After six months in space the Starship Harlan Ellison had almost reached its destination in the Hydra system and there was a new feeling of excitement and anticipation among the passengers. Soon they would no longer be passengers, they would be Olympians, gathered on Hydra IV for the most important event in their lives - the one they had been preparing for almost all of their lives. In two days’ standard Earth time they would be there. Over the next six weeks they would get the chance to prove that their years of dedication were not in vain and that they were worthy of the honour of representing their part of the Earth Federation at this great event.

“It’s actually a little bit scary,” Julia admitted. She was standing on the observation deck with Chrístõ, looking at the still distant star that was the Hydra sun and the blue disk of the outermost planet, Hydra VI. “I’ve dreamt of the Olympics since I was a little girl and now it’s almost here. It’s scary to think that after these six weeks are up, whether I win medals or not, the ambition that has driven me nearly all my life will be finished. I’ll either have achieved everything I hope for and go home in glory, or I’ll have failed and I’ll know there won’t be another chance to get it right. By the time the Olympics come around again, I’ll be too busy getting married to you.”

“If… you really wanted… to try again… we could wait,” Chrístõ said. He struggled to say those words. He loved Julia and his ambition for a very long time was to be married to her. Deferring that ambition would be hard.

“No,” she answered. “I decided a long time ago that I would have one chance to be the best I can be in gymnastics, and then it would be over. And I’m sticking to that. It’s just a bit daunting knowing that the time is coming, so very, very soon, when I swap one ambition for another.”

“The other ambition being the one where you marry me and become a Lady of Gallifrey.”

“Well, obviously. What else?”

“I don’t know,” Chrístõ admitted. “I mean, you’re studying for a teaching certificate as well as the sports diploma. Maybe you’d want to be a teacher.”

“I’m planning to be,” Julia answered him. “There’s a school on the Lœngbærrow Estate. Your mother taught there when she came to Gallifrey as your father’s new, young wife. I intend to do the same.”

“Oh, right,” Chrístõ conceded. “Well, that’s all right then.”

“I know I’ve got a future beyond these six weeks,” Julia said. “Even though I am nervous as anything about what’s going to happen, and I really, really hope I DO win at least one medal, at least I know there is a life beyond the Olympics. That makes me about the only person on this ship who isn’t one of the crew that thinks that way. Everyone else is so focussed they can’t think beyond the closing ceremony.”

“Well, you HAVE to be focussed to be an Olympic champion.”

“Yes, but when it’s over, for everyone else who isn’t going to be marrying a Time Lord and living a fantastic wonderful life, it is all going to feel very empty afterwards. This will be a ship full of really depressed people on the way home, and not just the ones who didn’t win medals. Even the winners will be feeling the anti-climax by the time we’re going in the opposite direction.”

“Maybe I’d better take a crash course in motivational therapy,” Chrístõ commented. “Or perhaps we should take the quick route back home in the TARDIS and leave them all to it.”

“I like the ideas of the quick route,” Julia said. “Although, I will miss everyone. That’s another thing. We’ve been like a big, extended family all these months, and when we reach Hydra, all that changes. After that we’ll be under those silly laws they have - separate living quarters for male and female competitors, and a curfew for under twenty-fives at nine o’clock every night.”

“They’re not silly laws,” Chrístõ said, correcting her gently. “At least they’re not to the Hydran government. They really believe they have to legislate against lewd and unGodly behaviour, and as visitors to their world everyone on this ship, and all the ships coming from other systems, have to understand that, otherwise dreadful things might happen.”

He thought about the chaperone briefings he had attended in the past week. Hydra IV was not as rigid in the application of religious laws as the inner planets of the system. They allowed drinking in public as long as it was in designated bars and restaurants and married women were allowed to work outside the home and family. But chastity among young people was rigidly enforced. The arrival of several thousand athletes, most of them young, was a matter of concern for the religious leaders of the planet. The need to respect local customs and laws was already being drilled into the adults who were there to look after the young Olympians. They had a solemn responsibility to ensure that it was instilled into their charges, now.

“You know,” he added with a smile that twinkled in his eyes. “In ancient Olympia women weren’t allowed to compete, or even to watch the events. It was strictly men only. The competitors and spectators were all naked in order to ensure no women were sneaking into the games.”

“Good job Camilla wasn’t around, then,” Julia responded with a soft laugh. Chrístõ laughed, too. He hugged her close and kissed her thoroughly, ignoring the appreciative wolf whistles and cheers from three of the martial arts team that he regularly chaperoned. He was making the most of the freedom to kiss his fiancée wherever he chose to kiss her. There were rules about that in the Hydra quadrant, too.

When he finished kissing her it was time to leave the observation deck. Julia was going to a rehearsal for the opening ceremony, the presentation almost perfected now with only days to the big event.

Chrístõ had a rather less palatable task. He was attending a meeting for the chaperones and stewards where they were being taken through the laws and statutes of Hydra in detail.

The handbook they were all given as they came into the conference suite and found their seats was printed in close type on foolscap paper and was an inch and a half thick. There were groans of despair all around that were not assuaged when a mere thirty page digest of the most important points of the law was handed around to accompany the full text.

Chrístõ had managed to get a seat by one of the large exo-glass windows. He glanced out at the view of the Hydra system from the edge of deep space and then opened the handbook. His pupils dilated rapidly as he read the contents from cover to cover and then closed it again. The digest took only a few seconds. They were both as dull as a textbook on Gallifreyan law, doubtless written by the same kind of humourless civil servants who sought to eliminate every possible loophole in the legislation.

And like Gallifreyan law which he was honour bound to obey, the contents of the handbook were binding upon him as soon as he set foot on Hydran soil. It was a prospect that did not cheer him very much.

Sir Giles Pargiter of the Colonial Office introduced himself to the assembled group. He was a man who the civil service had not quite robbed of either humour or compassion, but it was his job to make sure everyone understood the importance of obedience to the rules laid down in the heavy texts they had been given.

“You have all heard jokes about Hydran religious fundamentalism,” Sir Giles said. “How many Hydrans does it take to change a lightbulb – one and another twenty to pray for its sins, that sort of thing.” He paused, but nobody laughed. It wasn’t an especially good example of that type of joke and besides, nobody was in the mood. “I am sure I don’t need to remind you not to make that sort of joke when we reach Hydra, or to allow those you are caring for to make them. There is no actual law about jokes, but it comes under the general heading of blasphemy and there are heavy fines and custodial sentences for transgressors.”

He paused before continuing.

“As visitors to Hydra you do not have to attend daily church services, but during the hours of six am to seven am and four pm and five pm it would be advisable to stay indoors in quiet pursuits such as reading. Noisy outdoor games and activities during worship times are subject to fines and custodial periods.”

Nobody had any questions to ask, but there were murmurs of disquiet before Sir Giles continued.

“Alcohol may only be purchased and consumed at licenced restaurants and cafes, and then within strict guidelines. No more than three alcoholic units may be consumed by any individual in a twenty-four hour period. A list of what constitutes a unit of alcohol is in the appendix of the digest. Do not try to get around this law. Excess consummation of alcohol is punishable by fines and custodial periods, and in case of extreme drunkenness, corporal punishments may be administered. The Hydran government make no distinction between residents and visitors in this regard. They enforce the rule for male and female, old and young.”

Sir Giles again paused while the seriousness of the matter sank in.

“Sex,” he said next. There were a few giggles. He let them pass. “This is a subject upon which I cannot place enough emphasis. The Hydrans do not permit sexual consummation outside of marriage. They do not permit male and female co-habitation outside of marriage. They educate their children separately according to gender. There are strict laws about male and female clothing. ‘Cross-dressing’ is not permitted. Outside of the sports arenas where special dispensation is made, ladies must wear skirts, gentlemen must wear trousers, and in the case of the former there is a prescribed length that must be adhered to. Outside of the Olympic village all women must wear head coverings at all times. Kissing is only permitted between men and women who are formally engaged to be married, and then only in designated public places.”

Sir Giles paused and scanned the faces of the people looking back at him. One of the few who wasn’t looking was Chrístõ. He was looking out of the window. He had been paying full attention to the honourable gentleman, but the view out of the window was more interesting to look at, all the same.

He was a little surprised when his name was called out. He felt as if he had been caught slacking at school.

“Yes, sir?” he answered.

“You lodged an application before the ship left the Beta Delta quadrant. Your visa recognising your formal betrothal to a young lady by name of….” Sir Giles consulted his notes. “Julia Sommers, born on Earth, now resident of Beta Delta… The visa was approved by the Hydran civil service. Here are your documents. Remember to keep them with you at all times when you leave the Olympic village, or you and your fiancée could find yourself in default of the chastity laws.”

Chrístõ stood and walked up to the front of the room to collect the officially stamped and certified document. As he walked back he couldn’t fail to hear some of the comments his colleagues were making, even without superior Gallifreyan hearing.

Nor did Sir Giles.

“Young man, I hope you understand that the visa is certainly NOT a licence to ‘snog’ or any other activity for which your friends have such colourful euphemisms. You are responsible for your conduct and that of your young lady. If you breach any of the laws, there is nothing the Colonial Office can do to prevent you both receiving very harsh and very public punishments.”

“I understand fully, sir,” Chrístõ replied. There was nothing more to say. Sir Giles was right. Adherence to these very stringent rules was the only sensible thing to do. He understood better than anyone else here. After all, before becoming a teacher and an Olympic chaperone he had been a roving Ambassador for the Gallifreyan government who had to be aware of local customs and etiquette that could sometimes verge on the bizarre. Even before then, when he was merely a post-graduate student exploring the galaxies he did so under the over-riding constraint that local customs should not be abused or disregarded.

Sir Giles continued to explain why it was so necessary for everyone to abide by the Hydran law. The hosting of the Olympiad in a colony system with such a reputation for fundamentalism was a huge gamble by the Earth Federation’s cultural department. There were critics everywhere who thought it was a bad idea to allow the Hydrans to demonstrate their extremist ideas to the rest of the Federation. There were critics in the Hydra system who believed the presence of libertarians from systems such as Beta Delta would be a destabilising influence on their society, leading to anarchy and blasphemous activities among their young.

Both sides feared an incident that might bring the Olympiad into disrepute and sour the tenuous relations Hydra had with the rest of the Federation.

The men and women in the conference room listening to Sir Giles had a duty to prevent such incidents. They all understood that from the very start when they applied for the chaperone jobs, but until now few of them had realised how heavy the burden of responsibility was going to be.

Chrístõ’s ‘licence to snog’ was one of the few things they had to laugh about when the meeting ended and they sought coffee in the refectory and a chance to vent their thoughts about it all.

“They actually have penalties for spitting, littering and breaking wind in public,” said one of the male chaperones flicking through the digest.

“How do they actually enforce the last of those?” asked one of his colleagues, David Hamil from Beta Delta III. There was some humorous speculation about the ‘stink police’ going around capturing smells and using them as evidence.

“They don’t,” Chrístõ pointed out as the laughter died. “He was making the last bit up. Spitting and littering are disgusting habits, anyway. There are by-laws on Beta Delta about them, too. They’re just not as rigidly applied.”

“The penalty for littering in New Canberra is a ten dollar fine. On Hydra it’s ten lashes with a birch rod.”

“Then don’t litter,” Chrístõ said. “We’ve all been warned. And it’s our job to pass the warning on to those we’re in charge of.”

“I’m starting to wonder if we SHOULD be going there at all,” remarked a female chaperone called Nancy Andrews who had come from the Beta Delta university along with her sister who was in the swimming team. “It was an insane idea to let them host the Olympics. There should have been a boycott until they agreed to get rid of their corporal punishments.”

“Corporal punishments aren’t the worst of it,” David Hamil added. He opened up the heavy handbook at one page. “The punishment for a man kissing a man in public is five hundred days’ hard labour for both of them plus re-education. For a woman kissing a woman it is four hundred days and a re-education programme.”

Chrístõ thought about Camilla and tried not to smile. It wasn’t a joke for David Hamil. He had joined the chaperone programme to be with HIS fiancé, but he had no chance of being granted a visa recognising their betrothal. His intended was a member of the MALE athletics team.

“You two be VERY careful,” Chrístõ told him sympathetically. “We don’t want to make the return journey without you both.”

“We all knew when we set out,” Nancy Andrews reminded them. “We’ve all heard about the sort of extreme laws the Hydrans have. But having the meeting with Sir Giles, and getting this brick of a handbook just brought it all into sharp focus. The reality of six weeks living in a totalitarian state. Is it any wonder we’re all wishing, in some corner of our minds, that we could just turn around and forget the whole thing?”

Everyone sipped their coffee and agreed that the thought had crossed their minds more than once. Then they sighed and drained their cups and split up to find their beds in their cabins or quiet corners of the library to study the ‘brick’ and make sure they were prepared for the chore that lay before them.

Chrístõ went to watch Julia’s rehearsal and then they went back to his cabin. It was two hours to supper, but he wanted to lie down on his bed with her beside him. He wanted to put his arms around her shoulders and hold her so close that her heartbeat joined in with his syncopated pair in an organic percussion that accompanied the deep, lingering kisses he gave her.

“I’m not looking forward to being separated from you,” he said. “We can’t even take our TARDIS trips one we reach Hydra. It has to stay in the space dock. Teleportation devices are banned on Hydra.”

“Everything is banned on Hydra,” Julia sighed. “I mean, what’s WRONG with kissing?”

“They think it will lead to more than kissing.”

“We’ve been formally engaged for two years now,” Julia pointed out. “And we’ve never done anything other than kiss, even when we’ve spent the night together.”

“Yes, but I’m a Time Lord with a very strict code of conduct of my own. On the other hand, Marle Benning has had to take time out from her studies at Nova Lancastria because she and Pieter Stein are having a baby any time now and they aren’t planning to get married until next June. There are people who think that’s irresponsible and immoral of them. And before I spent so much time living with humans, I probably would have been one of them. The Hydrans aren’t wrong in wanting to maintain a certain code of behaviour. It’s just the way they enforce it that leads to criticism.”

“Still, with all of that to deal with on top of butterflies about competing, is it any wonder I feel like I don’t WANT to get there.”

“You’re not the only one,” Chrístõ admitted. “I think most of the passengers are starting to feel the same way. This is not the most emotionally steady bunch of people right now.”

“How about we get away from it all after supper?” Julia suggested. “Let’s take the TARDIS somewhere nice with no rules of any sort.”

“Why wait?” Chrístõ decided. “Let’s go now.” He jumped from the bed and pressed the panel in the wall that opened up the rest of the TARDIS console room. Humphrey trilled and came out from under the console. He greeted him cheerfully.

“There weren’t any Hydran rules about darkness creature, but they’ll probably make one if they find out about you,” he said with grim irony. He wondered where they ought to go. Perhaps a trip to Adano Ambrado. He was always welcome there, after all, and there were few rules that applied to the Crown Prince and his fiancée.

He set the co-ordinate and pressed the dematerialisation switch. The time rotor rose and fell sluggishly and stuttered to a halt.

“What’s wrong, old girl?” he whispered and tried again. This time the whole TARDIS shuddered before coming to a halt again. Julia got up from the bed and came to join him by the console.

“There’s a problem?” she asked.

“We can’t dematerialise,” he answered. “I don’t know what’s wrong. I’m sorry. I don’t think we’re going to get a trip this evening.”

“That’s all right.” Julia tried to hide her disappointment. “How about I go to the refectory and get supper to go. We can have a nice quiet evening together in here, with nobody to bother us.”

“Sounds good to me,” Chrístõ answered. He kissed her on the cheek and watched her go before he ducked under the drive console and began unfastening panels to search for a mechanical problem.

But there wasn’t one. He ran three diagnostics and they all indicated that the TARDIS was working perfectly.

The problem was the co-ordinates. It simply wasn’t accepting them.

“Come on,” he said. “You KNOW the way to Adano-Ambrado. We’ve been there SO many times you could do it blindfold.”

The TARDIS didn’t reply, of course. It never did.

Then Julia ran back into the console room. She was out of breath and worried. Chrístõ caught her in his arms and calmed her racing heart.

“Chrístõ, it’s not just the TARDIS that can’t get anywhere. The whole ship has ground to a halt. We can’t move forward.”

“You mean the engines have failed?”

No, if it was simply that it wouldn’t affect the TARDIS, of course. It had to be something far more sinister, far more serious.

“I wonder….”

He turned to the console and put in a new co-ordinate. It accepted that one, because it was no further than the bridge of the Starship Harlan Ellison, a mere half a mile and seventeen decks away from his berth.

The crew were startled by the arrival of the TARDIS on the bridge, but they were also relieved. They knew that Chrístõ was far more than a chaperone. He had already dealt with one alien incursion and a near miss with another ship in the course of their six month journey. If anyone could help them, he could.

“Let me see,” he said, calmly taking over the navigation array which was willingly given up to him. He checked the ship’s co-ordinates and the route she should have been taking through the Hydran solar system. He noted what had happened every time the pilot had tried to take her forward for the past hour.

“We just keep hitting an invisible wall or a net,” the Captain said. “It throws the ship back like a bouncing ball. I stopped all engines. I don’t know what it would do to the hull integrity if I keep trying. Maybe we can smash through… but it may just as easily smash us.”

“Did you try going backwards?” Chrístõ asked. The Captain admitted that he had not.

They tried that. It didn’t work. The huge cruise ship with its thousands of passengers on bounced off the invisible wall behind it so hard that it was propelled forward into the wall in front of it. When it stopped rebounding back and forward the Captain ordered ‘stop all engines’ again.

“We’re trapped?” The terrible thought went around the bridge quickly. Chrístõ could feel the fear and dismay among the crew like a palpable thing.

“What does this thing look like?” he asked himself rather than anyone else. “Is it a flat wall, or concave…. How high is it?”

He typed rapidly at the navigation control, making a connection between that computer array and his TARDIS and using both to extrapolate information.

“That’s why my TARDIS couldn’t get to Adano-Ambrado,” he concluded. “We’re surrounded – back, front, top, bottom. We’re in a cage, a ball, a bubble… something that has completely enclosed the ship. My TARDIS couldn’t penetrate it. As far as her logic circuits were concerned the space within this bubble was the whole universe and nothing outside it existed.”

He turned a dial and an image appeared on all of the screens on the bridge. It was a picture, as far as the TARDIS could tell, of the trap the Harlan Ellison was caught in. Everyone stared at it.

“It’s like… a sort of….”

“A squid,” Julia said. She looked at the image on the monitor where Chrístõ was working. “A huge space squid made of… I don’t know… some kind of crystal… a crystal squid in space.”

“And we’re caught in its belly,” Chrístõ added, though nobody really needed to be told that. In fact, he regretted the description immediately. It conjured up ideas of the ship being digested. He quickly reassured everyone about that. The ‘squid’ was very definitely not organic. It was exactly what Julia had said – a form of carbon much like diamond, but with a polarisation that made it invisible to the naked eye, not to mention any normal kind of environmental scanner. Even the TARDIS had to be recalibrated to look for something utterly abnormal.

“How do we get out of it?” the navigator asked after he had finished explaining all of that to them. The man sounded like he was on the verge of hysterics. His job, his reason for being on the ship was to guide it through space. But space, now, was an area less than a mile in diameter around the stationary ship. More than anyone else on the bridge the futility of his existence in such a situation hit home.

Chrístõ sought an answer that would reassure him but he didn’t have one.

“How long can this last?” the Captain asked as the answer to the navigator’s question continued to remain unanswered. “We have fuel and supplies to last longer than the estimated journey. But if we’re stranded here… if nothing can get in to us, and we can’t get out… sooner or later the food will run out… water… eventually the power… life support.”

“Yes.” Chrístõ had already thought of all those worst case possibilities. But he hadn’t yet given up hope. He wouldn’t let them just sit here and starve to death in a strange pocket universe cut off from the safety of the planet they were only days away from reaching.

“Only a little while ago I was DREADING reaching Hydra IV,” the pilot said as Chrístõ adjusted the controls once more to try to find a weak point in the crystal body of the space entity. “Now, it feels like a safe haven.”

“You… don’t like Hydra?” Chrístõ asked. An idea had begun to form in his mind.

“I hate it,” he answered. “The last time I came here… when I was on shore leave… I was mugged by a couple of hoodlums. They stole my money, my uniform, left me with two bruised ribs. But when I reported it to the police, they were more interested in prosecuting me for not having a shirt on in public. I spent five days in their ‘correction facility’ for indecency.”

The communications officer and his junior officer had similar stories about falling foul of the strict and utterly unbending laws of Hydra IV. Even those who had never been there before had heard things that made them dread arriving at the space port.

“Is EVERYONE aboard this ship dreading this destination?” Chrístõ asked. The question was only part rhetorical. He thought about some of the conversations he had listened to in the last few days. When Julia had talked about being a little scared of what lay ahead, because it was the culmination of all her dreams, there was an unspoken desire to keep dreaming and not actually reach that culmination. The chaperones and stewards weighed down with the burden of ensuring that the Olympiad passed without any competitor confined to the correction facility for breaking any of those Hydran laws would have been glad to turn around and go back home without setting foot on the planet.

Then he remembered what he had thought a little while ago, about the fear among the crew being nearly palpable.

If enough people were scared of arriving at Hydra, could that fear become a physical thing? Could it actually stop the ship?

It sounded ridiculous. It sounded impossible.

But ridiculous, impossible things happened in space. He had enough experience of it to know that.

He looked around the bridge. All of the senior crew were there. The first and second mate looked as if they had been off duty and were called to their posts in the emergency.

“Captain,” he said in a calm tone. “Could you please ask the Entertainments Officer to come to the bridge?”

“Entertainment?” the Captain was surprised and puzzled. “How can he possibly….”

Chrístõ explained his idea quickly. The Captain was not the only senior crew member who stared at him in amazement. What he was proposing was almost as ridiculous as the idea of a giant crystal space squid that reacted to negative emotions.

“Captain, I want you to trust me on this,” Chrístõ said. “It might look and sound a bit crazy, but if I’m right, it will solve all our immediate problems. If I’m wrong… then… then at least we’ll all die happy. Just trust me.”

He wasn’t using Power of Suggestion to influence the Captain. He was genuinely asking the most senior man on the ship to trust his judgement even though it seemed rather skewed at the moment.

“I trust you,” the Captain said. “Besides, it doesn’t look as if anything else is going to work.”

By now everyone aboard the Starship Harlan Ellison knew there was something wrong. They had felt the shuddering halt and the ominous vibrations as the ship crashed into the invisible walls that stopped them travelling back and forward. They knew that the ship’s engines had been stopped. They were waiting in dread the order to abandon ship and take to the lifepods.

Instead, they were told to make their way to the recreation deck. All evening classes, rehearsals and meetings were cancelled. It was time to party.

Of course, over the six months they had been living on the ship they had partied many times, formally and informally. There was a band whose job it was to entertain the passengers every night. They weren’t as good at Ice Garden or any of the top bands on the Earth Federation music scene, but they could play well enough to get everyone dancing.

Despite already being warned about the possibility of food rationing, the ship’s kitchens laid on a buffet and there were free drinks for those who wanted them. Few people over-indulged. They were athletes who knew what was good for their bodies and their training programmes. But they had enough food and drink to feel as if they were letting their hair down for a while and to lose any inhibitions they might have.

The official ship’s band weren’t the only performers that night. They told their audience that anyone could come up on stage and do a turn. People whose greatest talent was running, rowing, cycling, swimming proved that they could hold a tune or tell jokes or juggle. Julia kept the audience spellbound for a while with her interpretation of Stravinsky’s Firebird. Chrístõ himself went up on stage and sang a song he once performed when he was a contestant in the Teen Dream reality show.

He danced with Julia. He danced with all of the girls in her gymnastic team. He danced with David Hamil and his boyfriend in turn. Everyone danced, sang and enjoyed themselves.

They forgot about their anxiety about the Olympics, about winning or losing medals. They forgot about the empty future that might lie beyond their one shot at glory. They forgot the stringent, over-bearing laws the Hydran government imposed on citizens and visitors alike.

“Do you feel it?” Chrístõ asked above the sound of the music and laughter as the ship’s clocks indicated it was midnight by standard Earth time.

“Feel what?” Julia answered him.

“The engines… the ship is moving again.”

“It is?” Julia stood still and tried to feel the vibration she had become so accustomed to, but the music was too loud. The pounding of dancing feet on the floor overwhelmed anything else. Only Chrístõ with his unique abilities could possibly have separated those noises from the sound of the ship’s engines.

“Come on,” he said, grasping her by the hand. They left the recreation hall and headed up by turbo lift to the observation deck. There was music there, too. The sounds of the party had been piped throughout the ship so that everyone, even those with work to do, could feel the excitement and the joy of it all.

Chrístõ aimed his sonic screwdriver at the speakers and the sound was muted. He held Julia’s hand as they stood before the exo-glass and looked out at the starfield beyond the Hydran system. They looked at the still distant star that was the Hydra sun and the blue disk of the outermost planet, Hydra VI. It was the same view they had looked at a few hours ago. They were not travelling fast enough for it to look very different, yet. But they were travelling, now. They were moving through space and in two days time they would reach the space dock in orbit around Hydra IV. After what was sure to be a tedious process with immigration, they would transfer to shuttles that would take them to the planet, and then on to the Olympic village that would be their home for the next two months, the place where glory or ignominy awaited them.

“Don’t you want to go to the TARDIS and check that it’s all right?” Julia asked him.

“No need. I know I got it right. Once we got rid of all the negative energy around the ship, by having a really good party and forgetting about all our troubles for a while, it was bound to be all right.”

“You could have been wrong,” Julia pointed out.

“Yes, I know. But I was pretty sure I wasn’t.”

“And WHY, if it was a physical manifestation of our anxieties, did it take the shape of a squid?”

“That I don’t know. Call it one of the mysteries of the universe. There are a few of them that even Time Lords can’t figure out. Anyway, what do you think? Shall we rejoin the party or would you like to get away from it all in the TARDIS?”

“Let’s just stay right here for a little while then maybe go back to the party,” Julia answered. “Then I think we’re all going to sleep in late in the morning, including you, even if you are a Time Lord who doesn’t need sleep.”

Chrístõ grinned. He had a very strong feeling that she was right about that.