Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene was sitting in a bar on a space station in the Coronula sector drinking and fuming over his situation. His TARDIS was still inoperative, and likely to stay that way. He had only got off the planet because his credit was still good. But it would take him years to get back to Gallifrey's quadrant by ordinary space travel, and his credit was starting to look less healthy.

But he intended to get there, so that he could KILL his cousin the first chance he got.

"Sire…" A voice addressed him in Gallifreyan. He turned, startled. The man was actually bowing to him. Respect at last. "You are Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene? I am not mistaken?"

"I am," he replied immediately. But then he stiffened suspiciously. "Who are YOU? And how do you know my name?" His telepathic instincts told him the man was one of the low caste Gallifreyans who generally did the fetching and carrying for those of his rank. But he wasn't a servant of his own House.

"My Master sent me to be of service to you."

"Who is your Master?" he asked.

"His name is not to be said. But he is on your side. He charged me to bring you this."

A package was slid in front of him and he picked it up and looked at it. Rõgæn looked at the package and examined it carefully. He knew about the tricks of the Celestial Intervention Agency, though he didn't think he was notorious enough to attract an assassination attempt. He opened it finally and smiled as he looked at the dimension circuit nestling in protective foam.

He smiled even wider as he thought about what he FINALLY could do to his cousin.

"I was promised I would be paid for my services," the man said.

"Oh, you will be," Rõgæn said. "You will be. Just as soon as my TARDIS is operational and I have access to my vault. Do you have a name?"

"Kohbran," he replied. "Morlen Kohbran."

"Fine, I shall call you Kohb. You will remain in my service until my plans are completed."

"My Master said that you might wish to make use of my skills," Kohb said.

"What skills do you have?" Rõgæn asked, not entirely interested in the answers.

"I am trained in the arts of the Magician," he said. And to prove it he made the new dimension circuit disappear from its box and reappear in Rõgæn's ear.

"Give me that," Rõgæn snapped, snatching the part and putting it back into the box. "You think that's clever? Sleight of Hand tricks! My idiot cousin Thete could do that sort of thing when he was 50."

"There is more to the arts of Illusion than sleight of hand, master," Kohb said.

"What else do you do?" Rõgæn asked.

"Sadly I have not performed my best acts for many years. My family fell on hard times and I had to go into domestic service. But in former days Kohbran's Vanishing Cabinet was a huge draw."

"Vanishing cabinet?" Rõgæn was still not fully interested but a half an idea was forming in his head. "You mean the sort of thing where somebody stands inside and they disappear - through a trapdoor in the floor, no doubt."

"We are not permitted to reveal the secrets of our art," Kohb told him.

"Yeah, right. As if you could fool me with your bag of tricks. Those of the Caretaker class who flock to such entertainments might be taken in by it, but I am a Prydonian graduate."

"Indeed, sir," Kohb said with an ingratiating voice. "A fine school."

"Mind you," he continued with a wry smile. "The thought of putting cousin Thete into a cabinet and sticking it with very sharp swords has an appeal to it. Or maybe something worse. Imagine if I could get him into a cabinet that emits Artron particles. That would be a spectacle. Watching his future lives being stripped away and then his existing life aged to the point of regeneration - except oops, no lives!"

Kohb said nothing.

"You think that is not a sound plan?"

"It is a very sound one," Kohb agreed. "If such a cabinet exists it would be a fearful sight."

"Such a cabinet doesn't exist," Rõgæn said. "But it might." He drained his drink and stepped out of the bar. Kohb following humbly. He strode through the crowds in the busy commerce section of the space station with a determined and uncompromising look on his face and in his walk that made others clear a path for him. There were a few who might have challenged him, but something about the darkness of his eyes, a darkness that had nothing to do with eye colour, made all who looked that closely shiver.

He came to what appeared to be a closed off vending kiosk left in an empty side corridor behind the bright shop fronts where the crowds were.

"The Cameleon circuit still works," he said. "But I have had to bring it all this way as freight." He used a key to unlock the back of the kiosk and Kohb stared in amazement. Inside was a whole TARDIS travelling capsule in miniature. He watched as his master brought the dimension circuit from its packaging.

"How will it fit?" he asked. "The component is bigger than the console it fits in."

"Only relatively," Rõgæn answered. "That's why you Caretakers are rarely accepted in the Academy. You lack imagination."

Kohb said nothing. But his personal opinion if he had ventured it would have been interesting. Gallifrey was a meritocracy. And its education system was ostensibly open to all classes. But even when one of the Caretaker class was accepted to a school like the Prydonian Academy it was not easy for them. Quite apart from the bullying from higher caste students - and Kohb was quite willing to bet that his new Master was one of those who indulged such things - it was a financial struggle. His parents would never have managed to send him to the Academy if it were not for a memorial bursary granted to him by one of the more philanthropic oldblood houses. Even then, he had been forced to give up his studies when he was 120 because supporting a non-productive child on his meagre income as a house servant became too much for his father. Kohb bitterly regretted the missed opportunity. For after all, it was not just power and prestige that came with being a transcended Time Lord. It was LIFE. Caretakers rarely lived longer than eight hundred. Time Lords could live nearly ten times that.

He bit back his personal feelings. He served this man now, and to argue with him would be fatal. He had seen the darkness of Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene's soul. It made his blood run cold. But he was a servant. He was born a servant, the son of a servant. He could not afford to have an opinion.

He watched silently as his new Master reached inside the miniaturised TARDIS. He was surprised at what happened when he brought the component into it. He understood about forced perspective illusion. It was used all the time in the conjuring tricks he performed. The eye of the beholder could be fooled into thinking a large box was actually a very small box much further away, that a ring big enough to fit the head through was small enough to fit only over the wrist.

This was like the most amazing forced perspective illusion he had ever seen. When his hand reached into the miniaturised console room while HOLDING the component it seemed to become smaller as if his arm was reaching a very long way. He slid the panel open beneath the console and clipped the dimension circuit in place. Then he withdrew his arm. For a second or two Kohb expected it to be elongated and pencil thin as it had seemed within the field of the miniaturised TARDIS. Of course it was not. He closed the door and then opened it again. This time Kohb DID gasp as he looked at a fully functioning TARDIS console room at the proper size within the kiosk disguise. Rõgæn stepped over the threshold and looked back at him.

"Come on then, if you're coming."

"Yes, Master," Kohb said obediently.

Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene was jubilant. His TARDIS was operational. He could go anywhere now. Nothing and nobody could prevent him. All he had to do was find out where his cousin was.

"You are receiving a videophone transmission, Master," Kohb told him. Rõgæn looked at him coldly.

"I know that," he said. In fact, he had NOT seen the light on the communication console flashing to indicate an incoming call. But he was not going to show gratitude to a servant who still needed to know his place.

He flicked the switch and the video screen resolved into the pattern that indicated a transmission from Gallifrey. Rõgæn tried to hide his nervousness. There were many people on Gallifrey he did not wish to talk to.

"Epsilon, my dear cousin!" He grinned when he saw the face smiling at him. She had the most innocent looking face in the universe. 'Elfin' was a word that might be used. But her eyes were cold as ice and her mouth was usually set in a sneer of contempt for almost everything.

A girl after his own hearts, he thought.

"Rani!" he said. "You are a sight for sore eyes. But why has it taken you so long to contact me?"

"I was ordered home by my father," she told him. "He found out that I was associating with you. And YOU my cousin, are in BIG trouble back home. There are at least four warrants for you. Your gambling scam, your gun-running, some murder on some minor planet that apparently you were involved in…"

"I only did that to get my cousin into trouble. The primitives there believed my planted evidence. But our own people wouldn't be fooled for a moment, I suppose."

"I don't think they care much about it either way. But you've BROKEN several of the Laws of Time, cousin. And they want your blood for that."

"They'll have to catch me first," he laughed.

"If your TARDIS engine is detected in the vortex they WILL catch you," Rani told him. "You've been marked as wanted."

"I have cousin Thete's patent cloak for the Dimension Recognition Device running," he said. "They won't detect me anywhere."

"Even so, be careful, cousin. The Celestial Intervention Agency is watching for you." She laughed. "Do you know, you are the youngest rogue they have ever put out a wanted code for. You are to be congratulated."

"Indeed," he said. "Meanwhile, what of our half-blood cousin? Do you know anything of him?"

"Too much!" Rani sneered. "Our cousin is the darling of the High Council. Not a word can be said about him. The one with the Mark of Rassilon and his Great Destiny."

"Yes, yes," Rõgæn growled impatiently. "But do you know where I might find him?"

"Everyone knows where to find him. He is best man at the biggest wedding in the twelve galaxies. The Lord of Adano-Ambrado is getting married."

"Lord of where?"

"It is one of the newest hegemonies with which Gallifrey is forming diplomatic links," Rani told him in a bored manner. "But the point is, everyone who is everyone is going to this wedding. The Chancellor is representing the High Council."

"Chancellor Arpexia - the one who is father of our cousin's stepmother?"

"No," Rani said. "You ARE behind on the news, aren't you, Eps. Chancellor Arpexia is dead."

Rõgæn was surprised at that. Though not so surprised as Kohb. His barely suppressed gasp went unnoticed by his Master, though.

"Assassination?" he asked, almost gleefully.

"Not so I heard. Seems to be natural causes. But get THIS. The NEW Chancellor is a Lœngbærrow - Remonte De Lœngbærrow. Our uncle by marriage - Thete's father's youngest brother."

"Nepotism, eh!" Rõgæn laughed. "Where would our political system be without it. But it seems I need to gatecrash a party if I want to catch up on Thete."

"Won't be easy."

"It never is. But do not underestimate me."

"I never do," Rani replied smugly. Then her face changed. She looked nervous and furtive. "My father is home. If he finds me using the videophone…" The signal broke off. Rõgæn laughed coldly. It seemed cousin Rani was being kept close to home by her father. For once in his life he was glad to be an orphan. Nobody told him what to do. And now he knew how to put his plans into operation. He moved over to the computer database and checked the latest news about this impending wedding. It WAS going to be a very grand affair. Several days of pageantry, command performances and entertainments, banquets and balls to take place even BEFORE the wedding itself - which he noted was going to be in the Gallifreyan tradition. A twelve hour Alliance of Unity ceremony. He wondered why that was. He didn't think anyone outside of Gallifrey thought weddings were THAT important.


He turned to Kohb. He smiled a cold smile that made his servant step back instinctively.

"Vanishing Cabinet? You know, I think that idea has something to commend it."

Kohb suppressed a shiver. He was a servant to a fiend with murder on his mind.

But he WAS a servant.

He had to do his Master's bidding.