Cal was meant to be having breakfast with Chrístõ on a quiet Saturday morning when both of them were free of responsibilities. He arrived at the appointed time to find his friend in his hallway carefully studying a wide but thin package that had obviously been delivered to him by the Beta Deltan post office service.

Having looked it over with his eyes he pulled his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and checked it using several different settings before he was satisfied.

“No explosives or dangerous chemical residues,” he finally concluded.

“Were you expecting any?” Cal asked.

“No… but….” Chrístõ put away his sonic screwdriver and examined the paper copy of the delivery note that came with the package. He shook his head as if disappointed not to find some important clue in it.

“How about breakfast?” Cal suggested. “It IS why I’m here, after all.”

“Yes… of course. It’s all prepared. Come on.”

He still seemed distracted as he led his friend into the dining room where a leisurely breakfast of buckwheat pancakes, bacon and devilled eggs was ready for them. Orange juice, hot coffee and as much toast as they wanted was also on the table. Cal enjoyed Chrístõ’s breakfasts. They were far superior to anything he ate in his own flat.

But something was really worrying his friend today. He ate without enjoyment, glancing around towards the hallway nervously when he thought he wasn’t being observed.

“What is the matter?” Cal asked when the opportunity for Chrístõ to bring his problem up voluntarily had long passed.

“That parcel,” he answered. “I don’t know where it came from or who sent it.”

“A surprise present?”

“Who would send me a surprise present?” Chrístõ asked. “I thought… well… I don’t really know what I thought. Ever since that business with the doppelganger I suppose I have been feeling a tiny bit paranoid. I was taken too easily. I didn't expect trouble here on Beta Delta, where I live an ordinary life. Now I'm expecting it all the time, seeing threats in the most innocuous things. The knock on the door early this morning scared the life out of me. The delivery men must have thought I was nuts. But I just felt.…"

"Do you think there could be another attempt, then?"

Chrístõ sighed.

"I don't know. And I hate feeling this way. I want to be able to drive to school and back without worrying. I don’t want to hide from the postman on a Saturday morning. But I don't think I will for a while, yet."

"You're not on your own, remember. I'm here. So are Cordell and Michal Sommers. They’re not going to let anything happen to you.”

Chrístõ smiled at the idea of two teenage boys as his protectors, though there was no doubt that they had come through for him on that occasion before Christmas.

“And you've got Paracell Hext watching your back, too. Your father said he was going to investigate that whole business and find out who the paymasters were."

"Yes,” Chrístõ admitted. “I should trust you all to watch out for me. Never mind. Let’s have another cup of coffee and then you can help me shift the mystery package into the drawing room – and find out what it is."

“About time,” Cal remarked.

It was heavy. Even two strong, young Gallifreyans noticed the weight as they manhandled it into the drawing room and leaned it against the dresser.

"Well?" Cal queried.

"Well what?"

"Let's open it."

Chrístõ grinned a little more like his old, carefree self and the two of them attacked the brown paper wrapping that even in the twenty-fourth century was still used for parcels. It was tougher than the material invented in the Victorian age, fully recycled and utterly biodegradable, but still basically brown paper. They ripped it off in strips and dropped it carelessly as the contents of the mystery package were revealed.


The very human exclamation felt appropriate as they stood back and looked at the magnificent painting inside the wrapping. The canvas was two metres wide and a metre and a half deep, framed in gilded plaster on wood that added to the weight.

It was an oil painting, but one with such fine attention to detail it might have been a high definition photograph.

"It’s Gallifreyan," Chrístõ said with absolute certainty.

“How do you know that?” Cal felt compelled to ask.

"For one thing, that's Gallifrey as seen from beyond the Transduction Barrier in the top corner of the image. The landmass you can see is the southern pole before the Arcalix Glacier sheet melted, creating the Arcalix Sea, Gallifrey's only inland sea - later, when it dried up, the Arcalix depression."

“Your knowledge of historical geography is impressive," Cal told him. "But don't show off! Besides, if that is Gallifrey, what planet is the artist standing on? Even from the closest planets in the Cruciform it wouldn’t look that close."

"It’s not a planet,” Chrístõ explained. “That's the surface of the red moon."

"The one that broke up millennia ago and caused devastation all over the southern hemisphere?"

"The very same."

"So is this an old painting done by an artist standing on the red moon when it existed or a modern one done using imagination?"

"I'm guessing its contemporaneous with the moon. Modern Time Lords don't have that much imagination."

Cal laughed at Chrístõ 's wry observation of his stoical race then gave his attention to the painting again.

It's very good. I like the almost three-dimensional feel to it. The colours are amazing, too - so bright and vivid. Do you think that's how it really was on the red moon?"

"I really couldn't say for sure," Chrístõ admitted. The only records of it are paintings like this one. I remember seeing something similar in the Athenican Gallery. That one showed the red moon shining down on the southern plain. In fact, I think this might be a brother to that one, showing the complementary view."

"That means this is a very valuable painting," Cal observed. "Which makes me really wonder who sent it to you?"

"I’m not sure it matters, any more. If there IS some kind of veiled threat within this picture, I don't see it. I just want to see it hung up there on the chimney breast. I think it will look impressive."

"That's more like it," Cal told him. "You've stopped being paranoid for a whole twenty minutes."

Chrístõ laughed. Cal was right about that. He had let himself relax for a little while. The anxiety was still there, and there was every reason for caution, but it didn't have to overwhelm him.

"I'm going to find a couple of picture hooks," he said. "Let's get it up there where everybody who visits can admire it."

"Good idea," Cal told him. Chrístõ turned to go to the kitchen where a drawer contained tools and sundries for jobs around the house.

He wasn't sure what made him turn back, but when he did, Cal was gone from the room.

Chrístõ checked the dining room and hall, but he knew Cal hadn't left the drawing room in the ordinary way.

He drew close to the painting and looked at it carefully, then he ran upstairs to his bedroom where his TARDIS resided when he had nowhere to go. He went inside and made a very short journey downstairs before opening up a panel in the floor. He extracted a long conduit insulated with rubber and attached a large glass ball to the end of it. The ball lit up with a blue glow and if he had tested it with his sonic screwdriver it would have given back a distinct energy signal of Artron F particles.

Artron F was the inert by-product of Artron energy engines. In a TARDIS they were endlessly recycled back into useable energy. In this instance they would serve as a very effective beacon.

He paid out the conduit as he stepped back out of the TARDIS and stood in front of the painting. He made sure there was plenty of loose conduit and then threw the beacon orb directly at the centre of the canvas.

It ought to have been ridiculous. If it was any other kind of panting it would have been. But this was a painting from Gallifrey and it was more than just oil and canvas.

The beacon orb went through the painting with a very dramatic and showy glow and arc of green and orange energy residue.

"Ok!" Chrístõ put on his leather jacket and folded Cal’s coat over his arm, then he took a deep breath and leapt at the painting, fully expecting to land on the floor with a broken picture frame around his neck.

He didn't. After a moment of disorientation and a popping in his ears he found himself standing in a freezing desert with a black starfield above his head and Gallifrey hanging in the south-western portion of the sky like a beautiful jewel that tugged at his hearts in an unexpected way.

But looking at his home world had to wait. He sprinted across the ice cold sand to where Cal was kneeling over what looked, at first, like a bundle of rags. Only when he got closer could he recognize the body of a man inside the rags. Cal was trying to resuscitate him.

"I think... it might… be... too... late," Chrístõ told him through gasps for breath. "But don’t stop until you're sure."

"I can't get enough breath to share with him," Cal admitted.

"I know. The air is thin. Running was a bad idea. Sharing your breath with another pair of lungs is even harder."

He knelt and examined the man carefully. He pressed a hand against the emaciated forehead and searched for a spark of life within the body.

There was nothing. The man was dead.

"He's gone," Chrístõ told Cal gently. "He must have been close to death when you found him. There was nothing you could do."

Cal nodded sadly and sat back. Chrístõ handed him his coat. He put it on, not realising until he did how cold he really was.

The dead man's clothes were thin rags. He must have been freezing as well as short of breath and by the way his skin hung on his bones, starving to death.

"Where did he come from?" Cal asked. "For that matter, where are we?"

"The second question I can answer," Chrístõ told him. "We're on the Red Moon. The first, I haven’t a clue."

"You mean the one in the painting? Are we in the painting?"

"No," Chrístõ confirmed. He took a handful of cold sand and sniffed it carefully. "No, we're on the actual moon. Though that can happen – falling into an actual painting. It’s a reality fracture that occurs from time to time. But in this instance something within the painting triggered a time and space jump. I would guess it was some kind of stable rift between the painting and the moon."

"Are we stranded, then?"

"No, we're not. I've got that sorted. We can bury this poor soul and then find out where he came from and what his story is."

Cal smiled wryly. The reason why a ragged, emaciated man had died in this cold desert really was nothing to do with either of them, but Chrístõ's curiosity, as well as his sense of adventure were piqued.

And he looked happier than he had been for months.

The dead man was Gallifreyan. They had both recognized his double hearts and other physical distinctions. The proper rite of death was cremation. But there was nothing here to build a pyre with, and besides, if there was any sinister force at work it would not do to announce their presence with smoke and fire that would be seen for miles.

The grave they dug with their bare hands was shallow but it would suffice in a place where there was no rain to cause the disturbed ground to sink.

"Lord Rassilon, you know this man's name," Chrístõ whispered in what more or less qualified as a prayer to the Creator of his people. "Keep care of him on the eternal journey."

Cal, brought up most of his life with Human traditions, murmured 'amen' before remembering that Lord Rassilon was not a deity.

"It's as good a word as any," Chrístõ assured him. "Come on, let's go."

"How do we know we're going?" Cal asked as he kept pace with his friend's confident stride towards a steep rise to the west of the lonely grave of the unknown man.

“When we first looked at the painting there was a tiny figure at the top of this rise. I thought nothing of it at the time, but when I looked again afterwards, when you had gone from the room, I saw you bending over him. He came towards you from whatever lies beyond that rise."

"I see," Cal responded, impressed by Chrístõ's deduction and pleased with his engagement in the mystery. It was doing him good to be thinking about something other than his own problems.

Walking hard in such thin air was difficult. Both fit, healthy young men were gasping for breath when they reached the top of the sand covered rise that they might have called either a hill or a bluff, or possibly even a dune, though Chrístõ sensed that there was solid rock a few feet beneath the sand. They wondered how the desperate man they buried had walked any kind of distance at all.

The question was partly answered when they looked down the slope on the other side of the hill.

"What is that?" Cal asked as they viewed the sprawl of rough buildings and machinery in the compound nestled in the valley below.

"I'm guessing some sort of mining operation," Chrístõ answered. "I've seen that sort of equipment around our own mineral mines. Nothing so rough and ready, and we don't use slave labour, of course."

He looked towards a group of men shuffling along in chains and another group coming in the opposite direction. "Change of shift. One group of prisoners worked to exhaustion, another barely fed and rested but back on duty again."

"Prisoners?" Cal queried. "Could this be a Gallifreyan penal colony?"

"No," Chrístõ replied with absolute certainty. "We are a civilised people. We would never do anything so barbaric."

"Not in your time," Cal pointed out. "But this is thousands of years before."

"No," Chrístõ insisted. "No, I am sure we have never been party to such cruelty as we have seen so far. The penal colonies we DO have feed and clothe the prisoners properly."

Cal wasn't completely convinced of the purity of Gallifreyan morals. His opinion of Time Lord honour was somewhat tainted by the dishonourable actions of his father and half brother, and he had never been trained to be so unswervingly loyal to his race as Chrístõ was.

"I'm not THAT loyal," Chrístõ protested. "I question a lot about Gallifrey, but not its record on treatment of prisoners. This is not the work of our government."

"Well, for sake of argument we could ask those two," Cal suggested. He pointed out the men in black leather uniforms and helmets who were trudging up the hill towards them. They had rifles slung over their shoulders and side arms.

"They must be looking for the missing man," Chrístõ observed.

"Or they saw us," Cal suggested.

"I'm betting on the former," Chrístõ said. "All the same a perception filter won't help us. They work on the assumption that the observer doesn’t expect the unobserved to be there. But those two are expecting to run into somebody over this rise. They would see right through us.”

"What do we do then?"

Chrístõ explained what they were going to do. Cal was dubious about such a low-tech and clearly ancient method of concealment, but he had trusted Chrístõ's judgement countless times before and he did so now.

When the guards reached the top of the hill, they didn't see the two young men lying in shallow troughs and covered with a light layer of sand until it was too late. Chrístõ and Cal rose up together and grabbed the guards by the knees, toppling them and disarming them in one swift, perfectly executed movement. While they were still working out what happened to them, Christo sent them into a none too peaceful sleep with a mode of his sonic screwdriver he variously called the 'sleep tight' or the 'Mickey Finn'.

It took a very short time to strip the guards of their uniforms and helmets and push them into one of the same shallow troughs that had formed their trap. Cal looked at them in their underwear and put his overcoat over them.

"They may be the enemy, but that doesn't mean they should freeze to death," he explained.

"Quite right," Christo agreed. He put his own leather jacket over them, too. "I want that back, later. I'm fond of that jacket. So is Julia. She likes to smell the leather when we cuddle."

"Too much information, thanks," Cal replied good-humouredly as he strapped the helmet on. "Chummy there had a bigger head than me. This is loose."

"So is mine," Christo confirmed. "I think these men are extra-terrestrial. They have slightly larger craniums than either of us."

Cal wondered if either of them were typical of Gallifreyan head size since they were both half human, but he let that pass. Christo's theory suggested that these were alien trespassers doing something illegal as well as immoral with their Gallifreyan born slaves. It gave them complete justification for their infiltration of the compound.

There was a main gate, but Christo avoided that. The guards on duty might notice they weren't the men who went out of the gate a short time before. Instead he used the sonic's laser mode to cut a hole in the fence on the side furthest from the gatepost. Security was not as tight as it might be. There were no lookout towers and the perimeter guards only patrolled every ten minutes.

That told Christo two things. First, that the guards relied on the weak, demoralised state of the prisoners to keep them from escaping, and second, that there weren't many of them in proportion to the prisoners.

Both of which were to his advantage as he tried to formulate a plan on the fly without even knowing exactly who he was rescuing from who.

Because he certainly intended to free the prisoners. Even if they were justly imprisoned by the legitimate Gallifreyan government of this time they were not being treated in any way he recognized as fair and just. Intervention that would give them chance to make a remonstration to the High Council would be warranted.

But if, as he suspected, Gallifreyan people were being used as slave labour by an alien force he was absolutely duty bound to save them.

Cal felt his train of thought easily as they moved quietly within the inner perimeter, heading for the hut where the exhausted prisoners had been taken. He wondered why his friend was spending so much thought on the morality of their actions.

"If this is a trap, I'm wondering how many of the Laws of Time I'll actually be charged with," Chrístõ answered. "We're definitely interfering in past events. We might also be interfering with the destiny of Gallifrey which is a higher charge. My method of bypassing the protocols and travelling to the Red Moon are dubious enough."

"There 's an old Human expression I only recently understood when one of 4c explained about old Earth currency," Cal told him. "In for a penny, in for a pound."

"There's one about being hung for a sheep rather than a lamb that's even more appropriate," Chrístõ said with the grin of an unashamed livestock rustler.

A moment later they turned a corner and came face to face with the perimeter guards. In the fraction of a second before the guards remembered there were only two of them on duty Chrístõ used the Mickey Finn mode of his sonic on them both. He pushed them into an empty doorway and left them sleeping uncomfortably as they approached the shed that served as a bunkhouse for the prisoners.

Of course, the word bunkhouse suggested 'bunks' for sleeping in. The prisoners had a dirty piece of fabric each that hardly deserved to be called a blanket. Some put it over them in an attempt to keep warm. Others put it under them as a barrier between them and the dirty floor.

The smell of unwashed bodies, rotting food and worse was almost a physical barrier in itself but Chrístõ and Cal both closed off their breathing and stepped into the terrible place. While Chrístõ used his sonic in laser mode again to cut the leg shackles that kept the men from any attempt to escape, Cal talked to some of them. At first they feared the guard uniforms, but slowly they came to realise that these two were here to help them.

"You're a Time Lord!" One of the prisoners said to Chrístõ. "Why would you risk your life for us? We're only Caretakers."

"You're Gallifreyans," he answered.

"Chrístõ, the guards are from a race called Dominators," Cal told him. "They captured a ship full of miners heading to Karn and brought them here to dig the minerals deep in the rock of this moon."

"Dominators within the Cruciform, capturing Gallifreyan ships, making slaves of Gallifreyan citizens!" Chrístõ's anger boiled over. "How dare they?"

"How primitive are the defences on the outer edge of the system if they were able to do that?" Cal asked. "And why has nobody on Gallifrey noticed what's going on up here?"

"Those are questions somebody will have to answer," Chrístõ answered. "But everyone here is still in huge danger, and they’re all too weak to escape without more help than we can give.”

“Not so weak as that,” one of the prisoners told him. “If you can help us get out of this filthy hole, we can fight for ourselves.”

“But you’re all exhausted from forced labour,” Chrístõ pointed out.

“Not so exhausted that we can’t fight for our freedom now that you’ve given us a way to do it. I’ve thought about it time and again. The only thing stopping us from fighting were these chains.”

The former prisoner picked up the chain that had held him with a section of shackle on the end. He wrapped part of it around his hand and swung it meaningfully. Around him the others made weapons of the chains that had bound them.

“There are only a few guards above ground,” Cal pointed out having learnt that much from the men. “Most of them are in the mine. Down there… even in chains… a man might swing a pickaxe at his enemy. They keep a closer watch on the workers.”

“Then you take two men and secure the remaining guards above ground,” Chrístõ said, after considering that information. “I’m taking the rest of them into the mine. We’re armed, more or less. We’ll be even better armed once the men with those pickaxes are free.”

It was a surprisingly easy operation. When the men in the mines saw their guards under attack they turned their pickaxes and spades on their own chains. The reversal of fortunes as guards became prisoners of their former charges was swift. The mine was abandoned as the men came up to the surface with their captives.

Cal had been just as successful in the camp. All of the Dominators were in his custody and he had broken into the files kept by the manager of the mining operation. They contained some interesting information.

“There was a video-transmitter there,” he added. “I contacted Gallifrey. They’re sending a shuttle. The Dominators will be arrested and the men brought to the citadel for medical attention, food, and a thorough debriefing.”

He gave one of the men a memory wafer in a plastic case.

“Give this to the men who debrief you. It contains the name of a traitor – a senior man in the Gallifreyan Civil Service. He sold you out to the Dominators and concealed the fact that you were being held prisoner on the Red Moon. It’s a copy. I made others. If anyone tries to cover up the scandal, they’ll soon find that this won’t stay quiet.”

“One of our own people conspired to do this?” Chrístõ was outraged. “It’s unthinkable.”

But it wasn’t. Traitors were bred even in the most perfect societies. Gallifrey had its share in every generation.

“When the shuttle comes, we’ll be on our way,” he said to the freed men. “Don’t let me forget there are two more guards up on top of the hill. Cal and I want our coats back from them, anyway.”

Two Gallifreyan militiamen who arrived with the shuttle came to arrest the still unconscious guards. Cal and Chrístõ took back their coats and headed down to the plain where the beacon still shone distinctly.

“So there is a length of conduit leading from this moon in whatever century it is all the way back to your drawing room millions of light years away in the twenty-fourth century?” Cal looked at the faintly glowing place where the conduit disappeared into thin air. “That is quite an extraordinary thought.”

“Absolutely mind-blowing,” Chrístõ agreed. “But it works. Come on. let’s go home.”

Chrístõ picked up the ‘beacon’ and they stepped forward into the glowing place together. A few disorientating moments later they were back in the drawing room.

“You made it!” Paracell Hext stepped forward to greet them. “I was slightly worried about having to send in a rescue party for the pair of you.”

“This was YOUR idea?” Chrístõ demanded accusingly.

“Not exactly. I was driven by causality. That picture hung in the director’s office at the old Celestial Intervention Agency headquarters in the city for generations. I had it transferred to the Tower along with a lot of the fixtures and fittings. Everybody knew there was something about it, but it was a mystery until just a few days ago when I noticed that the image had changed.”

“Changed how?” Chrístõ asked.

“Like that,” Hext answered, pointing to the canvas. Chrístõ and Cal both turned and saw two additional details in the picture. The first was a shuttle with its nacelles burning orange, travelling between the moon and Gallifrey. The other was two figures on the hill in the mid-foreground with their hands raised to wave to the shuttle.

“That’s not how it happened,” Cal pointed out. “We left before the shuttle.”

“Poetic licence,” Hext suggested. “But that’s definitely both of you, waving.”

“It might be,” Chrístõ argued. “Certainly its one man in a long overcoat and another in a trendy leather jacket.”

“Trendy is a moot point,” Hext told him. “But I recognised you by it, and I knew that I had to complete the cycle of events by sending the painting to you.”

“Some sort of note would have been appreciated,” Cal said. “Chrístõ thought it was a trap.”

“It was,” Chrístõ alleged. “Sent by HIM, to suck me into something he wouldn’t have touched himself.”

“The return of The Missing, the exposure of the traitor who conspired with the Dominators, are both written in the Celestial Intervention Agency records. What nobody knew was the identity of the two Gallifreyans who rescued the captives and alerted the authorities – until now.”

“Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to get a hero’s reception and the Medal of Rassilon for our efforts,” Chrístõ dryly remarked.

“Well, no,” Hext admitted. “But the cycle is complete. If I hadn’t sent you the painting, the men wouldn’t have been freed and there would have been a major paradox.”

“I’m keeping the painting,” Chrístõ decided. “I’ve already picked out a good spot for it there above the fireplace. Make sure to send me provenance for insurance purposes.”

“I’ll just accept the grateful thanks of the Celestial Intervention Agency,” Cal added. “I was the one who called the authorities and found the file identifying the traitor, after all.”

“You have it,” Hext assured him. “And if you fancy a career in espionage, you know where to find me.”

“Go away, Hext,” Chrístõ said. “You already have me. Leave him alone.”

Hext grinned and shook hands with them both before getting into his TARDIS and departing swiftly. Chrístõ went to his kitchen to fetch the hammer and hooks that he had been looking for when the adventure began. He and Cal mounted the picture on the wall and stood back to admire it.

“It’s a very good picture,” Cal admitted. “But I don’t think you ought to spend too much time in this house looking at it.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that you’ve been here on Beta Delta too long, with a house and a job, a car. You belong out there in the universe righting wrongs and defending the weak and exploited. When you were on the Red Moon, facing danger, risking all for the sake of others you weren’t paranoid about assassins or worried about opening a parcel. You were more alive than I have ever seen you. Chrístõ, you have to get away from here before you lose sight of yourself entirely.”

“I can’t just go. I have a job… responsibilities…. Julia….”

“Julia is busy. Your job… I can take over your classes. I can even tutor Michal Sommers in trigonometry. You take your TARDIS and go out there where you rightly belong.”

Chrístõ thought about it for a while then smiled widely.

“You may be nearly a century younger than me, but you’re smart… and you’re right. I have missed the adventure.”

“Then you’ll do it?”

“Yes, Chrístõ answered. Yes, I think I will.”