His father was right about one thing, Chrístõ thought ruefully. The TARDIS was not meant to be flown by one person. It needed a navigator for accurate piloting to anywhere but the preset destinations suggested by his tutors for interesting field trips. Once he broke out of those tried and trusted routes and went alone he DID have problems.

Like now. As he stepped out of the TARDIS – which had disguised itself as a transport container with the discreet . identification mark lest even he have trouble identifying it - he knew he definitely was not on the island planet of Lyria. He doubted this was even a ship HEADING for Lyria. He most probably was not in the same galaxy.

“Maybe if I put in the co-ordinates for some other place I’ll reach the one I want,” he joked to himself as he went to explore anyway.

It didn’t take him very long to realise that there was something amiss on this ship. He quickly established that it was a 24th century Earth passenger transporter, the type that Humans used to colonise space, bringing whole families to new lives on distant planets. These transporters were the spacebound equivalent of emigration ships between Europe and America in Earth’s eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and they should teem with life. They were home to men, women and children for years on end as they travelled through space to their new homes. The corridors should be alive with people, not echoing and silent. He wondered if he had his history wrong. Had they already started the suspended animation flights, with everyone but a skeleton crew safely in their individual chambers sleeping through the journey? He looked at his watch and knew he hadn’t.

Earth history had always been one of his passions. Along with acquiring a working knowledge of almost all currently used languages in the universe and a few hundred thousand dead ones, he had stored in his brain a card index memory of facts about that apparently insignificant planet from which the most persistent and successful colonisers of space had come. Human endeavour was fascinating. The species had such shortcomings. They lived such short lives. Even the healthiest rarely made it past 100 years, and the last of those years tended to be dogged by infirmity. But they used their short lives to achieve so much. Of course they had made mistakes. It took them millennia to realise they were not each other’s enemies and to look to the stars together. But when they did, they were unstoppable.

And of course it was no idle interest in an alien species on his part. It was, in a way, a personal interest. That part of his DNA that was Human was always proud of them. His mother was a twentieth century Human, born in the time when mankind was only just beginning to reach out to the stars. But even so it was directly due to this indomitable Human spirit that he, Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow existed. That spirit was a part of his own being. He would always love Humans because part of him, if only that tiny part not overwritten by his father’s Time Lord DNA, was Human.

Right now, he very much wanted to see a Human. Because a ship without any of them was so sinister it was beginning to scare him. And he was not a person who scared easily. He stopped and checked the schematic that told him what deck he was on. This WAS one of the main civilian promenades. There SHOULD have been people.

He turned left, towards what the schematic indicated was a lift up to the bridge. There, surely, there would be somebody. The ship was moving, after all. Somebody had to be piloting it.

He was wrong. Somebody was not piloting it. Some THING was. It took a fraction of a second after the lift doors opened for him to realise that the creature lounging awkwardly on a captain’s chair designed for Human anatomy was NOT going to invite him to discuss thermodynamics over a cup of tea. His Time Lord reflexes launched him from the lift to a hiding place behind the databanks as the creature turned to see what had made the noise. In a heartsbeat he took in the huge leathery wings ending in knife like talons, the scaly body that looked as if it would stop armour piercing bullets, and the cruel beaked face. In another heartsbeat he decided he wasn’t going to stick around to find out whether it was a herbivore or not – he strongly suspected not - and he launched himself back into the lift just as the doors automatically closed and it began to descend.

As soon as it stopped at any level other than the bridge he ran out of the lift and kept running. The sound of his running feet matched that of his beating hearts as he ran, wishing fervently that he hadn’t broken the remote pilot on his TARDIS while trying to make it work more efficiently.

The only thing that made him stop was the materialisation in front of him of what he at once recognised as a Type 40 TARDIS – the same model as his own. Only this one obviously had something wrong with its chameleon circuit, because its disguise belonged to mid-twentieth century Earth – pre-space flight - and definitely did not fit into this environment.

As he looked at it, the air shimmered between him and the TARDIS and resolved into a holographic projection of a tall, slim, middle-aged man dressed in black.

“Good guess, Chrístõ,” the holographic figure said with a smile. “Yes, my TARDIS’s chameleon circuit jammed in 1950s Earth. You always were good at Human history. Here’s some more for you. This is the Starship Aldous Huxley. Do you remember what you learnt about it?”

“It was found dead in space, two days flight from its destination on Beta Delta IV. Investigators found nobody on board, but the autopilot had been disengaged and an emergency beacon sounding. It was one of the great mysteries of the universe.”

“Its no mystery to us, Chrístõ,” the hologram said. “You saw the creature. It’s a Vampyre. There are another eight on board. They killed everyone except the girl. You’re going to find her next and then kill the Vampyres. I’m not going to tell you how. That would make things too easy. Let’s just say when they mess with us they find they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. But I’m telling you now, forget compassion, forget being a pacifist. Forget refusing to take life. Those high ideals still count. And you’ll never let them go. But here and now they don’t figure. These things are not LIFE as we know it. They are the antithesis of life. They are against everything we hold sacred. Have no compunction about killing them. Don’t hesitate. It’s not going to be easy. But you have it in you, Chrístõ. I KNOW you have. Find the girl, look after her. Remember to look into her lifeline. What you see there will make a difference to you and to her.”

“Who are you?” Chrístõ asked, although he already had a half a suspicion.

“You know who I am,” the hologram said. “You worked it out five seconds ago. If you want proof, look at the keyhole on my TARDIS.” Chrístõ looked and saw, etched into the brass circle – . . “That’s why I can’t come out, and why I can’t help you. The paradox would be cataclysmic. We’re breaking enough rules just by having this conversation. But the way I see it, you landed here by accident, so did I. We neither of us planned this meeting. So let the rules go to hell for once. But enough chin-wagging. If you’ve got your breath back, now, you’d best be getting on with the job. Remember… the girl is most important. Find her next. Good luck, Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow. Though I think you know by now luck isn’t really a factor. Have a good life. But I know you will.” The hologram flickered and was gone. A moment later the TARDIS dematerialised. And he was alone again.

Except he wasn’t completely alone. There was another life aboard this ship – a Human life. His older self had told him. He laughed as he thought just how many rules he HAD broken. Enough to be thrown out of the Prydonian Academy and disowned by his family. Some time in the future he was going to develop an even more cavalier regard for rules than he had already. He smiled and congratulated himself on being consistent.

Okay, he told himself. There was no point in running up and down corridors. He would have to start using some logic here. Find the girl. On a ship that was built to carry 10,000 people. The old Earth phrase about a needle and a haystack jumped to mind. He needed some technology. He found an information panel and located the ships armoury and the sickbay. Both, he was pleased to find, were on this level.

The sickbay was as empty as the rest of the ship. How long did it take, he wondered, for as many as 10,000 people to be killed by nine vampyres. They must have been subtle at first, taking the lone travellers who weren’t missed in the throng, maybe a family wouldn’t be seen in the mess hall for an evening or two. After a while, a pattern would emerge. Rumours would go around about secret murders in the night. Maybe there would be panic, emergency protocols enacted. But a ship in deep space was on its own. The best the Captain could do is issue weapons to his men, enforce curfews, mount patrols, and the Vampyres, as long as they kept their nest hidden could keep on taking out small groups, a patrol caught unawares or a family who got careless. They would soon thin the population down. And it had worked perfectly. Now, the ship was carrying on through space to the colony with no Humans aboard but a nest of evil that would wreak havoc there, too.

Unless he stopped it. Which he knew he was going to do, if only because his older self had told him he would.

He found what he needed in the sickbay. A hand-held life support monitor. With a little adaptation of the sort he was surprisingly good at, he could alter it to FIND life rather than determine how ill it was. He strapped it to his arm like a watch so that his hands would be free still then gave himself a mental pat on the back for his ingenuity and looked at the screen. Yes, there was a Human lifesign there. It was close. He went back into the corridor, watching the monitor carefully as he moved along towards what the schematics said was an armoury.

Well, it HAD been an armoury, he realised. Now it was pretty much an empty room. He found a couple of useful looking combat knives in strong leather sheaths, but nothing else that looked like the kind of thing that would kill one of those monsters. He brought them anyway, clipping the sheaths to his belt as he returned to his first quest.

The main part of this level was the mess deck, and the Human lifesign he was tracking was in there somewhere.

But so was something else. He had intended the monitor to look for Human life predominantly, so the other reading was faint and uncertain, but he knew it was one of the vampyres. And it was stalking the girl. He unsheathed one of the long knives and edged forward. He was behind the creature. It was quite clumsy in the way it moved. He guessed it probably usually flew. In the air, it would be death on wings. But the low ceilinged mess hall gave it no such opportunity. It lumbered along knocking tables and chairs aside. It had strength, that was sure. It could rip a Human in half. It could rip a Time Lord in half, he added to himself.

But Chrístõ was strong too. He worked on his five different forms of martial arts daily. His muscles were primed and he had the stamina that came from his double hearts. He also had the element of surprise. The thing was only interested in the girl. He couldn’t see her clearly, but he was aware of her movement, quick, agile movement under the tables. She knew her hideout well.

He sprang forward and launched himself at the creature’s back. It gave a howl as he plunged a knife into its neck. He had judged, correctly, that the flesh was less well protected at that point. He pushed it down to the hilt and twisted and turned it, clinging on as the creature thrashed about, trying to throw him off. Releasing his hold on the first knife he grabbed the second from his belt and reached around the creature’s neck and in a swift movement from left to right he sliced its throat. The creature gave a shudder as a black-green substance that he supposed was its blood poured out, and then it disintegrated. Chrístõ fell hard onto the floor as even the fragments of the creature disappeared. The two knives clattered to the ground in front of him.

He was not hurt, at least not badly. His hands and knees had taken the fall and the bruises healed as he picked himself up from the ground, grasping the knives and sheathing them again in a rather show-off way, like a western gunfighter holstering his guns. He looked around for the girl.

She was sitting, cross-legged, under a table, watching him curiously. He dropped onto his knees and crawled under the table to her. He half expected her to fly from him. But she didn’t. Instead, she put her arms around him and kissed him on the cheek.

“Well,” he said, taken aback a little. “That was nice. But I usually know the names of girls who kiss me.” He looked at her closely. She was only a child. Maybe ten or eleven, perhaps an undernourished twelve at the most. “I’m Chrístõ,” he said. “Do you want to tell me who you are?”

She shook her head and suddenly burst into tears. Instinctively, he pulled her close to him and held her. He had grown up as an only child without a younger sibling who needed his protection. But the instinct was there all the same. After a while she stopped crying and just looked at him with wide, dark brown eyes that were nearly black.

“What is your name?” he asked. But she didn’t seem able to talk. He wondered when she had last talked to anyone. If she had been surviving by her own wits for any length of time, then it was possible that, temporarily, she might have lost the ability. He reached gently into her mind telepathically and tried to radiate calm. It worked. He felt her become less tense as she clung to him. He gently probed and found her name.

“You’re Julia…” he said. “Pretty name. And you’re 11 years old – nearly twelve. You’re from Earth, travelling with your family to the colony on Beta Delta IV.”

She nodded, a little surprised, but not distressed by his knowledge of her. He gently searched her recent memories again. What he saw next was horrifying but he could have guessed it would be.

“They’re all dead…” she cried, finding her voice at last. And he felt the images in her head of her family, her mother and father, brother, and even the baby being taken by the monsters that stalked the ship. She had hidden herself. She had survived. But she was utterly alone. The last few members of the crew and passengers were picked off one by one several months ago.

“Hey,” Chrístõ said, gently. “I’m here now. You’re not on your own.”

The girl looked into his eyes and a half smile came to her face.

“See, that’s better, isn’t it.”

“Chrístõ?” she said.

“Yes, that’s me,” he replied. She reached out and touched his face as if wanting to be sure he was real.

“Chrístõ…” She seemed to have grasped that much about him. But her new found vocal skills seemed limited yet. He tried to ask her a question with his mind. But she was Human. She had no telepathic skills. He repeated it aloud. She answered with a nod of the head and by jumping up quickly and running, like somebody who did gymnastics regularly, lithely, sure-footed, over the wreckage of tables and chairs and behind the stainless steel serving counter. He followed, agile himself, but feeling long-limbed and clumsy compared to her.

He found her again under the counter in a sort of storage area enclosed in the stainless steel counter, with a door that could be pulled across. He crouched and looked inside. This, he thought, was HER nest. Just about big enough for her. She had some blankets and a few small possessions, some pictures of her dead family and a doll. She scrambled in among the blankets and found a box that contained bars of chocolate, rations from the galley. She came out of the cupboard and gave him a bar. He sat cross-legged and straight-backed against the counter in the way of the hermits of Mount Lœng when they meditated.

But if he had contemplated meditation it would have been difficult now. Julia, taking a bar of chocolate for herself came and sat in his lap. She seemed to have emotionally imprinted herself on him and wanted to be near him. It was a little disconcerting. He was only considered an adolescent himself and nobody on Gallifrey would imagine anyone his age as a father. Even by Earth standards, he looked 20 at the most. Too young to be her parent. But still, he thought, as he ate the chocolate, his older self had told him to look after her. And he intended to do that. The fact that she was so willing to be looked after by him made it so much easier.

“Your hideout is a bit small for the two of us,” he said when their refreshment stop was over. “I have a better one. Shall we go there?”

She nodded. It worried him a little that she seemed able to talk but preferred to use body language. But things were still very traumatic around her. Once he had done as his older self told him and killed all the Vampyres, she would begin to feel safe, he hoped, and then, surely, she would talk to him.

He stood up and held out his hand to her. She uncurled herself and put her hand in his. He smiled at her and to his delight got the same response back.

He kept his eye on the lifeform detector as they walked along the corridors back towards where he had left his TARDIS. He wondered for a moment if he HAD to kill them. Why didn’t he just take Julia and go away now.

Because the Starship Aldous Huxley was still on a heading for Beta Delta IV – a colony of 300,000 and growing – a smorgasbord of Human life to be feasted upon by these creatures. And he, Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow was the only one who could stop that happening.

He had taken his eyes off the lifeform detector for no more than ten seconds. When he looked again, he saw one of the indistinct shapes closing in on the sharp lifesigns of himself and Julia. He pulled her close to him just as the creature came down on his back. He fell, his body covering hers and he cursed his stupidity. He was supposed to kill them all and escape. His older self had more or less told him he did. But he had failed at the first hurdle. He was going to die, and then Julia would die because he failed to protect her.

But if he failed, how could an older version of himself have told him he would succeed? How could the older version of himself exist?

Because of alternate time lines, stupid, he told himself. Your older self got it right in his timeline. But you messed this one up, Chrístõ. Even WITH his help.

He stifled a scream as the Vampyre slashed at his throat with its sharp talon and drank his blood as it came pouring out. He closed his eyes and prepared for the death that would come when so much of his blood had drained out that his veins collapsed and his two hearts ceased to beat. He wasn’t old enough to regenerate. He had the one chance of life, and one only and he had lost it.

Or had he? Suddenly the creature that pressed down on his back so hatefully gave a scream itself and the pressure was released. He turned his head and saw the creature screaming and thrashing about as if in pain, and then, to his astonishment, it exploded. He covered his face as pieces of Vampyre flesh hit the walls, floor and ceiling all around. But almost immediately, they crumbled to dust and were gone. Slowly, he raised himself up to his knees. He was still bleeding profusely from his neck and he felt very weak. “Julia,” he said, touching her as she lay, hiding her face from the horror and crying with terror. “Julia, help me up, please.”

“You’re alive?” she whispered hoarsely.

“I’m alive,” he told her. “But I’m injured. I need your help.”

She opened her eyes and looked at him. Her mouth opened in shock as she saw his injury, but she stood up and let him lean on her as he struggled to his feet. He looked around. They were near the sickbay. He struggled towards it, Julia bravely supporting him with all the strength in her small, agile body. He wasn’t dying, he knew now. But he was weak. He needed a chance to recover, and he needed to think.

They made it to the sickbay. With his last ounce of strength he pushed a heavy desk against the door and then he collapsed onto one of the operating tables. The cool of the stainless steel surface against his face was refreshing. He pressed his forehead down onto the table and willed the metal to absorb the feverish heat that his body was generating. He had lost so much blood it would take his regenerative cells some time to mend. Time he might not have.

Julia moved towards him. He felt her reach out and take his hand. As she did so, he remembered something else his older self had told him. And almost unconsciously he pressed his hand closer around hers and read her timeline.

WHAT! The shock of what he found there was nearly too much for his weakened body. He tried again, wondering if he could have been wrong, if it could have been wishful thinking.

No. It was there.

“Oh, Julia,” he murmured. “So now I know.” Her eyes asked the question but he just smiled grimly, still fighting a great deal of pain. Her questioning look turned to one of disbelief and just a little fear as his body finally overcame its weakened condition and began to repair itself. He felt the flesh mending over the gash in his neck as a not too uncomfortable tugging sensation and resisted the urge to touch it. At the same time, his body was producing blood to replace that which he had lost. He was winning the fight with his own mortality at least.

And he knew something now he didn’t know before.

Something that gave him the edge.

“Let’s just say when they mess with us they find they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.”

Thanks for the cryptic clue, he laughed inwardly. Then he looked at Julia. She was still holding his hand, but she was edging away from him and she looked afraid.

“Oh, no, no,” he said and he pulled her towards him, enveloping her in his arms. “I know this is frightening. It is for me, too. But… listen… listen to me… Julia… This is your first time away from Earth, isn’t it? You’ve never met anyone who wasn’t Human before. And the first ‘aliens’ you did meet were murderous monsters. But Julia, there are so many more people in the universe who are not Human, but mean you no harm. We’re not ALL monsters. I’m not Human. You might as well know that. But I’m not a monster. Do you believe me?”

She nodded and then wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her face in his chest. She put her hand over his ‘normal’ heart and then, puzzled, moved it to the other side.

“Yes, that’s another way I am different to you,” he said. “But that’s nothing to be frightened of, either.” He felt inside himself, testing his body. He still needed to replenish some of his blood, and it was taking it out of him. He needed a little more rest yet. He sat up and crossed his legs again, with Julia enfolded in his arms. He touched her forehead gently and made a mental connection.

“Don’t be afraid,” he whispered. “I just want to show you my planet.” And he concentrated his mind on images of the beautiful parts of Gallifrey, its mountains and lakes, forests, deserts. He particularly focussed on his memory of Mount Lœng, the beautiful peak that was a central feature of the southern continent that he was born and raised on. His family name, of course, came from the mountain. So it was more than just mere visual interest. It was a matter of personal pride.

She smiled prettily as the images were planted into her brain. She forgot her fear for a little while. So did he as he lost himself in memories of the home he loved.

“It’s beautiful,” she managed to whisper. He nodded, satisfied. When she was less afraid she would speak properly. There was no need to worry about that.

“I’ll take you there one day,” he promised her. “You’ll love it.” He knew that to be the truth. He had seen it in her timeline. He WAS going to take her to Gallifrey in the future.

For now, there was still a battle to be won. He tested himself again and he was as ready as he ever would be. He slid off the table and went to the fully stocked medical shelves. He knew what he needed. A weapon of the most unexpected kind - the ‘gun’ used to inject serum from small glass phials directly into the veins. He took a syringe and a number of the empty phials. He carefully drew out some of his newly replenished blood. Carefully he filled the phials with the blood and capped them.

He wasn’t sure what the active ingredient was that caused such devastation to them, but something in his blood was poisonous and worse. And he was grateful for the information.

Of course, he could just walk straight up to them and invite them one by one to bite him. But he wasn’t sure he could take that too many times. There were still seven more vampyres out there if his other self had counted accurately. And if all seven decided to feed on him at once he’d be a dried husk before the effect told on them.

He wondered idly if it was something like this that had caused his older self to have regenerated. He knew he had. He, Chrístõ, had his father’s brown eyes. His older self had the soft grey eyes of his mother. Eyes and hair colour almost never stayed the same with regeneration. Maybe that was one reason he had trusted his older incarnation so implicitly. He had looked at him with eyes that he had known and loved. He had the same clothes sense, too, though the leather jacket his older self wore had seen better days.

“Do you have any more chocolate?” he asked Julia. She produced a bar from her pocket and gave it to him. It would help give him back the strength sapped as he took more of his blood out. Then he was ready. He locked in the first phial and put the rest in his pocket, ready to hand. “Right, let’s go find my hideout.”

They encountered the first Vampyre when they emerged from the lift on the floor where he had left his TARDIS. It was taken completely by surprise as they emerged. Chrístõ was ready with the injector gun and got it right in the neck first time. It roared in agony as his blood seared through its system and then disintegrated. Six to go, he thought as he loaded another phial of his blood. Would they all be this easy? He doubted it. There had to be a catch.

One obvious catch, he found around the next corner. He only had one loaded phial at a time and there were two vampyres ahead. He made an instant judgement call and jumped on the back of the one on the right. He killed it, then he threw the injector gun and a phial to Julia who instantly set about loading it for him while he drew his two knives – this one could go down the old-fashioned way. He turned as the creature loomed over him with the knives crossed over his chest. As the creature lunged he shot both crossed arms out and drew the knives across the vampyres throat, nearly, but not quite decapitating it. He landed amidst its disintegration and turned in time to see Julia inject the phial of his blood into the underside of the jaw of a third one that had tried to grab her from behind while he was busy.

But there was a problem. He felt the stickiness in his pocket and reached in carefully. Some of the phials had broken when he fell. There were only two left. And he reckoned there were THREE Vampyres to go.

“But we’re winning,” Julia said in his head. She smiled brightly and offered him back the injector.

“Tell you what, he said, giving her the two phials. “You lock and load. I’ll stick with the knives. ONLY three more left. Then we can get out of here.”

She nodded in approval of his plan. She had seen so many people die defenceless. Now she was being offered the means to fight back.

Chrístõ was proud of her. In the future, he remembered from his search of her timeline, he would have other reasons to be proud of her. But for now, he was proud that she could put her very real fear of the things that had killed her whole family behind her and face up to the demons head on.

As they walked on, expecting the next Vampyre attack any moment, she held his hand just as if she was his little sister, looking to him for protection. She had definitely imprinted on him emotionally.

Which was a good thing, all considered.

They were in sight of his TARDIS when they came across the last batch of the foul creatures. Two stood between them and its welcome safety. The other was crouched on top of his disguised machine, watching malevolently. It was the one that had been occupying the Captain’s chair, clearly the leader or elder of them. It was bigger, nastier than the others, with longer talons and longer teeth. If they killed these two, they still had that one to deal with.

He was aware of Julia reaching into his pocket and taking the last phial from it. There was one loaded already, but she gave him a quizzical look and aimed it at her own neck.

Clever girl, he thought. Yes. Injecting herself with his blood would give her the same toxic quality to them. Yes, go ahead, he whispered. She winced in pain but as she loaded the last phial into the injector she looked somehow supercharged. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes shone. He had heard that Time Lord blood had that effect on Humans but had never seen the proof before.

It did something else, too. He felt it as his blood coursed through her. He felt a telepathic connection with her. Not a strong one, but enough for her to feel his presence inside her head and respond to it.

“I’m ready,” she told him.

“So am I,” he answered.

“On three…. One, two, three….

Chrístõ took the one on the left, she took the one on the right. He went high, aiming at its throat with his knives, she ducked low and reached up with one hand to inject the creature under the chin. The air filled with their screams as the two Vampyres fell to their combined attack.

That left the leader, but they were nearly out of options. The blood phials were used up. And so was his strength. He felt exhausted and almost incapable of another fight.

On the other hand, neither of them now were Vampyre food. One bite and it was dead.

On the other hand, it didn’t have to feed from them. It could kill either or both of them out of spite. And he didn’t want that, either. The happy future he saw in Julia’s timeline depended on them BOTH getting off the ship alive.

Best thing was to take one of them out of the equation. He put his arm around Julia’s shoulder and then breathed in and folded time. He plunged forward and reached the door of the TARDIS, ramming his key in the lock. He thrust Julia inside and told her to hang in there, then he slammed the door shut again. With a few seconds left of his slow time envelope he was ready with the two knives in his hand.

“Come on,” he shouted to the creature. “Come and get me.”

He was ready for it, but even so he felt his hearts pound as it launched itself at him with a snarling scream that almost sounded like “Dieeee”.

“No, I don’t think I will,” Chrístõ answered, sounding much cooler than he really was. As the creature came down over him he thrust the knife up into its neck and twisted. He took a talon in the shoulder for his pains and his blood was flowing for the second time in an hour. But the creature was wounded too. It was an even match. Vampyre creature against adolescent Time Lord.

He was hurting though. He clamped his hand over the new wound, feeling his blood seep through. He could replenish it nearly as fast as he lost it, but it sapped his strength and the creature was less disabled than he was by its wound as they squared up again.

Again he moved the knife quickly, twisting it as he plunged it into the soft flesh of the creature’s neck. This time he managed to avoid the talons. Then he heard the creature hiss with rage and pain and he saw the wound he had just inflicted was festering as if poisoned. He looked at his knife and realised his own blood had run down the hilt onto the blade.

He put his hand over his shoulder wound again and it became glossy with the fresh blood pouring out. He span around, drew back his good arm and punched the creature right over the deep wound he had already inflicted on it. His blood covered hand seemed to sink into the flesh, and it was poisoning it. As he pulled his arm back the wound seared. The Vampyre screamed in agony. Its body was collapsing in on itself. Chrístõ stood off and watched. The fight was over. The Vampyre gave one last scream and imploded.

Chrístõ backed up to the TARDIS door and stepped inside. Only when the door was shut did he fall to his knees, exhausted and in pain. Julia was at his side at once. She kissed his cheek, smiling.

“Yes,” he said to the question in her eyes. “We won.” She looked at his wound and frowned and looked at him questioningly, again. “Yes, that will mend in a few minutes. Just… give me your hand.” He wanted to see it again, to be sure. He probed her lifeline again and he laughed with joy even though he still hurt badly.

Because he saw it all so clearly. He saw adventures together. He saw the uncle and aunt on Beta Delta IV he was eventually going to take her to. With them she would continue her education as a bright young girl who loved gymnastics and music and ballet dancing, and grow into a beautiful young woman.

And when she did, he would take her as his wife. He had seen it clearly. Her timeline was a long one for a Human, and he was part of it all the way. Julia was his future wife, mother of his child, his dearest companion. And he could feel that they were going to be happy. The only hard part was going to be giving her up so that she could live that necessary first part of her life that didn’t involve him.

He stood up, his wound mended, his blood replenished. There was something he had to do. Oh yes. He called Julia to his side as he went to the TARDIS console. She could be his navigator for a while at least. First a short hop to the ship’s bridge, because history recorded that when the ship was found the autopilot had been disengaged and anemergency beacon initiated. And he supposed it must have been him that set both those things.

Then the island planet of Lyria. He gave her instructions of how to handle the navigation console. She was just about tall enough to reach all its circuits. With her helping him he COULD accurately pilot the TARDIS. Lyria would be a wonderful place to take her to recover from her trauma, a planet of tropical beaches and sunshine where they could relax. She might talk a bit more, enjoy playing without fear. And he could get to know her as he longed to do. He couldn’t keep her with him forever. But for a little while, at least, he wanted to keep her by him. And she seemed perfectly happy with the arrangement.

“Remind me,” he said with a smile to her as the TARDIS slipped smoothly into the time vortex. “Later, I have to introduce you to Humphrey. He will be thrilled to know there is a new lady on board the TARDIS.”