The morning went well for Penne and his new found friends. They walked in the gardens as Chrístõ again made suggestions of how he might improve his system of government, with input from both Terry and Cassie. Penne looked happy. Chrístõ wondered if he ever had been genuinely happy before even with the trappings of luxury.

That happiness was shattered, though, in an instant, with a sound that burst in the air above them. The sonic boom of a spacecraft entering the atmosphere.

"Sweet Mother of Chaos!" Penne murmured and Chrístõ thought it odd that the only part of Gallifreyan culture he had in him was a rather ineffectual swear word usually pronounced in Low Gallifreyan. But his thought was immediately distracted as he looked up and saw what had caused him to utter that unlikely oath. A spaceship hanging in the sky, one that looked so ungainly and ugly that even Chrístõ, who knew all there was to know about space travel, was amazed it WAS hanging there.

"What is it?" Terry asked, shouting above the noise of the great engines.

"Troop ship from Adano Gran," Penne answered. "They must have moved into orbit overnight. Surprise attack. The truce between our planets was always a flimsy one. It seems they have chosen to break it."

"*&^%$!" Chrístõ indulged in a choice piece of Low Gallifreyan himself.

"I'm being deposed, brother," Penne said. "My rule here is over. I so wanted to make the changes you've advised me to make. To be a better man - a better ruler. But it's too late."

"Just like that?" Cassie looked surprised. "Without a fight?"

"You're going to run out on your people?"

"If you think I'M a bad ruler - Adano Gran has two kinds of people living there. The rich, and SLAVES. And slaves don't live full and happy lives. But I have a small part time militia to keep the peace in my own territory. I have no means to fight an invasion. "

"How can we help?" Terry asked.

"You can't." Penne said. "The best thing you can do is get back in your machine and get away from here while you can."

"No…" Cassie said. "Chrístõ… we can't just leave, can we?"

"Come with us," Bo said to Penne.

"No," he said. "I can't." He laughed. "If you'd asked me yesterday, I'd have come. Abandoned the planet. But… then I met Chrístõ and his father… and they told me who I am. And… And even knowing WHO I am, they still think I can be a better person. And now I need to at least try to protect my people. I NEED to be a good leader, if only in the last."

"Then we're not leaving," Chrístõ said. And he saw his friends nod in agreement. "As Terry said, how can we help?"

"You already have," he said. "You've given me your friendship." He looked to his house. Servants were running towards them, shouting incoherently. "They're at the gate," he said. And he began to run towards the house. Chrístõ looked at his friends and then ran after him.

"I'd better see if I can do anything to help," Terry said looking up at the spacecraft. "You girls…" But they cut him off.

"We'll ALL help him." Bo said. "We MUST help him. We must help them BOTH."

They hurried towards the Manor. In the front hall they saw the door splintered off the hinges and Chrístõ kneeling on the floor shaking in mental anguish, a fencing sword held limply in his hand.

"Chrístõ…" Bo ran to him and embraced him, but he gently pushed her away.

"Chrístõ," Terry said. "What happened? Where's…."

"I'm not Chrístõ," he said. "I'm Penne," and when he stood up they saw the difference. "I ran to my room to get this useless sword. Chrístõ was halfway up the stairs to follow me when the Adano Gran militia burst in. They took him thinking he was me - and he never told them who he was. He protected me." He looked at Bo who had moved away from him as soon as she realised her mistake. "Chrístõ had all the luck when he met you, sweet thing. And I DO wish those kisses were meant for me. But… unless he has some more luck… he's a dead man. I heard them….They told him they're going to execute me as an example to my people - to make them obey."

"Oh!" Bo gave a soft sob and Penne actually turned to comfort her, but Cassie got to her first. Terry, meanwhile, rounded on Penne.

"You let HIM be taken and did nothing?" he shouted. "You stood by…. I was right about you from the start. Chrístõ trusted you….and you…."

"There were too many of them. Nothing I could do," Penne protested. "Chrístõ fought them but they overpowered him."

"You still could have tried…" Terry ran at him and got in two punches before Penne responded with a blow that floored Terry. Cassie screamed and ran between them.

"Stop it, both of you," she said. "We have to trust each other. We have to save Chrístõ. And we have to do something about these invaders who want to take your planet from you - people made into slaves…. No way."

"I don't know what to do," Penne said. "All the ideas I have… came from Chrístõ."

"Do you intend to stand around then? And let him die for you?"

"No. But I need help…. You… his friends… have no reason to trust me. I have no right to expect anything of you…to order you…"

"Chrístõ IS our friend," Terry told him. "WE don't need a leader, we don't need orders. Just tell us where they took him."

"To the town square," he said. "And they took…." His voice seemed to break as he spoke. "All these years I never knew. The machine…. The one my parents used…. It was here. In the basement of this house. And they took it. They're going to…"

"No!" It was Cassie who screamed the loudest. "No, not Chrístõ…."

"That IS a useless sword," Bo said in the shocked silence that followed. "I'm getting mine from the TARDIS." Terry looked at her and followed. He didn't know how to use a sword, but he'd learn fast if he had to. Before he'd let Chrístõ die without a fight.

When they got back, Bo almost passed out in shock when she saw Penne standing on the stairs dressed in Chrístõ's clothes.

"I thought I'd be better off in something that doesn't have my insignia on it," He said, pulling nervously at the cuffs of the jacket.

"Just so you know," Terry told him. "Chrístõ's getting that back VERY soon."

"Count on it." He said. "Come on."

 

Most of the townspeople were in the square when they reached it. They had been herded there by the militia of the twin planet that arrived during the night. None of them looked happy. The women were tearful, the children scared, the men angry but helpless. And all looking in horrified fascination at the platform that had been raised in the middle of the square. Upon it, surrounded by armed guards, was Chrístõ, stripped of the black velvet and silver he had worn and standing barefoot in a rough grey robe. The instrument of torture and death conceived by a man of his own race and for some horrible reason transported to this planet was opened up and he was forced to lie down in it. There was a sort of neck brace and arm and leg manacles that held him in place and then the top part was brought down upon him. Even from the edge of the crowd his friends could see how death would come painfully slowly as weight was applied little by little, automatically, until it broke his back and crushed his ribcage.

"Get him out of there," Bo said to Penne.

"How?" he asked. Terry made a disgusted sound in his throat as he replied to him.

"These are still your people. Make them do something."

Penne nodded. That much, at least, was true. He looked around him. The enemies of his people ringed the square, but they were fewer in number than the people themselves. And at least a quarter of the men there were in the militia. All they lacked was leadership. His two hearts froze with fear and then swelled again. HE was their leader, and for the first time in his ineffective life he was required to REALLY lead.

 

Chrístõ took a deep breath as the deadly panel was brought down on him. His chest expanded enough to give his body the breathing space it needed for a little while. For as long as he could withstand the pressure. His ribcage was strong. His back was strong. He WAS a Time Lord. They had natural advantages over more fragile Humanoid species. But this machine was designed to kill Time Lords. And had painfully and horribly done so. It would kill him in time. He counted on Penne Duré to live up to his blood and become a leader instead of an effete fool. Was he banking on too much? Could a man change that much in such a short time? He was betting his life that he could.

He felt the mechanism wind another notch and the weight increase upon him. He suppressed a groan of pain and called out in his mind to his 'brother' to be what he believed he could be.

 

"I'm coming, brother," Penne said aloud.

"What?" Bo looked at him.

"I heard him… in my head," Penne told her. "He has faith in me. Nobody ever had faith in me. He does…. I can't let him down."

Bo caught his hand in hers. She kissed it. "Tell him I love him."

Penne Duré looked shocked for a moment as he realised that a two way process was possible. "He knows." He said. He grabbed the man in front of him and spun him around. He recognised him as his own head manservant. The manservant recognised him and with a pale face glanced back at the murderous contraption in the centre of the square. "That's an innocent man whose life I have to save even at cost of my own," Penne said in answer to the unasked question. "Are you loyal to me?"

"Yes, Sire," the manservant answered. "Most… if not all the people are."

"Then pass the message on. As many of you who can, have weapons ready. Be ready to fight when you see my signal."

"What signal?" But Penne Duré was moving through the crowd rapidly, moving people aside. Terry and Bo moved behind him. Cassie followed, though as the only one not carrying a weapon she didn't know what good she could be when they reached the inner circle where guards prevented anyone from reaching the platform.

Penne Duré had been taught to use a sword. Fencing was a gentlemanly art and he'd been raised to be a gentleman. The first time he thrust his sword through the flesh of an enemy, though, he was shocked to see the man fall. He was even more shocked to find that the girl by his side thought nothing of fighting those who stood in the way of them reaching Chrístõ in time. He was amazed when she sheathed her sword momentarily and flicked her wrists. Two metal 'stars' flew from her hands and thudded into the workings of the Peine Forte et Dure machine. It halted with a shudder, the mechanism jammed, buying Chrístõ a little time. Two more stars flew threw the air and lodged in the skulls of the two 'executioners' who had set him in the machine. A moment later the sword was in her hand again and she cut down the guard who stood in front of her. Penne did his best to emulate her coolness as they forced a path through to the platform. Terry and Cassie used the path to run ahead and reach the contraption as Penne and Bo fought off those who would interfere. They raised the weighted panel but they could not unfasten the manacles that held him in place.

"Stand off him," Bo said. She turned the sword in her hands and brought it down on the leg manacles. A Shaolin sword was sharp enough to go through metal as easily as flesh. A Shaolin master was precise enough to go through the metal and stop short of the flesh beneath. She freed his legs and arms. The neck brace was close though. The slightest miscalculation would have brought instant death to the man she loved. She paused a moment. Chrístõ looked up at her, their eyes connecting. She saw in them his absolute faith in her ability. She raised her sword, pushing away every possible doubt in her own ability as she brought it down.

Penne Duré stepped forward and took Chrístõ’s hand as he sat up. He slipped off the jacket he had ‘borrowed’ and put it around Chrístõ’s shoulders over the death robe. Then he helped him to his feet. He stumbled a little. His legs were numb from being manacled under the punishing weight. Penne and Bo between them held him upright as Penne turned to face the people. Time for that signal.

"I am Penne Duré," he shouted, and at once there was silence. "I am your Lord and your leader. This man… is an innocent man who was prepared to die in my place. I call him brother. I would like to call you ALL brothers and sisters. Will you fight the enemy that still seeks to enslave us all." Around the square he saw the Adano Gran militia realise how outnumbered they were. They raised weapons menacingly. But the people responded to Penne's words. Blast guns were wrested from them by men with improvised clubs or pocket knives or stones, or just bare hands as the people pushed back against the enemy.

Penne had calculated correctly. The people, properly motivated - and preventing themselves from being either enslaved or put into that dismal torture machine was a good motivation - chose to fight. The Adano Gran tactic had depended on them being too cowed by the slow, agonising death of their Lord and ruler to fight. They were very wrong. Seeing their Lord fight bravely to save an innocent man spurred them on. When those of the enemy who had gathered in the square were done, his own militia formed up and went through the town and found any that still remained.

But there was still a space ship in the sky above - the enemy was still there. Adano Menor was still in danger.

"I've lost my TARDIS key," Chrístõ said. "It was in the robe they took from me."

"Here." Terry gave him his. Terry knew he could open the TARDIS doors with it, but the remote function only worked for Chrístõ, the Time Lord who was symbiotic with the machine.

"Call up those men with arms you know you can trust," Chrístõ told Penne. "Fifteen or twenty would do." Chrístõ took the sword that Terry was as glad to relinquish as the TARDIS key. As Penne organised his troops on the platform Bo stood at Chrístõ's side, relieved that he was safe but knowing the fight was not yet over. He and Penne discussed their next tactic by the telepathic signals Penne had only just found awoken in him. Then the Lord of Adano Menor turned to his people.

"We will deal with the threat from the sky once and for all. Such a day as this will never come to our land again. Meanwhile, return to your homes, my good people, my faithful people - my brothers and sisters. Pray for us, and when we return it will be to a better day, a better future for all of us."

As he finished speaking Chrístõ pressed his TARDIS key. The ship materialised around all who stood on the platform. They were aware that the Peine Forte et Dure machine had materialised inside the TARDIS as well. Chrístõ said they would deal with it later. Meanwhile he scanned the sky and set co-ordinates for inside the Adano Gran mothership. Then he disappeared into the bowels of the TARDIS and returned properly dressed in his familiar black and looking reassuringly his old self again.

They materialised on the bridge, by sheer chance, but perfect for his plan. Chrístõ outlined it to Penne and let him lead, he and Bo behind him and Penne's Chosen Men behind them. Cassie and Terry came behind simply because they refused to stay aboard the TARDIS if Chrístõ, Bo and Penne were going to put their lives on the line. There was NOTHING for them to do. Terry freely admitted he was not a combatant.

Neither, Chrístõ thought, was he, when he was given the chance to be a pacifist - as he would prefer to be. But his passionate defence of natural justice meant that he fought more often than he would choose to do so. And at least he had the skill to do so.

Taking the bridge WAS relatively easy. They had the element of surprise. There was only a seven man crew on the bridge, plus the captain. Chrístõ and Bo between them disarmed and rendered unconscious four of the crew before any of the others could respond. Cassie dealt neatly with the first officer, who tried to grab her round the neck and discovered that a back heel in the parts his uniform did not protect could be neatly administered even by a peace-loving flower child. The communications officer had the presence of mind to sound the general alarm before he, too, was sent to a not too easy sleep by Bo's martial arts skills. But by then some of Penne's men had taken up the blast guns dropped by the incapacitated crew and they guarded the door to the bridge against all comers.

Meanwhile, Penne and the captain had their own fight. Penne had recognised him at once as he faced him, and his expression hardened.

"Xavier Salaraon," he growled. "So your father sent you on a little invasion?"

Salaraon looked at him. He was a man of maybe 30, with black hair and eyes and a swarthy complexion made darker by the careful growth of two or three days stubble that made his face seem shadowed. His expression was first one of shock as Penne faced him, then one of derision and scorn.

"My father is dead," Salaraon answered with a snarl. "I am Lord of Adano Gran now, and the treaty YOUR father made is of no meaning to me. I intend to take Adano Menor as part of my hegemony. You escaped the death I planned for you. But you won't escape my sword." Salaraon pulled his sword, a heavy steel blade that glinted in the light.

"Penne," Chrístõ said. "Do you need help, brother?"

"No," he said, glancing at Chrístõ. And he spoke to him in his head as he turned to face his enemy. "Don't try to help me. I have to do this myself. I am fighting for MY people, MY planet. It MUST be me alone. I must do it for my own self-respect and for the sake of my people. If I lose, if I die, my brother, please avenge me and try to form a government to rule in my place before you move on."

"You're a good man, Penne," Chrístõ told him in reply. For in making that decision he HAD proved himself. "Please be as good a swordsman, my brother."

"Penne," Bo shouted to him. "Here…." She threw her Shaolin sword to him just as Salaraon pressed forward his attack. Penne defended himself more skilfully than somebody who had spent his life in lazy leisure might be expected to manage. But his fencing sword was a toy compared to the weapon his enemy used and was bent out of shape by the counter move. He glanced around at Bo's shout and caught the sword, dropping his old one as he spun around to attack Salaraon. He blocked, but the new sword was clearly superior to his. The balance of the fight was turned ever so slightly.

As Penne's men held the approach to the Bridge, taking on those of Salaraon's crew who tried to reach him, Penne fought hard and manfully. His skill with a sword was, admittedly, less than that of his opponent, but he had a much better sword. He held his own for a long, long time. Chrístõ and his companions watched, he and Bo both fully intending to step in if, at any time, Penne seemed in mortal danger. They both of them were proud of his gesture in taking on his enemy alone, but at the same time they were not going to let him die.

Perhaps because Penne had more to lose, he fought the harder. He prevailed at last when a forward lunge by Salaraon badly missed its target and Penne brought his sword down on it near to the guard and sliced straight through it. His own astonishment at the superior strength of Bo's Shaolin sword was nothing to that of Salaraon as he found himself without a weapon. Penne caught him round the neck with his arm and pulled him round, the sword pricking his back. He pushed him to the communications panel and ordered him to tell his men to stand down and surrender. At sword point, Salaraon did so. In the corridor, the guns fell silent. Penne told his men to go through the ship and put all the crew in the brig.

But Salaraon was not done. He lunged back at Penne as held him and got away from his grasp. He saw his broken sword and lunged for it, grasping the blade that remained. His hand bled, but he was a desperate man and the fight was on again. Again, Penne warned Chrístõ not to get involved. It was HIS fight against HIS enemy. Chrístõ nodded and moved to the tactical console where he proceeded to examine the strength of the fleet Salaraon had brought with him. Bo stood at his side, one hand on Chrístõ's shoulder as she watched Penne's fight anxiously. She didn't love him as she loved Chrístõ, but he HAD been brave today. He HAD helped save Chrístõ's life. And she was praying fervently for him to beat Salaraon, who she knew for certain was a hard, evil man.

Of course, she had felt nearly as strongly about Penne to begin with. She had almost felt an aura of evil from him. And in a way she WAS right. Penne Duré's parents had been evil. But he, himself, was not. The aura had been dispelled as soon as the awful truth became known and Penne made his conscious decision to rise above his background and be a better man. From then on, she had begun to like this stranger with her beloved Chrístõ's face.

Penne again fought hard and fast and determined to prevail. And his Gallifreyan physiology came into its own as his opponent showed very slight signs of exhaustion, his blade not raising as high as he lunged at Penne, his defensive blocks not as solid as they might be. Penne knew he only had to keep fighting and not let his guard down and he would beat his enemy.

His chance came in another defensive mistake by Salaraon. Penne himself, in fact, misjudged his attack, but Salaraon failed completely to defend himself and the sword sliced into flesh. The throat to be precise, cutting Salaraon's trachea before coming to a rest buried in his vertebra. Salaraon's mouth opened in surprise, and blood spilled over his lips as he collapsed onto the floor, the sword pulling from him as Penne held it tightly.

He stood there for a long moment, staring at the body, finding it hard to believe that he HAD killed his enemy. It was Bo who came to him and took the sword from his unresisting hand, cleaning it carefully and putting it into the scabbard on her waist. Then she took Penne's hand and brought him to the command chair. "The victory is yours," she said quietly.

"Yes," Penne said. He looked so dazed now that Cassie and Terry both moved towards him, wanting to offer him comfort.

"It was a clean fight, Penne," Terry said. "You've no need to feel remorse."

"After what he did to Chrístõ," Cassie said, sobbing just at the thought of what might have been. "After that… he deserved to die."

"Nobody deserves to die," Chrístõ said looking up from the console. The sight of Penne sitting there, dressed like him, surrounded by his friends, was unnerving. It was like looking at himself from another person's point of view. "Penne, this makes you ruler by conquest of Adano Gran. But you need to do something about the fleet that's out there awaiting your command."

"MY command?" Penne looked startled.

"Yours," Chrístõ insisted. "It can come from nobody else. Go on. You can do it."

Penne looked at Chrístõ for a moment then asked him to open a communications channel to all the fleet.

"I am Penne Duré," he said. "I have defeated your leader, Xavier Salaraon. He is dead. I am now ruler by conquest of Adano Gran. Your allegiance is now to me."

The almost immediate response came from one of the fighter craft. It was a derisory laugh.

"We owe allegiance to whoever pays the highest price for our services," the fighter pilot said.

"Mercenaries!" Penne said with distaste.

"Why mercenaries?" Terry asked looking at Penne and Chrístõ as he moved from tactical to navigation and began laying in a course.

"Remember what Penne said before," Chrístõ said to him. "Adano Gran has only rich people and slaves."

"Rich people wouldn't fight," Cassie said. "And slaves wouldn't either but for the opposite reasons."

"Which is the reason why they have stayed away for so long," Penne said. "They simply couldn't be bothered invading. But Salaraon got greedy." He addressed the fleet again.

"Whatever Salaraon was paying you to take my planet from me, I am now paying you double to take HIS planet." There was a general acceptance of the terms. Penne turned and looked at Chrístõ. "I would say lay in a course for Adano Gran, but I know you already have."

Chrístõ looked at him and smiled. Penne relaxed in the hard-won command chair as his Chosen Men returned with a prisoner who, they said, was found cowering in the mess room. The man looked shocked beyond belief when he saw Penne, though not so surprised as Penne when he saw him.

"You…" he gasped in shock. "My own secretary. You betrayed me."

"That's how they knew that 'contraption' was in the house," Terry guessed.

The man cringed and begged for his life and pleaded that his mind had been weak and he had been persuaded by promises of riches to betray his master. Chrístõ and his companions all looked at the man in disgust. As little as they had thought of Penne Duré in their first impressions of him, it was not him alone that had been betrayed, but the whole people he ruled, who would have been made slaves of a regime even the old, lazy and disinterested Penne had despised.

Penne Duré stood and drew himself up manfully. Cassie and Bo smiled at each other and though neither were telepathic they knew they both had the same thought. NOW he really WAS like Chrístõ.

"I told my friends here that there is no capital punishment on Adano Menor. That is the truth. As you know, as one of its citizens. Chrístõ has told me it is time I had something called 'juries' to decide the guilt or innocence of those who are punished for crimes - or indeed to determine what IS a crime. But until I have them I am still absolute ruler and I sentence you to the penal mines on the far side of our world for the rest of your miserable life. Treason demands no lesser sentence."

Chrístõ nodded to him. Strong but fair leadership was what any planet needed. And Adano Gran was about to get it. The arrival of the battle fleet over the capital city was a shock enough. The arrival of the TARDIS in the middle of the council chamber where representatives of the rich merchants of the planet gathered caused even more consternation. Penne stepped out, dressed in a velvet gown trimmed with ermine and silver and wearing a circlet of silver on his head, denoting his position. The TARDIS had risen to the occasion and provided him with clothes meant to impress people who set store by titles and crowns. It had provided, too, uniforms for the Chosen Men, who now formed a formidable looking personal bodyguard. His friends followed. They, too, dressed to impress. Penne walked the length of the chamber slowly, as the elite of Adano Gran watched open mouthed. When he reached the grand, throne-like chair that Xavier Salaraon had sat upon as ruler of the planet, he stood in front of it. Chrístõ stood by his side. Bo, Cassie and Terry stood a little to the side and behind, forming his retinue.

"I am Penne Duré, Lord of the twin planets of Adano Menor and Adano Gran. The first by right of succession from my father, the second by right of conquest, having defeated the forces of Xavier Salaraon that tried to conquer me, and having killed Xavier Salaraon in a fair fight to the death. All you who stand opened mouthed owe me your allegiance." And he sat upon the 'throne' and waited as the nobles of Adano Gran slowly moved from their places and came before him, bowing low and pledging fealty to him. When they were done, Penne stood again and talked at length about the changes that would be made now that the two planets were one. Slavery and the death penalty abolished on Adano Gran, curfews and restrictions upon the freedom of the people abolished everywhere. Juries to be appointed to deal with all crimes and matters of civil law, and a committee to consider the cases of all prisoners in the penal mines of both planets, and where injustice may have been done, sentences reduced or quashed. When he was done he told the chamber that he expected their whole-hearted support of him in these matters, and he did so in such a way that they had no choice but to vote for each and every one of his reforms. He dismissed the council then and he and his friends returned to Adano Menor by TARDIS, to tell his own people they were free of the threat of force from their neighbouring planet.

"Well, its still not democracy," Terry pointed out as they sat at the top table at a grand banquet for the merchants of both planets - intended to cement the commercial interests of the two. "Penne is still absolute ruler."

"Autocracy is not bad if the autocrat rules well and cares for all his people," Chrístõ said. "Penne has the love and respect of his own people for liberating them and for working to reform the law. He has the love of the former slaves of Adano Gran, and he has appeased the merchants with promises of new markets for their goods with the alliances he is making with other worlds. He can rule with love and respect, taking the advice of good counsellors. And he will do so for many centuries because of what he is. He can introduce the best aspects of democracy gradually in that time so that the people are ready for it when the time comes."

"When I am dead," Penne said. "An unnerving thought even for me. But I am more glad than I ever was to be a long-lived Gallifreyan. I need the centuries of life given to me to make sure my people ARE safe and happy. If I were fated to die in another fifty years or so I could not do all I want to do."

"I think you will be a good ruler, Penne," Bo said, smiling at him in a way that was not unlike the smile she had for Chrístõ at all times. Penne was aware of that and grateful for the reflected love Chrístõ's friends had for him. Even coming second hand to him through Chrístõ it was warmer than anything he had known before and made him determined to find such love for himself as he reformed his OWN life from the lazy, pointless one he had to something worthwhile.

"I need much guidance yet," Penne admitted. "I wish you all could stay. I feel you could teach me so much."

"We can stay a little while," Chrístõ promised him. "But my life is out there among the stars. Besides, there is only so much that I can tell you. The rest you must do for yourself."

Guidance, he had in plenty though in the weeks they stayed. Much of it came, surprisingly, from Chrístõ's father, who proved quite able to get over the fact that Penne was of the hated House of Ixion on the one hand, and had the same face as his beloved son on the other, and gave him a steady stream of advice on choosing a cabinet for his new government, on choosing ambassadors to send to those worlds he might consider alliances with, on the reform of the archaic laws of his planet that kept the people from being completely happy and had indirectly led to his betrayal by one he trusted. Chrístõ noted without any jealousy that the relationship of Penne and his own father was becoming very much a surrogate parent-son relationship. It was good for both of them, he thought. Penne had what he never had in his real father. Chrístõ's father had somebody who NEEDED his advice. Chrístõ himself so rarely did.

Chrístõ had also set out to reform Penne's personal habits. He made the bathing a male only preserve for a start and told Penne that he had to start thinking about finding a wife instead of flirting with handmaids.

"I do miss the fun of it," he complained though not entirely seriously, as he and Chrístõ took a purifying bath on the last night. A special night for them both. "They were very nice girls."

"Time Lords don't do that sort of thing," Chrístõ told him in a severe tone, but laughing all the same. He KNEW Penne didn't mean it and was taking his new lifestyle seriously.

After bathing, they were dressed in robes Chrístõ had procured from his TARDIS's copious wardrobe. Here, even Chrístõ didn't object to the help of manservants. He had NEVER dressed in the full ceremonial regalia of a Time Lord without help. The headdress was impossible.

"The House of Lœngbærrow," Penne said wistfully as he saw Chrístõ pin a silver brooch to his breast. "You can honour your house, at least." That his was such anathema to the people of Gallifrey was a source of deep hurt to Penne since he had learnt of his origins. He fervently wished he could do something to erase the crimes of his parents.

"You can," Chrístõ said. "Rule this planet well, firmly but kindly. And never do anything that would dishonour the name of our Time Lord homeworld." And he picked up another silver brooch and pinned it on Penne's robe above his left heart. "The House of Ixion. Let it live through you, and let it be known as a good House." And he held his 'brother' close and kissed him once on the cheek before he took him by hand to the great hall, where preparations had been made.

His friends were there, they too dressed for the occasion. Chrístõ had found Terry the robes of a Gallifreyan merchant, less elaborate than the full Time Lord regalia but nonetheless impressive, and the girls wore elegant but simple white gowns, the fabric shot through with the silver and gold that was the source of Lœngbærrow wealth. They made up the company for this night. The servants of the House were banished from the great hall until afterwards when they would attend at a special meal for their Lord and his friends.

Chrístõ brought Penne to a bed covered in silk and satin and laid him upon it. He himself knelt beside the bed and held his hand tightly. He gently entered Penne's mind and helped him to relax into the deep meditation he had shown him in the weeks he had stayed with him. Chrístõ dropped with him into the first level of meditation, then the second, third, fourth. At the fifth level their hearts and lungs were both near stopped. Only their minds were active still, and they slow and torpid.

"From here, brother, you go alone," Chrístõ said. "But I shall be waiting."

He felt the slightest pressure on his hand, and he felt Penne's temperature drop to near freezing as he descended to the lowest level of meditative state of all, where his body could begin the Transcension.

Chrístõ had warned him it might be painful. Transcension was easy for some Time Lords. For others it was the most painful experience in their lives. Chrístõ himself had suffered excruciating pain when HE transcended. Only his father's soothing influence over him had got him through the hours it took to complete the metamorphosis of his DNA into what was, essentially, a different species of being to that which he had been for the first 180 years of his life. Time Lords WERE a different race to ordinary Gallifreyans. That they began as one and changed to the other made them unique among all life in the universe and no being that had not gone through the Transcension could begin to understand what it was like. That was why each new Time Lord had one of experience guiding him through. Usually it was a father, uncle, occasionally a teacher. Almost certainly somebody much older and more experienced. Chrístõ WAS very young to be a mentor. But his father thought he could do it. And who else WOULD? Penne Duré was a more lonely man than he was. At least he, for all the cruelty and hostility about his half blood, was an honoured son of Gallifrey and welcome home any time. Penne Duré was banished and for no fault of his own.

Chrístõ felt his pain like a blow to his own body. He felt Penne scream in his head. It was worse for him than Chrístõ remembered from his own Transcension. Perhaps it was because Penne had never had any training in any mental disciplines. His mind and body were open conduits and pain ran through them unhindered. Chrístõ absorbed as much of it as he could. Sharing the pain eased it for Penne. But he couldn't take it all away.

"Embrace the pain," he told him. "It is a part of who you are. It IS you, Penne. Embrace it, love it. Love yourself. As I love you." That much was true. The reformed, less selfish Penne Duré was easy to love. And he was glad to call him 'brother'. They were both trapped by their meditative state, but mentally he reached out to him. "Be still, my brother. Do not grieve. The pain will be gone in a short time."

"I feel the souls of my father's victims tearing at me," Penne said. "They want me to fail, to die."

"Nobody ever died while transcending," Chrístõ assured him. "Cast out the false thoughts. For that's all they are. Those victims are at peace now. They mean you no harm."

Penne said he would try, but the next moment they both screamed mentally as the worst agony yet wracked his body. His DNA was being unravelled within him and the missing parts that made him one of the most powerful beings in the universe inserted. And it hurt just as if his body had been ripped open and his organs pulled out. Chrístõ felt it as deeply as he did. His own body could not act as a shock absorber any more. It had reached saturation point. From here it seemed as if they were one body, fused by the pain, rocked again and again as fresh explosions of agony ripped through them.

And then there was peace. Chrístõ recovered first, being at a less deep state of trance. He felt gently for Penne's mind and was relieved when he heard him call him 'brother' inside his head.

"Slowly now," he told him. "Like I told you. Let your mind and body rise up slowly. That's it." He felt Penne's temperature rising as he came back from the very deepest level. Slowly they rose together through the levels, their hearts beating and lungs pumping again as they emerged into full awareness. Penne opened his eyes and looked up at Chrístõ. His eyes shone.

"I can feel the whole universe in my head," he said. "Is it like that for you?"

"Yes," Chrístõ said with a broad smile.

"How do you live with it?"

"You get used to it." He stood and lifted Penne to his feet. They held each other in a warm embrace for a long time. They felt closer to each other than if they truly WERE brothers. Then Chrístõ took Penne's hand and he was surprised to feel something cold pressed onto his finger.

"Every Time Lord has a Ring of Eternity given to them at their Transcension," he said.

Penne looked at the ring. It was gold, encrusted with tiny diamonds that glittered in the light like a rainbow. Was it his imagination or did the ring tingle with a kind of power? He hugged Chrístõ again, unable to find any words to express himself. Then they walked together, clutching hands in brotherhood, to where their friends waited to congratulate Penne on achieving that mysterious state of being none of them completely understood, being mere Earth-born Humans. They congratulated him anyway. And for Penne, the best of all was when they connected through the video-phone Chrístõ had installed in his private room, to Gallifrey, and Chrístõ introduced his father to the newest Time Lord in the universe.

"A secret between the three of us, of course," his father said. "Penne, I wish it were not so, but our rules are clear. You can never be formally accepted. But…" He looked at them side by side. "I feel as proud as when my own son went through his Transcension. I'm proud of you, Penne. For proving yourself worthy in so very short a time. And Chrístõ, my son, for mentoring him. You have much to learn yourself, yet you surprise even me."

"I do what must be done, Father." Chrístõ said.

"Humility, too." Chrístõ's father smiled conspiratorially at Penne. "If I couldn't tell you apart any other way, I would know my son by that so Human trait in him." They all smiled. Then Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow senior became serious. "Son, what of that fiendish machine? I had thought you might jettison it in space. But even there some fool might…"

"Already dealt with," Chrístõ said. "Did you know the Type 40 TARDIS comes with a very efficient trash compactor?"

"No, I didn't," his father said. "I used to use the old Type 25 that had to come out of temporal orbit in order to use the bathroom efficiently. You youngsters have it luxurious." They laughed. They talked some more, then said goodnight to Chrístõ's father and returned to the party, determined to make the most of the last night before Chrístõ and his companions left for the stars once more.