an Earth globe had been since before Chrístõ was born, another legacy of his mother’s life.

Garrick wasn’t crying. He was a pure-blood Gallifreyan. He had no tear ducts. He couldn’t cry. But his hearts could break, and they were breaking.

Caolin knelt and embraced him tenderly. Chrístõ wasn’t surprised by that. The butler had been there to dry his tears when he was a boy at least as often as his father had been. Of course, Garrick would turn to him.

“Little Master,” Caolin said. “It’s all right to grieve. We all do. Your brother was precious to us all. But bear yourself up, my young Lord. You must not dishonour his memory. It is up to you, now, to carry on in his place. You are your father’s heir. You must show him that you are strong and brave and ready to be as great a Time Lord, as courageous a Gallifreyan as your brother was.”

“Half brother,” Garrick said in a low voice. “Chrístõ… said I was his half brother. He said… he said that he loved me… but to call me brother dishonoured his mother.”

“I don’t think it matters now, little Lord,” Caolin said. “He is with his mother. Let me take you back to yours. Are you ready to be strong?”

“Yes, Caolin,” Garrick answered. He swallowed hard and stood on his own two feet, his young head erect, and walked with the butler out of the library.

Chrístõ stood there in that most familiar room and his head spun with shock.

He was dead?



No. It wasn’t possible. He didn’t feel dead. He wasn’t in any pain. He couldn’t remember any pain. He couldn’t remember anything happening to him.

The last thing he remembered was the party aboard the ship. The Beta Deltan team had played host to the Alpha Proxima team whose ship came into synchronous flight with theirs on the last section of the long journey. It had been a pleasant evening. Afterwards, Julia had come back with him to his cabin. They had drunk cocoa in bed before sleeping soundly together.

He didn’t remember anything after that. But Julia was alive. Whatever had happened, she was safe. He was grateful for that much.

But if it was true, if he was dead….

He reached out and touched the globe on the table. His hand felt solid against it. He felt real. But Garrick hadn’t seen him there. The family had all acted as if he was gone. They were all grief stricken.

He heard a sound in the White Drawing Room. Somebody had come in there. He recognised Valena’s voice. Julia was with her. Chrístõ went to the door and watched them both. Julia stood at the French door looking out at the terrace. Valena sat demurely.

“My dear,” she said. “Please come and sit. You’ve hardly eaten. You will be faint if you continue to stand.”

“I’m all right,” Julia answered. “I like looking out here. It’s a pretty place. Chrístõ’s mother liked it, so I’m told. It was her special place.”

“Yes, it was,” Valena answered. “This whole suite was hers. When I came here as his Lordship’s second wife, I never quite felt I had the right to change anything about these rooms.”

“I’m glad. It feels… in here… I feel as if he is still close.”

“I am close, Julia,” Chrístõ whispered. But she couldn’t hear him. He moved nearer to her, but she didn’t see him.

“I don’t know what I will do, now,” she added.

“We want you to stay here, my dear,” Valena said. “I hope you will think about that. Lord de Lœngbærrow… my husband… he….” She sighed deeply. She, too, was grieving. But it fell to her to talk to Julia and she had to be strong. “We both came to love you like a daughter – Chrístõ’s chosen fiancée. I looked forward to the day you would be his wife and take your place as mistress of this house. I know my husband did, too. He wants… he has said… that he looks upon you as a part of this family. He intends to settle a portion upon you.”

“A… what?”

“I’m sorry, that is an archaic expression. Julia… I am sure you realise… Garrick is my husband’s heir now. When he is of age… when he marries… HE will inherit everything… this house, the lands, the wealth, the title and patriarchy of the House of Lœngbærrow.”

“Yes,” Julia answered. “I know that.”

“Once, at my own father’s behest, I asked his Lordship to pass over his first born son and make my pureblood child his heir. I regretted that many times, since. Now, even more so. I would rather see Garrick disinherited and his brother restored to us.”

Julia said nothing in reply to that. She didn’t trust herself to speak.

“As it is, you ARE the one who would have been his wife. My husband intends to provide for you. The Dower House and the income from one of the mines….”

“What?” Julia was startled. “You mean… he wants to give me a house… and money?”

“It is a fraction of what would be due to you as Chrístõ’s wife.”

“I know. But….”

“He wants you to stay here on Gallifrey, to be his daughter in all but blood.”

“That is kind of him,” Julia admitted. “But I don’t know if I will stay here. I have thought of going back to Beta Delta. The house Chrístõ bought there… I might live there. I could get used to the memories, I could get used to him not being there… if I was among my own people. I think… Gallifrey… would never feel like home without him.”

“I understand,” Valena told her. “But please give his Lordship’s idea a little thought. It isn’t merely generosity on his part. There is a selfish reason, too. He doesn’t want to lose you as well as his son.”

“I know that. I am fond of him. He has been a father to me in so many ways. But I don’t know what I should do. I can’t think any further than getting through one day after another just now. I can’t imagine life without Chrístõ. I miss him so very much.”

“We all do, my dear. My poor husband is beside himself with grief. Garrick is so unhappy. Even the servants mourn the loss of our dearest blood. I don’t know if a smile will ever cross the threshold of this house again.”

Christo turned away. He couldn’t bear to hear any more. It was just too painful. He walked out into the garden. As the fresh air touched his tear-wet cheeks he turned and looked. The door was still closed. He couldn’t remember opening it. He had simply wanted to get out of the house and now he was out of it. He was standing on the front driveway looking at the avenue of Cúl nut trees that hid the entrance to the property from the house. He turned left and through a wrought iron gateway into the formal garden. This had never been his favourite part of the gardens. It was too severely managed with neatly cut topiary and lawns and flower beds too carefully arranged. He walked past the largest of those beds, where the crest of the House of Lœngbærrow, the two silvertrees with their branches meeting in the middle, was picked out in silver coloured plants. It was artistic but unlovely in some ways.

Beyond the formal garden was the smaller kitchen garden with multi-coloured plants that gave off heady scents. The useful herbs had been planted more than a millennia ago by his grandmother, Aineytta de Lœngbærrow, who had tended to them lovingly. He had memories of her in this garden when he was very young. She had given him leaves from some of the bushes to chew, releasing their secrets to his young taste buds.

Beyond that was the orchard. Apples and pears grew here, Gallifreyan fruits, not the Earth equivalent. It was another place that was redolent of his mother’s time as mistress of the demesne, though he had no personal memories of that time.

“He is with his mother now,” Caolin had told Garrick, meaning it to comfort the boy. It had not comforted him, though, because it wasn’t true. He was alone. Nobody else could see or hear him. He couldn’t talk to them.

And his mother was far from him.

“If I am dead, why am I here?” he asked himself.

Time Lords did not believe in heaven or hell in the way so many other races did. They did believe in an afterlife of sorts, though. A Time Lord in extremis was meant to join his mind with the Matrix, giving his wisdom to the collective whole for the future benefit of his race. At the same time, his soul was meant to fly to SangC'lune, the Time Lord planet of the dead, where it would reside in peace in the city of pyramids.

He had never been entirely sure how he felt about that. He had always felt too young to think very seriously about his own death and what lay after it. If he did, he imagined it coming at the end of a long and eventful life, after all twelve of his regenerations was used and he would reside in his pyramid not as a single entity, but as one of thirteen incarnations of himself with a collective memory of his life.

And all thirteen incarnations would know peace of mind and soul. They would be ready for eternal rest and have no regrets.

He had no such peace of mind. He wasn’t restful, and he was full of regrets. Chief among them was the nagging thought that he had done something disastrously wrong that caused his premature death and left so many things undone and unsaid.

How had he died? Until he knew the answer to that question he would know no peace of any kind.

Perhaps that was why he was here, trapped in a limbo that was so painfully and hauntingly familiar to him, listening to the grief of his family. Perhaps when he knew the truth he would be able to rest, finally, in the peace of his soul’s tomb on that legendary planet that living Time Lords rarely ever visited.

But who would tell him the truth?

Any of his family would if he could ask them. Of course they would.

But he couldn’t ask them. They didn’t know he was there. He could see and hear them, feel all of their pain, but they couldn’t know that. He couldn’t offer them any comfort by telling them that he was there in spirit, at least.

The sound of the gate opening and closing disturbed his melancholy thoughts. He looked around to see Garrick come into the orchard. The boy was sad. He walked slowly, not with the joy a lad of his age ought to have playing amongst the trees in the sunshine.

Garrick walked around the trees until he came to one with a rough swing made of rope and a piece of wood attached to it. Chrístõ remembered his father spending a lot of money importing an elaborate swing, slide and climbing frame combination that was erected in the meadow, and Garrick had a lot of fun with it. But right now he preferred the solitude of the orchard and this hand-made swing that he sat on and pushed slowly with one foot while his mind drifted elsewhere.

“I don’t want you to be miserable, kid,” Chrístõ said, drawing close to him. “And… I don’t want… I don’t think father does, either. I don’t want you to break your hearts trying to be like me, to try to replace me. Be yourself. That’s all anyone ought to be.”

He reached out to touch his half-brother on the cheek. He was surprised when the boy gave a soft gasp and his eyes widened.

“Can you sense me?” he asked, his own hearts hopeful. “We’re two different people, but we’ve got a lot in common. Our DNA is close to the same. We even look a little alike. People have said so. They probably drive you nuts telling you how much you look like me when I was your age. But it’s true. We have the same eyes, and the same hands.”

He put his hand over Garrick’s hand on the rope. They were different sizes, but they were the same shape, long-fingered and dextrous. Garrick turned his head, as if he was aware of something there. He bit his lip nervously.

“Don’t do that,” Chrístõ whispered. “It’s nearly as bad a habit as sucking your thumb. You’ve only just grown out of that. You are going to face the Schism, soon. Then you’ll be a Time Lord candidate. Thumb sucking, lip biting… I was a nail biter at your age. Father stopped me from doing it. He said it was unbecoming the dignity of our race.”

“Chrístõ?” Garrick spoke his name in a little more than a murmur.

“Yes, it’s me,” he said. “I’m here, somehow. Garrick, don’t be scared. You know I could never hurt you. I’m sorry you’ve been upset. I wish it could be different. But don’t be scared of me, please.”

He kept one hand over Garrick’s. The other he reached out to touch his brother’s face, caressing his rounded, eight year old cheek before moving up over his forehead, feeling his thoughts. The boy wasn’t quite certain. Time Lord children weren’t brought up to believe in ghosts. He had no terms of reference for what he was sensing.

“I’m here,” he promised. “I’m right here beside you, Garrick. I wish you could see me. I can see you, and I can touch you. But the only way I can make myself known to you is like this.”

“Chrístõ,” he whispered again. “I miss you.”

“I know. It’s hard for me, too, seeing you all grieve for me. I wish… so many things. Mostly, I wish I’d told you more often that I love you, kid. I tried for so long to pretend that I didn’t, that I resented you… hated you, even. But I didn’t. You’re my kid brother, and I love you.”

Garrick nodded. He was too overcome with emotion to speak.

“I need you to do something for me,” Chrístõ added. “Can you understand?”

He nodded again.

Go and talk to Julia for me, please. I need you to ask her something. Nobody else will, and it’s possible she wouldn’t be able to tell anyone else. Please do this for me, Garrick.”

The boy turned his head as if he was looking at Chrístõ, but he didn’t see anyone. He might have felt his touch. It might just have been the projection into his mind.

“Ask her this,” Chrístõ told him. Garrick listened carefully. He repeated the words with soundless lip movements. Then he stood up, steadying the rope swing, and walked away. Chrístõ stood there for a moment then he pushed the swing hard. Garrick turned and looked at the sudden movement, then quickened his step as he ran back to the house.

Chrístõ followed him. He went in through the kitchen where the staff turned pitying eyes on the boy but said nothing. He took the back stairs to the middle floor where the family bedrooms were. Garrick knocked gently on Julia’s door and heard her voice calling out from inside. He stepped into the feminine room that Julia had made hers for many years as a welcome visitor to the house. She was lying on the bed, but she sat up as Garrick entered and held out her arms to him. He ran to her embrace.

“Julia,” he said. “Can you tell me… how my brother died?”

“Oh, sweetheart,” she responded. “Do you really need to go through that, now?”

“Yes,” he answered. “I want to know. Please, tell me, Julia.”

She took a deep breath and sat back on the bed, letting Garrick sit beside her, comforted by her arm around his shoulder.

“He died… bravely. That probably won’t surprise anyone. He saved thousands of lives, and was trying to prevent more people dying, but he just ran out of time.”

Garrick didn’t say anything, but he gave a quizzical look.

“It was after the party – we had been host to the people from Alpha Proxima. Their ship was travelling in formation with ours. But it was much smaller, and older. Its systems were nowhere near as good as ours. In the middle of the night, the emergency alarms sounded. Everyone was told to evacuate into the lifepods. Chrístõ insisted that I should stay in the TARDIS. He said it was better than any lifepod ever invented. And that’s certainly true. Because if a lifepod was still on board when the two ships collided it would have been destroyed. I was safe. But… he was outside, on the bridge of the Alpha Proxima ship, trying to restore its navigation drive, when it collided with the Starship Harlan Ellison, destroying them both.”

“Why didn’t he try to get away into his TARDIS?” Garrick asked. “He could have done that, couldn’t he?”

“He could have. But there were still about a hundred people on the Alpha Proxima ship, cut off from the lifepods by failing systems. He was trying to save them. He couldn’t just run for his own life and abandon them. He tried to the very last moment. I was listening to him on the communicator. He detailed everything he was doing to the drive. I think he almost had it. Another few minutes and he might have saved both ships. I keep thinking about it. Before he went to the Alpha Proxima ship, before we knew there were people trapped there, he went to the lifepod station on our deck. It was his job. He was designated. He had the register of everyone who was supposed to be in the pod. He made sure they were all aboard first and the pod safely launched. Then we found out about the people who were trapped. But it was too late then. If he’d gone straight to the other ship, he would have had the time to stop it all happening. It wouldn’t have mattered if the pod had launched on time, because the ships wouldn’t have collided. But Chrístõ was a good, brave Gallifreyan who did his duty…. I’m proud of him for everything he did, for getting so many people to safety, and then for trying to save the others, even if… that one time… he failed.”

She was crying, now. Garrick, though he was only eight years old and a Gallifreyan who didn’t really understand crying, hugged her.

“I’m sorry I failed,” Chrístõ whispered. That word sounded terrible coming from her lips, even more so from his own. “I’m sorry.”

He turned away and left them both there, comforting each other. There was nothing to be gained from staying near them. There was nothing to be gained from any of this.

“What is the point?” he asked. “All right, I failed. But I couldn’t have done anything else. I couldn’t stop trying to save those people. I couldn’t walk away from them and save myself. THAT really would have been failure. I TRIED. If I could have done it another way – if I could have done what Julia suggested…. But I can’t, can I? I’m dead. It’s too late.”

Or was it? He thought he was standing outside Julia’s bedroom in Mount Lœng House on Gallifrey. But he could hear sounds that were far away from there. He could hear voices calling out anxiously, and above that the insistent noise of a klaxon alarm sounding the ‘abandon ship’.

“Chrístõ!” Julia’s voice called out above the alarm. He opened his eyes and quickly adjusted to the low level emergency lighting in the room. He briefly wondered why it was since this wasn’t a real berth but the TARDIS disguised as one.

Then he remembered thinking that once before. He remembered the noise, and Julia shaking him awake in the dark.

“I’m not dead,” he said. “I’ve got another chance.”

“What?” Julia was puzzled. “Chrístõ, nobody is dead. But they will be soon. We’ve got to get off the ship. It’s in trouble.”

“Yes. Yes, I know.” He pulled on his shoes and his leather jacket over his black silk pyjamas. Julia put her slippers and dressing gown on. “Take this,” he said to her, pressing a slim electronic notepad into her hands. “It’s the register for the lifepod. It should be my job, but I’m putting you in charge. I’ve got to do something else. Check the names, and when everyone is aboard, seal the door and launch the pod. Don’t worry about me.”

“Chrístõ….” Julia began to protest. He turned and grasped her in his arms. He kissed her tenderly, but briefly. There was no time to waste.

“Go, sweetheart. Do what has to be done, just as I will.”

He was reaching for the control that opened up the console room. Julia blinked at the overhead light, then turned and slipped out into the corridor outside. She turned right and headed to the lifepod. It was large, accommodating up to fifty people. On other levels, other corridors, the same thing was happening, all over the ship. But she couldn’t worry about that. Her responsibility was this pod. She stood inside the door and began calling out names, marking them off the register, just as Chrístõ had told her to do.

Chrístõ felt lonely without Julia. He was also a little confused. If that had been a dream, then it was a very good reason not to dream. If it was some kind of vision of his future it was a cruel one. He still felt the pain and grief that he and all of his loved ones had felt.

It must have been some kind of forewarning, he reasoned. And if so, then he was already changing events. He had sent Julia into the lifepod with the register. If he survived, then he might have some explaining to do about that. But she was safe, and so were the others he was responsible for. Meanwhile, he was free to get to the stricken Alpha Proxima ship and try to avert the disaster.

The crew on the bridge were in despair. They were only a few steps away from outright panic. The arrival of the TARDIS in the midst of them all didn’t help matters.

“All right, shut up,” Chrístõ said. “Somebody switch off that siren. It doesn’t make any difference. Your navigation drive is out of line. You’re going to crash into the Harlan Ellison, unless you get out of my way.”

There was no reason why they should have obeyed him except the tone of authority in his voice, the inheritance of his aristocratic race. It was enough. He went to the navigation computer and studied it carefully, then he opened up a panel and began to rewire with a speed that made those looking on dizzy.

“Instead of standing around like lemons, somebody take a look at the internal electronics,” he said without pausing in his efforts. “There are people on deck eleven who can’t reach the lifepod because of bulkhead failure.”

“He’s right,” somebody said and he was gratified to see that they made the effort. He carried on with what he was doing. If he got it right, if he could pull the ship out of its dangerously decaying course, then it wouldn’t matter. But if he failed again, then it would be some comfort to know that everyone else was safe.

“This ship should have been sent to the scrapyard,” he noted aloud. “Not on an intergalactic expedition. What were they thinking of on Alpha Proxima?”

“Cutting costs,” the first mate replied. “There was opposition in the Assembly to sending a contingent to the Olympiad. Proxima is hardly a rich colony.”

“I know,” Chrístõ commented tersely. “I’ve been there. Even so, I didn’t think they were stupid enough to cut corners with passenger safety.”

Nobody had any answer to that. He looked at the substandard wiring, the mass of melted circuitry that had caused the problem in the first place. He had time, but did he have enough?

“Get me a communicator,” he said. “I need to talk to somebody.”

A portable device was brought to him. It was voice activated. He didn’t stop working as he scanned the frequencies until he found the two way radio aboard the lifepod Julia had boarded.

“Are you safe?” he asked her. “The pod has launched?”

“Yes,” she answered. “Chrístõ, what about you? Where are you?”

He told her. He heard her gasp.

“I’m trying to stop the ships from colliding,” he said. “If I can do that, then the pods can be recalled. Everyone will be all right. We’ll reach the Olympiad after all. But if I can’t….”

“Chrístõ!” Julia’s voice was sharp. “Chrístõ, don’t risk your life. Get off there before it’s too late.”

“I’ll try,” he answered. “Julia… I love you. I want to tell you that.”

“I love you, too,” she replied. “And I need you alive. Please don’t… don’t do anything heroic like… like staying to the last minute. I don’t want to lose you this way.”

“I promise I won’t do anything ‘heroic!’” he told her. “Stay there, sweetheart. Stay on the communicator. I need to hear your voice.”

She stayed on the line. He spoke to her as he worked. She replied with a forced cheerfulness. He knew it was frightening in the lifepods, floating in space with emergency life support systems. But she was safe.

“Sir, we can’t get the bulkheads open,” the first mate told him. “Those people… they’re still trapped.”

“Try harder,” Chrístõ responded. “Where’s the captain?”

“He… was off duty when the crisis began,” the communications officer said. “I think he….”

Chrístõ carefully calmed himself. He couldn’t let his hands shake as he worked. But his anger seethed, all the same. It was merely a tradition, not any intergalactic law, that said that a Captain had to go down with his ship. Even so, for the man to have got into a lifepod while there were still passengers trapped aboard, as well as crew members, was disgraceful. He would see that the man was disciplined when this was over.

If he survived. The memory of ‘being dead’ was still chillingly fresh in his mind. He still didn’t understand what had happened, but he knew he had a chance this time – just the one. He had a chance to get it right and save everyone… including himself.

He connected two wires and soldered them to the damaged circuit board with his sonic screwdriver. There was a reassuring noise from the navigation computer. He looked at the screen. It was working, briefly at least. The patched wiring would overload in minutes. The circuits would be destroyed completely this time.

So he couldn’t waste time. He typed rapidly, his fingers flying across the keyboard.

The circuits overloaded. The smell of burnt wiring assailed his nostrils. The screen went blank. The keyboard was dead. Navigation was down again.

But he felt the difference beneath his feet. The few minutes when he had been in control had worked a change.

Was it enough of a change?

“Everyone follow me,” he said. He stepped into the TARDIS and went to the console. Behind him, the crew slowly stepped aboard, staring at the relatively dimensional room they found themselves in.

“Close the door,” Chrístõ told the last one. “It’s ok. I bought us time. That cranky old ship isn’t going to collide with anything now. It’s heading towards the Barrian magnetic field, which will rip it to pieces as surely as the wrecking crew that ought to have had it years ago. But it won’t come within the field for another three days. That’s plenty of time for me to pick up the trapped passengers and take everybody over to the Harlan Ellison. It’ll be somebody else’s headache how to accommodate the extra crew and passengers for the rest of the journey to the Hydra sector.”

Picking up the passengers was a simple manoeuvre for the TARDIS. Taking them to the safety of the other ship was even easier. While that was happening he opened a communications channel, first a general one that connected with all of the lifepods, telling them that the ship was safe, and that the recall would begin in a short time. Then he made a private call to Julia.

“It’ll take a while to sort everything out,” he said. “I want to make a formal report about the state of that ship and its captain. But after that, I want to take a few days out. I need to go home.”

“Home… to Gallifrey, you mean?”

“Yes. I need to spend some time with my father. If you’d rather stay on the ship with your friends….”

“Are you kidding?” Julia responded. “If you need to go to Gallifrey then I’m coming with you. I’m kind of fed up of space travel myself at the moment.”

It wasn’t until late in the evening of his first day back home that Chrístõ got to talk to his father privately. He was in his bedroom, the one that still bore the hallmarks of teenage pre-occupations. He looked out of the window as the Gallifreyan sun went down over the demesne. It was so comfortingly familiar, and this time it was real.

“What happened?” he asked his father. “It couldn’t just be a dream. It felt too real. But I’ve never had precognitive visions before. And if I did… it was so detailed. Besides, a vision of my death… of being a ghost, watching you all mourning me….”

“I don’t know,” his father admitted. “It sounds like precognition. Except that you changed it. You stopped the collision. You save the civilians. You saved your own life. You changed your destiny.”

“Did I break any Laws of Time doing it?” Chrístõ wondered.

“I’m not sure I would care if you did,” his father told him. “I’m glad you’re alive. You’re my son, my heir. And I love you. If you get any more precognitions like that, then go ahead and change things. I’ll always be glad that you did.”

Chrístõ sighed with relief. He really felt as if it was over now that he had told his father the whole story. Now he could put the whole frightening experience behind him.

“Garrick wants to spend the day with you tomorrow,” Lord de Lœngbærrow added. “Maybe you could take him out for a drive. He likes being with you. Get him to talk about the Schism, if you can. He’s starting to get nervous about it, and you can reassure him better than I can.”

“I’ll do that,” Chrístõ promised happily.