The TARDIS materialized momentarily in its default form of a grey cabinet before reconfiguring itself as a tall column of white stone. Chrístõ stepped out first, followed by Riley Davenport who turned and looked at the disguise curiously.

"How do we get back in?" he asked. “That pillar is so slender I could put my arms around it.”

“The size of the pillar is just an illusion. When we are ready to leave we will be able to do so with no difficulty at all,” Chrístõ answered. “Not even working out which one it is.” He smiled as he looked around at the huge space lit by torches fixed to every identical pillar in a long colonnade. “Behold the Temple of Artemis – the first of three to be built on this sacred ground at the ancient city of Ephesus.”

"So what year are we in?" Riley asked.

"The Seventh Century BC – September of the year six hundred and fifty one by your Gregorian calendar. Obviously the future existence of Christianity and its impact on the dating system has no bearing on the counting of years by the contemporary population of the planet.”

"This will be part of Turkey eventually, so I don’t suppose Christianity has much to do with it in my time, either," Riley observed. "But it is only since I’ve travelled with you that I've learnt not to take things like dates for granted."

"Working out Chinese and Japanese dates in context of western calendars would make your head spin," Chrístõ told him. As they talked he extracted the golden sphere from beneath the generic travelling robes that fitted to most places in this era and set it on the ground. It span wildly and buried itself in the flagged floor leaving no trace of its existence.

"Job done," Chrístõ said in a tone of satisfaction. "We can get out of here, now."

"Not yet," Riley implored. "Let me look around for a few minutes."

Chrístõ knew he ought to have been strict at this point and insisted that they go right back to the TARDIS. The longer they stayed in any place, the more likely they were to become embroiled in local affairs, risking temporal errors that would get him in trouble.

But he had never worried about such matters before, and besides, he wanted to look around, too. It hardly seemed fair to come and go without enjoying the third of the Seven Wonders on his list of duties.

"All right, but it is almost certainly a sacrilege of some sort for us to be here. Let’s be careful."

He knew just what it was that Riley most wanted to see. He was a little curious himself, so they left the relative cover of the collonade where the shadows might hide them from any kind of temple guards and stepped into the torch lit naos, the most sacred part of the complex.

They stood at the bottom of a set of magnificent marble steps and gazed up at the statue in pride of place on the dais above before Riley's curiosity got the better of him and he took the steps two at a time to get a closer look.

"I’ve seen smaller statues, just scale models," he said. "The British museum has one, thought to be a replica from a later date, but this is the fabled statue of Artemis itself.”

“Herself,” Chrístõ corrected him, all too aware of the femininity of the statue.

It was a curious figure even to a traveller in time and space. There might well be a species where the women had at least fifteen mammary glands – he refused to even think of breasts – but he had never met any of them. He deliberately dropped his gaze from the upper torso of the statue. Below the waist, tapering down to the feet, was an array of wild animals – lions, winged horses, bulls, deer, possibly in some kind of ranking according to importance to the goddess of fertility and wild creatures.

“When this is part of the Roman empire and the temple is rebuilt for the third time, Artemis will have become Diana, goddess of the hunt and wild creatures and only tangentially associated with women and….”

“Sex….” Riley suggested nearly as coyly as Chrístõ had been when he broke off leaving the word unsaid. Somehow the presence of the many-breasted goddess made him want to avoid the subject, but it refused to be avoided. There was no getting away from the fact that Artemis was associated with all aspects of ‘procreation’ as they applied to women.

Chrístõ looked at the feet of the statue and there he found something that took his mind of the more disturbing aspects. It was a large meteorite, its surface pitted and roughened except where silicas had been present and they had been fused into smooth, glassy facets in the heat of its passage through the Earth’s.

The statue had been set upon a meteorite.

“The Stone that fell from Jupiter,” he whispered. “Some of your more fanciful records of the time call it the Image of Artemis, but there was never any doubt in the minds of historians that it WAS a meteor.”

He reached out and touched the rock that had come from outside the atmosphere of this planet, perhaps even from outside the solar system. Since he was from more than two hundred million light years beyond that system he felt a kind of affinity with the Stone that fell from Jupiter.

But he felt something else, too. He bit his lip thoughtfully and tried to fix his mind upon the fleeting sense of something more than a dead space rock.

Then Riley gasped out loud. Chrístõ turned to see four tall, well-muscled women dressed in leather and bronze and pointing long spears that glittered in the torchlight.

“Chrístõ, I think they’re….”

“They’re armed with sharp pointy weapons,” Chrístõ observed. “Let’s leave every other thought for the minute.”

“You have defiled the sanctuary of Artemis with your presence,” said the leader of the group, denoted by rather more bronze and slightly less leather in her clothing. “No man may approach the goddess, only women and eunuchs.”

“How do you know we aren’t eunuchs?” Chrístõ asked, trying the age old tactic of pretending he had the right to be where he was.

“Because it would be a terrible waste to make two such as you incapable of mating,” she replied without a blink of her deep brown eyes. She gazed at the two captives with just a little too much interest.

“I’m spoken for,” Chrístõ replied.

“And I’m not really husband material,” Riley managed to say with his eyes fixed on the points of the spears pointed at his vital organs.

“Enough. You will not speak again. I, Selena, elder of the Daughters

of Artemis, command you to be silent in the presence of the Goddess. The voices of men offend Her. Take them in hand, my Sisters, and convey them to the place of punishment.”

There was no possibility of fighting their way out. As well as their spears, the ‘Sisters’ had daggers for close quarter attack.

Besides, even Chrístõ wasn’t sure about fighting women. Granted these were armed women who had no such qualms about slicing him to death, but he still felt it wasn’t quite chivalrous. He was perfectly sure that Riley felt the same.

With no resistance, the Daughters of Artemis quickly took their prisoners in hand. They were herded out of the temple into the moonlit night and marched through the city until they reached a place near the sea shore. There they were manacled to stout posts that had clearly been used for punishments of this sort before.

“You will remain here until I decide your ultimate fate,” said Selena with the authority in her voice that promised no remission of that sentence.

“Am I permitted to ask what that fate might be?” Chrístõ asked as he tried to work out where the sun was likely to come up and how burned they would be after a few hours of exposure.

“If you prove worthy, you might make slave-husbands for the Daughters of Artemis,” the leader replied. “If not, then the fields beyond the city always need tending. Work slaves don’t live long but they may be useful for a while.”

“It is a mistake,” Riley tried to say. “We didn’t mean any blasphemy.”

“Ignorance is no defence,” Chrístõ reminded him as Selena and her ‘Sisters’ turned away and left them alone in the dark.

“We’re in trouble,” Riley said when they were out of earshot. “Either we die here or we become slaves… slave husbands….”

“Julia is so not going to like that,” Chrístõ pointed out. “You realise what they were….”

“I… thought they were mythological.”

“Not mythological, but possibly not Human, either. There was something about them… I couldn’t quite work it out, but I think they might be an alien race.”

“The Amazons of ancient legend were alien?”

“It makes sense. How else in such an otherwise male-dominated society would a tribe of female warriors emerge? Quite how they have become the guardians of the temple of Artemis I don’t understand, but it also makes sense in a way. Warrior women for the goddess of women. And there’s that meteor. There’s more to that than meets the eye. I want another look at it.”

“That’s not going to happen while we’re their prisoners,” Riley pointed out. For a short time he had been wrapped up in the startling revelations about his captors, but now his train of thought came back to the buffers of their prisoner status. “I really don’t want to be a slave-husband. I think I’d rather be a eunuch.”

“I don’t think you would, but don’t worry. I’ve almost got my hands free. We’re not going to wait around for sun up.”

Riley was astonished. Chrístõ had looked just as firmly bound as he was, but suddenly his hands were loose.

“You… did something psychic, making the ropes untie themselves?” Riley asked as he quickly unbound his feet and came to free his friend.

“No. I’m really rubbish at telekinesis. I always black out afterwards and come around with a thumping headache. I just kept my muscles tense while I was being bound and then relaxed afterwards, giving myself enough leeway to start working them loose. It’s a technique used by escapologists like Houdini and J.N. Maskelyne… also David Blaine but you won’t have heard of him.”

“I don’t really care… as long as we’re free. Do you think we can get back into the Temple and find the TARDIS without attracting any more attention?”

“I’m more interested in finding out about the Amazons and the Stone that Fell from Jupiter,” Chrístõ replied. “I know saving our skins would be the safer idea, but I could have stayed home on Gallifrey and studied the universe through my grandfather’s telescope or watched it go by as a galactic traffic monitor in the Transduction Barrier department. I want to solve the mystery, if only for my own satisfaction.”

Riley thought about that for almost a minute. Being safe from women who wanted to make him a slave in what, for him, was the worst way possible, was an overwhelmingly wiser option. But the archaeologist and the adventurer in him both wanted to know more about this bronze age society with possibly alien women living among them.

“What’s your plan?” he asked. Chrístõ told him. Riley was a little dubious, but he deferred to his friend’s experience of dangerous situations.

The sky was lightening as they walked back through the city, though it was still too early for any of the merchants and artisans to be opening their stores. The little homes of the ordinary people of Artemis were dark.

The only lights were around the temple where the Daughters of Artemis had doubled their guard. Chrístõ walked straight towards them. As he came within view he put his hands out in front of his face and made a complicated gesture. Riley was astonished to see the spears withdrawn.

“That’s right, the intergalactic symbol of parley, ratified by the Shaddow Proclamation. I won’t hold any grudges for your rough treatment, earlier, when you didn’t know I held diplomatic status, if you take us to Selena right now.”

Riley was surprised again to see how these puzzling words had such a dynamic effect on the guards. This time their escort was far less hostile. Indeed, it was almost as if they were taking care not to allow any harm to come to them as they were brought to the pronaos where Selena and her closest Sisters kept vigil. Again Chrístõ made that complicated sign which had a surprising effect on them all, not least the leader of this group of Amazons.

“Why did you not identify yourselves as members of the intergalactic diplomatic corps?” Selena asked.

“I wanted to see how far you would go in punishing us,” Chrístõ answered. “As it is, no harm done. I won’t be making an official complaint to the Shaddow Proclamation. But I would like to know what you’re doing here, posing as a tribe of bronze age female warriors and guarding a temple to a Greek Goddess who cannot possibly have anything to do with your own alien culture.”

“Shaddow Proclamation or no, you do not have the right to question our motives,” Selena responded.

“If you are doing anything here that affects the natural cultural evolution of the Human population then I have EVERY right to question your motives,” Chrístõ responded with a sharp edge to his .voice that even Selena, for all her confidence in her own authority, reacted to with a subtle change in her expression. It wasn’t quite deferential – she still believed that she was superior to any man, but this man was as close to an equal than any other.

“You… are a Time Lord?” she queried.

“I am. And not only that, but I am on a mission from the Guardians. On behalf of both, I am bound to stamp out temporal interference.”

“We have caused no such interference,” Selena responded. “We are here to prevent it.”

“Prevent… what… and how?” Chrístõ asked.

“Come into the naos,” Selena invited. “I will show you.”

“You mean… where we will be defiling the sanctity of the Goddess Artemis,” Riley queried suspiciously. “I’m not going to be a slave-husband, no matter what tricks you play.”

“It’s all right,” Chrístõ assured him. “The protection of the Shaddow Proclamation trumps the sanctity of Greek Goddesses. You’ll be safe.” He looked at Selena as he spoke and she gave a perceptible nod. Yes, they would be protected from all harm.

“We must hurry, though. when the sun rises the priestess and the women of the city will enter the naos to pay homage to the Goddess. You must not be seen by them or I will have no option but to carry out the prescribed punishment for defilement.”

“It won’t take long,” Chrístõ promised. Selena nodded in agreement and escorted them into the naos. Allowing them to mount the steps and closely examine the statue caused her and her Sisters some anxiety if the terse expressions were any indicator, but the Shaddow Proclamation could not be overruled.

Again as he knelt at the feet of Artemis, goddess of women, fertility and wild creatures, and touched the meteor she was standing upon he felt something sentient, something reaching out as if to tell him something important. He felt the urgency of the message, but not the sense of it.

“It’s not use,” he admitted. “I can’t understand what it is trying to tell me.”

“Nor can we,” Selena admitted. “The Human women who worship Artemis within the temple cannot hear anything. The Human males go mad as if their minds are overwhelmed by the message. They scream about fire and water and throw themselves into the sea. That is why men are not permitted to enter the naos. They believe it is to prevent defilement of the female goddess, but in truth it is to protect them from the message of Jupiter.”

“It’s not from Jupiter. I think you know that as well as I do. It’s obviously something only Human males are receptive to. Males who are ‘whole’, because you indicated that eunuchs are allowed within the temnos. That suggests that it is something chemical in the brains of un-altered adult Human men.”

“But what is the message?” Riley asked.

“We can never know,” Chrístõ replied. “The only people who can hear it go mad. I suspect that the meteor is some kind of sapient rock. I have heard of such things occurring from time to time. Mineral substances that are not alive in the usually accepted definition, but nevertheless having sentience - the ability to experience subjectively, and also but sapience… the wisdom and reason to interpret the experience. On Earth, in this particular time, there are several instances of such sapience. The most famous example is the Delphic Oracle. The Pythia, or priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi is the Human conduit passing on foretelling to those who seek the oracle’s wisdom. In that particular case, obviously, it was the feminine mind the sapient rock makes contact with. In this instance, it is the male, but there seems to be a problem with the connection. It isn’t supposed to drive people mad.”

“Men’s minds are weaker,” Selena noted.

“That may well be true,” Chrístõ admitted diplomatically. “My fiancée would probably back you up on that. I’m not sure where it leaves my gendermorph friends on Haollstrom, though.”

Selena looked at him curiously. She and her sisters were, quite obviously, space travellers who had taken upon themselves the task of guarding the Temple of Artemis, but they had not travelled as extensively as even a young Time Lord had travelled. Their knowledge of the cosmos was limited. Gendermorphs with their ability to switch from male to female form in an eyeblink would confound all of their matriarchal concepts.

While he was considering that fact, Riley did something that either confirmed or denied Selena’s theory about men’s minds, depending on whether his action was brave or foolhardy. He quickly stepped forward and knelt beside Chrístõ, reaching out to touch the Stone that fell from Jupiter.

“No!” Chrístõ exclaimed, grasping Riley’s arm and trying to pull him away. But it was too late. The sapient rock had made contact with his mind. Through HIS physical contact with Riley Chrístõ could see all that he was seeing.

And it was the stuff of prophecy. The first thing both of them saw was a great flood that would destroy this temple in a little less than a year. The image of the great statue crumbling under the force of great waves that toppled the slender pillars and brought the roof of the temple down upon it was vivid. While the shock of that inundation still overwhelmed them they both saw the second temple being raised on the foundations of the first under the patronage of the great king Croesus of Lydia, overlord of Ephesus. It was a magnificent peripteral

temple constructed almost entirely of marble that gleamed in the Aegean sunshine and was the version considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

They saw that temple destroyed by fire in the year that the future Alexander the Great was born. The legend was that a man called Herostratus started the conflagration in the wooden roof beams because he wanted to be famous. Ironically, he became famous for the fact that his executors wished his name to be forgotten rather than famed.

The third temple was built after the death of Alexander and was larger and more magnificent. When the Romans superseded the Greeks as rulers of the region it became the sanctuary of Diana instead of Artemis. When the Emperor Caesar commuted the death sentence of Arsinoë, the sister of Cleopatra he exiled her to Ephesus to be a handmaiden of Diana. Chrístõ and Riley both suppressed their grief as they saw her betrayed and murdered on the steps outside the sacred place and her body.

Later still, it was the East Germanic Goths who destroyed the third temple when they ransacked the city. After that, the coming of Christianity and then later Islam and the conflict between the two for the possession of the lands meant that the Greek and Roman gods were forgotten. The pillars that once held a roof over Diana were taken away to build new temples to the new religions. The modern nation of Turkey was established by the blood and sinew of a nationalist movement and two World Wars impacted upon the region before a relative peace allowed archaeologists and tourists to wander among the fallen stones and the long forgotten tombs of heroes and kings that still remained.

Riley released his hold as he felt the prophecies pass into the century after his own birth. Chrístõ held onto him as his vision cleared and he was able to look around the temple as it stood in the year Six hundred and fifty-one BC.

“I haven’t gone mad,” he whispered.

“No, you haven’t,” Chrístõ answered. Selena was looking agitated. He helped his friend to stand up and they left the naos before the sun was up and the female worshippers began to gather. They were taken to the sleeping quarters of the Daughters of Artemis and given food and drink to revive them both from the shock of their experience.

“WHY didn’t I go mad?” Riley asked when he was better composed.

“I’m not sure,” Chrístõ answered. “One possibility is that my physical contact with you sheltered you from the full shock. Another possibility is that you were able to withstand it because you were born long after most of the events prophesised with a slightly more evolved brain. The other possibility is that a man who prefers the company of other men has a different chemistry in his and that cushioned you from the madness that overtook others.”

“You mean… being a deviant of the Oscar Wilde persuasion saved me from going insane?” Riley grimaced. “There is an irony there, somewhere.”

“Yes, there is. There’s also a strong argument for nature versus nature in it, but I’m glad I’m not one of the scientists trying to pin that one down.”

“Nor I,” Riley told him. “But… this knowledge of the future… that the stone gave me. What should I do with it? You’ve told me about not interfering with causality. That was why my friends all died at Khirbat en-Nahas. It means I can’t warn anyone here that there is going to be a flood that destroys the temple, the city… everything.”

Chrístõ began to speak when he realised that Selena was at the curtained door of the place where they were resting.

“You were given the gift of prophecy for a reason,” she told Riley. “If lives might be saved….”

Chrístõ quickly concluded that it was too late to worry about timelines.

“Everything else we saw is beyond your lifetime. There is nothing you can do about it. The flood will be in approximately eight months. I think there may be an earthquake out at sea which causes a tsunami.…”

The word ‘tsunami’ was Japanese. It was unlikely that anyone in this region had ever heard the language. Chrístõ explained in simpler terms about how underwater earthquakes caused devastating waves that could drown even the great temple on the highest part of the city.

“There will be signs,” he told Selena. The earthquake will probably be felt on land. You will see dead fish washed up on the shore, seabirds acting in an agitated way. Just before the waves come in, the water may withdraw like a very extreme ebb tide, but don’t wait for that to happen. Get everyone to higher ground as soon as the fish start washing up. Save lives, rebuild the city afterwards.”

Riley nodded. It was what he wanted to say, but Chrístõ expressed himself with more authority. Selena took his words to heart and promised that she would watch for the signs and do her best to save the people of Ephesus even if the temple was doomed to fall.

“When the morning worshippers are gone, we will slip away to our time and space ship. It is hidden in the temple. We will leave and never return to disturb your peace again.”

“I wish you would stay,” Selena told him. “The two of you WOULD make good husbands.”

“I’m glad you have dropped the ‘slave’ part of that,” Chrístõ told her. “But I AM spoken for, and Riley doesn’t want to talk about it at all. It is better that we go now.”

Later, as the TARDIS flew through the time and space vortex to the next destination, Riley consulted the historical database.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything on record about whether any of the people survived the flood,” he said. “Only that the temple was destroyed.”

“Then we can hope for the best,” Chrístõ assured him. “They may have survived. And if they did, then it was through you, interpreting the prophecy of the Stone. Take heart from that.”

“I will,” Riley answered him. “Thank you for letting us break the rules.”

“They only apply to me, anyway, not you,” Chrístõ decided. “Besides, the Stone wanted somebody to know. It decided what the rules are. At least, that’s my alibi if anyone on Gallifrey wants to raise any questions.”