“This is great,” Julia enthused as she reached for the long, cool drink on the picnic table beside her sun-lounger. She looked out towards the turquoise sea that lapped the golden beach. Cal and Glenda were walking barefoot in the surf, holding hands as young lovers do. “It was very NICE of Le Marrant to programme a tropical island into your TARDIS after he borrowed her.”

“Stole her,” Chrístõ corrected her. “Yes, I know he sent her back afterwards, but I was up to my eyes in the trouble he caused at the time. He took her without my permission. That’s stealing.”

“Yes, but….”

“I know. My father said he isn’t dangerous. He basically thinks we Time Lords are too serious and we should lighten up. His tricks are to remind us of that philosophy every so often.”

“He might have a point,” Julia told him.

“We are the guardians of causality, keepers of the time vortex. If we all acted like him, no race in the universe could be certain of tomorrow following today.”

“He DOES have a point,” Julia insisted.

“I know how to have fun,” Chrístõ responded. “That’s why – having thoroughly checked things out to be sure there were no hidden traps – I invited you all to join me for a tropical beach weekend without ever leaving the TARDIS.”

“Parked in your bedroom,” Julia giggled. “We don’t even need passports and the sunshine is one hundred percent UV safe.”

“And no lotus flower drinks to make us forget our responsibilities after the weekend is over.”

“Which only makes me appreciate the time we have before it IS over,” Julia agreed. “One more night sleeping in a hammock under the stars and then back to college in the morning in time for roll call.”

“Back to school for me. English Lit. with the first years. I’m doing Lord of the Flies with them. What a contrast to our island paradise.”

It wasn’t the thought of year one literature that made him wish he DID have some lotus flower juice. It was the thought that all of this was so transient – this utterly carefree time. The nagging feeling that, despite his precautions, something might still spoil this idyllic time surfaced every now and again and made him wonder how long he could hold it off.

But the pleasant afternoon turned into a perfect evening as the artificial sun in the artificial sky set beautifully over the artificial horizon and artificial stars brightened the scene. They had a bonfire and barbecue on the beach and treasured each other’s company until the two girls were too tired to stay awake any longer.

Chrístõ and Cal left the girls sleeping in their hammocks and walked together along the beach, talking as two young Gallifreyans, the one a little more experienced than the other, but near equals.

Then the thing happened that Chrístõ had been dreading. The thing that reminded him that he could take nothing for granted, not even an artificial tropical paradise.

“What’s that?” Cal asked, stooping to reach for something half buried in the liquefied sand where the tide washed back and forward. Chrístõ called out a warning, but he had already picked it up.

“What is it?” Cal turned the faintly glowing cube around in his hands. It didn’t seem dangerous, more portentous, heralding something exciting – possibly dangerous, but definitely exciting.

“It’s a Time Lord communications cube,” Chrístõ answered. “We use them in extreme circumstances to send messages.” He took the cube and examined it carefully. “I thought as much. It’s from him.”

“Him?” Cal queried. Chrístõ showed him the design etched into all six sides of the cube. It was a stylised image of a court jester.

“Le Marrant,” he explained. “The one who stole my TARDIS while I was rescuing Hext and Remy and their friends from his traps.”

“So this is a message from him – to you?” Cal asked.

“It seems so.” Chrístõ held the cube in both hands and it glowed several colours of the nine-coloured Gallifreyan spectrum before an image of a clown face coalesced in the air, laughing maniacally for long enough for both Chrístõ and Cal to take a dislike to it.

Then both of them felt the psychic burst in their heads as the message contained within the cube was transmitted instantly.

“Wow!” Chrístõ exclaimed.

“My sentiments exactly,” Cal added. “Why do you suppose he gave that information to you? A Renegade….”

“Father told me that Le Marrant isn’t exactly a Renegade. He’s never killed anyone or broken any serious laws. He did make it rain inside the Panopticon, once, but even that was just a prank. I don’t think he’s evil, and this feels genuine.”

“So you’re going to go for it?”

Chrístõ didn’t answer that question until they had returned to the campsite where the girls were sleeping. He sat by the dying campfire and held the now empty cube in his hands, thinking carefully about the information he had received. Cal made cocoa and waited until he was ready to speak.

“The Annals of Rassilon,” he said. “They’re the stuff of legend. Most people think they’re just that – legend, myth. But if this information is correct – if Le Marrant is telling the truth….”

“Do you think he is? After all this man is a rogue at best.”

“I keep telling myself that. But the information feels authentic. If it is real…. then the six volumes, written in Rassilon’s own hand….”

“They not only exist, but they’re out there, scattered across the galaxy, waiting for somebody to collect them and return them to Gallifrey.”


“It would be a great honour to bring the Annals back to Gallifrey,” Cal suggested.

“Huge,” Chrístõ agreed.

“So we’re going to do it?”

“I think we are. The first location is a safe place, at least. If the whole thing is a hoax we would at least have paid a visit to an important historical place on planet Earth. We could call it an educational trip. We’ll drop the girls off tomorrow morning and then head straight there.”

“No, you will not!” Julia’s voice rose in protest. Glenda added her own objection. Chrístõ and Cal both turned to see the girls sitting up in their hammocks. They had obviously heard everything.

“We’re coming, too,” Glenda added. “You can take us back afterwards.”

“No,” Chrístõ responded. “You’ve had too many extra days. Do you want to be the oldest students in your graduation years? Cal and I can live outside of linear time, but you can’t.”

The argument raged for ten hot minutes before Chrístõ gave in and allowed them one extra day.

But no more than that,” he insisted. “If we don’t find the first of the Annals within that time we take you back to college and go back to the search on our own.”

The girls grudgingly conceded that much.

“Ok, now come and have some cocoa while I plan our first task. Then we all have a good night’s sleep, just as we always planned, and breakfast on the beach before we set off.”

The cocoa calmed everyone and they settled easily afterwards for their last night under this artificial tropical sky. Chrístõ lay awake for a little while, still puzzling over why Le Marrant had given him this information if it really was genuine. The obvious answer was that he actually WAS thanking him for the use of his TARDIS, and perhaps he ought to take it at face value until proved otherwise.

With that thought easing his mind he went to sleep, knowing that Julia would be the first up in the morning and wouldn’t let him forget any of his promises.

The next morning, one tropical beach breakfast and an hour’s navigation of the time vortex brought the TARDIS to Washington DC in the early twenty-first century. The girls were dressed in skirts and sweaters and the men in casual suits, quite suitable for tourists looking at the great buildings in the capital city of the USA.

“That IS impressive,” Glenda remarked as they stood in front of the Thomas Jefferson Building. They all had to crane their necks to see the top of it from their position in front of the Neptune Fountain. The late nineteenth century architects, proponents of the neo-classical Beaux-Arts style had wanted that very reaction from anyone who came to the Library of Congress.

“It’s big,” Julia pointed out. “How are we going to find ONE book in it?”

“I suppose there must be an index,” Cal suggested.

“It’s a rare book,” Chrístõ explained. “There is a rare book room on the second floor. Come on.”

He confidently mounted the wide steps that led up and over the fountain to another flight of steps before they entered the building itself. His friends followed, all of them trying to behave like they visited places with elaborate mosaic floors and even more elaborate ceilings every day.

Chrístõ, as always, looked as if he belonged among such opulence. And he did, of course. He had been born the son of a diplomat and spent his formative years in embassies and palaces, some of which were even more beautifully decorated than this sumptuously designed building.

“Penne would be jealous of this,” Julia remarked. “It is even more beautiful than his palace.”

“This building was created for all the people who want to use it,” Cal responded. “Not just a king or emperor. That makes it even more marvellous.”

Chrístõ was surprised by such a note of egalitarianism in his friend’s comment. Then he wondered why he was surprised. Cal had grown up impoverished. He had only rarely visited the shuttered and abandoned mansion that belonged to him now he had claimed his birthright. Even though he was related by blood to Penne Dúre, the ostentatious king-emperor of Adano-Ambrado, he had no such ambitions to rule from a palace.

To him, the Library of Congress, a place dedicated to books that were available to any citizen who wanted to sit in the great round public reading room under the bronze dome, was greater than any palace.

“You’ve got the right idea, Cal,” Chrístõ told him with a smile. They had reached the first floor and looked down on that reading room where at least a hundred citizens were taking advantage of the bounty of literature available to them. “Don’t forget to remind me if I get too used to walking among kings.”

He looked up at the great dome above the reading room. Natural light from the central lantern illuminated a grand idea of enlightenment and endeavour. The lantern itself had an image painted upon it of Human Understanding lifting the veil of ignorance.

Around this lady and her two cherubs bringing wisdom and knowledge twelve figures were seated, each representing either a nation or an epoch in history that added something to that Understanding. Egypt wearing a Pharaoh’s headdress represented Written Records. Judea with hands raised in prayer represented Religion. Greece, of course, brought Philosophy to the human race while the great Roman Empire with its censuses and systems of local government represented Administration. Islam represented Physics. The Middle Ages were the birth of Modern Languages. Italy had the Fine Arts, Germany the development of Printing which brought all knowledge within the grasp of ordinary men and women. Spain, birthplace of Columbus represented Discovery. England of Shakespeare an Chaucer represented Literature. France was the embodiment of Emancipation and liberty, while the newest civilisation of them all, America, represented Science.

“My mother’s people can be wonderful sometimes,” Chrístõ whispered.

“That’s something else to remind you of, my Time Lord,” Julia told him. He turned and smiled widely.

“Let’s find that rare books room. When we’ve made certain that the book really is here, we can explore more thoroughly.”

The place he wanted was called the Lessing J. Rosenwald Room after the philanthropist who had donated the bulk of the rare books collection to the Library of Congress. It was on the opposite side of the building and it took quite a long walk around several galleries, down a set of stairs and up another set, to get to it. Even Chrístõ, who prided himself on an excellent sense of direction, could not have recalled exactly which way they came.

That was why he took a reading with his sonic screwdriver when he was standing in the corridor between the brightly lit Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room and the dimly lit Rosenwald Room where books and manuscripts were kept that might be damaged by too much light.

If a volume of the Annals of Rassilon was there, then it was the oldest book in the collection, over a hundred thousand years old, well before humans had discovered any means of communication beyond a primal yell. It was written upon paper that wasn’t affected by light or moisture and wouldn’t burn until at least three times the literary Fahrenheit 451 at which paper was known to ignite.

But the custodians of the Rosenwald Room didn’t know that. When Chrístõ gave the neatly dressed middle-aged woman in charge the reference number she just smiled warmly and asked him to wait while the book was found.

“Make sure you’re all wearing cotton gloves,” she reminded him and his friends before she unlocked a glass-fronted bookcase where the less called for editions were kept. Julia and Glenda had already done so and were carefully turning the illuminated pages of a fifteenth century book of Icelandic fables that was laid out on a table for the public to look at. Cal was admiring one of the very first Guttenberg bibles kept on another table, carefully opened at a different page every day.

The book Chrístõ had asked for was taller and wider than the Guttenberg bible and had twice as many pages. The custodian placed it on the table surprisingly gently. Chrístõ looked at the red-brown leather cover and breathed in deeply. The Seal of Rassilon was embossed in gold and beneath it, in High Gallifreyan symbols, was the title.

The Annals of Rassilon – Volume One.

It almost seemed too prosaic a title. He had been expecting something more.

“You must be a student of ancient texts,” the custodian said to him, her voice seeming to come from afar as his mind wandered home to Gallifrey where this book had been written, its pages bound in leather tanned by an artisan of that world so long ago that it made even a Time Lord who counted his lifespan in centuries not decades just a little dizzy.

“Yes,” he answered. “Yes, that’s why I wanted to look at this book in its original form. I’ve seen facsimiles, of course….”

“So you know that it is one of the earliest known commentaries on the bible, even predating the works of St. Augustine or St. Benedict.”

Chrístõ nodded as if he understood that to be true. He knew that a perception filter must have been put on the volume. What looked to him like High Gallifreyan was, to anyone else, an early dialect of Greek.

He carefully opened the book and read the first page of beautifully even script. Even without the perception filter it would look a bit like Greek. There was a reason for that involving a prank by a group of senior students from the Prydonian Academy several millennia ago. But a Greek scholar would find the text meaningless. Only in Gallifreyan did the account of how Rassilon reined in the excesses of his fellow Gallifreyans, condemning the games played in the Death Zone and setting limits on the powers of the all-powerful, make any sense at all.

He read the first page slowly, waiting for the woman to go away, then he turned the pages more rapidly, though not so rapidly as he would turn the pages of an ordinary book. These were the actual words of Rassilon, in his own hand. They were as close to a sacred text as a people without a religion could get. He almost trembled with the sheer privilege of reading such a book.

But he didn’t just come here to read it. He came to take it back to Gallifrey, where it belonged.

And that was the problem. At the back of his mind, he had vaguely imagined he could walk away with the book. He had pictured it under his coat as he stepped out of the Library and crossed First Street to where he had left the TARDIS in the public park in front of the Capitol Building itself.

That was the silliest idea of all. There were security guards everywhere. There was an electronic gate to pass through with an alarm that would thwart any would be thief. Granted, his sonic screwdriver could probably neutralise the tiny magnetic strip planted carefully within the book, but he had little opportunity to do it here. There was a guard in the room as well as the custodian and he knew there was video surveillance, too. He had noted the electronic security all around the building as they took their wandering route to the Rare Books Division. He knew that stealing the book during the hours of business was impossible.

Over tea and cakes in the Library of Congress café down on the ground floor, he discussed the problem with his friends. An aural perception filter meant that their conversation would sound perfectly innocent to anyone overhearing.

“If you folded time and moved faster than anyone could see you, it might be possible to get out of the room and down one of the emergency stairwells,” Cal suggested. “Why not have the TARDIS waiting outside the emergency exit for you.”

“You could bring the TARDIS into the Rosenwald room itself, grab the book and be gone,” Glenda added. “Cut out the running.”

“No,” Chrístõ said. “Not in the daytime, in front of witnesses.”

“At night there are far more guards, as well as cameras and motion sensors,” Julia said. “I asked the guard about it all while you were busy.”

“You asked the guard?” Chrístõ was surprised. Julia smiled sweetly. He fully understood how a mere security guard, faced with such innocent enquiry, would be happy to give away all the secrets of securing the Rosenwald Room. Such a smile would elicit anything from a man.

“Motion sensors and cameras that detect even the smallest change in light intensity within the room,” Julia went on. “They would almost certainly detect the TARDIS materialising, even if it melded into the door. There’s always a bit of a wobble and a blast of air. And you’d need a torch or something, as well as a way of opening the cabinet.”

“I can do that,” Chrístõ admitted. “The sonic makes a great picklock. But…”

“But if you were caught…”

It wasn’t the first time he had planned such a heist. A few years ago he had recovered the Tear of Omega diamond in much the same way. But people had died that night, and he remembered only too well that this was America. The night guards would Be armed. Something bad could happen no matter how well he planned the operation.

“I wish I didn’t have to steal it at all,” he admitted. “But there really isn’t any other way. This is where the book is. It’s where Le Marrant sent us to find it.”

“Le Marrant probably wanted you to pull off some clever trick to get round the security,” Cal mused. “The sort of thing HE might do. But you don’t have to do it his way.”

“What do you suggest, then?”

“Well, how about going back in time to before the technology was so sophisticated,” Glenda suggested. “Before security cameras and motion sensors.”

“No good,” Julia replied. “I checked that, too. The Annal was part of Lessing J. Rosenwald’s bequest to the Library of Congress. It only arrived here in late 1979 after he died and his estate was settled. They had invented stuff like that by then. Maybe not as good as they are forty years on, but good enough to cause problems.”

“Besides,” Chrístõ added. “I really would prefer not to have to steal it. Le Marrant might not think there is anything wrong with that, but I do, and my father does, and I’m sure Rassilon himself wouldn’t approve. It would be different if some kind of tyrant or iconoclast had it and was going to destroy the book. But the Library of Congress treasures it as much as we would back on Gallifrey. The loss would be a big deal to them.”

“Suppose it never came here in the first place,” Julia said after musing over his problem for a while. “They wouldn’t miss what they never had, and they have so many beautiful old books here it wouldn’t really leave a gap in their inventory.”

“If you mean steal it before it comes into the Library….” Chrístõ began.

“No, I don’t mean that,” Julia assured him. “We ought to be able to do better than that. And I think I know how. We need to find some more information about Mr Rosenwald, first. And this is the place to do that, I’m sure.”

The Library of Congress contained more than enough information about the gentleman in question, and in a very short time the TARDIS arrived outside the town of Jenkington Pennsylvania in the year 1952. Armed with letters of introduction prepared retrospectively, the four time travellers came to the comfortable home where Mr Rosenwald had retired in his latter years after making his fortune in his father’s mail order shopping business. The house was also the repository of much of his collection of fine art, rare books and chess sets, and it was not unusual for interested parties to visit.

“You are all very young to be concerned with old books,” said the genial old man as he invited them to take tea in his drawing room. “But your recommendations are impeccable. I hope you weren’t expecting to see the Mainz Bible though. I handed that over to the Library of Congress only last week.”

“Oh, I’ve seen that,” Julia exclaimed before she had time to think about it. “It’s a beautiful book. I’m glad it’s been so well looked after.”

“The book I’m interested in is even rarer than that,” Chrístõ explained. “It is a book that really doesn’t seem to belong with the others, written in a language that looks like Greek but isn’t.”

“I know the one you mean,” Mr Rosenwald told him. He rang for his secretary and gave him instructions. In a very short time Chrístõ saw for the second time in his life the first volume of the Annals of Gallifrey. He examined it carefully under the watchful eye of the same secretary who looked very relieved when he was allowed to remove it from sight of this young visitor.

“How did you acquire that book?” Chrístõ asked. “I know it is a bit of an impertinent question, but it is also an important one for me.”

“It came to me from a friend who put books literally before his own life,” Mr Rosenwald said, a sad expression coming to his face. It occurred to his visitors all at once, that this man who had only recently parted with a book known as the Giant Bible of Mainz because of its size was actually Jewish – and this was only seven years since the end of the war in which Jewish people had suffered unimaginable cruelties and loss.

“My friend smuggled the book out of Europe a few days after his bookshop in Leipzig had been smashed and then burnt on that night the history books call kristallnacht. It was the only volume to survive the flames. He took that as a sign from God that the book must be preserved at all costs and sent it to me via several other friends. By the time it reached the United States my friend had been murdered by a Nazi gang.”

“If he had only smuggled himself along with the book,” Glenda commented.

“That very thought has occurred to me countless times,” Mr Rosenwald admitted. “I value fine things, but I value life far more. I did my best to persuade the government to let in as many refugees from the tyranny as they could. I found homes and jobs for many. But those I could not help haunt my dreams.”

“Sir, I understand,” Chrístõ said very calmly. “Without going into details, would you believe me if I said that the book was already stolen from my own people long before those terrible events in Europe. Your friend bears no guilt. He could not have known that its provenance was falsified. But I wish it were possible to return it to the rightful owners.”

“You wish me to give you the book,” Mr Rosenwald asked. “On that so very flimsy basis.”

“No,” Chrístõ answered. “But… I know you have pledged to give your collection to the Library of Congress and the National Art Gallery on your death. Would you… consider a codicil to your will… giving me that one book when it is no longer any use to you.”

“I’m not planning on dying anytime soon,” Mr Rosenwald told him. “You might be a long time waiting.”

“I’m prepared to wait,” Chrístõ answered. “And… until then… would you mind if I came around and played a game of chess with you from time to time. Perhaps I might be able to flesh out my tale a bit more so that you fully understand.”

“Come around every third Tuesday, at six o’clock,” Mr Rosenwald answered. “Starting next week, then every third Tuesday until I AM ready to give up the ghost. And if I like your story and you don’t make it too obvious that you’re letting me win, then we’ll have a deal, young man.”

Chrístõ’s friends knew as well as he did that Lessing J. Rosenwald still had twenty-seven years to live. That was a lot of chess games.

“I’ll be here, sir,” Chrístõ said. “Next Tuesday.”

He made as if to get up to leave. Mr Rosenwald waved him back and had his butler set out a very fine antique chess set in front of him.

“We’ll make a start, now, if your friends won’t be too bored. I’m sure youngsters like yourselves ought to be down town drinking coffee and listening to the new rock and roll music, not keeping an old man company.”

“We’re fine,” Glenda said on behalf of them all. Watching a game of chess wasn’t the worst way to spend an hour or two.

It beat breaking into the Library of Congress, anyway.

At the end of the evening, Chrístõ was happy that he was on his way to acquiring the first volume of the Annals of Rassilon. His companions had just one question.

“All those chess games… every third Tuesday….” Julia queried.

“Oh, I’ll fit them in. Meanwhile, it Is time we got back to Beta Delta. We all have responsibilities there. If you want to see how this pans out, I’ll pick you up next Saturday afternoon.”

He was as good as his word, of course. Next Saturday afternoon he and Cal picked up Julia and Glenda from their colleges and they headed to Philadelphia in the early autumn of 1979. There, Chrístõ had an appointment with the firm of solicitors who were handling the estate of the late Mr Lessing J. Rosenwald. The personal bequest to him, diligently wrapped in strong brown paper, was handed over.

“As easy as that,” Glenda commented when he unwrapped the book and carefully opened its first page sitting on a bench opposite Independence Hall, the place where the American Declaration was signed.

“Not that easy. You would not believe how many chess games I’ve played this week. I got to know Mr Rosenwald very well, and he got to know me. He started to believe that I was from another planet after the first ten years - when I hadn’t aged at all. After that it was easy enough to convince him that the book didn’t belong on planet Earth.”

“So it belongs to you, now. You didn’t have to steal it,” Julia said.

“It belongs to the people of Gallifrey,” Chrístõ answered. “I’m just the custodian for a while.”

He closed the book and ran his hand across the embossed Seal.

“Funny thing about this book. I’ve read it from cover to cover a couple of times now, on those chess evenings, but every time I close the cover everything I read goes out of my mind. I think I’m not supposed to have the wisdom inside it. Maybe it is meant for a higher-ranked Time Lord than me – the President himself, perhaps. But that’s all right. My mission is to find the Annals, not study them.”

He took the precious book back to his TARDIS and returned to his friends. He smiled warmly and proposed an afternoon exploring the City of Brotherly Love.