Leaving Julia and Glenda at their colleges by TARDIS was a lazy way of doing it, but it did mean that Chrístõ and Cal had all the time in the universe before they had to get back to Beta Delta IV and their ordinary jobs.

“I get a new 3C to tame on Monday,” Chrístõ said.

“And I officially start on the job teacher training with Year One PE as my first task of my first day,” Cal added.

“You’re not regretting wanting to be a teacher, are you?” Chrístõ asked.

“It’s an honourable job. Maestro thinks so. Your father does, too. It is something important for me to do while I continue my preparation to be a Time Lord. It is a respectable position for me in Beta Deltan society. When Glenda finishes university and we are married, we shall have a happy, fulfilling life. Besides, I think New Canberra High School NEEDS a Time Lord in it, and you will be resigning in a few years to marry Julia and become Patriarch of the House of Lœngb?rrow.”

“So you intend to take over from me in that capacity?” Chrístõ smiled. It was a comfortable view of a settled future for everyone. But right now they were two young men who liked adventure and had all of time and space to find it in.

“How about Renaissance England or early America?” Chrístõ suggested. “Or the first Human moon settlements? Or we could pay a visit to our beloved kinsman, the King-Emperor of Adano Ambrado.”

“I’m not that desperate for a two hour bath,” Cal remarked. They both laughed.

“There are still thousands of preset destinations in my TARDIS database, put there to test me when I set out on my own. Every one of them has some little sting, something to be put right. We could pick any one of them and land ourselves into the sort of trouble we like to get stuck into.”

“Good enough,” Cal decided. “I still have the echo of infinity running through my head after the Schism. I feel as if I need to test myself against dragons or something.”

“Dragons?” Chrístõ grinned. “My ancestor Chrístõ Dracœfire cornered the market with those. You need to make your name with something else. Pick a binary number between 10111010.01 and 111010011.11 We’ll try a random location.”

“10111011.11,” Cal answered. Chrístõ put the co-ordinate into the navigation drive and gripped a handhold. This was the sort of thing that made for unstable TARDIS travel as well as exciting destinations. Cal got the idea a fraction of a second after him.

Twenty exhilarating minutes later the white knuckle ride ended. Chrístõ caught his breath and then checked the environmental monitor.

“Earth, 796 AD, although that is not exactly the correct date according to local calculations. Japan in that era didn’t even know the Christian calendar existed.”

“We’re in Japan?” Cal asked.

“We’re just outside the Imperial city, Heian-kyo, later known as Kyoto,” Chrístõ answered. “The ‘tranquillity and peace capital’ as it is known. Let’s go and dress for the period.”

The Wardrobe had exactly what they needed. In fact, it had two different styles of clothing. There were the simple clothes of a worker in the Imperial city of Emperor Kammu as well as the more elaborate robes of a Daimyo, the aristocrat class of this feudal era.

“Henry V before Agincourt,” Chrístõ said as he donned the clothes of a peasant who worked in the fields around the city.

There were no walls around Heian-kyo. It was the capital city of an Empire at peace. Nobody expected it to need defending. There were, however, gates that were passed through, elaborate and purely symbolic entrances to the capital of peace. The grandest of them led onto the wide avenue called Suzaku-oji that in turn led in a geometrically straight line to the Daidairi, the Royal Palace itself.

But as peasants they slipped in through one of the western gates into a narrow street where merchants and artisans plied their trade from shopfront stalls. Food, especially fish, was on sale at many of these stalls. The smell was far from tempting. Both of the young Gallifreyans preferred to eat fish when it was cooked. They both remembered that this is the culture from which sashimi originated and felt quite disinclined to sample the local delicacies.

Raw fish just wasn’t their idea of lunch.

Besides, they weren’t especially hungry. Chrístõ just wanted to look around the city as an ordinary person and be sure that it lived up to expectations – the expectation being a city of peace and tranquillity where nobody was suffering any real hardship. He knew he was more likely to find such hardship if he walked anonymously among the common people than if he was a guest of the Emperor who saw only what it was thought he ought to see.

But it looked as if everything really was all right here. Of course there was a strict demarcation of classes, even among the workers. Merchants and artisans were a separate group. Fishermen and farmers were distinguished by their clothes and their interactions. Above them were several ranks including the professional soldiers, the Samurai, the Daimyo, who were the land-owning nobility, the Shogun, who were land-owners but also leaders of the armies, and the Emperor himself at the pinnacle of this pyramid of imperial feudalism.

Strangely, merchants were much lower on the scale than manual workers. In other cultures those who bought and sold and made a profit from doing so tended to form an upper working class, verging on a middle class. But here, somebody who didn’t grow or make anything was valued less than those who produced something with their labour.

That struck Chrístõ and Cal as unusual, but strangely right.

They explored the city thoroughly, appreciating the planned layout of its thoroughfares, almost like modern New York with the wider roads dividing sections of the city and smaller ones intersecting them. The demarcation lines formed by the roads divided dwellings from workplaces and from gardens and leisure places and the temples where the people came to worship.

In a quarter near the east gate, they found a place where horses could be bought, sold or hired. Chrístõ conducted a deft piece of business and acquired three horses, two for riding, and one for a pack.

“Our masters are in need of fresh horses in order to arrive at the Palace in good style,” Chrístõ explained. “They are camped a little way outside the city at present.”

“Your masters will have no complaints about these beasts,” said the horse-dealer. “They are fine steeds.”

“I hope so,” Chrístõ responded. “Our masters would be unhappy if we did not bring back the very best.”

The horse-dealer looked a little worried at that, but Chrístõ knew what a good horse looked like and had already inspected them thoroughly. His fictional Master would have to be a real tyrant to be displeased with the choice.

They left through the east gate and crossed the river by a ford before doubling back down to the place where they had left the TARDIS disguised as a wayside shrine to Buddha. They tied the horses and went inside to change their clothes.

This time they were Daimyo - aristocrats. It was the class to which Chrístõ was accustomed to belonging. Cal was not really accustomed to it at all. He WAS patriarch of the House of Oakdaene now, but he had not lived as a nobleman of Gallifrey. As Maetro’s student at the Brotherhood of Mount Lœng he was a lowly figure who had often performed menial tasks as part of the discipline of life among the Brothers. On Beta Delta where he chose to live as a Human, he was a trainee teacher living in a rented flat and maintaining a modest lifestyle.

All Cal really knew about Japanese aristocratic clothing was the ‘kimono’, a loose garment tied at the waist. He was startled to discover that there was FAR more to it than that. By the time he had donned eight layers of thin hirosode made of various weights and colours of linen, topped by an embroidered silk version he thought he was finished. But then came the haori, a hip length jacket of more substantial linen, the hakama, a pleated skirt that went over the layers of hirosode, the tabi, a kind of stockings, and Zori – leather slip on sandals. Added to that was a complicated set of sashes that tied everything at the waist, each with a special kind of knot.

“How do you know so much about this kind of thing?” Cal asked as he watched Chrístõ fasten the wide obi – the final sash that covered all the others with a specific knot that denoted nobility.

“It is not dissimilar to the traditional robes of our own world. These kind haven’t been worn in practice since before my great-grandfather’s generation, but I used to dress up in them for fun when I was a boy. Our old butler taught me how to do it properly.”

As with many things Chrístõ said without thinking about it, this reminded Cal of how much he had missed out on in his own upbringing. He didn’t resent Chrístõ’s aristocratic life, though. Not now, anyway. The times when the injustice had burned destructively in his soul were long gone.

It didn’t escape Cal’s notice, either, that Chrístõ wore these clothes like he was born into the aristocracy of Imperial Japan. He, too, had chosen a modest way of life on Beta Delta and was most often seen wearing that leather jacket that was starting to lose some of its newness, but he could slip seamlessly into the clothes of a lord and not only look, but act the part, too.

“Do you think I ought to have played your servant?” Cal asked. “Wouldn’t it look more authentic?”

“It might, but I don’t want to do that to you,” Chrístõ answered. “You and I are equals, two Oldbloods of Gallifrey. In fact, since you have inherited your lands and titles and I am still my father’s heir, waiting to have the patriarchy of the House of Lœngb?rrow conferred upon me, you outrank me. For the duration of our stay here we will be cousins, landowners from the eastern provinces, paying respect to the Emperor. We are Shiraishi Junichiro, the white stone-pure first son, and Chiba Michiyo, the thousand blades-three thousand generations.”

“Interesting names,” Cal remarked. He noted the pack Chrístõ was carefully preparing. As well as more embroidered robes for them to change into during their visit to the Emperor he carefully folded a large bolt of glittering cloth made of pure gold spun thin and twisted with a single filament of white silk before being woven. It was the most expensive cloth made on Gallifrey, and Cal had only ever seen a small piece of it made into a lady’s purse before now. Enough of it to clothe four emperors was startling.

“Two emperors, maybe,” Chrístõ told him. “They tend to be rather huge men, eating feasts every day and carried everywhere on a litter.”

“Two, then!” Cal laughed.

“It is a gift, of course. You can’t visit an Emperor without bringing a gift. Gold cloth will impress him.”

They mounted the two fine, jet black riding horses, and the pack horse was tied to Chrístõ’s saddle. They entered the city for the second time through the great south gate and rode up the wide avenue flanked by willow trees.

The south gate of the Daidairi was beautifully elaborate, made of wood carved and lacquered in a rich brown colour. Lighter coloured wooden tiles covered the gracefully sloping roof that swept up again at the edges in the oriental style. It was both ornamental and practical, of course, drawing rainwater away from where the Emperor and his entourage passed under the roof.

Two Imperial guards with shining swords at their waists guarded the gate, but at the sight of the richly dressed men on horseback they became attentive. News of the arrival of these noblemen had already reached the palace but now their names were sent on ahead of them to the Emperor’s throne room.

Through the gate was an open courtyard with the palace rooms around the edges. Paths led from one place to the other, sheltered from the heat of summer sun or the ravages of winter by the overhanging eaves of wide roofs supported by slender pillars under their upturned edges.

Servants ran to take the horses as the two men dismounted. Their pack was hurried away to the guest quarters apart from the gift for the Emperor which was carried before them by a richly dressed courtier who had come to formally greet them.

They crossed the courtyard on foot and entered the largest of the single storey buildings of the palace. There was an ante-chamber where they waited for a few minutes, and then they entered the throne room itself.

This was a splendid place with silk hangings and tapestries all around the wooden walls and fine rugs on the floor. The Emperor’s throne on a wide dais was a sumptuous affair of black lacquered wood and gold leaf that made Chrístõ think, at first glance, of the Dragon Loge Marton whose taste ran to similarly ostentatious splendour.

The Emperor himself was not quite as large as Chrístõ had implied, though it would take quite a lot of the gold fabric to make a hirosode for him. The outer garment he was presently wearing was of black silk embroidered in very fine detail with gold thread, but this fabric from Gallifrey made it look dull in comparison.

The Emperor was very pleased with his gift.

“How is such cloth made?” he asked.

“I do not know, your Majesty,” Shiraishi Junichiro – aka Chrístõ – answered. “I have never been introduced to the artisan crafts of spinning and weaving. I simply wear the clothes when made. It is a skill known to the clothiers of my province, however, and this length was made by them to honour you, our Emperor.”

“I am pleased by the honour and the gift. Sit, my young lords. Drink wine and tell me of your province. I have not yet visited that region."

“Your welcome will be fulsome when you do so,” Chrístõ assured him. Wide silk cushions were brought for them to sit upon. Wine was brought and platters of food. Some of it was the sashimi and sushi –vinegar soaked rice and raw fish - that they had decided against in the market place, but they couldn’t refuse it here. They found it unusual in taste and texture, but not as unpleasant as they dreaded, even the strong tasting fermented fish that they were offered as a ‘special treat’. The vinegar used in the fermentation process prevented bacteria from forming in the months old fish and it was perfectly edible, though it was never going to be a favourite dish for either of them.

Cal was impressed by the way Chrístõ described the topography and politics of the province he claimed to come from. He had obviously never been there, but he could talk about it easily.

“So could you, if you tried,” Chrístõ told him telepathically. “You have all of time and space in your head since facing the Schism. If you were to concentrate, you could visualise Japan and focus on any time and place in its history.”

“I’ll leave it to you for now,” Cal admitted. “You’re doing very well.”

Indeed, he seemed to have charmed the Emperor with his words and his carefully respectful manner.

The Daimyo were rich landowners, but they were not royalty – unless, of course, they married into the imperial dynasty.

Many of them had. This was part way through Emperor Kammu’s reign, and he hadn’t quite acquired all of the sixteen empresses and consorts history recorded him as having. Nor had all of his thirty-six children been born, yet.

But beside him on the dais was the Empress Fujiwara no Otomuro who came from one of the most wealthy and powerful Daimyo families. Slightly below them sat Princess Sakahito, his minor wife. A half dozen more women who were his lesser consorts sat on silk cushions below the throne and some of the older children were with them. Coming from a stoic and monogamous society Chrístõ might have once found the concept shocking, but his brief time as an ambassador, coming into contact with all kinds of marital arrangements, had taught him not to judge anyone’s way of life.

The wives and children did not take part in the conversation. They sat and listened. Only the Emperor himself spoke to the two young visitors to his court. Even the servants as they brought more wine and candied fruits as ‘dessert’ kept their eyes averted and didn’t speak. After the first time, Cal realised that saying ‘thank you’ to them was the wrong thing to do. The servants were disturbed by such words addressed to them.

Cal gave up talking to anyone. He kept quiet and listened like the consorts and children of the Emperor.

After several hours, they rose and parted from the Emperor’s company, bowing respectfully. They were escorted by servants to their guest rooms which consisted of a comfortable bedroom with two wide beds covered in silk cloth and an adjoining room containing a sunken bath that would have pleased the King-Emperor of Adano Ambrado immensely.

“We’re supposed to bathe before the evening feast,” Chrístõ explained. “These servants are here to assist us, and there isn’t much we can do about that. Yes, I know they’re female. About the only thing we can do is not tell our fiancée’s about this part of the adventure.

Chrístõ had long ago persuaded Penne Dúre to dispense with servants in the bathrooms of his palace, but in Imperial Japan it was impossible to avoid being bathed ritually and fully by women. They bore the indignity of it as manfully as possible as well as being oiled with perfumes and dressed again ready for presenting themselves in the Emperor’s dining hall.

Here, the whole Court was assembled. All of the consorts and all of the children were in attendance, along with the Ministers and Advisors, all from the Daimyo class, who formed some semblance of a government.

One man struck Chrístõ as unusual among them and he bore him more than a casual glance. He was the Emperor’s fortune teller, and as such had a place at the feasting table close to Kammu himself. Like the two visitors, he was taller than most of the Japanese men. That was the first thing Chrístõ noticed about him.

Then he noticed his eyes, dark pools of timeless mystery – the eyes of somebody who was far older than he looked.

The eyes were the window on the soul, some humans said, and if that was true, then Chrístõ was looking upon a black soul, one that had done and could do again, terrible deeds.

He looked away quickly and spoke quietly to Cal.

“Close your mind. Put up as many mental walls as you know how. On no account let anyone see who you really are.”

“Well, how could they?” Cal answered. “Everyone here is Human, surely?”

“No,” Chrístõ warned him. “There is a Time Lord here. And not one we can count as a friend. Hide yourself, Cal, for your own safety.”

“I’m doing it,” Cal assured him. “But who….”

“Don’t look around. Don’t catch anyone’s eye. Talk to me or the lady sitting on your left side. She’s one of Kammu’s lesser consorts and it is permitted to talk to her.”

Cal did as he said. Chrístõ, too, tried to avoid eye contact, especially with the fortune teller.

He knew who he was – the last person he wanted to meet anywhere in the universe.

The feast was a torture for him once he knew he was in the presence of such a man. Chrístõ knew he had to get Cal away from there as soon as possible, but there was no leaving the Emperor’s presence. As long as he kept eating and drinking everyone else had to follow suit.

It was after midnight when they were finally able to slip away back to the guest quarters. Chrístõ banished the servants and closed the door, then he began throwing clothes into the pack they had come with. He gave up and threw it aside.

“It doesn’t matter about luggage,” he said. “They’re just clothes. Throw off your top two layers of hirosode. They’re too brightly coloured. Wear the dark coloured one.”

He was doing the same thing himself, making ready to escape.

“Do you really think there is so much danger? Who is that man? A Renegade?”

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered. “The very worst kind of Renegade. He hates me. He would hate you if he knew you even existed. I need to make sure he never does find out. That’s why we have to get out of here.”

“I’m supposed to be the ‘thousand blades’. I’m just supposed to run from this man, whoever he is?”

“Yes.” Chrístõ insisted. “Cal, believe me, this time, we run.”

“All right. I believe you,” Cal agreed. “Let’s go.”

They were guests of the Emperor. They had the right to go where they pleased, when they pleased. When they crossed the courtyard of the inner palace and headed for one of the side gates out of the Daidairi, they were unchallenged by the night guards whose swords glinted in the moonlight.

They moved quickly through the dark, silent streets towards the eastern gate that would bring them to the river. All they had to do then was work their way around the edge of the city to where they had left the TARDIS.

At least, that was the plan. Chrístõ’s hearts sank as they reached the river and saw a tall, dark-clad figure silhouetted against the moonlit landscape. He knew him at once.

“Cal, run,” he whispered. “I’ll deal with him. Get back to the TARDIS and stay there.”

“I can’t leave you,” Cal answered. “Who is this man? Why can’t I help you fight him?”

“Cal, just go,” Chrístõ answered him. “Please, just get back to the TARDIS. I don’t know what he intends, but so long as one of us is free of him we have a chance.”

Again, there was a note in Chrístõ’s voice that made Cal realise there was no argument to be made. He touched his friend on the shoulder then sprinted away, becoming a blur as he folded time the way Chrístõ had taught him.

The dark–clad man took no notice of Cal’s departure. It was Chrístõ he was interested in.

“Who is the boy?” he demanded in an icy tone. “Your brother? Has the whelp your father produced as an afterthought grown so much? Still a child, though. Do you wish to lose him on some ill-favoured planet and thus ensure your inheritance?”

Chrístõ hid a fleeting thought behind a mental wall. It was the irony of the mistake his nemesis had made. He thought Cal was Chrístõ’s half-brother when it was he who shared the same father with the youth.

“Epsilon,” Chrístõ whispered. “It is you, of course.”

In Chrístõ’s personal timeline, his cousin by marriage was still imprisoned on Shada, cryogenically frozen and no danger to anyone. But his sentence was finite, and once free, of course, he could use the time vortex to go anywhere and anytime.

It was only surprising that he hadn’t come across this later version of his old enemy before now.

“I don’t use that name anymore. Here in Japan, I am ??.”

“The Master?” Chrístõ queried as the words translated in his head. “Master of what – or who? Certainly not of Heian-kyo. The Emperor is in full control here.”

“I have not yet completed my work here. The Emperor and all in his court believe that I have been among them for many years, whereas I actually only came a week ago.”

“Power of Suggestion! Planted memories. How like you to twist the truth that way.”

“I should be praised for my success thus far,” Epsilon answered. “For humans, they are proving very difficult to control. They seem peculiarly single-minded. But once I have the Emperor in my power, I will be able to use him as I choose.”

“It was established a long time ago that you are MAD,” Chrístõ answered. He didn’t bother to ask what Epsilon would do if he got full control of the Emperor’s mind. The possibilities were endless. He could certainly change the course of Human history for generations to come.

Which meant that he had to be stopped, now. Running away wasn’t an option, after all. He had to fight his old enemy once again.

He drew his sword first. Epsilon was surprised by that. Chrístõ had always been the pacifist who used a weapon only to defend himself.

But by raising his sword to Epsilon he WAS defending himself, as well as countless innocents whose lives might be damaged by contact with him.

In any case, it was a matter of seconds before Epsilon had a sword raised to parry his thrust.

They were both skilful swordsmen. As sons of Gallifreyan noblemen it was a skill they were taught at an early stage in their education. Chrístõ had fought Epsilon on the fencing arena many times.

He had fought him several times in real life and death combat.

This was one more time.

This was a much older Epsilon. Chrístõ didn’t know if he had regenerated at all, but he was clearly much more experienced in many things. Sword-fighting was one of them. His older figure was slender and agile, too. Chrístõ’s youthful vigour didn’t give him much of an advantage.

But even so he reckoned they were evenly matched. Epsilon had always been inclined to laziness even with skills that required discipline. He cut corners. He obviously hadn’t practiced for a long time. His riposte was weak. Chrístõ parried it away easily and was able to lunge strongly against him.

He might have been able to beat him if the guards hadn’t turned up.

“Arrest him!” Epsilon called out. “He is a traitor. He meant to murder the Emperor in his bed. Bring him back to the palace to answer the charges.”

“No!” Chrístõ argued. “This man means harm. I am here to stop him.”

But Epsilon had fully established himself in the Court of Heian-kyo. The guards obeyed him. Chrístõ knew that fighting them was futile. There were too many. Besides, he didn’t want to kill honest men who were doing their duty.

He let himself be taken back to the palace by them. He was marched into the throne room where he had been an honoured guest a few hours earlier. The Emperor, roused from his bed and dressed only in a simple black hirosode over his sleeping gown, did not look pleased.

“Your imperial majesty,” Epsilon said, bowing grandly. “You recall that I told you this morning of a darkness approaching, a danger in the false form of friendship.”

Of course, he had done nothing of the sort, but the Power of Suggestion was strong. The Emperor nodded.

“This traitor means me harm? He will die. Guards, execute him.”

Chrístõ was forced to his knees and his head pushed forward, his neck exposed. He heard the swish of a sword being drawn. He was seconds away from death with no hope of a stay of execution. Even if Cal had reached the TARDIS he wouldn’t know he was in trouble. He couldn’t come for him.

Then he felt time freeze around him, and with the sword raised to cut off his head he heard the sound of a TARDIS materialising somewhere outside the throne room. His hearts quickened. Cal was coming to his rescue after all.

That was true, but not quite in the way Chrístõ thought. The man who took the sword from the executioner’s hands was much older than the one he had sent to the TARDIS for safety.

The man who had Epsilon pinioned on the floor with his hands behind his back was much older than Chrístõ was right now

“Stand up, Chrístõ, before time catches up,” said the older version of Cal Lupus, Patriarch of the House of Oakdaene. Chrístõ obeyed him quickly. He saw the people around him begin to move as the temporal freeze collapsed. The Emperor stood up from his throne, astonished by what he saw in the blink of an eye.

“You know me, Majesty,” said the older version of Chrístõ. “We went hunting together when we were young. I was there when you took your Empress as your wife. We are friends.”

“Yes, yes, indeed, Shinichi, the truth embodied. Yes, I know you. How did you come here in the winking of an eye?”

“That does not signify, Lord Kammu,” he answered. “What matters is that an innocent man almost died at your command. This other man is evil personified. He confounded your mind.”

“Yes,” Kammu agreed. “Yes, the truth is clear, now. This sorcerer has used me falsely. He shall die.”

“He must answer to crimes in other places,” said the older Cal. “We are here to bring him to justice. Rest assured that it will be done.”

“Go with the blessings of the gods upon you,” Emperor Kammu told him. “Take the evil from within my walls at once.”

Epsilon was taken away by the older version of Chrístõ himself. The older Cal walked with his one-time mentor to the outer chamber where a TARDIS disguised as a Buddha shrine stood.

“He broke the Laws of Time to cross into your timeline,” Cal explained. “We broke them to catch him up. Sorry we cut it so fine, but it had to be that way.”

“You could only intervene if it was in extremis,” Chrístõ noted. “Yes, I understand.”

“And, of course, you couldn’t rescue yourself. I had to do all the work apart from actually taking down my half-brother. You were quite willing to do that bit, though.”

“It was neatly done. Did I teach you the time freeze?”

“No, that was Maestro. He said he taught it to you when you were a boy, too, but you could never hold it for more than a few seconds.”

“I got better. Anyway… I’d better go and tell the younger you it is ok to come back to the palace. I had planned to spend a couple of days teaching you the basics of Buddhist meditation while we were here.”

“Yes, I remember,” Cal said. “We had a very pleasant and educational interlude. I never got used to the bathing, but the rest was ok.”

“I taught you to use the word ‘ok’?” Chrístõ smiled.

“No, that was Glenda,” Cal replied. “We shouldn’t speak too much of the future, but I have to thank you for protecting me at this time, when I was not ready to know that Epsilon was at large. I came to know, eventually, but before then I lived a good lifetime on Beta Delta without looking over my shoulder for his vengeance.”

“I’m glad to hear it, my friend,” Chrístõ told him.

“It’s a poor reward, but I can save you a walk in the dark,” Cal told him. “Goodbye until a later time and place, my friend and mentor.”

With that, he stepped into the TARDIS and it dematerialised. Moments later a different TARDIS – or possibly the earlier version of the same one – materialised. Cal stepped out cautiously and asked what had happened.

“A long story,” Chrístõ answered. “I’ll tell you when we’re alone. First, we’d better pay our respects to the Emperor.

Freed from Epsilon’s trickery, the Emperor was pleased to receive his young visitors again. They bid him goodnight respectively and were given his leave to retire. They did so gracefully. As they got ready for bed, at last, Chrístõ told Cal everything except the identity of the Renegade their older selves had come to arrest.

“We’re still good friends in that future,” Cal noted. “I’m glad of that. I’m glad I got to save your life, too. I owe you that much.”

“I haven’t been counting, but we’re probably even,” Chrístõ answered. “I must remember though, in the future, I have to visit here in Kammu’s past and make friends with him. Otherwise one almighty paradox will be created.”

“It sounds as if there already is one,” Cal commented.