“The island of Rhodes lies on part of the boundary between the Aegean Sea and African plates. The tectonic setting is complex, with a Neogene history that includes periods of thrusting, extension and strike slip. Currently the island is undergoing a counter-clockwise rotation associated with the south Aegean sinistral strike-slip fault system. The island has also been tilted to the northwest during the Pleistocene, an uplift attributed to a reverse fault lying just to the east of Rhodes. The earthquake of 227 BC is associated with an uplift of more than three metres and movement on this reverse fault is considered to be the likely causative mechanism for the event. The epicentral location of this event is uncertain, with modern catalogues giving locations either near Rhodes city, or just south of the island of Symi. Some catalogues suggest that this earthquake caused a significant tsunami.”

Riley Davenport looked up from the TARDIS database console and grimaced.

“Do you understand all of those scientific terms, because I’m not sure I do.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ answered. “Yes, I do. They basically mean that Rhodes was the worst place on Earth to build a giant statue. It’s not the best place, come to that, to build a city. But Human beings are amazingly persistent about that kind of thing. They rebuild again and again even though they know it will only end in disaster.”

“I suppose, in these times, it was because they thought the earthquakes were punishments for their gods,” Riley considered. “And rebuilding was the right thing to do. But that doesn’t explain San Francisco,”

“Or why people continued to live in Rhodes long after they stopped believing that earthquakes were the whim of their gods. It’s not stupidity. There is a perfectly good reason, if you’re interested.”

Riley was interested.

“Much of the early development of civilisation on this planet was exactly on these dangerous fault lines because it was here, where the crust has been in turmoil for eons, that the materials of civilisation - metals - were found nearest to the surface. The early people thought these areas were bountiful gifts from their gods. The destructions every generation or so were considered worth the riches to be gained the rest of the time. California exists for the same reason. Gold brought men there, first and they stayed for its other bounties. The San Andreas valley is some of the most fertile land in the Americas. Sitting on a fault line for the sake of great harvests has long been accepted. So that explains San Francisco, too."`

"Greed," Riley observed. "Not terribly noble of us as a race."

"Not greed, really. Except maybe in the Gold Rush. More an ambition to be greater and better all the time," Christo consoled him

"Well, that sounds better. But none of that explains why our journey brings us so close to the disaster this time. All our other trips have been to much safer times. We were nowhere near the earthquake that destroyed the Temple of Artemis, after all.”

“I don’t know,” Chrístõ responded. “It obviously isn’t to prevent the earthquake. For one, I don’t know how to do that, and for another I’m not supposed to interfere with big things like that. But it DOES seem as if the Guardian wants me to do something a bit more ‘last minute’ this time.”

“It would be nice if the Guardian just sent us a letter with full instructions instead of all the guesswork.”

“I suppose he credits me with enough initiative to work it out. Come on. Let’s go and see the Colossus of Rhodes and deliver the sixth node. Then we’ll figure out what else we have to do.”

In the early evening, with the sun going down over the island in the south Aegean sea, Rhodes was beautiful. The water around the island, even in the harbour, was turquoise blue and crystal clear. The town that rose uphill from the busy docks sparkled in the dying sunlight.

And the magnificent statue, standing on the manmade breakwater that guarded the entrance to the harbour, defied words. The bronze face of Helios, the sun God, crowned with metal rays of light, reflected the last light of the day so well that it held back the dusk another half an hour after the sun had gone down.

"I always thought he stood astride the entrance to the harbour," Riley observed as they viewed the massive figure from the small boat the TARDIS had disguised itself as. "All the pictures of the statue are astride.".

"In the second half of your century engineers concluded that a figure that huge could not stand astride without collapsing in on itself. The body could not be supported by the legs if they were set so far apart and at such an angle to the body. Besides...." Christo looked up at the classical figure ruefully. The two bronze legs were slightly apart, but fully supporting the body as it gazed across the island, its back to the sea. "He is naked except for a cloak and a belt. Would you really want to sail into port underneath him?"

Riley grinned and looked up again at the statue. Christo felt the rude joke coalescing in his mind and forestalled it by reminding his friend that they had a job to do. They stepped back into the TARDIS and Christo piloted it a short hop from the harbour to the left side of the left sandal. The TARDIS, perhaps its chameleon circuits overwhelmed by the majesty of the statue, kept its default form of a grey metal cabinet just big enough for a man to stand up in. The foot of the Colossus was twice as high.

"This will do," Christo decided. “Let’s do the job.”

He stood beside the bronze sandal and placed the sixth golden sphere upon the ground in the shadow of the great statue. It spun and bore itself down into the stone foundation. The node was embedded. His work here was done.

More than any other time, he knew he ought to get back into the TARDIS and go. This was a dangerous place to be. He didn’t know if the earthquake was imminent or if it was days, weeks, months away. He knew that every moment he stayed there was tempting fate.

It was the sky that distracted him. The sun was only just set and there was still a lot of light left in the twilit sky. It was an orange light diffused through the thin clouds on the horizon and it reminded him so much of the Gallifreyan sky at sunset that a huge swelling of home sickness and nostalgia choked him. He felt unable to pull his eyes away from that burnt orange sky over the Aegean Sea.

He was so entranced by it that he didn’t even notice that Riley had gone back inside the TARDIS.

He was so entranced that he didn’t feel the first micro-tremors beneath his feet. He didn’t realise that the moment had already passed when he ought to have gone back to the TARDIS himself and left the island as quickly as possible.

Riley was trying not to panic. Warning lights were flashing all over the console. Three different alarms were sounding as well as the sonorous tone of the Cloister Bell from deep inside the TARDIS. He didn't know what to do. He couldn't even get the door to open. It had sealed itself against what, according to the environmental console was an 'immediate life threatening situation' outside.

"But Christo is out there.," he shouted, though he knew that the TARDIS couldn't be addressed directly that way. "I can't do anything. He's the one in charge. I don't know what to do."

He felt the floor shake as the full force of the quake wrenched at the seabed below the harbour. The artificial breakwater that had seemed so solid against the ravages of the sea was a thin line of rock and aggregate that threatened to disintegrate altogether.

The breakwater held. But the statue built upon it could not possibly stand up to the tortures upon it. Even inside the TARDIS the sound of metal twisting, buckling and breaking as the Colossus collapsed in on itself was horrendous.

Then the TARDIS was caught up in the terrible fall from grace. Riley grasped desperately at any handhold he could reach as the room tumbled end over end, the roof becoming a wall, then a floor, the floor tilting first one way then the next.

At first the TARDIS was in free fall through air. Then it slowed as it hit the water and sank to the bottom of the sea just outside the harbour wall.

Not that Riley fully understood what was happening. He was too busy holding on and avoiding loose objects like books and coffee mugs to worry about where the TARDIS was going to ultimately end up.

Nor was he especially aware of what was falling along with the TARDIS. The tremendous crashing sounds were dulled by the water, but not the thudding vibrations as thousands of tonnes of metal and rock came down with the time machine.

Finally, there was something like silence and stillness. The TARDIS had settled at an angle, with the floor sloping upwards. The console room was half-dark with the lights in emergency mode. Riley pulled himself towards the door and tried the manual release, but that just made another alarm go off on the console. He slid back there and saw a warning panel telling him that the atmosphere outside was inimical to oxygen breathing life. The viewscreen was dark, but as he stared at it the situation became obvious. The TARDIS was wedged on the sea bed by what remained of the arms and legs of the Colossus. A bronze finger pointed at him through the gloom ominously.

“It’s not my fault,” he whispered. “I didn’t do it.”

He heard his voice echo in the otherwise empty room and that was worse.

“Chrístõ… where are you?” he asked anxiously.

“Chr…is…toooooo!” A mournful voice replied and he started for a moment before remembering that he wasn’t entirely alone. From the shadows underneath the console that strange ‘pet’ called Humphrey emerged, round and blacker than the shadows, with less substance than smoke but a sentient being nonetheless, he turned two big, sorrowful eyes on Riley.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “He was out there when the quake struck. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, and there’s nothing I can do to find him.”

Humphrey’s wail of distress was even worse than the silence.

Not that it was completely silent. There were creaks and groans from what he imagined was the exterior skin of the TARDIS. A horrible thought gripped him.

“What if the walls are cracked? What if it floods?”

He was strong enough not to moan out loud, but Humphrey caught his emotions and expressed them loudly. Riley slid down onto the awkwardly angled floor and wedged himself against the console before burying his face in his hands in utter despair.

Chrístõ had been semi-conscious, semi-aware of his predicament for a half hour now. He knew he was in water and that for some time he had been actually under the water, his lungs automatically recycling air while he was unconscious. That alone had kept him from drowning after he fell from the breakwater and was dragged under by the riptide caused by the quake. Now he was floating on the surface, clinging to a piece of driftwood, perhaps part of a boat that had been torn to pieces in the turmoil. The sea was choppy. He was buffeted and tossed by waves that threatened to drag him down, but somehow, without any conscious effort, he kept afloat.

Conscious effort wasn’t something he was capable of just yet. His head felt frozen. The rest of his body was curiously warm. This WAS the Aegean, after all. Even at night the water was temperate. But his brain was numb. He must have hit something as he fell. There was a concussion that his regenerative cells were trying to repair. Until then the rest of his body was just marking time.

Riley was warm. He was almost starting to feel comfortable even though he was still wedged against the console on the tilted floor. He felt as if he could sleep comfortably and wake when everything was all right again.

He could if that alarm would stop ringing incessantly.

Reluctantly he pulled himself upright and felt his way around to the communications array. Not that he knew it was the communications array. None of the sections of the console made any sense to him. The most sophisticated piece of electronics he had ever handled was a wireless for listening to the new BBC broadcasts. He pressed the buttons next to the flashing lights. One of them switched off the alarm. The other switched on a monitor. He was surprised when a face appeared on it. The face was equally surprised by him.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“Who are you?” replied the face in the monitor. “That’s Chrístõ’s TARDIS, isn’t it? What are you doing messing with it? Wait a minute.”

The face disappeared, replaced by a complicated symbol. Moments later, Riley saw a light coalesce in the gloom of the half-lit console room. The light partially solidified into the man who had appeared on the monitor – or most of him. He was still slightly transparent and was flickering on and off. If Riley had ever heard of the concept of a hologram it would have made more sense to him.

“Are you a ghost?” he asked, selecting the next obvious explanation.

“No, I’m projecting myself from Gallifrey, to talk to you.”

“Gallifrey… where Chrístõ comes from?”

“Yes. I am Paracell Hext. I’m Chrístõ’s friend. I’m assuming he isn’t here. His TARDIS is in emergency mode.”

Riley quickly explained the situation. Hext’s projection frowned more and more deeply.

“You think he might be dead?”

“I don’t know,” Riley admitted. “I don’t know anything except….” he paused because he wasn’t actually sure what he DID know. It was hard to think straight. The temptation to go to sleep, even if there was nowhere comfortable to lay down, was strong. “I think… I….”

“Wait,” Hext interrupted him with an urgent tone. “Are you feeling warm? Is the room stuffy?”

“Yes… actually, but….”

“The CO scrubbers are offline. Quick. Do exactly as I say, and keep talking. Don’t let yourself get drowsy.”

“Why… what….”

“CO is carbon monoxide, the gas that replaces oxygen if somebody is breathing for too long in an enclosed space with no fresh air getting in. Do as I say or quite soon you won’t be able to breathe at all. Under the environmental panel – pull it up by that handle. Now push up all of those switches and pull the lever.”

Riley did as he was told as the projection guided him through the process of resetting the scrubbers. Finally, he was able to read out the oxygen levels in the room.

“Not good enough, yet. It’ll take a couple of minutes,” Hext told him. “Sit down as best you can to preserve your lung capacity. But don’t let yourself get drowsy. Talk to me. Tell me who you are exactly and how you’re travelling with Chrístõ – despite the rules barring Time Lords from transporting aliens in their time capsules.”

“I’m not an alien. I’m from Earth,” Riley Davenport protested. “At least I was. I’m supposed to be dead. Everyone who knew me thinks I’m dead. My family… my fiancée.”

“That’s rough,” Hext admitted. “But if you were taken out of the timeline, there’s nothing to be done.”

“I don’t mind. I didn’t really want to marry the girl, anyway.”

He didn’t elaborate, but even as a holographic projection over many millions of light years and thousands of temporal years Hext recognised something in his tone.

“You would rather be with Chrístõ?”

“He’s… a very special man. But he made it clear to me. He DOES love HIS fiancée.”

“That’s true,” Hext conceded before a wicked smile crossed his hologram face. “But ask him about a gendermorph called Cam, some time. And a Human called Jack Harkness. He’s a bit more flexible that way than you’d think.”

“If I ever talk to him again,” Riley reminded him. “What if he IS dead?”

“He has to be alive. The universe needs him. He’s the only one of our race who ever does anything for it.”

“That doesn’t really help.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I can’t really offer much in the way of practical help. I have men under my command, but sending them into a situation like you have there – an earthquake zone, lots of people dead and dying, panic and confusion – it might make things worse than they are. And I can’t come myself because….”

Hext couldn’t hide his personal happiness despite the desperate situation his friends were in.

“My wife is having a baby. Chrístõ has been out of touch so long I don’t think he even knew she was pregnant. I was going to spring that one on him. I hoped he would come home to be co-parent at the naming ceremony.”

“Is that… like a god-parent at a Christening?” Riley asked.

“I think so. If I’ve understood the translation correctly. ‘Christening’ doesn’t really have an equivalent in our language. How do you feel, now? Is it easier to breathe? What does the readout say?”

Riley checked. Hext was satisfied.

“Right, let’s get the lights on, next, and see about getting the console room the right way up.”

“Do you mean I could move the TARDIS?” Riley asked as he, again, followed the projection’s instructions. Humphrey retreated back under the console as the main lights came on. His mournful trilling for his missing master still competed with the creaking noises from the outer hull. Things were improving, but not by very much.

“You can’t pilot it. You’re a Human, and not in any way related to Chrístõ by blood. But you might be able to do a few things. Run a diagnostic as soon as possible. Let’s make sure those creaking noises are all external. TARDISes don’t usually crack under pressure, but it is worth being sure.”

Under the console Humphrey whimpered.

"It’s all right for you," Riley told him. "You're made of shadow. I'm the one who will either drown or be crushed to death."

Chrístõ was feeling cold, now. He had been cold all along, in fact, but he had not been able to feel it until his brain had repaired. Now he was fully aware of the discomfort. He was also desperately tired.

He managed to open his eyes despite the sting of salt water and looked up at the stars. He easily recognised the constellation of Orion, where Julia was living, happily oblivious of how much peril he was in.

Then something hard smacked into the back of his only just repaired skull and he saw a different sort of stars. He floundered and swallowed a lot of water before he realised that he had been hit by a boat that was drifting just as he was. He grabbed the loose mooring rope and pulled himself aboard.

The boat was not empty. Pressed against the stern was a young woman with a baby clutched close to her and a boy at her side. They looked at him through already traumatised eyes as if they couldn't be any more terrified by his dripping wet appearance and would surrender to any cruelty he might inflict on them.

"It’s ok,” he said to them. “I mean… it’s all right. I’m not going to harm you. I needed a dry spot, that’s all. How did you get out here?”

For the first time he looked around and realised how far out to sea he was. The harbour and city were a sinister glow in the dark where the earthquake had caused fires to break out amongst the devastation of collapsed buildings. It was a disquietingly far off glow. He must have drifted at least ten miles out to sea before bumping into this little boat.

“I am Leya,” the woman said. “My husband is a fisherman. He put us into the boat to be safe from the shaking ground. But the waves were so great. He was swept over and lost. We have been adrift for many hours.”

A fishing man put his faith in the water when the ground was not to be trusted. But the sea had proved treacherous, too. Chrístõ looked around the boat carefully. There was a small mast with the sail lashed to it and one oar from a pair. The man had been rowing the boat, not thinking it safe to go under sail. One of the oars must have been swept away with him.

“All right,” Chrístõ said, managing to think practically now he was out of the water. He was cold and wet. Leya and her children were little better. “Let’s get the sail unfurled and the boat turned around into the wind. We’ll make it back to shore. I’m not sure where, exactly, but any dry land has to be good.”

The boy was clutching a waterskin. It looked full, but it wouldn’t last them long once the sun came up and they were hot and thirsty. There was no food at all. Land was the only option. Chrístõ carefully opened out the little sail and used the one remaining oar to turn the boat into the wind, which was, fortunately, blowing towards the island and with the tide. If it had been otherwise, he wasn’t sure he could have managed. Tacking against the wind was hard work. Rowing against the tide with only one oar would be impossible. The first bit of luck all night went his way.

Riley searched the console in vain for something that Hext said was called the Manual Internal Re-Alignment Key – or MIRAK. He was just about to give up in frustration when he found a small button with a piece of tape over it. The word ‘shremec’ was scrawled on it in felt tip pen. He pressed it hopefully. The tilted floor gently straightened out, though it remained at an angle to the door. Books, coffee mugs and other loose items resettled on the now horizontal floor.

“Shremec?” he queried. “Is that even a word.”

“Not in any language I know,” Hext replied. “Chrístõ put it there. It seems to be a joke only he understands.”

“The TARDIS is still trapped under the remains of the Colossus, and still half tipped over – but the inside can turn around and look normal?”

“Yes. I’m still not happy with those noises. I’m not even going to consider moving the external TARDIS until we’ve done some more diagnostics.” Hext’s hologram looked around as if he had been spoken to. “And that’s going to have to wait for a little while. I have to go. Get yourself something to eat and drink and try to keep calm.”

The hologram flickered out. Riley felt lonelier than ever. He tried to look for food, but the creaking noises were even louder in the corridor beyond the console room. He closed the door firmly and turned instead to a machine Chrístõ had demonstrated to him but had never used by choice. It was a ‘food dispenser’ of a sort, which supplied strange white bars that tasted something like the food asked for, but only just. Chrístõ was quite disparaging about it. Riley had no opinion at all until he requested a cup of milk and corned beef sandwich. He sat on the floor and chewed the bar that tasted something like bread, butter and corned beef, but only if he used his imagination. The milk tasted like it came from the tins used on the desert trip where he had first met Chrístõ.

After he had eaten he closed his eyes and slept a little. It was safe to do so, now. Humphrey enveloped him in his shadowy form, trilling softly and mournfully. Both of them were missing Christo and hoping to wake up to better news about him.

It was still dark when the little fishing boat washed up onto a beach with the tide and stuck fast in the sand. The slightest pink tinge on the horizon promised dawn, but that would bring new problems. Christo pulled the boat well up above the high water mark and used the mooring rope to tie the boat fast to a tree growing right on the waterline.

"You'll need this boat," he told Leya. "Remember where we left it. But first, let's try to find a safe place for you to rest and food for all of us."

Beyond the waterline there was a roughly made road, dry and rutted by the passage of many carts. Olive trees grew in a small grove nearby but they were not ripe.

There was a smell of burning in the air, still. The city had obviously suffered badly. As the dawn broke the pall of smoke told him what direction to set off walking. He picked up the boy in his arms while Leya clutched her youngest child close and they set off in hope of rest and comfort somewhere along the way

Riley had slept, uncomfortably, for a little less than an hour. He woke with a start to a hand on his shoulder.

"How...." He murmured as he looked up at Heat. "How did you touch me? You're not really here."

"I am, now. When my wife heard that Christo was missing she ordered me to come for him. She had a thing for him before she met me. For a while it wasn't a very healthy thing for either of them, but she's over that now."

Riley realised there was a very long story there that he had no time to hear even if Hext was ready to tell it.

"What about the baby?"

"The midwife says it will be hours yet and that men are a waste of space in the delivery room anyway, so I used an emergency time ring to get here. Just as well, too. I took a quick look at the exterior. What WAS it that fell on you again?"

As he spoke Hext moved around the console in that energetic way Christo had when setting off on a new journey, though it was clear that he had no plans to take the TARDIS anywhere.

"The Colossus of Rhodes," Riley answered. "A hundred foot tall bronze statue of a naked Greek god. The earthquake destroyed it."

"What sort of people build a hundred foot tall naked statue?" Next asked. "Never mind, don't answer that. I don't think I want to know why the two of you were here admiring it, either. Chrístõ's fiancée certainly doesn't need to know."

Riley began to protest that it was nothing to do with what Hext was thinking.

"I'm not thinking anything," Hext assured him. "But I am saving this one to make Christo squirm some time. He does blush so red with that pale complexion of his. It’s an amusing sport."

"You talk as if you know he's alive," Riley ventured. "Is that... can you tell if he...."

"Not for certain. We fought a desperate war side by side. A thing like that is almost as strong as brotherhood. I think I SHOULD know if he was dead. I think his TARDIS should, too. I'm hoping both our instincts are right. But we have a slightly more immediate problem. When the TARDIS got mixed up with all that bronze, naked or otherwise, the dimension circuits went awry."

Riley looked at him blankly. Hext sighed.

"All the people Christo brings along with him, none of them are EVER temporal mechanics. What are you good at?"

"Taking photographs of archaeological finds," Riley admitted.

"Exactly. There is no point even trying to explain dimensional relativity to you. Just take my word for it. The dimension circuits have configured the OUTSIDE of the TARDIS as if your hundred-foot statue was the dimension of a man. It has made itself into a cabinet a hundred and ten feet high and two hundred feet wide. Most of the statue is wedged around it and is blocking the harbour entrance, creating a very effective dam."

Riley looked at the image Hext had called up on the main view screen. It was a schematic of the blocked harbour showing the water levels within and without and the height of the already ruined city beyond.

"High tide is still an hour away. This surge was caused by the earthquake. But clearly, the TARDIS cannot be dematerialised or reduced to its default exterior dimension until the water level equalises inside and outside the harbour."

"So we can't even think of looking for Christo until we save the city from being flooded on top of the earthquake and fire."


"He would want it that way," 'Riley decided. "He'd want us to save the people first. He's that sort of man."

"A sanctimonious prig," Hext remarked. Riley allowed himself a laugh before he remembered that alive or dead, Christo was still missing.

"All right, no wallowing in misery. That goes for you, too, Humphrey. There are at least a dozen other critical systems offline according to the fault locator. We'll get them fixed while we're waiting. We'll start with the internal dimension stabiliser. That's the reason for all those disturbing creaks in the corridors. The logic protocols are trying to decide whether the interior rooms should fit people of our size or if they should go with the exterior dimension circuit and make everything from the doorways to the bathroom fittings serve a hundred-foot-tall man."

Riley thought about how inconvenient that would be and agreed it should be the first priority.

Leya was almost sleep walking from exhaustion. Her son, Ajaya, was a dead weight in Chrístõ’s arms, his head lolling on his shoulder as he drowsed fitfully, reliving the nightmare of the cold night adrift at sea in his dreams whenever he fell asleep and crying for food when he woke.

“This is no good,” Chrístõ said, laying the boy down on a grassy place beside the dirt road and bidding his mother to do the same. “We need help, soon, or we’re done for.”

He looked around and spotted dust kicked up on the road a half mile to the south. Somebody was coming, at last – the first vehicle of any sort since they started walking. Chrístõ planted himself firmly in the way. He was no hopeful hitchhiker willing to let a few rides go past. This one HAD to stop for them.

He was surprised to see the hefty cart, when its two yoked oxen finally halted before his immovable body, was piled high with foodstuffs. There were cheeses, fruit, vegetables, meat of all sorts, olives and figs and fresh bread among other staples of life.

“These people need food,” he said to the driver. He held out a coin. “They also need transport. They’re exhausted.”

The driver took the coin and handed over a loaf of bread, a small jug of olive oil and a very small round of cheese. It was far less than the coin ought to have paid for. Leya split the food three ways. Chrístõ waved away his share for the moment. He was still dealing with the owner of such bounty.

“Where are you heading with all that?” he asked.

“The city. People will pay for fresh food when their own stocks are destroyed.”

“Very resourceful. We need to reach the city. You can take us.”

“One gold piece each for you, the woman and the boy. A silver piece for the baby.”

“That is very steep,” Chrístõ noted. “Especially for the baby.”

The driver shrugged.

“Walk, then.”

“I’m not saying I won’t pay,” Chrístõ responded. He lifted the boy onto the cart, then helped his mother up beside him. “But one gold piece is a fair price for us all. More than fair, in fact.”

The driver repeated his price. Chrístõ stood in front of the oxen obdurately. The huge beasts could probably trample him underfoot if the driver really wanted rid of him. As it was, they simply snorted and waited more patiently than their owner until negotiations were concluded.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t pay. Beneath his salt-encrusted clothes he was wearing a leather belt with a pouch containing gold, silver and diamonds. He always carried sufficient of each in a concealed place where it would not attract trouble even when he was in time zones where credit cards and cash machines existed. Gold and diamonds were universal currencies. But this man was taking advantage of their desperation and he was not going to be cheated. He threw the one gold coin to the driver who caught it greedily.

“How much do you intend to charge for these foodstuffs when you reach the city?” he asked.

“That is my business,” the driver answered. “People will pay what I ask if they want to eat.”

“And those who have no money will starve?”

“That’s their problem.”

“Yes, it is, of course. But let me just explain something to you. The people in that city have had a really bad night. Those who survived it are desperate and hungry today. But tomorrow, they’re going to start rebuilding their city and their lives. And when they do, and they have money in their pockets again, they’ll remember the man who robbed them for the price of a loaf of bread and they’ll buy from another man. When you’re left with a cartload of rotting food and not a penny to your name, maybe this woman here, owner of a fishing boat and nets, a businesswoman with assets to call her own, will be kind enough to give you a mouthful of food. Or maybe she won’t. Just think about that, quietly, while we ride to the city together.”

With that Chrístõ pulled himself up onto the cart beside the driver and nodded to him to carry on. The man did so, without a word. Leya fed her baby and equally quietly considered the man who had come out of the darkness and the rough waves and, despite apparently needing help himself, had been the one to help her.

Was she in the presence of one of the gods, come to judge the worthy and the unworthy in the wake of their wrathful destruction of the proud city?

Riley had reason to feel pleased with himself. Not only had he, with instruction from Hext, managed to fix the internal dimension circuits, but all of the other damaged systems including primary non-dematerialisation mobility which was what allowed the TARDIS to hover in the air and move over the land like a helicopter without dematerialising.

"Once we can move, we can use that mode to find Christo," Hext told him. "At least we might if we can also fix the stealth mode. We don't want to give these pre-industrial people anything else to panic about."

Hext slid under the console and opened a panel.

"Pass the pneumatic ram, please," he said. "This one calls for Time Lord finesse and dexterity."

Riley selected the tool and handed it to Hext, who dropped it through Humphrey's shadow form into a tangle of wires. All the lights went out for thirty seconds then came on again in ultra violet mode.

'Finesse and dexterity?"

Hext scrambled to retrieve the tool and repair the damage.

"Don't tell Chrístõ. He'll hold it against me forever."

"If we see him again I'll have other things to talk to him about. Why the Guardian sent us to this time and place for a start. I think we should demand answers."

"Guardians don't usually give answers," Hext told him. "It is privilege enough that you do their bidding. I can do you a thoroughly mundane explanation, though. The helmic regulator is slipping. It may have been doing it for some time. It means you've landed ten hours later than you should have every time you materialised anywhere."

"That means we ought to have done the job and gone long before the earthquake struck,” Riley surmised. “It’s not the Guardian deliberately throwing us into trouble.”

“Just really bad luck.”

“Chrístõ ought to know that. I think he is angry about being manipulated, but if it really is just a coincidence….”

He remembered once again that Chrístõ was missing and his optimism drained again. Hext gave him another job to take his mind off it.

The city had obviously borne the brunt of the quake. The closer they got the more ruined houses they passed. Most were deserted. Some had weary, worried people picking through the rubble to find materials for a makeshift shelter and enough food to get through the day. With some prodding from Christo the cart driver was persuaded to sell food at a fair price to those in need. He grumbled about it all the way to the city boundary where they were halted by a militia man in charge of a company of men. They had a dozen or so civilians under arrest.

"What have these men done?" Christo asked.

"Most of them are looters," the militia captain answered. "That one there is a drunkard."

"And what will happen to them?"

"The prison didn't fall down. They'll stay there until somebody has time to flog them. The drunk can stay there until he sobers up and somebody has time to let him out. If he has a wife, he may well wish he was being flogged instead."

The captain laughed at his own joke.

"The patrician has ordered that all food stuff is to be taken to the palace square," the captain added. "You'll be paid fairly, but there is no market and no haggling. The food is being distributed among the people according to their needs."

"The patrician seems to be a very a very astute man," Christo observed as the driver urged the mules on to the palace rather than the market where he had expected to name his price. "Not only did he anticipate the need to feed the people in the emergency, but he even had the foresight to prevent unscrupulous price gouging.”

The cart driver grunted his ‘appreciation’ for the Patrician.

“He is a merciful man, too,” Leya pointed out. She had not spoken much during the journey, but now she felt she could have her say. “The usual punishment for looting is death. Instead he has ordered flogging. After that, he will doubtless set these men to work rebuilding the city. A better use of their worthless lives."

"Far better,” Chrístõ agreed. “I approve heartily of this Patrician.”

"The city has prospered under his care,” Leya added. “He will see that it does again."

It certainly seemed as if the elected leader of the city had risen to the occasion after the disaster. The palace square was well organised with men taking charge of any cartload of food arriving, assessing it's worth and paying accordingly, the amounts being set down in ledgers by the palace clerks. Other men packed the food into baskets, boxes. paniers, whatever was available and an orderly line of city folk, mostly the women, since the men were busy trying to rebuilt shelters before nightfall, queued to receive a parcel of food that would keep their family through the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Again everything given was noted in ledgers, lest anyone try to have more than their fair share. The militia kept order, but for the most part there was no need. Nobody tried to jump the queue or steal what they did not deserve.

The patrician was very easy to distinguish. He stood in the midst of the activity, dressed in silk and wearing a small coronet of office and a jewelled sword belt. He watched to see that all was as he had ordered it. He watched with interest as Christo jumped lithely from the food cart and lifted down Leya and her family. With a wave of his hand a militiaman was despatched to bring the new arrivals to his presence.

"What is your story?" he asked. "A man who wears good cloth, even if it shows sign of distress, bringing another hungry family where I have enough already."

"Leya is a citizen," Christo replied. "She and her children are entitled to your care until they can fend for themselves. For myself all I need is my ‘transport’ back out of here.”

“Your ‘transport’ is fulfilling a more important function at present,” the patrician replied. “As for this family….”

The patrician waved again and allowed a man to come running from where the militia had been restraining him. From the emotional cries and the hugging that went on it was easy to realise that this was Leya’s husband who had been washed overboard. He was even clutching half of the oar.

“Murrach, I thought you dead,” Leya cried emotionally. “When you were carried off beyond my reach….”

“I thought I was, too,” Murrach answered as he kissed his wife and baby and grasped his son’s hand as if he had not expected to do so much again. “I woke at dawn lying on a beach. I have been asking everyone for news of you. I had almost given up hope. I thought you must be dead. When I saw the harbour… all the boats destroyed… I almost went out of my mind. The militia stopped me harming myself, and thank the gods that they did, for here you are, safe and sound.”

“Your boat is safe, too,” Chrístõ told him. “Though it will be a bit of a walk to go and find it, and you’ll need to mend that oar.”

“My family are alive, and I have a boat. I can make my living. My life is whole. The gods have been merciful to me.”

“If you’re the only man left with a boat, you’re going to make a good living for a while,” the patrician told him. “Just remember to ask a fair price for your fish or the gods will think again.”

“I will do that, my lord,” answered the happy man.

“And you, my old friend,” the patrician continued. “You are still a little befuddled from your curious night, or you would have recognised me by now, Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow.”

“Corsair!” Suddenly he knew. “The last time we met you were a Sikh nobleman in pre-Independence India.”

“Do you suppose that is where I got the sense of benevolence that sees me feeding the people from my own pocket when I could as easily have been away in the night to let them fend for themselves?”

“Very likely. When you decided to stand for election as Patrician of Rhodes, did you know about the coming earthquake? Was this planned in some way? No, never mind. it looks like you have it all under control. What did you say about my ‘transport’?”

“Come, my old friend, and see for yourself.”

The wayward Time Lord known as The Corsair, possibly because he liked to travel in time and space answerable to no higher authority, or perhaps just because he liked the sound of the word and currently living as the just and merciful leader of the people of Rhodes, grinned at an unknown joke as he walked with Chrístõ through the ruined but far from beaten city. People who had received the free food and the protection of the militia against having their stricken homes rifled through by looters cheered the Patrician as he passed and looked curiously at the dishevelled but clearly noble man at his side. The driver of the cart who had spoken so defiantly to a man he took to be destitute had the humility to kneel as they passed.

The harbour was the most distressing part of the city. Not a vessel, from the huge trade ships to the lowliest fishing boat, was left intact. A whole industry was wiped out in the quake and the swell of the waves in the first instance.

That it might have been much worse was immediately obvious. The tide beyond the harbour was only held back by the great man-made walls and the huge pile of detritus trapped in the entrance. Most of it was the body of the great statue, but wedged among the twisted limbs and torso was something else. Chrístõ recognised the default shape of a TARDIS cabinet, but he didn’t expect it to be a hundred-foot high.

“If it were to be moved, now, the harbour and most of the lower half of the city will still be drowned,” the Patrician pointed out.

“I see that,” Chrístõ agreed. “But even if I don’t leave, yet, I can still get back to my ship. I have a friend… I hope he is safe and well inside. If not, I can trace him with the technology at my disposal. When the tide goes down… we will depart.”

“Good journey, my friend. Think well of me.”

“I will think very well of you. Human history is vague about what happened to Rhodes immediately after the earthquake of 226BC. There aren’t even any clear lists of casualties. I am glad to know that the place and its people are in good hands.”

“Our own supposed masters in the High Council would not care about such a small thing,” The Corsair noted. “That is why I long since stopped dancing to their tune. One day, I think you will do the same, young de Lœngbærrow.”

“If you’re suggesting I might turn Renegade one day, don’t. Let’s depart as friends and hope to meet again in another time and place.”

“Let us do so.”

Humans would have shaken hands. As Time Lords they shared a brief telepathic moment. Then Chrístõ turned and walked along the harbour wall, stepping over the wreckage of torn nets and shredded ropes until he reached the tilted metallic mass of his TARDIS. He gripped the edge of the cabinet and slid down its sleek side until his feet were in the water. There was still another twenty feet of water to the base of the cabinet. He looked down through the depths and then breathed in deeply. He dived into the cold water, though not so cold as the water he had drifted in for most of the night. When he stood on the threshold he knocked upon the door. As he hoped, it opened, inwards. Between the inner and outer dimension a shield held and he stepped from one to the other, from water to air, in an instant.

Inside the console room, Riley Davenport looked in astonishment at a door that opened and the water held back by an invisible force. Then his heart leapt with joy as Chrístõ stepped inside and closed the door again. He ran to embrace his friend, making the manly hug as platonic as he could manage. Humphrey wasn’t platonic at all as he wrapped his shadow being around them both and trilled joyfully.

“Apparently we can’t leave for another hour and a half, but at least I can get a shower and a change of clothes,” Chrístõ said as casually as if he had just stepped inside after a walk in the rain and Riley had merely welcomed him back with a warm towel to dry his hair with.

“You can, now,” replied Paracell Hext, crawling out from under the console. “I just fixed the hot water.”

“How did you get here?” Chrístõ asked. “Never mind. This has been a strange enough night as it is. One more friend turning up out of the blue can’t make it stranger. I think I’ll go get that shower.”

“Before you do,” Hext said. “I have some news that WILL shake you. My wife has just given birth. It’s a girl. We’re calling her Helena, an ancient Gallifreyan name, but apparently with some cultural meaning on this planet you’re so fond of.”

“Savang has had a baby?” Chrístõ genuinely was surprised by that. He smiled widely. “Congratulations, Paracell. You’re a father of a daughter. Your troubles have just begun.”

“I understand you still have one more mission for the Guardian,” Hext continued, ignoring the warning in his friend’s remarks. “Would you mind postponing it for a while and coming home to the naming ceremony? I came by time ring, but I don’t mind taking a slightly more civilised journey home. We can stop off and pick up Julia. I don’t think she will want to miss this.”

“First, that shower. Then we move the TARDIS out of the harbour entrance and leave the remnants of the Colossus to fall where they will. Then I’ll decide where we’re going next.”

He had already decided. Going home to Gallifrey on such terms suited him very well.