I'll be round at your house tonight about seven," Chrístõ told Michal Sommers in the staff car park of New Canberra High School. "That's time for you to have your supper and watch that daft tv programme you like.”

“Battlefleet X,” Michal reminded him, though he was sure Chrístõ really DID know the name of the holovid series. He just held it in complete disdain because his own life was far more interesting than any fiction.

“Yes, that. When it is finished I’ll be ready to help you devote an entire two hours to trigonometry."

Michal groaned as any teenager would at the thought of extra tuition in a less than enthralling branch of mathematics, but he needed top marks if he had any hopes of joining Earth Federation's Space Flight Academy, and apart from almost being family, Chrístõ was the only tutor in the city who would work on Friday evenings.

It wasn't that he didn't have a social life, of course. He just didn't enjoy Friday night activities so much without Julia. He was saving all his fun up for the Christmas holidays.

He waved to the boy who went off with his school friends and got into his car. He would have given him a lift, but travelling with a teacher was ‘uncool’.

The journey back to his own house should have been uneventful. It was his half hour wind down from a day listening to so many other voices around him. He had even fitted anti-telepathic shields inside the car so that he didn't accidentally pick up the distracting thoughts of other people on the highway. He could enjoy a peaceful drive that way.

He had just come off the busy overpass onto the quieter suburban road when he saw a car ahead with hazard lights blinking and somebody trying to flag him down. He braked gently and let the hover car touch down on the road before unfastening his seatbelt and starting to get out of the car.

He probably should have been more vigilant. It was dark and there was nobody around to witness what went on. Car jacking was not unheard of on Beta Delta.

He was more concerned with the possibility that somebody was injured in the other car. His Good Samaritan instinct overrode his self preservation.

He only realised the danger when the second dark clad figure approached on his left flank and grasped his arm in a surprisingly tight grip. He turned to see the face under the hood and was shocked first to see that there was no face, and then to see his own features morph into place where it had been a blank canvas. He felt his brain ransacked and a sensation like his short term memory was being siphoned off. At the same time, with his attention distracted by such a terrifying occurance, the first man injected something into his neck that he immediately recognised as a neural inhibitor.

Moments later he blacked out altogether.

Michal's trigonometry tutorial didn’t really go as well as he expected it to go. It WAS trigonometry, after all.

But there was something else other than dread of mathematics.

After his tutor had left, he sought out his brother in thoughtful mood.

"I think there's something wrong with Chrístõ,” he said to him.

“What sort of wrong?” Cordell asked, turning from his collection of Battlefleet X holo-cards that he had been sorting and indexing.

“I don't know exactly. Sort of... like he had all the 'cool' extracted from his personality. I mean, I know the trig is serious and I have to knuckle down and everything, but usually he tries to make it a bit less dreary. Tonight it was all work and he didn't even smile once. It was like it wasn't HIM. He was walking up and down the room all the time, and he kept calling me Michael instead of Michal. He has never got my name wrong. He never forgets things like that."

“He forgets the Captain of Battlefleet Prime,” Cordell pointed out.

“He doesn’t. He just pretends to, because he knows it winds you up. But he never forgets important things. And he knows it matters to me that people get my name right. I’m telling you, he wasn’t himself. And it isn’t as if we wouldn’t know him. He lived in our house for ages and he’s even taught us at school. We know him as well as we know each other.”

"Maybe it wasn't him," Cordell suggested. “Maybe Chrístõ has been replaced by an alien doppelganger like the Chief Medical Officer in Battlefleet X tonight."

Michal thought about that possibility for a moment and then shook his head.

Chrístõ wouldn't get captured like that. He's smart."

“Then maybe something invaded his mind and is using him - like the co-pilot in the episode where they visited the Parasite Planet.”

"That doesn't sound like something that could happen to Chrístõ, either, Michal considered. “But, seriously, something is wrong with him.”

"Should we tell Julia?" Cordell suggested.

"No. She'll just worry. She's got exams soon. We can't bother her."

“Dad?” But that idea didn’t appeal to either of the boys. Their father was a steady, practical man and he loved his sons, but he wasn’t the right person to talk to about this.

"Call Cal, then," Cordell insisted. "He is a Time Lord like Chrístõ. He would know if anything was really wrong."

"No good," Michal answered. "He and Glenda are on a date tonight. We'll be in bed before he's back."

"Tomorrow morning, then. We can get up early and cycle over to his place."

"What if a parasite IS using Chrístõ's body? " Cordell asked. "Can we risk waiting that long?”

"We'll just have to, " Michal decided. "Chrístõ will just have to fight it by himself until then."

Chrístõ was trying to fight it, but it was difficult.

He was in a dark, cold place. He felt as if it was a small, dark place - like a coffin.

He might well be mistaken for dead. The neural inhibitor was still affecting him. He couldn't move. Every nerve was frozen. He couldn't move a single muscle, not even an eyelid. He was only alive at all because his Time Lord metabolism was slowed down to the bare minimum for life. His heart and lungs were just functioning, his other organs on standby.

A human would be dead. His captors knew he was a Time Lord. They knew his physical strengths and his limitations. The trap was sprung just for him.

As soon as he realised that he knew just what this was all about. The plan was clever, devious and terrible.

And there was nothing he could do about it.

Michal and Cordell were up much earlier than anyone expected. They left their home without even stopping for breakfast and cycled to Cal's apartment not far from their school.

"I don't think he's up, yet," Cordell noted as his brother rang the bell persistently. They waited patiently until, at last, Cal, dressed hurriedly in slacks and a t shirt opened the door.

He listened to both boys talking at once for several minutes before admitting defeat and inviting them in for breakfast.

Cal was making scrambled eggs on toast when Glenda came into the kitchen wearing a nightdress and silk wrap with slippers. Michal and Cordell considered the fact that this was a one bedroom apartment and decided to mind their own business about what people who were older than them did.

Besides, they were more concerned about Chrístõ. They told Cal about their concerns over breakfast. He and Glenda listened to their theories with a measure of disbelief and scepticism.

"Chrístõ has more sense than the cast of Battlefleet X put together," Glenda assured them. "I don't think he can be cloned or taken over quite so easily."

"I'm serious," Michal insisted. "He really wasn't him last night, and he was ok when I saw him at school. Something happened after that and before he came to our house."

"He could just have been feeling a bit tired," Glenda suggested. "A full day teaching, then tutorials with you sounds like a heavy schedule to me."

"But not for Chrístõ. He doesn't get tired, not ever. Have you ever seen him tired?"

"Yes," Cal answered. "But not just from teaching. He would have to have fought a mind duel with a Dilurian Psyche Beast before he was so tired it actually changed his personality."

"What's a Dilurian...." Michal began. But it didn't matter. What did matter was that Cal had confirmed their suspicion. The way he had been last night wasn't normal.

“Maybe he's worried about the conference,” Cal suggested.

“What conference?"

"That's right," Glenda confirmed. "Julia told me about it on the vid-phone last week. She could have come home for the weekend along with me, but she said there was no point with Chrístõ being away tonight for this big treaty thing.”

The two boys looked questioningly at the two young adults.

"He's going as the Adano Ambrado representative," Cal explained. "A lot of important people will be there. His father is representing Gallifrey, the Earth Federation president will be there and a number of other major players on the intergalactic political stage. I know it is a bit mind blowing for you kids to get your head around. Chrístõ is your teacher and a friend and also a big political figure at the same time, but...."

Cal stopped talking and started thinking. Everyone looked at him expectantly.

"We need to talk to him," Cal announced, jumping up from the breakfast table so fast that he knocked his coffee cup over. "Come on, we'll all go. It'll be a cover for our investigation."

Glenda opened her mouth to question his decision, but found herself carried along with the enthusiasm of the boys to go along with Cal's plan.

Chrístõ was still doubly trapped, in the locked 'coffin ' and within his own body. For a while, unconsciousness had overcome the pain of being kept for so long under the influence of a neural inhibitor, but he was awake again, now, and suffering.

The physical pain in every muscle was not the worst of his trauma. He was aware of the drain upon his memories, the constant tugging at everything he was and had ever been. He worried that these memories would be taken rather than merely rifled through. How would he live with such gaps in his past?

“Don't take Julia from my memory," he begged. "Don't take the good things."

He tried not to think of her. For one thing it hurt more being trapped like this if he thought about being free and in love. But he was also afraid of what his captors might do to Julia if they knew how much she meant to him.

"You kids stay in the car for a minute," Cal said as he stopped the vehicle in the driveway of Chrístõ's suburban house. "Glenda, you too, sweetheart."

"Why?" Cordell asked. "I thought we were part of the plan."

"The front door is wide open," Cal pointed out. "Let me check that everything is all right, first."

"Be careful," Glenda told him. Cal got out of the car and approached the house slowly. He turned sideways as he reached the door so that he didn't present a giveaway silhouette to anyone lurking inside.

There was no sound inside the house, and as he went from room to room the emptiness became more certain. So did the fact that something was very wrong.

"Cal, what's happened in here?" Glenda asked. She stepped into the drawing room where Cal was examining the torn remnants of a photograph album that were strewn around the floor.

"What part of stay in the car wasn't clear?" he asked as the two boys followed her in, expressing their shock at the disarray and outright vandalism throughout the ground floor of the house. Hardly a picture was left on the walls. Vases and ornaments were smashed. Glass from picture frames crunched under foot. Books were pulled from shelves and ripped to shreds.

"You actually said 'stay in the car for a minute’," Michal pointed out. "You had the minute. What happened here? Is it burglars?"

That would have been bad enough, but Cal was starting to form a theory for himself. He went upstairs, noting the same vandalism on the stairs and landing and into Chrístõ's bedroom.

There, too, things were damaged. Cordell picked up the smashed frame that should have contained a picture of his cousin, Julia. His brother found the shredded photograph.

“Chrístõ wouldn’t have done THIS,” the boys insisted.

“No, he wouldn’t,” Glenda agreed. She looked to Cal, Chrístõ’s closest friend on Beta Delta, to confirm that.

Cal didn’t say anything about the ruined photograph. He was looking at the images that had been pinned to the wall in place of precious personal photos and works of art.

"What is all this?" Glenda asked about the series of photographs of men and women in official uniforms or regalia. Every photograph had been crossed out in red marker pen and around the group of pictures was a crudely drawn pen image of an explosion in space.

"This is the work of a psychopath preparing to commit an act of terrorism," Cal answered. "These people... That is the Earth Federation President. That's the Dragon Loge Marton of the Loggian Empire. That's Chrístõ's father...."

"Oh no!" Glenda stood back from the wall in horror.

"What?" The two boys asked.

"These people are all attending that conference that Chrístõ is supposed to be at this weekend,” Glenda explained.

"He's going to blow up the conference," Cal said numbly. "That's what all this is about. Not just the pictures of the victims, but destroying all the normal things in the house."

"I don't get it, " Cordell said.

"The conference is blown up by a suicide bomber…. The police come to his house and find all this stuff and it confirms that he was a nutcase who planned it all in advance....."

"No!" Michal protested. "No. I don't believe it. Chrístõ isn't crazy. He's been cloned or taken over by aliens. We have to help him."

"We have to stop this happening," Glenda said as calmly as she could muster. "Whether Chrístõ himself has gone suicidal and totally mad or the boys are right.... and I don't know which theory is the more likely... or the more terrible…but the conference has to be warned."

Cal nodded. She was right. But what was his next move? What should he do next.

"What's that noise?" Michal asked while Cal's thoughts were still in confusion.

The noise was like a soft sob. It was coming from under the bed.

Glenda drew the curtains, making the room darker, then she bent down and looked under the bed.

"It's all right, Humphrey," she said gently as Chrístõ's strange alien friend emerged, quivering like a jelly.

"Bad not Chrístõ," Humphrey explained. "Bad not Chrístõ."

"He's telling us that this wasn't Chrístõ," Michal insisted. "We were right. It's a doppelganger or a clone or whatever. It's not him."

"If his father and a whole load of people he knows are murdered it won't matter if it is him or not, " Cal replied. He looked around the room carefully then opened a slim wall cabinet to reveal an intergalactic video phone, the sort used for long distance transmissions, not the shorter range ones found in most homes used for communications within the Beta Delta system.

"Damn," he swore. "This is biometrically locked. It won't let me key in the code for his father's location. I might be able to get it to accept the last number entered. I just hope it wasn't to order a pizza."

It wasn't. Cal wasn't sure if things were better or worse when he got through to the director of the Celestial Intervention Agency on Gallifrey.

Paracell Hext was puzzled and bewildered, to say nothing of sceptical of the story he was getting from what he would describe as a group of excitable youths but his friend, Chrístõ, would probably call a daft bunch of kids.

"There is no conceivable circumstance in which Chrístõ would commit an act of mass murder - and certainly not with his father as one of the victims. It is unthinkable. This is CHRÍSTÕ we're talking about."

But he's not really Chrístõ," Cordell protested.

"He's a clone, using his body," Michal added.

"I'm not sure if that is feasible," Cal admitted. "But I think you should at least try to do something. If we're right and a terrible thing happens because you ignored us kids, you'll regret it forever."

"And if it is nonsense, I'll look like an idiot."

“Which would you rather, to BE an idiot who ignored a warning or look like one for acting on it?" Glenda asked. "Please do SOMETHING!"

"I will, I promise, " Hext agreed after considering that point. "I hope you ARE wrong. Chrístõ CAN'T be responsible for something so awful. "

"I hope so, too," Cal agreed, speaking for every one with him.

"Is that all we can do?" Michal asked when Cal was done on the vid-phone. "Just tell somebody else to deal with it."

"He's the right person to tell," Cal assured the two boys. "He'll do what he can."

"What if that's not good enough?" Michal protested.

"It's got to be enough," Cal answered. "Come on. Let me take you boys home before your parents worry."

Chrístõ moved his left thumb slowly, then the forefinger of his right hand. The neural inhibitor was wearing off. After a little more effort he was able to flex his hands and make fists.

Slower, still, he gained control of his eyelids and was able to blink. Salt water bathed his aching eyes. When he opened them wide the total blackness of the place where he was confined sucked at his eyeballs. Usually he was able to process even the smallest amount of light and see where others faltered, but there wasn’t even the smallest amount of light, not even a speck.

Even so, as his limbs regained their movement he was starting to feel as if he might have a chance to escape.

But he was still in the dark in a small, confined space. Now he could reach out and touch the walls all around him he confirmed that his first guess was right. It was something like a coffin. It was made of some kind of hard silica, too tough to break with his bare hands.

He was still trapped.

At least his body was. His mind was starting to unfreeze, too, and he found that much freer. Silica wasn’t like lead that blocked telepathic signals. Those who had imprisoned him knew that. They needed to be able to rifle through his memories. He could still feel the tug at his mind, but now he could rebuff it, severing that invasive connection with the doppelganger that had taken his face and his life.

There was something else, he could do, too. He could reach out with his mind and try to touch another telepath, somebody who might respond to his cry for help.

“Oh!” Glenda cried out suddenly. Cal exclaimed in concert with her and slammed on the car brakes so suddenly that the two boys in the back seat raised their voices in protest.

“I felt it too,” Cal said to his girlfriend. “He’s alive. And he’s on this planet. Try to focus. We might be able to pinpoint where he is.”

“Chrístõ?” Cordell asked. “You’ve found him?”

“Not exactly,” Glenda answered. “But he’s trying to make contact telepathically. It’s difficult. Something is blocking him, but it absolutely IS him, not a doppelganger or clone or anything.”

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Michal asked. “Let’s find him.”

“We’re waiting for you two to hush and let us concentrate,” Cal answered. “It really IS difficult. Try to clear your minds and not think of anything for a minute then you don’t distract us.”

“We’re teenagers,” Cordell pointed out. “That’s not easy. We have lots of things to think about.”

“Just TRY,” Glenda suggested. She put her fingers on her temples and closed her eyes as she attempted to reach out to her former teacher. She could feel his presence on the edge of her telepathic reach. It felt at the same time distant and quite close, but she couldn’t understand his words and reaching out to try to enhance the signal felt like reaching through water.

“Maybe there IS water,” Cal suggested. “It might be as simple as that.”

“You mean he’s drowning?” Glenda replied in alarm.

“No, but water might be stopping us from getting a clear connection.”

“Where? What water?” Michal asked. “Do you mean, like a lake or a swimming pool, something like that?”

“Yes, something like a swimming pool,” Glenda confirmed. “That’s what I can feel.”

“Then I think I know,” Michael told her. “He’s at school. The new sports centre…. It’s not finished, yet. But the pool is ready.”

“You’re right,” Cal observed. “It’s the only place they could be sure of being able to hide. There’s no work going on at the weekend, nobody on the campus.”

“There will be on Monday,” Cordell pointed out.

“Yes, but by then, the worst would be done and they could leave him to his fate,” Cal explained. “The people who did this… are just… indifferent to anything except their own agenda… which seems to be the destabilisation of galactic peace.”

Exactly who would want that none of them could guess. None of them were involved in politics in any way. They didn’t know who might profit from war between the Earth Federation and the Loggian-Ambrado hegemony or between Gallifrey and the Draconian Empire or any other permutation of interplanetary conflict.

And they really didn’t care. They just wanted to rescue Chrístõ from them. Michal and Cordell were happy when all mention of taking them home was forgotten and Cal turned the car in the direction of New Canberra High School. They were going to be part of the adventure, after all.

The maximum hospitality space platform Platform Two was in orbit around the star known to humans as Polaris. It was a neutral sector of the galaxy, not claimed by any of the participants in the Peace Conference due to take place when the meet and greet buffet and the peace breakfast were over and they got down to business.

There was a strict rule aboard the Platforms barring teleportation devices. The type of craft that the Gallifreyan delegates used were exempted provided that they were used only for arrival and departure and kept in the maximum security hangar during the proceedings. The Ambassador from Gallifrey had arrived earlier in the day and his own TARDIS was already secured in that way. He was now awaiting a second craft, that used by his son, the representative of Adano-Ambrado.

The TARDIS materialised in the form of a mirrored cabinet. The mirrors, curiously, were distorting ones, giving back peculiar shapes in their reflections. Lord de Lœngb?rrow wasn’t amused by such trivialities, though, especially in such critical circumstances.

The mirrored door shimmered as it opened and the young Time Lord who also accepted the duties of Crown Prince of Adano-Ambrado stepped out wearing black robes and a silver crown on his head. He paused in front of his father and bowed his head respectfully.

“Good fortune to you, father,” he said in a steady voice.

Lord de Lœngb?rrow said nothing. He pulled his sonic screwdriver from beneath his robe and aimed it at his son. The high pitched sonic pulse was briefly drowned out by a scream that was cut off when the doppelganger posing as Chrístõ de Lœngb?rrow lost its consistency and dissolved into a foul smelling milky substance that in turn evaporated on the metal floor of the space hangar.

The Crown of Adano-Ambrado clattered to the floor along with a long, cigar shaped metallic object. Lord de Lœngb?rrow picked up the crown. The hand that reached for the cigar shaped object belonged to Paracell Hext, director of the Celestial Intervention Agency.

“A disintegrator bomb,” he confirmed. “It would have turned this entire installation and everyone aboard to space dust.”

“Fiendish,” Lord de Lœngb?rrow commented dryly. He examined the crown. “This will have to be cleaned before this evening’s social events. I shall have a steward attend to it.”

Hext nodded as if that was one of the most important issues.

“Did you have any doubt?” he asked. “About whether it really was your son or not?”

“None at all,” Lord de Lœngb?rrow answered. “Everything was wrong - the look in his eyes, the way he fastened his robe, that formal greeting – ‘good fortune to you, father’. My son knows perfectly well that the proper form of words when we are both under diplomatic orders is ‘good fortune to you, Excellency’. Besides, there is a smell from these organic doppelgangers.”

Hext pressed his lips together and said nothing. He was surprised by each and every one of the reasons that Lord de Lœngb?rrow had given for recognising the imposter. He hadn’t been at all certain. He was glad the responsibility hadn’t been left with him.

He was also surprised by the cool way his Lordship had dealt with the doppelganger despite it looking so much like his son. He must have been very sure.

“I have my work to do here,” Lord de Lœngb?rrow added. “Your work is finding out who concocted this conspiracy. You know what to do when you find them.”

“Yes, I do, sir,” Hext answered. “I have some leads. I believe it won’t be difficult to locate the conspirators. They will be dealt the full penalty due to those who threaten the lives of Gallifreyans.”

He didn’t have to explain to Lord de Lœngb?rrow, known in later life as the Peacemaker, but in his younger years by a very different epithet just what the full penalty was. Hext turned towards his own TARDIS, which unlike the diplomatic craft came with an armoury full of lethal weapons. Lord de Lœngb?rrow watched it dematerialise before returning to his chambers aboard the maximum hospitality platform to prepare himself mentally and physically for the conference. He knew that his son was still in difficulties, but he was fully confident that his friends were going to his aid and all would soon be well.

The school campus was quiet, as it was meant to be. The unfinished sports centre, still encased in scaffolding, was even more quiet. The ground floor, with the windows still covered in plastic shutters, was locked up tightly.

“If Chrístõ was here he’d use his sonic screwdriver,” Cordell pointed out.

“Chrístõ relies too much on the power of the sonic screwdriver,” Cal responded. “Can you climb trees?”

“Yes,” Cordell replied.

“How about scaffolding?” Cal added. Cordell confirmed that the metal structure was a ‘doddle’. “Ok, you’re the smallest of us. Get up there and through that empty vent space. Come and unlock the door for us.”

“What about the bad guys?” Michal asked with an anxious glance at his brother who was testing the lowest struts of the scaffolding.

“I don’t actually think there is anyone around,” Glenda told him. “We’re both concentrating hard and we can’t feel any other mind within the structure except Chrístõ’s, and he’s still trapped.”

“Should be ok, then,” the boy conceded. “Quick as you can, Cordell, before somebody sees us breaking in. I don’t want to be suspended this close to my exams.”

Cordell moved quickly and lithely, easily climbing up one level of scaffolding and then squeezing himself through the gap left in the wall for the central heating outlet. They all heard an ‘oof’ as he landed on the bare wooden floor of what was going to be a dojo for martial arts lessons after a few more weeks of construction, then silence for a few minutes before they heard the sound of a window being opened and the shutters pushed out.

“The door is double locked and there’s no key,” Cordell reported as he looked out through the wide gap. “This way will do.”

His brother was the first to hop over the windowsill and into the sports centre. Glenda came next, with Cal bringing up the rear. The boys led the way to the new swimming pool.

It looked eerie. The roof wasn’t finished. The partially completed glass panelling was covered in a tarpaulin which made it much darker than it would be when it was ready to be used by the students.

But the pool was full of water, and as the rescue party drew closer to the edge they could see that there was something lying on the bottom – something that looked heavy and immovable.

“It’s a coffin!” Glenda exclaimed in horror. “Are we too late?”

“No,” Cal answered. “We’re not.” He kicked off his shoes and dived into the dark pool. The heating system that would warm the water was not yet operational and it was bitingly cold, but he swam down towards the black box. He felt all around the edge of the lid, looking for some way to open it.

At first he wasn’t sure there WAS any way in. It felt absolutely seamless. Then his fingers touched a very slight recess. He pushed at it and felt a vibration as if something had shifted slightly. He saw air bubbles rising from a gap that had appeared between lid and sides. It was no longer airtight.

He shoved the lid off and reached out to his friend who had taken a lungful of air before the casket was flooded. They rose up towards the surface together and swam to the edge of the pool. Willing hands reached to pull them both out of the water. Chrístõ looked about him with eyes that found even the dullness of the unfinished swimming pool room bright after the total darkness. Cal breathed deeply and let Glenda hug him despite the fact that she was getting her dress wet.

“It is really you, isn’t it?” Michal asked Chrístõ anxiously. “You’re not a clone, and you haven’t got a parasite in your head?”

“You two really have got to stop watching that holovid series,” he answered.

“It’s a good thing they do,” Cal told him. “Or they wouldn’t have started to wonder what was wrong with you.”

“Chrístõ,” Glenda told him after Cal had quickly related the story from his point of view. “Your house. It’s really, really awful what they did there.”

“What who did there?” he asked. “What WAS this all about?”

Cal started to explain what they had guessed, when he was interrupted by the sound of two TARDISes, running in tandem, materialising in the echoing pool room. Everyone looked around as Paracell Hext stepped out of the Celestial Intervention Agency capsule. He was carrying the silver crown of the heir apparent of Adano Ambrado.

“Your father told me to give this to you,” he said to Chrístõ. “He had it polished. I brought your TARDIS back, too. You’ll need a time machine to get to the Conference in time for the Meet and Greet Buffet.”

Chrístõ held the crown and ran a hand over his wet hair.

“I think I’d better get going,” he said. “I am definitely going to have to change on the way.”

“Go,” Glenda told him. “Go and make peace for the galaxy. Give your dad our regards.”

Chrístõ stood and headed to his own TARDIS. A few moments later he was gone.

“What about the terrorists who wanted to blow up the conference?” Michal asked Paracell Hext before he, too, got ready to depart.

“They’ve been dealt with,” Hext answered in a solemn tone. He wasn’t going to tell anyone HOW they were dealt with, least of all a couple of boys. Michal and Cordell, young as they were, recognised that there was no use pressing the question further and instead reminded Hext of the mess in Chrístõ’s house.

“There is a Time Lord trick that can be used,” Hext said. “A sort of localised time reversal. It would put everything in the house back the way it was before it was vandalised. It’s not supposed to be used except in extraordinary circumstances, though.”

“These ARE extraordinary circumstances,” the two boys insisted. “Chrístõ was kidnapped and locked in a coffin in a swimming pool while a clone of him trashed his house and tried to kill his dad and loads of other people, and frame him for it. What’s more extraordinary than that?”

“Good point,” Hext conceded. “Do you lot want a lift in my TARDIS? You might prefer to take the easy way out of here before anyone finds out that you’ve been trespassing.”

“A trip in a TARDIS – a different TARDIS than the one Chrístõ has?” Cordell expressed his pleasure. “Cool.”

“It’s only five and a half miles,” Glenda pointed out. “He’s not taking us to the Medusa Cascade!”

Michal and Cordell didn’t care. There was a postscript to their adventure to be savoured, and they meant to do so fully.