Chrístõ was sitting on the console room sofa watching Julia carefully, but at a distance. He was trying to see if she could learn to pilot the TARDIS. He had hoped that his love for her might be enough for the ship’s symbiotic relationship with him to be extended to her. And so far it seemed to be working. It had accepted the co-ordinate he told her to input and her hand at the control as it entered the space time vortex.

“Chrístõ…” Julia called to him suddenly. “We’re getting an emergency signal.”

“What? Where?” He jumped up immediately and sprinted across the floor to where she stood by the communications panel. “You’re right. Hang on. Let me boost the signal.” He watched the screen as a space co-ordinate flashed up and a voice called to them through the speaker.

“Please help me…” It was a woman’s voice and it was desperate. They could both hear the anguish in her voice. “The ship is about to blow up any minute. I’m scared. I don’t want to die alone…”

Chrístõ was already punching the co-ordinate into the navigation console. “Hang on, whoever you are, we’re coming. We’re on our way.”

“Oh please…” Relief and fear were mixed. “There’s so little time.”

“Brace yourself,” Chrístõ told Julia. “We’re going to go in fast.” He darted from navigation to the piloting controls and pressed a switch. They dropped out of the space-time vortex with a sickening lurch, and immediately they saw the stricken ship. The TARDIS’s database told him it was the SS Ray Bradbury. Another of those Earth colony ships they named after science fiction writers for some reason. It was dead in space and on fire. Julia looked at Chrístõ in alarm as he examined the environmental controls and said something under his breath that she thought might have been a swear word.

“The whole ship is irradiated. If she isn’t shielded, then she’s as good as dead anyway.”

“But we have to help,” Julia said.

“We are helping,” Chrístõ said. “But I need her exact location so I can materialise around her. We can’t go out of the TARDIS in those conditions. I’m scanning for her lifesign. It should take about 30 seconds.”

“I don’t think she’s GOT 30 seconds. Oh, please hurry, Chrístõ…” Julia’s eyes were full of tears as she watched the view of the spaceship.

“Please….” The woman’s voice came again. “Please… help me…I’m so scared.”

“We’re coming,” Chrístõ called to her again. “Hang on in there….” He punched in the co-ordinate and the next moment the TARDIS was materialising. He took hold of Julia’s hand as they watched the woman appear before them, slowly solidifying within the console room.

“Ohh…” She cried as she looked around at her new surroundings. As soon as she was safely aboard Chrístõ reversed the TARDIS engines and dematerialised them back to temporal orbit. They just glimpsed on the viewscreen the ship beginning to disintegrate around them before they were far enough away not even to feel the shock wave as its engines exploded. Then he ran to catch the woman as she fainted. He was surprised to find a forcefield around her. The TARDIS gently but firmly pushed him back.

“What’s happening?” Julia asked. “Why can’t you reach her?”

“The TARDIS is picking up radiation off her body. It's neutralising it before I can touch her.”

“She’s radiated?” Julia gasped. “I mean… irradiated. Is that the right word?”

“We’ll worry about grammar later,” Chrístõ said. He tried again and found he could, now, reach her. He gathered her up into his arms. “Open the doors for me,” he instructed her. Julia ran ahead to do just that all the way to the medical room.

He laid her down on the examination table and closely examined her. She was in a faint, from the shock of being rescued in such a strange way at what was, clearly, the last possible moment. But… He reached for the body scanner and swept it over her. The readings it told him were not good news.

“Is she going to be all right?” Julia asked, anxiously.

“She’ll come around in a few minutes, no problem,” Chrístõ said. “But…” He looked at her closely as she did, indeed, begin to recover from the faint. She was a Human, of Earth origin, maybe 35, possibly as much as 40 years of age – approaching middle age for that species. She had bright red hair tied back severely and when she opened them her eyes were a soft hazel colour. She was plump and heavily built and of medium height which made her look even rounder than a taller woman would get away with. She was dressed in a simple flowered blouse and a black skirt and ‘sensible’ shoes. If he was going to guess a job for her, it would be librarian or school teacher. The sort of job where a woman was expected to be ‘level headed and capable’ rather than physically attractive. And where they assumed that a woman who was not necessarily physically attractive would be ‘level headed and capable’. No doubt she was expected to have a ‘great personality’ as well, he mused.

“Where am I?” she asked, perfectly reasonably considering how unusual the TARDIS was.

“You’re on my ship,” Chrístõ said. “You’re safe.”

“YOUR ship?” She looked at Chrístõ and at Julia by his side. “You’re just children.”

“I’m older than I look,” he said with a laugh. “But think of me as a rich kid with his own spaceship if you like. It’s not the truth, but as an explanation it will do for now. I’m Chrístõ, this is Julia. She spotted your transmission on the sub-space receiver.”

“Thank you,” she said. “I’m Natalie Beech. I’m – or I WAS – a teacher. I was in charge of a group of children on a special field trip to Delta Velusia. On the way back the ship was hit by a meteorite and sustained such severe damage… I got cut off from the others on the way to the emergency airlocks. I got lost in all the corridors and I was left behind. I… Oh, I shouldn’t have sent that signal. I’m going to die anyway. The radiation. But… I was afraid. I was so afraid to die alone.” She began to cry. Chrístõ reached to hold her. It was the only thing he could do. She sobbed bitterly into his cotton shirt, which started to feel damp. But he didn’t care if his nearness brought a little comfort to this unhappy woman.

“Oh!” Julia murmured sadly. “Oh, is it really true… about the radiation. Is she…”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said. “Natalie…” He held her at arms length and looked at her. “Yes, you knew the truth already. You ARE affected by the radiation. I saw it. Very badly.”

“Can’t you do something?” Julia asked him. He shook his head.

“Julia thinks I can do anything. I do have some powers but this is beyond me. I am sorry, Natalie. We rescued you from a quick, almost painless death for you to face a harder, more painful one.”

“I knew it already. I’m sorry to be a burden to you. You should have left me.”

“No,” Julia cried.

“No, absolutely not,” Chrístõ said. “It's against intergalactic law to ignore a distress signal anyway. And you’re no burden but…” He took her hand and held it. “I know I look like a kid to you, but I DO know what I’m doing. I CAN look after you, and I’m going to do that as best as I can right now.”

“You’re not what you seem, are you?” Natalie said. “You carried me here… I’m not exactly a waif… The children called me Beech Ball when they thought I couldn’t hear… But I felt you… I felt you carry me as easily as if I was that little girl. And you… not only do you know what you’re doing… but you LOOK and sound like you do. And… and this ship… I know I was a bit hysterical. I was about to die in an explosion… but it APPEARED around me.”

“I’m a Time Lord,” he said.

“Oh.” She nodded. “That explains most of it. Like the fact that you look so young but talk like a man of experience. I suppose you’re about 900 years old.”

“No, only 192,” Chrístõ answered her. “I really am a teenager of my society. We go to school for 180 years. We tend to be clever teenagers.” As he spoke he turned from the monitor where he had been studying her medical profile and began to prepare a syringe of some medication he found in the cupboard.

“I’m going to give you a tri-benozine-iodine injection now,” he said. “You’ll need a daily course of them. Any doctor would tell you the same… We should get to a spaceport and get a second opinion as soon as possible. But even with the medication…”

“How long?” she asked. “Please… I know there is no reason to believe you. But I do. Tell me how long I have.”

“A year, maybe. And… the last few weeks WILL be painful.”

“That’s a year more than I had an hour ago,” she said, though tears pricked her eyes. Chrístõ swabbed her arm in preparation to inject her with the chemical that would do no more than hold back the development of cancerous lesions through her body. Julia came and took her hand. She looked at the child’s slender hand in her chubby adult one and she smiled through her tears. “Thank you,” she said.

“Get some sleep now, Natalie,” Chrístõ told her gently. “You’ve had a rough time and you should rest. Afterwards, we’ll decide what to do.” He put the sides up on the hospital bed and pulled a blanket over her. She looked at him and closed her eyes. He touched her cheek gently then he took Julia’s hand and they left the room, closing the door quietly.

“You haven’t done your ballet practice today,” he said to her. “We were too busy this morning with the Grand Vizier of Clun and his nanogene explosion. Time for a couple of hours before supper.”

“I don’t really feel like it,” she told him. “I keep thinking about…”

“All the more reason to take your mind off things.” And he brought her to the dojo/ballet studio. He changed into his gi and began his own practice and she went through the warm up exercises of her ballet. The exercise was just what they both needed to take their minds off the rather traumatic morning so far. He managed to lose himself in a complicated mixture of Shaolin sword fighting and the delicate manoeuvres of Malvorian Sun Ko Du, the martial art in which balance and exactitude were essential since it was practised on 6 inch wide planks across deep mountain valleys. He neatly dispatched two hologram opponents without a wobble before stopping and watching Julia’s slow, sad dance. He recognised it as the Dying Swan from Swan Lake and her empathic tears added to the pathos of the dance. When she was finished he went to her and bent and held her in his arms.

“I like your “Firebird’ better. It’s so full of life.”

“I just feel so sad… for Natalie,” she said. “Chrístõ… did we do the right thing?”

“We did what we had to do. If we’d never heard the signal, or if we’d got there too late…well that’s just the way life is sometimes. But we did hear it, and we were there. And we did what we could do. We got her out of there. And now she has time to make what she can of her life before the end.”

“Yes… but…” Julia began and then broke off as they both heard a plaintive cry for help. Chrístõ was on his feet straight away and running out into the corridor. Natalie’s cries echoed around so that he could barely work out which direction she was. He called her name and she called back.

“I’m coming,” he said and dashed down the corridor towards the engine room. He hoped the TARDIS had done as it usually did and locked most of the doors against anyone it didn’t know. The engine room, especially, was dangerous. He was relieved when he spotted her at last. “Natalie,” he called and she turned and came towards him.

“This place is so big…”

“It’s bigger than you would imagine. But all of the corridors come back to the console room eventually. So if you get lost again, just keep walking.” He led her back to the kitchen, where he told her to sit down while he began to put together a simple meal of omelettes and fresh bread and butter. Julia joined them having changed from her practice leotard to a sweater and shorts and training shoes. “Natalie got lost,” Chrístõ told her with a gentle smile.

“I did that too the first time I came into the TARDIS,” she said sliding into a seat at the table. “You’ll get used to it.”

“I don’t suppose I will be here long enough to get used to it,” she said. “I have imposed on you two enough. If… if you could take me to a spaceport I can make my way.”

“Make your way where?” Chrístõ said. “Do you have a family you can go to?”

“No,” she said.

“Do you have any money?” Chrístõ asked. “I know it’s a personal question but…”

“I don’t have anything,” she admitted. “But I’ll manage.”

“No, you won’t.” Chrístõ said. “Do you think I’m the sort of man who would leave a woman alone in any spaceport in the universe?”

“Stay with us,” Julia said.

“I’ll draw you a map of the TARDIS if I have to,” Chrístõ said with a smile.

“I’ve never been beholden to anyone,” she said. “I couldn’t just ‘hitchhike’.”

“You don’t have to,” Chrístõ told her. “Everyone has a job on the TARDIS. Me, I make omelettes and do the piloting. Julia navigates.” He put the plates on the table and sat down to eat. “You said you were a teacher.”

“Yes.”

“Well, Julia needs a teacher. She’s had a couple of months off travelling around the universe with me, and before then for other reasons. But I think its time she settled down to her education.” Julia gave him a dark look which he smiled at. “And besides, it might be better to have somebody else around in case people realise Julia and I AREN’T brother and sister.”

“You’re not?” Natalie looked at them and frowned. “Well then what….”

“I’m his fiancée,” Julia said and Chrístõ nearly choked on his food.

“Not yet, you’re not,” he said. But that meant he had to tell the whole story. Natalie gasped with amazement at their joint description of the battle with the vampyres and then Chrístõ told her of his reading of her timeline and knowing that she was the woman he was going to marry in the future.

“You’re as alone in the universe as I am?” Natalie said to Julia.

“I have Chrístõ.” Julia answered with a smile.

“She has an aunt and uncle on Beta Delta IV as well,” Chrístõ said. “But I really want her to stay with me. And she wants to be with me.”

“I love Chrístõ,” Julia said. “I want to be with him forever.”

“See,” Chrístõ said.

“Good heavens,” Natalie said. “You DO need somebody with you. Have you any idea how that must look to anyone else?”

“Anyone else can mind their own business,” Chrístõ said. “Julia IS going to be my wife when she grows up. Until then, I’m looking after her.”

“Chrístõ,” Natalie said gently. “You may be 192 years old, but I think you really ARE a teenager at heart. YOU need looking after, never mind YOU looking after Julia.”

“Well then,” he said. “I need looking after, Julia needs a teacher. YOU need somebody to look after you… to make sure you don’t get lost again. Seems like we can all help each other.”

Natalie looked at them and smiled and then burst into tears. Chrístõ gave her a tissue and then indicated to Julia that they should leave the kitchen, let her think about things.

Half an hour later, she still hadn’t emerged and he began to worry. He looked back in the kitchen but she wasn’t there. “Natalie?” he called, several times before he heard her answering call. He caught up with her in the corridor. “I really WILL have to draw you a map, won’t I,” he said, taking her by the arm and leading her back to the console room.

“I found a classroom,” she said excitedly. “Almost exactly like the one I used to teach in. It was so familiar.”

“The TARDIS isn’t just a ship. It is psychic and it is tuned into the people who travel in it. It creates rooms according to our needs. The TARDIS has accepted you, Natalie. It wants you to stay.”

“I suppose I shall have to then,” she said with a smile. “Thank you. And thank you to… the TARDIS.” She looked at Julia. “School in the morning then, young lady? You’ve not had proper lessons for nearly two years. There is a LOT of catching up to do. I shall have to make up a revision curriculum.”

“School in the afternoon,” she said. “Ballet and gym first thing. And sometimes Chrístõ needs me to help drive the TARDIS. And SOMETIMES we have to go fight vampyres.”

“Fighting vampyres comes after school,” Natalie said. And Chrístõ smiled to himself. After a distressing day something of the woman he supposed she used to be was coming out. The one who WAS capable and level headed.

The TARDIS had clearly accepted Natalie as one of the team. As well as creating the classroom they found that it had created a bedroom for her, next to Julia’s room. She was delighted with it. He said goodnight to her and to Julia and returned to the console room. He checked to see if they were still on course for their morning’s destination and then turned down the lights. He smiled as he saw Humphrey slip out from the dark corner into the corridor. Chrístõ had explained many times that the TARDIS was a safe, secure place, but Humphrey took it upon himself to patrol it at night like a guard dog, protecting his friends. And Chrístõ knew he couldn’t object. The strangest passenger he ever had on board his TARDIS was happy to be helping him in the only way he knew how.

He sighed and stretched himself and knelt down on his meditation mat and slowly let himself drop down into a deep state of trance where his body could renew itself and the mental stresses of the day melted away.

He woke early by Earth time. Only about five o’clock. Julia was used to getting up at about seven to join him for a practice session before breakfast. He intended for Natalie to sleep in until later. She needed the rest. And meanwhile there was something he wanted to do to make life easier for their newest crew member.

He smiled as he walked along the corridors. He could hear Humphrey purring as he continued his patrol. Every few steps he stopped and touched the walls of the TARDIS and where he touched a coloured arrow or sometimes several arrows, appeared on the walls.

“Blue for her bedroom,” he whispered to himself. “Pink for the bathroom, orange for the classroom, green for the kitchen, and purple to bring her back to the console room when she forgets which is which.” He laughed softly as the words appeared on the arrows as he spoke. The TARDIS was a confusing place for somebody with a bad sense of direction and poor Natalie almost lost her life because she got lost on the stricken starship. He wanted to make life easier for her if he could.

He was by the kitchen when he heard her scream and Humphrey’s distressed wail. He ran to find her backed up against the bathroom door as Humphrey hovered between her and Julia’s bedroom door. Julia came out to see what the noise was about.

“Natalie,” he shouted above the din. “It’s all right. Humphrey won’t hurt you. Humphrey, calm down. This is Natalie. She’s staying with us now. She’s a FRIEND.”

“Fri..end!” Humphrey at once stopped making his noise but Natalie carried on whimpering in fright until Chrístõ took hold of her and used his own will to radiate calm into her.

“Friend,” he repeated. “Natalie, it's my fault. I forgot to introduce you to Humphrey yesterday. He’s a boggart. Humphrey Boggart.”

Despite herself she laughed at the joke in his name.

“He’s a ladies man, too,” Chrístõ added. “He likes to have women about the place. Don’t you, Humphrey?”

“Nice la…dies,” he drawled and shimmered. Julia stepped around him and he shimmered again. “Pretty Shu…shoo…. Ju…lia.”

“Hello Humphrey,” Julia said to him, putting her hand through his head as her way of petting him. “Say hello to Natalie.”

“Nat…a…lie,” he said. “Pretty Nat…a…lie.”

“Oh!” She smiled widely. Few people had ever called her pretty. She warmed towards the strange creature just for that.

“Ok,” Chrístõ said. “I think we should get an early breakfast since everyone is up. Then an extra practice before your first day of school, Julia!” And he turned to follow the green arrows to the kitchen.

Natalie came and watched after breakfast. She was in awe of them both. Julia swinging expertly on the asymmetric bars and Chrístõ performing the precise moves of Malvorian Sun Ko Du before moving on to a rigorous Shaolin sword fight with his hologram opponent. Julia finished her routine and came to sit with Natalie watching him. When he was done he sent Julia to shower and change while he walked with Natalie to her new classroom.

“You’re very good with that sword stuff,” she told him. “How long have you been learning it?”

“About fifty years, give or take,” he said. She looked taken aback and then remembered, of course, that he was a Time Lord.

“You still look like a boy,” she said. “It takes some getting used to.”

“I am a boy,” he assured her. “By my world’s standards. I have some adult responsibilities, but I am a teenager.”

“But you’re nearly 200 years old.”

“Yes.”

“So how do I think of you? You’re the ‘captain’ of this ship. You’re the reason I’m alive. You gave me medicine like a doctor. But you look like you could be in a classroom yourself being taught by me. Do I look up to you as a superior, an elder or…”

“I’m your friend, Natalie. That’s the only thing that matters. Think of me as a friend. Julia, too, outside of the classroom. In it… I hope she’ll be a good pupil. It has been a long time. I hope she won’t give you any trouble.”

“Would you punish her if she did?” Natalie smiled as she saw Chrístõ’s own smile. “You care so much for her. I don’t think you could.”

“I will if she doesn’t work hard for you,” he said “She has had a bad time of it, but settling down to something like normality is what she needs, now.”

“Chrístõ,” Natalie told him. “Travelling in space in a machine that creates rooms according to the imagination of those on board is FAR from normal. But we’ll do our best.”

He left them to it and went to catch up on some of his own work. They had landed on their destination planet already, but he wanted to wait until Julia’s first morning of school was done before they explored. Meantime he went to the console room and sat at the keyboard of the word-processor. He smiled a little wistfully as he saw that there was still a whole directory full of essays on Early Egyptian Society. Cassie and Terry had written them. He could have deleted them as old files, but he found himself wanting to keep them. He would visit there soon, he thought. But for now, he had to get on with a job he had put off for a long while. Writing up accurate reports of everything that occurred in his visits to the locations in his database. Should there be any question about his motives on any of the misadventures the Time Lords had sent him on he wanted his side of the story clear.

He was done by lunchtime, and slipped back to the classroom to watch quietly at the door as Natalie finished an Earth history lesson with Julia. When she was putting away her books he came in and announced that they were eating lunch out.

 

“Is this one of the planets the Time Lords want you to investigate?” Julia asked as they walked around the shops in what seemed to her an ordinary shopping mall on a planet that was just like Earth apart from the three suns. The city was built on a raised platform above a great empty plain where nothing grew except scrubby bushes and patchy grass all the way to a range of high, snow-capped mountains in the distance. That a consumer economy sat in the middle of such emptiness was surprising, Chrístõ thought, but hardly impossible.

“Yes, it is,” he said. “Though I am not entirely sure why. There doesn’t seem to be any major issue here. This is one of the places Earth colonised where there WAS an indigenous population already. The Earth people brought their shopping malls and cinemas and food halls and the Monorians continued to live as nomadic tribesmen with their own distinct culture and community. Neither seems to bother the other. Unless there is something more than meets the eye. I would like a look at the nomads later. But we’ve got other things to do here, first.”

The other things had started with lunch and gone on to include shopping. Natalie arrived in their midst with nothing but the clothes she was standing in, and although the wardrobe could provide for her needs he knew she would feel better for having clothes to call her own. She had even had to borrow a hairbrush from Julia’s room when they dressed. She protested about him spending his money on her. He said it was an advance on her salary as Julia’s teacher. But really he just liked being able to treat his friends. And in any case, the shopping took their minds off his other reason for bringing them to the city.

“You already know how bad the radiation is,” Julia said to Chrístõ as they waited in the reception while Natalie was being examined by the doctor. “Why did she have to come here?”

“I’m NOT a registered doctor anywhere in the universe. Even though I know I’m right, she ought to have a second opinion from an official source.”

Natalie came out of the surgery. She smiled at them, but it was a sad smile.

“The doctor wants to talk to you,” she told Chrístõ.

“Ok,” he said and he hugged her gently as he passed and stepped into the surgery. The doctor was a woman of about Natalie’s age. Her name clip said she was a Doctor Bell. She looked surprised when she saw Chrístõ.

“YOU are the one who examined that woman originally?”

Chrístõ sighed and began his usual ‘I’m older than I look’ explanation. Why, he thought, do I always feel I have to apologise for looking like I do? But to the Humans he met so often it WAS difficult for them to grasp that he had experiences beyond his apparent years. Doctor Bell reacted as Natalie had when he mentioned he was a Time Lord. That seemed to explain everything.

“But SHE is not a Time Lord. She is a Human with a terminal illness.”

“She is in my care,” he said. “I will look after her.”

“The drugs she needs are expensive. Do you….” Chrístõ got ready to explain that he was also richer than he looked but they were both alarmed to hear screaming outside. The scream was from Doctor Bell’s receptionist, but he heard Julia and Natalie crying out as well. He stood up and turned for the door as it burst open. Julia and Natalie ran in, along with the receptionist. They were forced to do so by a group of what Chrístõ knew at once to be the nomadic native Monorians with long, sharp knives that glinted in the light. Doctor Bell stood up and protested about the intrusion.

“We need help,” a man who was clearly the Monorian leader said in a gruff and unyielding voice. He was not begging for help but demanding it. At the same time a woman came forward with a child in her arms. She held it out to Doctor Bell but she backed away.

“I’ve told you before,” she said. “Our medicine is not compatible with your physiology. I cannot give you treatment. And you should not have come into the city with weapons.”

“Help him or this one dies.” The man grabbed Julia and held his knife to her throat. Chrístõ gave a cry and made as if to run at him but then changed his mind and backed away. Even he could not reach her before her throat was cut.

“My child is dying,” the woman said. “Please…” HER voice WAS begging. She turned to the man who was clearly her husband. “Please, Garre. I don’t want you to hurt any of them. But I don’t want my child to die, either.”

“It’s just a baby,” Natalie said. “Doctor… you must…”

“I can’t,” Doctor Bell said again. “I know nothing about their illnesses. And I doubt I have any treatments.”

“Give me the child,” Chrístõ said, stepping forward and taking it from the mother. It looked about three years old, and it was clearly very ill. And even at a first glance he thought he knew what he was looking at. He laid the child on the examination table and took out his sonic screwdriver to examine him.

“How many other people are sick in your community?” Chrístõ asked Garre. “Put the knife down, by the way. It is not necessary. Unlike Doctor Bell, I would not refuse to treat anybody.” Garre lowered his knife but he did not put it away and he held Julia still. Natalie and the receptionist and Doctor Bell were all being watched carefully by knife-wielding Monorians. “Everyone calm down,” he added. “There will be no deaths here.” He looked at the mother of the child. “No deaths of any kind,” he told her.

“There are many sick,” Garre said. “Many children, many adults. My son is most precious to me. That is why I broke with tradition and came to the outsider city for help. The sickness came from the city, but the outsiders do not die.”

“That can’t be true,” Doctor Bell protested. “Monorians don’t suffer from the same diseases we do.”

“Yes it can,” Chrístõ said. “And they do. This child has Typhoid fever. That is a Human disease. All colonists in settlements like this are automatically vaccinated against it. But that doesn’t stop them being carriers.” He looked at Natalie and Julia. “You two… You both had your vaccinations, I presume?”

“Yes,” Julia said. “We weren’t allowed on the ship without them. And they gave us regular health checks for anything that might cause problems when we arrived on Beta Delta. Anyone who was showing any symptoms would be quarantined.”

“It’s been at least a year since your last booster, though. Doctor Bell, I presume you have trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or something of that nature around here. I need a remedial dose right now for this child, as well as saline solution to replace lost fluids. And then prepare vaccinations for everyone in this room apart from myself. And then you had better start organising a planet wide quarantine. No movement between this city and any others. No movement offworld And a vaccination programme for everyone in this city and for the affected Monorian tribes. If we’re lucky we can catch this before it's too late.”

Doctor Bell looked at him for a long moment. Chrístõ wondered if she was going to do as he said. If she challenged him it was true he was NOT a qualified doctor and once the alert was raised and other doctors in the city were involved they were all going to ask him what his authority was to give these orders.

And before she could make a move the situation was further complicated by the arrival of the city police who informed them by means of loud hailers that the surgery was surrounded and that all hostage takers had to surrender their weapons and give themselves up now.

“Oh give me strength!” Chrístõ looked around at Doctor Bell. “The trimethoprim, NOW!” Doctor Bell jumped at the power of his voice as he spoke the last words and ran to the door that led to the pharmaceutical store. She returned with a syringe made ready with the treatment for the Monorian child and a box of syringes and a supply of trimethoprim for the vaccinations he had ordered. Chrístõ calmly administered the drug to the child while Doctor Bell vaccinated her receptionist, Natalie and Julia. Chrístõ himself vaccinated the doctor. Then she turned to the Monorians. They backed away suspiciously.

“Let her,” Chrístõ said calmly. “It will help you.” Meanwhile he looked out of the window cautiously. They WERE surrounded and the police were wondering why nobody had answered their demands. “I think it's time we got the Monorians out of here.” He reached into his pocket and took his TARDIS key. “I’m glad I fixed the remote switch,” he said. “Times like this I really don’t want to walk.”

The TARDIS appeared in a rush of wind accompanied by its familiar sound and resolved itself into a walk in medical cabinet. Chrístõ picked up the child and stepped towards it. He turned to see the Monorians shrinking back away from the strange apparition. Julia took advantage of that and ran towards him. He gave her the key and told her to open it and asked Natalie to bring the child’s mother. When she saw her child taken into the strange room that appeared to be beyond the threshold of the cabinet door she followed anyway. He looked at the other Monorians.

“My magic box can return you to your settlement in a few minutes and I can help the rest of the sick people. Or you can stay here and be arrested. Your choice.”

They made their choice. Chrístõ was aware that in bringing them into the TARDIS he was introducing a non-advanced civilisation to technology that was super-advanced. If he had any choice in the matter he would not have done so.

“Doctor Bell,” he said as the last Monorian passed over his threshold. “I leave it in your hands to explain why there is in fact no siege here and to instigate the quarantine order and vaccination programme as per my instructions. You might also call the sanitation department and have them check the water and sewage. Somewhere there is a contaminant from here – the Human settlement – getting out and affecting the Monorians. And by the way, if it turns out there is any neglect of those facilities, you might tell that department that when I was taking my law degree I specialised in coroporate liability. I am quite capable of running rings around any lawyers they have.”

If a single Monorian life was lost, though, there wasn’t any way the Humans could compensate them. Money had no meaning to these people. Life was the most valuable thing they had. He closed the door and went to the console. He smiled at Julia and thanked her. She had already accessed the lifesigns monitor and it had located the Monorian settlement. That saved him precious minutes. He used those minutes to put through a subspace videophone call.

“Klatos Research,” the receptionist on the other end said. “May I take your order?”

“You may,” he said. “And please mark this as an emergency. I need these supplies processed within the hour. I will be making the collection in person.” And he listed the drugs he would need and their quantities. And when the receptionist asked he gave what Natalie, standing near him, realised was his credit card number.

“You’ve just paid for drugs to treat an entire village with a credit card?”

“I told you I was a rich kid,” he said. “Buying wholesale it works out at about five universal credits per head. But after all, can you put a price on health?”

“Klatos Research do,” Natalie told him. “Five credits per head.”

“Yes. But I don’t. It’s just money.” He told Julia to go with her to the medical centre and bring as many antibiotics they could lay their hands on along with saline solution and syringes. Then he carefully fine tuned the TARDIS to bring it in to land just outside the village.

“Oh my,” Natalie whispered as she walked beside Chrístõ and Julia, flanked by Garre and his wife and the other Monorians. “Are we too late?”

“I hope not,” Chrístõ said. “I do hope not.” He could feel the tension in the village deep within him. His telepathic synapses were picking up the anxiety of so many people with loved ones near death. But he was not yet getting the deep grief that comes with actual death. He looked around and made a decision.

“The largest hut – your communal hall?” Garre nodded. “Bring everyone who is sick there. It will be easier to help them all together.” He himself went to the nearest dwelling, where he found a man and a woman both still standing but showing signs of illness, and a child of about seven bedridden. He picked up the child and told the sick parents to come with him. By the time he reached the hall others were taking the cue from him and streaming in. He organised a system of triage. He organised the boiling of water because contaminated water was the cause of this problem. He organised the medicines he had with him to be given to those most in need. Then he turned to Natalie and Julia.

“I’m leaving you in charge for a very little while,” he said. “I am going to pick up the medical supplies. My TARDIS is the only ship that can do it. If they sent a freighter from Klatos it would take weeks. Natalie… You’re head nurse. Julia, you do what Natalie says. And all will be well.”

“We’ll do our best,” Julia told him, hugging him. “Hurry back, Chrístõ.” Natalie said the same and then he was gone. They looked at each other and then set to work.

“Klatos?” Natalie murmured as they set up saline drips for those suffering from dehydration as a result of the illness. “I have heard of it. Medical research planet. But it must be light years from here. How long will it take him?”

“Not long,” Julia said. “The TARDIS doesn’t have to take any time at all. It travels in time as well as space, you know.”

“I thought that was… I don’t know, a sort of metaphor.” Natalie smiled. “I don’t know. Chrístõ… He’s a Time Lord. They are such mysterious and powerful people. Who knows what he can do?”

“I know,” Julia said. “I have seen him perform wonders. But I don’t know if it’s because he is a Time Lord or because he is the most caring and wonderful man in the universe.” She smiled. “But he’s mine,” she whispered.

There was a noise outside. A shout, and all the able bodied men ran. Julia went to the window. What she saw made her heart sink. Policemen of the sort that had been at the surgery were entering the village. And they had guns. The men of the village were trying to block them and an ugly argument was brewing.

“They want to arrest the ones who invaded the city,” Julia said. “They are accusing THEM of bringing sickness to the Humans.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Natalie said as she continued to make the patients comfortable. She looked around the makeshift hospital and sighed. It looked so very primitive. That city had so many riches. And these people had so little. And they were being bullied by the city police, too.

“Somebody is going to die,” Julia said. “The guns….” She turned away as one of the policemen turned his rifle and hit one of the villagers around the head with the butt of it. “Oh. Please, stop them doing that.” She turned and only then realised that Natalie had gone. She turned back to the window and saw her running towards the scene of the standoff. She stood in front of the Monorian villagers, facing the guns. Julia watched her angrily remonstrating with the police. One of them stepped closer and pointed his rifle at her chest. She reached for the barrel and pushed it aside, her anger seeming to boil over at the idea of a gun being pointed at her. Julia felt proud of her. But also scared. They could kill her in a moment. She wanted to look away. She didn’t want to see Natalie shot. Or any of the Monorians either. But something kept her watching. Many of the Monorians were watching, too. They spilled out of the huts around the village and watched as this small, plump, red haired woman faced men with guns on their behalf.

Then she saw Natalie’s hair and her skirt ruffled by a sudden wind and she heard, above her strident argument, the sound of the TARDIS materialising. It appeared in the shape of an ordinary village hut right behind the policemen. They turned as the door opened and pointed their guns at Chrístõ. But he didn’t hesitate. There was a blur as he wrenched the gun from the hands of the nearest policeman and broke it in half over his knee. In the stunned moment that followed he turned the tables. Now he was the one telling them to get out of this village over which they had no jurisdiction. He stepped past them as they slowly obeyed him and he took hold of Natalie, who looked as if she was going to faint.

He had not come alone. There were people in white medical coats with boxes of medicines coming out of the TARDIS. They came into the hall along with him and Natalie and the injured villager helped by his friends.

“Julia,” Chrístõ said. “We can go now. These people are from Klatos. They will take care of the villagers. There is a ship from their planet on its way. By the time it gets here everyone should be well and it can take them home again.”

“That costs more than five credits per head,” Natalie said. “I thought you were just going to fetch medicine.”

“I thought you were just going to be a nurse,” he told her. “I arrive back to find you shouting down armed men. That was very brave of you.”

“I don’t feel brave,” she said. “I feel… I don’t know what I was doing. I don’t know why I did it. I just… I sort of thought… well I’m going to die anyway. If they shoot me…”

“Don’t ever think that way again, Natalie. Every day of your life is precious. And we will all treasure those days. But you did what you thought right. I am proud of you.”

“It’s you,” she told him. “Chrístõ… you do these things. You make people feel braver than they were. I would never have been able to do that before.”

“You’re Human,” he said. “Humans have many abilities they don’t even know they have. I’ve noticed that about you all. I’m just me. I am what I am and no more. But Humans when they’re not being stupid like the people of that city seem to be, you can be anything you want. It’s not me. It's your Humanity.”

“I don’t believe that,” Julia said. “I agree with Natalie. It’s you.”

He stood at the door of his TARDIS, the symbol on the wicker door and it's incongruous position right in the middle of the village square identifying it for what it was. He looked at them both and reached out and hugged them.

“I would be nothing without you,” he said. “Without friends like you, I would just be Theta Sigma, the lonely Outcast.” Then he took them by the hand and a few minutes later the extraneous hut was gone from the village. He knew there were still a lot of problems on Monoria. But he had done as much as he could. The rest was up to them.