The TARDIS materialised on water and immediately disguised itself as a boat. Chrístõ and Riley stepped out onto its deck and agreed that it was quite a stylish boat with a square stern and a high curving prow. A single rectangular sail at the prow was decorated with the Theta Sigma symbol that always appeared somewhere on the exterior of the TARDIS in whatever shape it chose. It appeared to have a wheelhouse and a cabin, but that was just part of the disguise.

Riley turned from admiring the TARDIS to admiring the view of a wide natural harbour at dusk. Many boats, some bigger, some much smaller, surrounded them. The water was calm and reflected the city perched upon a jutting peninsula and spreading around the bay. Lights were starting to be lit in windows and around the great monument that was, without doubt, the central and defining feature of this city.

“Halicarnassus,” Riley breathed in awestruck tones. “It’s absolutely beautiful.”

“I think anywhere looks beautiful at sunset,” Chrístõ answered. “But it is a personal thing with me. My planet has orange-yellow skies. Sunsets remind me of home.”

“Yes, but look at this place. It really is beautiful. The way the light reflects off the houses. They look like white marble. And… the Mausoleum…..”

“You know, I’m not even sure if it is CALLED that, yet,” Chrístõ remarked. “That word derives from the tomb built for Mausolus. But I’m not sure his own mausoleum was called a mausoleum.”

Riley thought about that for a moment or two and sighed. Language was yet another thing he could not take for granted when he was with Chrístõ.

“It’s a magnificent structure, at any rate,” he conceded. “A hundred and eighty feet high, the base four hundred and thirty-six feet all around. Thirty-six ionic pillars supporting a pyramid roof of twenty-four stairs to the bronze station of Mausolus and his wife Artemisia driving a four horse chariot.”

“You’ve studied the architectural statistics?”

“You usually know so much. I had to make the effort. Do you know, Artemisia was actually his sister before he married her. I suppose she was STILL his sister when she was his wife – and his widow.”

“I try not to judge other people’s relationships,” Chrístõ remarked. “If I’m right this is the second year of her widowhood. She will be dead, herself in a short time. History records that she pined for him, so as strange and incestuous as the marriage was, she must have truly loved him. Allegedly she drank wine every day with some of his ashes mixed into it.”

Riley made a disgusted face.

“Yes, that certainly is an extreme expression of grief. I’m not sure what she hoped to achieve – some kind of spiritual union, possibly, some sense that he lived on within her. I think it is really rather tragic, but it is one of those things that I’m forbidden to interfere with, even if I thought I could do anything to help her.”

“We're not really here to help, anyway,” Riley pointed out. “Just to leave the node at the Mausoleum. At least, for once, it’s a building that people are allowed to visit. This ought to be easy."

"Well," Chrístõ sighed. "I can't help thinking it might be more complicated than just dropping off the node. Nearly every task so far has been loaded with some sort of problem. I don't know if the Guardian has set me up with some extra tasks or its something to do with the TARDIS. It could be that she's bringing us where we are needed."

"I'm glad you noticed," Riley commented. "I've been wondering if I ought to mention it. Ever since the Sontarans at Giza...."

"Exactly. I have a hunch it IS the guardian's doing. Not telling me to expect trouble is just their way."

"You don't seem very angry about being used in that way," Riley pointed out. "I think I'd be hopping mad."

"Being angry with a Guardian is like being angry with a God. It really doesn't get you anywhere. Anyway,shall we go ashore and see what Hallicarnaasus is like on a warm Mediterranean evening?"

"I thought you'd never ask."

The streets of Halicarnassus just after sunset were lively in the way that a Mediterranean city might be expected to be lively at just about any time in its history. Men who had done their work for this day came out seeking relaxation, refreshment and entertainment. All of those things could be had within the numerous cafes and taverns and slightly less numerous but no less popular gambling dens and brothels while the streets themselves provided all of the aforementioned diversions in outdoor forms. Food and drink could be bought from stalls or simply at the open doorway. Games of chance were played in huddles. Wrestling matches took place under no particular set of rules. Dancing girls performed to any audience they could attract and girls of a different sought offered their services to those who came looking for them.

Chrístõ and Riley sampled some if the food and drink, but they left the gambling and the dancing girls well alone.

"I thought Cairo was decadent enough," Riley remarked about the scene as they wound through the best lit and busiest streets which, though hard work, was decidedly safer than stepping into the shadows and the quiet of the alleys and side streets. They were headed, more or less, towards the great tomb known by future historians as the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

“Oi, are you new here? Are you looking for a guide? I can show you anything you want,” said a voice somewhere near Chrístõ’s midriff. He looked down to see a boy with black hair and possibly olive skin beneath a layer of grime. He had deep brown eyes in an expressive face and reminded him, just a little, of his brother, Garrick, except that Garrick was obviously much better fed.

“No, I don’t need a guide,” he answered. “I know where I’m going. What’s your name… in case of future need?”

“Pei,” the boy answered. Chrístõ assumed that was the answer to the question, not a random word.


“Pei,” the boy repeated.

“Well, nice to meet you, Pei. Here…..” He reached into a small purse hidden within the robe he wore to fit in with the local fashions and handed over a small coin. “Spend it on food. You look like you need it.”

Pei looked surprised to be rewarded for doing nothing but he took the coin, anyway, and slipped away into the crowd that he had come from.

“You’ll have hundreds of them after you for coins, now they know you’ve got a soft heart,” Riley warned him.

“That’s ok. I’ve got lots of coins,” Chrístõ replied. “He looked really underfed.”

“Soft heart,” Riley repeated.

“Anyway, let’s get to this building later to be known as the Mausoleum and get the job done. Then we can try out some more of the local wine and sweetmeats and enjoy the atmosphere of this intriguing city for a while.”

They walked on through the city until they had left the torchlit and busy streets and were walking through darker, quieter parts. Chrístõ kept his hand on his sonic screwdriver, set to administer a debilitating electric shock to anyone who might want to pick a fight in the dark, but they reached the mausoleum unmolested. They climbed the wide marble steps to the collonaded level where the ashes of Mausolus were kept within a great urn surrounded by torches. His sword and dagger, both ornamented with jewels but practical weapons in a time when kings often fought to stay king were placed before the urn.

"Is there much of him left in there?" Riley asked. "If his widow has been sprinkling them in her drink every night for a year."

"I'm trying not to think about that too much." Chrístõ searched in his robe for the node. To his horror he couldn't find it.

"I couldn’t have dropped it," he insisted.

"I don't think you did," Riley told him. "I've lost my watch. I know I shouldn't have brought it, but i always feel lost without knowing the time. And now its missing. And I think there's only one possible explanation… one possible culprit, I should say."

"Pei," Chrístõ guessed. “He must have worked fast. I didn't feel a thing.”

"Nor I," Riley admitted. "This is bad, isn't it?"

"Losing the node is bad. Losing something as anachronistic as a twentieth century watch is a disaster. We have to find that boy."

One small boy in a teeming city. That was a task and a half. The consequences if they didn’t find him and recover both the node and the watch filled Chrístõ’s two hearts with dread. For a long moment he struggled to know what to do, where to begin the search for the boy.

“If I concentrate hard, and if I’m close enough, I think I could detect the presence of the node,” he said eventually. “not only is it gold, but it is alien to this world and it has its own prescience. I should be able to find it – and if we find that, we’ll find your watch.”

“And the culprit.”

“Yes.” Chrístõ was saying nothing about that for now. The boy was underfed and dirty. He saw the riches of a wealthy visitor only in terms of feeding himself. It was hard to apportion blame. He knew, when he caught up with him, that he wouldn’t be able to be angry about the theft.

But Pei had to be found.

He was about to speak again when they both heard the sound of a small procession coming up the steps of the mausoleum. It WAS a public place and they had every right to be there, but even so, Chrístõ instinctively stepped into the shadows and concealed himself behind one of the pillars. Riley did the same just as Artemisia II arrived. The queen, still beautiful if tired and weary, performed her twice daily rituals before the ashes of her husband/brother. The ritual did not, in fact, involve drinking the ashes. Either that happened at another time or place or it was one of those myths that had been enhanced by artistic renditions and epic poetry over the centuries. It did involve the shedding of very genuine tears and sacramental keening. Watching from the shadows, Chrístõ felt very strongly that he was watching something he should not be watching. It was a widow’s private grief. Even the one servant accompanying her while the others waited outside seemed an intrusion.

Yet was he a servant? Looking closer he was too well dressed with gold and jewels embroidered into his clothes and his beard trimmed and his hair oiled. And his actions were too familiar. Far too familiar. Both onlookers suppressed gasps of astonishment as he raised the widow from her kneeling position and kissed her on the lips.

“Your duties to the dead do you much honour, my sweetness,” he said in a voice as oily as his tonsure. “But when we are married there shall be no need for grief. You shall live once more in the light and enjoy laughter and music as you once did.”

“Your devotion to me has renewed my spirit and given me hope for the future,” Artemisia answered. “But he was my greatest love, my husband, brother and king. I shall never forget that even for you.”

“And I shall never expect you to forget. But if your face is lit by a smile more often that it is clouded by sorrow, I shall be happy.”

He reached to embrace her, but she wouldn’t allow it.

“Not here,” she said. “Not in HIS presence. Let us return to the palace.”

They departed, the retinue outside following dutifully. Slowly Chrístõ and Riley came out of the shadows and looked curiously at each other.

“That’s not right,” Riley commented. “Artemisia II didn’t marry another man. She died… probably of a broken heart.”

“Nobody really DOES die of a broken heart,” Chrístõ remarked almost as an afterthought. “I always assumed that Artemisia let herself go – not eating properly, neglecting her health. She looked worn out, but not dangerously so, and if her new husband encourages her to look after herself she could live another twenty years or more.”

“But that isn’t what happened. She died and her ashes were placed here beside her husband-brother-king.”

“Then there is a potential paradox going on. Somebody is trying to change history.”

"What can we do to stop it?" Riley asked. "We SHOULD try to stop it, shouldn't we.?"

"We have to. It's practically my job description. But there IS still the problem of Pei a d our missing anachronisms. Here, take my psychic paper a and present yourself as an ambassador from Alexandria. See what you can find out.

“Me.?” Riley was surprised. “You want me to go on my own? You think I can manage that much responsibility?”

“Yes, I think you can,” Christo answered him. “Don’t you?”

“I... don’t know. I suppose I will find out.”

“Just try to feel confident when you present the psychic paper, otherwise it might introduce you as a plumber or an exotic dancer.”

Riley laughed. He was sure he had none of the qualifications for either of those professions. He had none for the diplomatic corps, either ,but he was an English gentleman abroad and that WAS a de facto diplomatic position, representing King and Country in every respect

“i think youve got it,” Christo told him, glancing at the psychic paper . “Best of luck, with it.”

“And you,” Riley answered. “Please try to get my watch back.”

They made their way together back down the steps to the base of the mausoleum to be then went their separate ways, Riley towards the palace and Christo back to the common streets. Riley allowed himself only one moment to think that bit ought to be the other way around – since Christo was such a born aristocrat. Then he thought of King and Country again and didn’t let the psychic paper waver in its estimation of his qualifications.

Chrístõ walked alone in the bustling, noisy streets, acutely aware that he was even more of a target for thieves and robbers now that he was on his own. He also drew more attention from young women who wanted to invite him down a side alley for private entertainment.

“No,” he said in an irritated tone to one of the girls – one who looked far too young for that profession in his view. “I don’t want anything except to find a small boy who stole something from me.”

The girl looked at him with a stricken expression, then tried to hide her distress, but not quite quickly enough. Chrístõ grasped her by the wrist and held on tightly.

“His name is Pei, apparently. Do you know him?”

“Please, let me go,” she begged.

“No. Not until you tell me where to find that boy.”

He was attracting attention, but it just looked as if a street girl was arguing with a customer and nobody was interested enough to interfere. The girl clearly knew that. She burst into tears.

“He only does it to get us food,” she admitted.


“He’s my brother. He knows that I don’t make much money from… from THIS. He knows that I hate it. And he’s so small and quick, most people don’t even know they’ve been robbed. He only does it for food. Please don’t hurt him, sir.”

Aware that this was the older sister of a sneak thief, Chrístõ didn’t let his guard down, but he slightly released the pressure on her arm and reached into his pocket for the purse that Pei had not managed to steal from him. He gave her one of the larger denomination coins.

“That should be more than you’re likely to earn tonight. Buy yourself some food and go home. But first tell me where Pei would be. I’m not going to hurt him, but he has to give me back the things he stole.”

The fact that her brother had been stealing did not surprise the girl as much as the payment and Christo’s determination to get his property back.

“This thing he took is valuable?” she asked. “VERY valuable?”

“VERY valuable, and it will do neither of you any good to have it. He MUST return it.”

“I will take you to him,” she decided. “But please let go of my arm. It hurts.”

Chrístõ was puzzled. He had been firm but not especially rough. He looked closer at her arm and noticed bruises that he had certainly not caused. Some were recent, others not so recent, still more very old.

“You both need a change of career,” he said.

Getting into the palace proved easy enough for Riley. Being invited to supper in the great hall was no trouble, either. But the hall was crowded and his place at the table was so far away that he could barely see the queen and her fiancée.

There was plenty of gossip round the far end of the table to make up for being up close. It didn’t take much prompting to discover that Lord Omir Dragin had arrived at court a little over a month ago. Nobody was sure where he had come from. It might have been Alexandria or Thebes, or somewhere on the Greek coast, but anyway he had worked a remarkable change upon Artemisia. She had begun to live again. She no longer spent hour crying and keening before his husband's ashes. She no longer ate privately, cutting herself off from the court. She smiled, now. Her courtiers were allowed to smile when she did. Musicians and dancers were employed in the palace again.

“Well, that’s good, surely,” Riley thought.

But it FELT wrong. He couldn’t explain why, even to himself, but somehow he felt that the happiness that appeared to have come back to the palace was only a veneer over the underlying darkness.

“I don’t like him,” said a young woman who worked in the palace but not in a position that afforded her a better place at the table. “His eyes are… cold… like looking into a deep well.”

Two other women agreed. Reluctantly, so did some of the men, then more of them. It seemed that everybody felt the same, but it took one person brave enough to say so before the rest could admit their own feelings. Even then, they talked sotte voce, unable to openly express what it was about the queen’s favourite that bothered them.

“If he marries her… he becomes king?” Riley asked, as he managed to put his finger on one obvious problem. His fellow diners confirmed that, despite not being of royal blood, Dragin would become king when he married Artemisia.

“Of course. He’s after the crown. That’s all. He doesn’t care about her, just becoming king.”

Halicarnassus was hardly a mighty empire, of course. But for a determined despot it was a starting point. It wouldn’t take much to conquer the surrounding territories, build a fleet to attack by sea….

Yes, it was clear enough what was happening. And if Halicarnassus became the centre of a despotic empire then all of history could be altered. The change in the balance of power now could have huge consequences. It might even stop the Roman Empire from ascending. If the Romans weren’t in power in the Middle East then Caesar Augustus wouldn’t decide he needed to take a census, and the whole story of Christ’s birth and childhood would not happen. Christianity as he knew it would not happen. The world he knew would not exist.

All from the courting of a vulnerable and easily misled woman.

There was a rumble of disconcerted exclamation followed by silence as Dragin stood at the head of the table.

“I understand,” he said in his oily voice. “That some among us are doubtful of my true intentions. I hope I can convince you that I have the best interests of your queen and of all of her citizens at heart.”

He paused dramatically and looked down the table as the dinner guests all looked back at him. Riley suppressed a gasp as Dragin’s eyes glowed a sinister green. At the same time, he reached into his robe and pulled out a many-faceted jewel. It, too, glowed green as he continued to speak and Riley found himself drawn into the words.

“I KNOW I can make you believe that I mean the best for you,” Dragin went on. “I will be your king and I will be mighty. You will bathe in the reflected glory of my deeds. You WILL believe it. You WILL believe.”

Riley almost did believe. Without thinking about it he picked up a skewer and jabbed it into the back of his hand. The pain woke him from the stupor and he realised how close he was to being hypnotised into believing along with everyone else. Even the young woman who had criticised the empty, dark eyes was now looking at Dragin with adoring eyes.

He moved slowly, dropping under the table and then crawling towards the door. The guards were hypnotised, too. They didn’t notice him slipping past. Beyond the great hall nobody had any reason to stop a man leaving the palace. The guards were paid to stop people coming in, not out.

He still didn’t know who or what Dragin was, but he knew he was bad - for Artemisia, for Halicarnassus, for the known world and for the future of the Human race.

He had to find Chrístõ.

Home, for Pei and his sister – Chrístõ had discovered that her name was Leia – turned out to be something like the coal holes that he used to see at the side of houses when he lived in Victorian London. There were some rags and a piece of rough wood used to block the entrance and just about room for the two youngsters to sleep. It was lit by a stub of tallow candle that would probably burn out very soon.

The boy was there. He had a dry loaf of bread that he was holding onto as if it was gold. When his sister came into the – for want of a better word – room – he offered it to her. Then he saw Chrístõ with her and cowered back.

“It’s all right,” he said in as reassuring tones. “I don’t mean you any harm. I just need my things back. It is very important.”

“I don’t have them,” he answered. “I took them to Goran. He gave me the bread.”


“He… calls himself our uncle,” Leia explained. “But he is not. Since our mother died, he has made us beg and steal and… worse…. He takes what we get and gives us just enough food…..”

Chrístõ took the loaf of bread and noted that it was at least three days old, dry and unappetising. He even noted the start of mould growth on the underside.

He threw it down.

“Come with me,” he said. “I’ll get you a meal.”

He led the two children – for Leia was little more than that, despite her means of making money – down into the busiest part of the city. He brought them into the inn where he and Riley had eaten earlier. The landlady was subtly and not so subtly hinting to her customers that she wanted to close, soon. She wasn’t entirely pleased to have a new customer demanding food – and food for two ragamuffin street children at that.

“Not here,” she answered Chrístõ’s insistence. “In the kitchen. And they can wash first. I have my standards.”

“Indeed, you should have standards,” Chrístõ assured her. “Nobody wants to eat in a dirty establishment. My companion and I noticed earlier how clean your inn was.”

The landlady looked directly at Chrístõ and though she had served many men this night, she recalled vividly the two well dressed men who ate well but drank little and left a generous tip. Her stern expression mellowed and when she looked how much there was in the way of leftovers in her cooking pots there was what looked like a feast to the two hungry urchins.

Chrístõ watched her for a while, then drew her aside. He held her hands and looked into her eyes deeply for a while.

“You are a good woman,” he decided. “If you gave an undertaking to a man who will be gone by tomorrow you would honour it in his absence.”

“I… believe that I would,” she answered.

“The girl could help prepare food and – with some clean clothes – wait upon your customers. The boy can be useful around the kitchen. They don’t ask for wages, just a good meal once a day and a safe, warm place to sleep – and possibly a man called Goran banning from your establishment.”

“Goran!” the landlady spat the word out. “He has never been welcome here. He makes his way by bullying children, now, does he?”

“Apparently so. I am going to see him, next. But I want to leave them in good hands, first.”

“Consider it done, sir,” the landlady assured him.

“You ARE a good woman, Mina,” Chrístõ told her before he left the inn. It was at least a half hour before the landlady remembered that she had never told the stranger with the soft but insistent voice her name. She shook her head and turned to the two youngsters as they finished their food. She told them there were pots to be washed before they could set down their bedrolls beside the kitchen fire. Neither objected to the idea of a few hours work in return for sleeping beside a fire this night.

Now for Goran, he thought. It was probably not a good idea to ask for such a man. Anyone who knew his whereabouts would doubtless be the sort who would make trouble. But if Goran had the node, then he could find it just as he told Riley he could.

He stood in the doorway of a leather goods maker whose hours of opening were long over for this day and concentrated hard. He felt the presence of gold in various forms – coins and jewellery, expensive ornamentations. But these were all made of ore dug from the soil of Earth. He closed his eyes and looked for something mined on another world, in another time, an imbued with its own semi-sentience.

He found it. Slowly he opened his eyes while keeping the location firmly in his mind. He had to turn down dark alleyways and side streets, but he cared not. Anyone trying to deflect him from his task would rue the day. Quite apart from the elecgtric shock mode of his sonic screwdriver the skills of unarmed combat he had learnt in the far orient of this world and on Malvoria and other worlds where such disciplines were practiced were unknown to the thugs who lurked in the shadows here in this city. He could take care of himself well enough.

His quest brought him to a dismal building shut up tight but with lamplight showing in the chinks in the door. The sonic screwdriver easily broke through the locks and bolts and he entered quickly.

The room within was as dismal as without, but in sacks and boxes all around a small fortune in the gold and silver and precious gems that came from the soil of this planet was amassed. Chrístõ wondered for a moment about the mental state of somebody who horded such riches without apparently benefitting from them. The dark clad figure examining the most recent fruits of crime seemed more like a spider in its web than anything else.

“Goran!” The man looked up and first mistook Chrístõ for somebody he could disregard. Then he caught the expression in his eyes and quailed.

“You have something of mine, and something that belongs to a friend. There they are. I will have them back or it will be the worst for you.”

He pointed to the node and the watch, both outside of their proper time and place, sitting upon a rough table at Goran’s side.

“If you want them, take them,” Goran growled in a thoroughly threatening way. Chrístõ felt instinctively that there was somebody behind him, maybe more than one. Goran had heavies to protect him.

Calmly he reached out his arm towards the node once more. It took a lot of concentration – telekinesis was his worst discipline – but the node ought to respond to his call. That made things easier.

Slowly the node span and rose up into the air. He heard the two men behind him gasp in surprise. When the wristwatch came, too, he heard them backing away. He caught the two objects and slipped them into his robe in a neat, flowing action before turning on his heel to deliver roundhouse kicks to the two heavies. There was nobody there. His little bit of ‘sorcery’ had scared them off.

“If I were you, I’d run, too,” he said to Goran as he span back around. “Moving to another town would be a really good idea, because once the palace guards come down and see this little treasure trove of yours life won’t be very pleasant here. Go on, get going, before I really lose my temper.”

“Yes…. Yes… my lord,” Goran answered, cringing back away from the man who could move objects with his thoughts. Chrístõ was glad his minor demonstration of Time Lord power had done the job. He wasn’t sure he had the mental energy for anything else.

“And don’t go near those children, again,” he added as he walked away. He was not entirely surprised that the shadows were quieter on his return. Nobody was waiting around to waylay a ‘sorcerer’.

He was halfway to the palace when he met Riley coming to find him. His friend quickly relayed what he had found out. Chrístõ was only half surprised at the news that Dragin wasn’t an ordinary man.

“Ok,” he decided. ”I’m not going to storm the palace. The best place to find the two of them alone is in the mausoleum when she cones to do her morning ritual. It gives me a chance to do the duty with the node as well. Let’s go back to the TARDIS and let me think this through. I have an inkling of a plan but it needs a bit more… well, planning.”

Again they walked on down through the city. Riley was surprised to notice that the crowds parted when they saw Chrístõ. He heard some odd whispers behind them and decided he probably didn’t need to know what had happened.

Just before dawn, with a cool breeze coming off the Mediterranean, Artemisia climbed the steps of the great monument to her late husband that would give its name to all such monuments in time to come. Her new fiancé followed dutifully a few steps behind.

Neither noticed as they stepped into the chamber where the urn was kept that they had stepped through a temporal shield that meant nobody outside would hear their voices no matter how loudly they called. The shield was projected from the TARDIS, disguised as one of the pillars that held up the great roof of the mausoleum. It formed part of Chrístõ’s plan.

As he fully expected, the shield also had the effect of stripping any sort of perception filter or glamour cloak. Artemisia, turning to look at Dragin, let out a scream as she saw, not a man, but a creature with grey, scaly skin, fish-like eyes with no lids or lashes, and two pairs of arms that ended in vicious claws.

“Stay behind me,” Chrístõ said, stepping from the shadows and putting himself in front of the terrified queen. “You… don’t move. This is a sonic screwdriver, intended as a tool, not a weapon, but it has ten thousand settings and currently it is in laser mode. It can make metalwork a cinch or cut you in half like a knife through butter.”

The creature froze, recognising the truth in Chrístõ’s tone of voice. Riley moved just enough to catch hold of the queen and hold her upright as she swooned in shock.

“I am sorry, madam,” Chrístõ continued. “But you have been deceived. This is a Marcassian shape shifter. It intended to marry you and then have you killed in order to have supreme control over your lands… and then make war on your neighbours.”

“But….” Artemisia stared at the creature in horror. She clearly wanted to disbelieve, but the truth was before her eyes. “You… demon. You professed your love for me!”

“Loo..oooove?” The creature hissed the word viciously. “No such thing. I wanted the crown… I wanted your wealth and your armies. No more. The boy is right. You would be dead within the year and I all-powerful. And so I SHALL be.”

In one sudden movement he had the glowing gem in his hand. His eyes glowed, too, and he began to speak in that hypnotic way that Riley had already experienced.

“You will ALL obey me. You will be my servants. I will have none opposed to me.”

“I don’t think so,” Chrístõ replied. He moved the sonic screwdriver a fraction and pressed the button. A thin line of pure white light connected with the gem and it exploded in the creature’s hand.

Chrístõ quickly started to key in the code to make his sonic emit a stasis field to bind the Marcassian, but Queen Artemisia had other ideas. With a strength nobody expected of her she lunged towards her late husband’s sword and dagger laid before his urn then turned and plunged both into the creature’s body. It howled in pain and writhed as sickly black ichor seeped from the wounds instead of blood. Riley again reached to hold the queen as the emotional and physical effort almost finished her off. She swooned against his shoulder, but kept her eyes on the dying creature as it slumped to the floor and twitched several times involuntarily before becoming still.

“Wait a moment,” Chrístõ murmured. They kept watching as the body turned to the colour of old ash and crumbled into a dark patch of dust on the floor. “I thought as much. Shape changer bodies lack the neutrons that hold any normal body together. When they’re dead, they crumble very quickly. A stiff breeze will blow all trace of him away, now. It’s all over.”

Artemisia gasped faintly with the sheer effort to believe all that had taken place before her eyes and moaned sadly as she realised how much she had been taken in by his lies and his mesmerism.

“I… could never have thought of loving him if he had not bewildered my mind,” she said. “My dear lord whose remains are here is the only man I could ever have truly loved.”

She knelt before the urn containing the ashes of Mausolus and cried and keened as she always did. The breeze Chrístõ had mentioned blew between the pillars and scattered the remains of the false suitor and when she rose it really was as if he had never been there.

Neither were the two strangers who had saved her from his deceit. She looked around, then slowly descended the steps to where her retinue of hand maidens and guards were waiting to escort her back to the safety of her palace.

“She’ll still die within a year,” Chrístõ noted sadly as he set the next co-ordinate on his TARDIS console. “There is nothing I can or should do about that. Her successor will be her own brother, Idrieus, who will rule as well as he might be expected, but he IS the rightful successor for what it’s worth, not an alien with ideas above his own station. Marcassians are parasites. They do nothing for themselves. Their own planet is virtually a desert. They fasten onto civilisations built by the sweat of others and corrupt them to their own purposes. The Earth had a very lucky escape.”

“Again, thanks to you being sent there by the Guardian. He does seem to have an ulterior motive for you.”

“Yes. I think I’ll have words with him when we finish the task. But there ARE still two more nodes to deliver. And goodness knows what complication besides.”