For her fourteenth birthday, Chrístõ took Julia to see her favourite Beta Delta system rock band in concert. They were far better than he had expected them to be, four centuries beyond all the bands he actually liked. The greats of the 1960s and 70s that he loved. He had always been rather disappointed that the 21st and 22nd centuries of Earth history had never really measured up with far too much experimenting with artificial sounds and even, for much of the 23rd century, artificial artists, virtual reality and artificial intelligence bands being all the rage. But the 24th century colonists with their fondness for a 20th century retro look in their buildings and dress sense, went back to the roots of popular music, too, and Ice Garden were a four piece group with drums, keyboard, bass and lead guitar who, if they weren’t quite The Beatles, might manage to be the Manic Street Preachers.

Julia, of course, had seen all of those bands from the second half of the 20th century. She loved the Beatles as much as he did and treasured some signed memorabilia of them that she had acquired on a visit to 1967. But now that she was settled here on Beta Delta IV she had embraced the culture of that world, and the lead singer of Ice Garden, Brian Drennan was only eclipsed by Chrístõ himself in her affections.

“Brilliant,” she enthused as the band finished their third encore and the house lights came on, signalling the absolute end of the show. “Thank you, Chrístõ. This is a brilliant birthday present.”

“Glad you liked it,” he said. Then he smiled and produced something from his pocket. “Backstage passes?”

“They’re REAL!” she exclaimed. Not psychic paper. How…”

“Diplomatic privilege,” he said. “Come on. Let’s go meet your heroes.”

“You’re still my ONE true hero,” she assured him.

Even so she was excited as they threaded their way through the crowds and presented their passes at the stage door. They were directed to the green room, where food and drink was laid out for the band and their entourage and any invited guests. Some of them included girls of Julia’s age who had won their passes in a magazine competition and she was a little disgusted at how immature and giggly they were. She told herself that she was the future wife of a diplomat and knew how to behave and waited, drinking a bottle of sparkling water by the buffet, until the band members, freshly showered and changed from their stage clothes, came out and dealt with the giggly girls first. It all went a little quieter once they had been dispatched. Then Chrístõ heard her breathe in as Brian Drennan approached, smiling.

“I’m told it’s somebody’s birthday,” he said, shaking her by the hand. Julia’s eyes shone with delight and she almost became as giggly as the rest of them for a microsecond. Then she remembered that her best friend was Queen Cirena of Adano-Ambrado and the Crown Prince of Ryemym Ceti had once made an offer for her as his second wife. Brian Drennan was, really, just an ordinary man who could sing and play the guitar.

Really, he was.

“Technically, it’s not my birthday now,” she answered him. “It’s gone midnight.”

“But you haven’t turned into a pumpkin,” he said to her, smiling handsomely. “So it must be all right. Usually I’m asked to sign something, about now. You ARE a fan, aren’t you?”

“Oh, yes, definitely,” she assured him and told him which of the albums she liked best and which was her favourite song. Chrístõ left her to it and found himself in conversation with the band’s manager, Deccan Rowe, who almost got teenage girl giggly when he found out that Chrístõ was Gallifreyan.

“My parents are from Tibora, My Lord,” he said, bowing his head respectfully.

“One of our dominion planets,” Chrístõ said. “I have visited there, once, with my father. It is a very beautiful place. Have you visited Gallifrey?”

“I have not seen it since I was a child,” Rowe admitted. “And, of course, I am not likely to visit in the near future. The recent developments make it difficult to travel even to the Dominions.”

“What recent developments?” Chrístõ asked, and his latent precognition signalled to him that he was going to learn something bad. Around him, the sounds of people celebrating the last night of a four planet concert tour, echoed strangely as his world contracted around him.

“Sire…” Rowe answered him. “Have you not been in contact with Gallifrey in the past weeks?”

“No,” he admitted. “I have been busy. I spent some weeks on Adano-Ambrado and then I was on Earth for a while. It’s been three or four weeks since I talked to my father. But he knew I was all right, so there was no real need…” He paused. Rowe’s face looked serious. “Why? What has HAPPENED?”

“You don’t know? The attack on the Capitol... Gallifrey is at war.”

Chrístõ stared at a woman in a shocking pink dress who stood talking to the drummer just behind Rowe’s shoulder. He couldn’t bring himself to look at Rowe himself. He let the pink dress dazzle him as he tried to take in what he was being told. Rowe was apologising for being the one to bring him such news. Chrístõ murmured a reply, though he couldn’t recall later exactly what he had said. His head was spinning as he tried to take it all in.

He watched Julia talking with all the members of the band, who found her cool, collected, future diplomat’s wife manner a refreshing change. She laughed at some joke from the drummer and accepted a whole collection of signed souvenirs. She was having a nice time, as he meant her to do. He smiled when she looked his way and waved. He didn’t want her to know that he was worried.

Driving home, he tried not to hurry. He kept the hover car well below the point where the speed limit proximity alarm would sound. He tried to sound interested when Julia chatted about how much fun it had all been.

“I’m glad you had a good birthday,” he told her. “But I think your aunt will insist on you going straight to bed when we get in. Even if it is Saturday tomorrow.”

“That’s all right,” she answered. “I’ve had a really wonderful birthday. And don’t worry, you’re STILL my favourite man. Brian is a great singer. But you’re mine. Besides, you sing, too.”

“Not while I’m driving,” he told her. “Especially in the dark.”

Julia sighed happily and lapsed into a contented silence. Chrístõ was glad of it. It meant he didn’t have to pretend to be cheerful. He didn’t feel cheerful now. He went over what Rowe had told him again and again. “War, Attack on the Capitol… war.” Unless Deccan Rowe had made a very big mistake, and Chrístõ couldn’t think HOW that could be, then something terrible had happened to his home world.

And nobody had contacted him about it.

How bad was it? Was there nobody left to contact him?

The last time Gallifrey was at war, his father was a young graduate like he was now. He had joined up and fought terrible battles. He had been a prisoner of war. He had been grievously wounded when he came home and needed months of care to make him right.

This was the sum total of what Chrístõ knew about his father’s part in the war, though he had learnt the facts of what happened and when in a history class at the Academy. Those lectures had brought out the Xenophobe in everyone, even himself, astonished that any race should try to take control of the time vortex from the Time Lords, outraged at the way the prisoners were treated and the sheer cruelty of the enemy. The lessons never went into what Gallifrey did to the enemy. Subjective history was never a feature of Prydonian teaching. But he had no reason to believe that it happened any way other than the way he was told it happened.

Would he be called on to fight in THIS war? That thought consumed his mind as he kept his eyes on the road ahead. Would he have to leave all that he knew and loved to defend his world in an all out war? Would he have to learn to forget about pacifism and take up a gun and kill? If the answer was yes, then he would do so, willingly. He was loyal to Gallifrey and he was no coward. But the thought distressed him. He was not new to the use of guns, or to killing. He had done so when he had to. But he preferred not to. He preferred to have the choice his to make. But as a soldier he would have to obey orders.

And he would not be able to see Julia, at least not as often as he wanted. He would not be able to keep his promise to make all of her birthdays wonderful. He would not see any of his friends. He would not be free to travel as he chose.

He glanced at Julia. She HAD fallen asleep in the passenger seat. It was long past her bedtime and she was exhausted. She clung to her collection of autographed posters, holopictures, microdiscs - even a towel that Brian Drennan had used on stage. She was happy. But she wouldn’t be when this news was broken to her.

She stirred slightly as he stopped the car in the driveway, but not enough to climb out by herself. He lifted her in his arms, hooking the bag of concert goodies over his wrist and closing the car door with a nudge of the autolock system. He carried her in to where her aunt had been waiting up. She smiled to see her niece so contentedly sleepy and told Chrístõ to take her straight up to her room. He laid her on the bed, glancing around to see that Ice Garden really were only second in her affections. Most of the pictures on her wall were of him. A huge enlargement of his Teen Dream publicity picture was by her bed and she had framed photos of him everywhere.

Marianna banished him from the room as she got Julia undressed and properly in bed. Chrístõ said goodnight and went to his own room. The sick feeling increased as he crossed the floor and opened what looked like a second wardrobe. He stepped into the TARDIS and was aware of Humphrey making a rather distressed trill that echoed the insistent sound from the communications console.

It was the urgent message signal, and it had been beeping for an hour according to the counter. He examined the received message and saw that it was a sub-space one and had come from Gallifrey. That meant it might have taken at least two weeks to arrive.

Why sub-space, he wondered as he noted that it was encrypted. He typed his personal password for encryptions sent to him from home. Sub-space was the equivalent of second class post. The videophone was the usual way to contact Gallifrey. Failing that there was an audio signal. Both were carried on a server based in the Panopticon that could reach any TARDIS in the universe almost instantly.

The password was accepted and the file opened. He waited with trepidation for the recorded video message to play. He saw his father appear on the screen, just like he did in videophone conversations. But this was a recorded message. He couldn’t reply.

And his father looked grim.

“My son,” he said. “I hope this message reaches you. At present we are all alive and well. Rassilon willing we still will be when you receive it. Subspace is the only communication network still open and we don’t know how long that will last. Our new masters have not yet discovered the old transmitters that allow these messages to be sent. But it can only be a matter of time. Those few of us with loved ones and friends offworld are taking what we expect to be the last chance to… to say goodbye.”

“No!” Chrístõ murmured. “Oh, no.”

“Chrístõ,” his father continued. “You must stay away from Gallifrey. Do not try to come home. To do so would be fatal. I don’t know how much you have heard. Maybe there are rumours that Gallifrey is at war. I wish we WERE. The war is over. We are conquered. Our world is cut off from the rest of the Galaxy. We are under a new regime who control the Transduction Barrier. We were betrayed by spies among us. Time Lords who sold out to the enemy.”

“WHAT enemy?” Chrístõ asked, forgetting that it was not a live transmission. He watched in dismay as the picture changed to a recording of the attack on the Capitol that signalled the beginning of the end for Gallifrey. He saw the Citadel itself hit by energy beams. He saw the great tower, the tallest building in the city, cut in half. The top part disintegrated as it fell in upon the lower half, destroying the communications centre for the whole planet, as well as killing all those who worked within it. Other buildings were hit, too. the Chancellery Guard headquarters, The Prydonian Academy, the Arcalian and Patrexian Academies. Chrístõ bit his lip and held back tears as he saw students running from the burning buildings. Even the headquarters of the Celestial Intervention Agency was hit. And that, above all, told him that traitors had given information to the unseen enemy. How else would they know to attack THAT building.

Thousands must have died. There were no figures. He heard his father’s voice over the pictures, saying that the High Council who were sitting in the Panopticon within the Citadel were placed under arrest. His uncle, Remonte, was one of those who had announced, under threat of execution, that they were handing over the government of Gallifrey to their conquerors. It would only be a matter of time before they had control of the Matrix and of the time vortex itself. All they had to do was force a High Councillor to open the Matrix to them.

The picture changed and Chrístõ almost fell down in shock when he saw a view of their solar system, the Cruciform. He saw motherships in orbit around all of the outer planets except for the uninhabitable rock that was the Fibster. Around Gallifrey, the home planet, there were hundreds of ships, a true siege. Nothing could get in or out.

“We do not know what will happen,” his father continued. “We cannot fight. We do not have the means to fight against such a force. Our armies were disbanded after the last war. We adopted our policy of non-interference and assumed that others would not interfere with us. We were wrong.”

His father paused before speaking again.

“We can only hope that our lives are of some value to our new rulers. If so, we should survive. If not… Chrístõ, my son… you and a few others who are offworld… you represent all that Gallifrey stands for, now. You must stay safe. If you are not there already, go to Beta Delta. You must… We don’t know how long it will be before the enemy takes control of the Matrix. It cannot be long. When they do, the time vortex will be unsafe. You must not use your TARDIS to travel in time. Stay there with Julia. I have made provision for you. For… the foreseeable future. But my son… you…”

Again he could not go on without a long pause to gather his thoughts.

“Chrístõ, remember me. Remember Gallifrey and all it stands for. Justice and Honour. Temper all that you say and do by that axiom. And remember that I love you, my first born son. I will miss you. I only wish Garrick was safe with you. Then I could face any fate resignedly. I fear for him. But I am consoled by the fact that you are safe.”

“FATHER!” Chrístõ cried out. Again he had forgotten that it was not a live transmission. He wanted to ask so many questions. But the message was almost at an end. He could see the counter on the corner of the screen. He heard his father tell him again that he loved him. Then it ended. He stared at the blank screen for a long time. Then he tried to contact Gallifrey. First he tried his home. Then he tried the Citadel, then traffic control, the civil service. All gave back ‘unobtainable’ signals. It was as if Gallifrey was gone.

He tried another call. This one connected. Penne Dúre, King Emperor of Adano-Ambrado came to take the call personally. He looked relieved when he saw Chrístõ.

“You weren’t home. I hoped you weren’t. You’re safe.”

“I’m on Beta Delta with Julia,” he answered. “I just got a message from my father. He told me to stay here. But Penne, what is happening? Do you know? WHO attacked Gallifrey?”

“The Mallus,” Penne answered. “They…”

“A technologically advanced race from the Gamma Ceti quadrant. Very militant, aggressive. Banned from developing time travel because they would use it to aid their wars with the Sontarans, Sycorax, Nexis….”

He stopped. That was the digest of the database record on his TARDIS computer. He vaguely recalled a picture of a more or less humanoid race with an exo-skin as hard as Kevlar, who nevertheless dressed in battle armour of steel.

And this was the race that had taken Gallifrey in a surprise attack, aided and abetted by traitors who let them break down the defences of their non-militant world.

“They wanted the Matrix, of course. Access to the vortex.”

“It seems so,” Penne replied. “The first I knew was when diplomatic and trade ties were broken overnight. My trade ships were turned back from entering the system. They were threatened with obliteration if they did not do it fast enough. My merchant fleet turned back on the double, of course, and reported the situation to me. I made what inquiries I could. Of course I could contact nobody on Gallifrey. I tried to reach your father…”

“He was alive two weeks ago. Now, I don’t know for sure.”

“I am sorry,” Penne told him. “It grieves me, too. I love your father. And Maestro. My one and only relative. I pray he is unharmed in the monastery. They would have no use for men of contemplation.” Penne sighed. “I have made representations on Gallifrey’s behalf to our mutual allies. The Earth Federation have refused to take sides militarily. They have said they will allow any refugees safety on Federation planets. However, I had the impression they thought there wouldn’t BE any. It was an empty gesture on their part.”

“Refugee. That…” Chrístõ’s pale face went even paler. “That means me. I am a refugee, a displaced person. A NOBODY, with no home to go back to.”

“That doesn’t sound like a proud Gallifreyan to me,” Penne said. “Chrístõ….” Penne tried to say something encouraging to him, but at that moment one of his advisors came into the view and said something to him. Penne’s answer was not heard as he turned off the microphone, but Chrístõ could see it was a sharp, angry one, and when he turned back to the videophone he looked agitated.

“Chrístõ, I am sorry,” he said. “But videophone channels are far from secure and my advisor has said I must not remain on line for much longer. My talking to you may be construed as an act of war by the Mallus.”

“Penne!” Chrístõ was shocked to the core. “You mean I am not even allowed to talk to you?”

“Not like this,” Penne said. “I am SO sorry. I will try… diplomatic channels. I dare not say more right now. But no, it would not be wise for us to communicate. For your safety, Let us say goodbye for now.”

“Penne…” Chrístõ tried to think of something to say. He had a million things he wanted to say to his father, but none he could think of to say to Penne. His words died on his lips.

“Chrístõ,” Penne told him. “Bear this trial with fortitude, my brother.”

The transmission ended. Chrístõ again stared at the blank screen for a time and then stepped away. Humphrey hovered near by and tried to comfort him. But even his pure emotions wrapped around him couldn’t cheer him much. He put the TARDIS into low-power mode and then stepped out into his bedroom. He went to the window and looked out at the starry sky. Somewhere up there was Gallifrey. But he couldn’t see it from this angle. He opened the window and jumped down onto the garage roof that was below his room. There he could see the stars more easily. He found the double arrowhead of Kasterborus. The centre star of the inner arrowhead was the one that warmed his home world. He tried not to imagine it as it was now, under siege from a dreadful enemy. He tried to remember the last time he was there, when he piloted his TARDIS through the system, past the peaceful planets where his people had made their homes and livelihoods. He longed to be there. It grieved him that he could not go. He remembered his thoughts earlier. If there was a fight to be fought he would have done so willingly. But the enemy had already won. They were defeated. Gallifrey was no more. The Time Lords were slaves of another race. Maybe they were all dead. His father, stepmother, his uncle, baby Garrick. Maybe they had been disposed of by an enemy who did not need or want them.

He didn’t cry. He was a Gallifreyan. Gallifreyans do not cry. He was one of the very few, perhaps the only one, who had tear ducts and COULD cry. But for the sake of his world he held back the tears and tried to act as a true Gallifreyan. He knelt on the asphalt roof of the garage and silently grieved.

At some point during the night he must have fallen asleep. He didn’t mean to do so, but his stressed and hurt mind just shut down of its own volition.

Some time just before dawn, Cordell had gone to the bathroom and glanced out of the window. He roused his parents and his father had climbed up to the garage roof to lift Chrístõ’s still, frozen body from where he lay.

“I’m sorry,” Herrick said as he carried him inside. “I think he’s dead.”

“No!” Julia cried. In her nightdress and slippers she had waited fearfully, wondering what had caused Chrístõ to be out there in that exposed place on a cold, wintry night. Now she watched as he was lain on the sofa. She ran to his side and touched his frozen face, his cold, lifeless hand. “No, he can’t be.”

“I don’t know how long he was out there. But it’s below freezing…” Herrick tried to tell her.

“But he’s a Time Lord,” she said. “He can cope with things like that. He can’t be dead. His body must just be slowed down.” She put her hands over his two hearts and felt. Beneath the silk shirt he wore last night to the concert she felt his cold flesh. But then she felt something else. A systolic jolt as his two hearts beat one after the other. “He IS. He’s alive. Uncle Herrick, help him. Help him to come back to us.”

Herrick bent over him and began to massage first one, then the other of his hearts while Julia rubbed his hands and tried to warm them. Marianna hovered fretfully. The two boys stood at the door and watched. They had both been convinced that Chrístõ was dead and they had cried, though if anyone had said so they would have denied it.

Slowly, he began to regain consciousness. He opened his eyes and looked at Julia as she clung to his hand. Her hair was tousled by sleep and the tracks of tears marked her face.

“I still have you,” he murmured and began to cry. He had tried to hold back his tears, tried to be a Gallifreyan. But his hearts had taken too many shocks this night. He broke down and cried harder than the two boys had ever seen a man cry before. It astonished them to see the man they had thought of as brave and invincible brought to such grief. Herrick looked at him and wondered what had brought him to such a pass. Marianna said he needed coffee and went to make some. Julia put her arms around his shoulders and held him as he cried. When Marianna returned with the coffee he tried to drink it, but his throat was too constricted and he couldn’t swallow.

“Come on,” she said gently. “Nothing can be THAT bad, surely?”

He tried again and swallowed a mouthful of the coffee. He looked at the anxious faces watching him.

“I am sorry,” he told them. “For scaring you all. I don’t know what happened to me. I didn’t mean to cause you so much worry. I had some bad news last night.” Slowly, he told them all what had come to pass. The anxious faces turned to shocked faces as they took it in. But kind faces, too, concerned for him. Julia grasped his hand. Marianna put her arm about his shoulder maternally.

“Poor boy,” she said. “What a thing to happen. I am so sorry.”

“Good heavens,” Herrick murmured.

“So does this mean you’re not rich any more?” asked Cordell.

Chrístõ looked at the boys and half laughed ironically.

“I haven’t even given THAT a thought,” he said. “But my father told me he had made provision for the foreseeable future. I think he meant financially. I expect I can still buy everyone pizzas in the park.”

“As if that’s important,” Marianna replied looking harshly at her two mercenary sons. “Whether you are rich or poor, Chrístõ, you have a home with us as long as you need it. He does, doesn’t he, Herrick?” She looked at her husband for confirmation.

“As far as I’m concerned, yes,” Herrick answered. “If he is allowed. Chrístõ, you are here on a visitor’s visa right now, surely. But if you are to stay longer….”

Chrístõ looked at Herrick in alarm. He had put his finger on something he had never even considered. Whenever he landed on Beta Delta IV his TARDIS automatically registered his visitor’s visa. He never thought about it. But if he was to stay on an Earth colony as a non-Human, that was another matter.

“I’ll take you into town on Monday,” Herrick said. “You can do the paperwork. I am sure it won’t be a problem getting you refugee status…”

“Refugee!” Chrístõ choked on the word. “I have fallen from grace. Yesterday I was an Ambassador of a proud race, a prince of the universe.”

“You still are,” Julia told him. “You’re still MY prince.”

“Thank you,” he told her. “Thank you, all of you.”

He got through his first weekend as a refugee somehow. He spent the Saturday with Julia and her friends, who all reacted sympathetically to his news and hoped he would hear from his father again soon. He thanked them for their kindness. What else could he do.

Sunday afternoon, he walked alone with Julia in Earth Park.

“Chrístõ,” she said, clutching his hand in her gloved one. “I am so very sorry. I love your father as much as you do. And Valena and Garrick. And I love Gallifrey. I have always enjoyed visiting there. But I am glad about one thing. You are here with me, and will be for a long time. Doesn’t that… doesn’t that make you glad, Chrístõ?”

“Glad? No, that’s not quite the right word. I hurt so much. Inside of me, I hurt as I have never hurt before. I can’t stop thinking about my father and uncle, Valena, Garrick, and so many other people who matter, who might be dead already for all I know. Glad… no. But I am grateful to be here, to be alive. And to be with you. Yes, the one thing I can be content with is the chance to spend every spare moment with you. But glad… no.”

“I understand,” Julia told him. And of course, she did. That sick feeling that was in him now, the feeling that came crowding back every time he let himself be distracted for a few minutes, was a feeling she knew well enough. She had lost her whole family. She had been thankful to be alive, but had burnt inside with grief for those she missed.

“It does get easier,” she assured him. “The pain eases. You never stop missing them, never stop thinking about them. But it hurts less.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” he answered her. “It just doesn’t feel right now as if it will.”

“It WILL,” she insisted and she slipped her arm around his waist to hold him near to her. He stopped and embraced her. The feel of her in his arms, his Julia, was a comfort he knew he would be more than grateful for in these coming days and weeks, months, maybe years.

On Monday, Herrick drove the boys and Julia to school, then he brought Chrístõ to the railway station. He drove the car onto the transporter that carried foot passengers, freight and private vehicles to the administrative capital of Beta Delta IV, known simply as The City. There, in buildings built of white stone that shone in the winter sunshine, were the headquarters of the police, the officers of departments of health and education, industry and commerce and agriculture, the department of transport, and the space port that connected Beta Delta IV with the other planets of the system and beyond.

And the Governor’s office. There, Chrístõ filled in a lot of very long forms and submitted them and was told to wait to see an official who would expedite his Political Asylum status. Two hours later he was told to wait again as there was a technical difficulty.

Finally he was told that the governor would see him.

Herrick was surprised by that. Chrístõ wasn’t. He thought it just meant that the Governor’s aides had realised that he was an Ambassador to Gallifrey and connected to the Empire of Adano-Ambrado and passed him up to the top.

That was not the case, he quickly realised as he sat in the office and waited for the Governor to look up from his computer screen. He was a middle aged man with slightly greying temples who sat behind a desk that looked like a replica of the one in the Oval office at the White House on 20th century Earth. He looked up finally. “You are Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow?”

“Yes,” he answered, noting that his name had been correctly pronounced for once.

“A member of the diplomatic corps of Gallifrey?”

“I was,” Chrístõ admitted. “I don’t even know if my world HAS a diplomatic corps any more. I don’t even know if my world EXISTS any more.”

“Yes quite.” The Governor looked at him for a long time before answering. “I have discussed your case with the Foreign and Colonial Office on Earth. And I regret to have to tell you that there are extreme difficulties. The Earth Federation has passed a Resolution of Neutrality in respect to the Mallus Hostilities. That was believed to be the only way of preventing an act of aggression against Earth or its colonies.”

“I understand that,” Chrístõ said. “But…”

“That means that we CANNOT give political asylum to a citizen of any planet the Mallus have declared war on. Especially not a high profile one, a relative of a member of the hostage government, a diplomat. If you were merely a private citizen a blind eye might be turned. But in your case… you CANNOT stay here on Beta Delta IV beyond the period of your visitor’s visa.”

“I have nowhere else to go,” Chrístõ said. “I can’t…”

“I am sorry. The Foreign Office were adamant. My department will help in any way it can to facilitate your transfer to a suitable jurisdiction. But I have to say… if you outstay your visa you would be arrested and forcibly deported. We have no choice.”

“No!” Herrick protested. “There must be another way. My wife and I are willing to vouch for him. He will have a home with us. He will be no burden on the Beta Deltan taxpayer.”

Chrístõ saw the Governor shake his head. The man seemed to be genuinely sorry. His hands were tied by politics happening far away on Earth.

“What about Adano-Ambrado?” he asked. “The king-emperor is a very close friend…”

“Yes, I see that in your file,” the Governor said. “But that is one place you cannot go. Yesterday Adano-Ambrado allied itself against the Mallus.”

“Penne has committed his battle fleet to war for the sake of Gallifrey?” Chrístõ was astonished by that news. Penne obviously had been preparing to do that, but he had not been able to tell him on the unsecured videophone.

The Governor looked at his computer database.

“A number of systems and planets have joined the effort. Adano-Ambrado, Logia, Ay'Ydiwo, Fahot, Utepi Ionn, Delphia, Haolstrom.”

“But the Earth Federation has not?” Herrick asked. His knowledge of intergalactic politics was limited. He was the foreman of a factory where space ship parts were manufactured. But he understood one thing about this state of affairs. “I never took us for cowards in the face of oppression.”

“That is not for me to say,” answered the Governor diplomatically. “The government in London has made a decision. I must act upon it.”

“And Chrístõ suffers for it?”

“One refugee against the safety of every Earth colony – of your own family. sir.”

“Chrístõ IS a part of my family as far as I am concerned,” Herrick argued. “He is engaged to my niece – my adopted daughter.”

“He is?” the Governor queried. “Well, can he not marry the girl? That would entitle him to stay as a relative of an Earth Federation citizen.”

“She is only fourteen,” Chrístõ admitted. “It’s a very LONG engagement.”

“Wait a minute!” Herrick said. “Did you say that he can stay if he is a relative of an Earth citizen?” He reached out and opened the folder of documents Chrístõ had brought in case they were needed. “Does the Earth citizen have to be alive?”

“No,” the governor admitted. “But…”

Herrick held up a document that Chrístõ knew well enough. The governor looked at it carefully.

“It’s the marriage certificate from my parents’ first wedding. On Earth. Before they returned to Gallifrey for the formal and binding Alliance of Unity. My mother wanted it that way.”

“Your parents were married in the year 1994? In Liverpool? Your father is from Gallifrey and your mother from Birkenhead – I presume that is the town on the river Mersey, not some obscure planet I have never heard of?”

“It is the town on the Mersey,” Chrístõ said. “She was born there. It says it on this document, too. My birth certificate. Only you would have to scan it with a translator. It is in High Gallifreyan.”

The governor looked at the document with the swirling abstract symbols that may or may not have been writing and decided to take his word for it.

“As the son of an Earth Citizen – regardless of what century she was born in – you ARE by default, a citizen of Earth. You are fully entitled to live, work, get married in the fullness of time, on any Earth colony. All you need is a passport, which you seem to lack. But if you submit these documents and fill in the relative form that could be arranged before close of business today.”

“He can stay?” Herrick confirmed.

“All I have to do is deny my birthright, set aside my world, my people, my honour,” Chrístõ said bitterly.

“You set aside one birthright for another,” Herrick assured him. “Come on, son. Let’s sort out that paperwork and get your passport. Julia will be pleased, at least.”

“Yes,” he said. That was the silver lining to his cloud. Julia was happy.