Chrístõ stepped out of the TARDIS, neatly disguised as a closed souvenir stand on the promenade. He smiled as Julia and Natalie waved enthusiastically and went to join them at the beachfront café where they were drinking tall fruit laden drinks with umbrellas and bendy straws. He took a seat with them and ordered iced tea from the waiter who dutifully approached.

“I missed you,” Julia told him. “It’s not so much fun here without you.”

“We’ve had a very nice time,” Natalie added. “But we both missed you.”

“So what WAS this Treaty that you thought more important than being with us?” Julia asked.

“It wasn’t more important to me. It was important to my father. He wants me to get experience of these things. He is determined that I get a head start in my career in the diplomatic corps.”

“I don’t think there is any problem with that,” Natalie told him. “You are bound to be a very good diplomat.”

“I have a LOT to learn. Especially about not speaking when it is better not to. I am too impulsive, father says. And I have TOO much passion.”

“Is it possible to have too much passion? You are a good man. You CARE about people.”

“Diplomacy isn’t about caring for people,” he said. “It's about meeting some of the most revolting people in the universe and being fair to them even when the sight of them turns your stomach and their lifestyles and their political policies outrage every sensibility.”

“You sound as if you don’t really want to do it?” Julia told him. “I thought being an Ambassador, like your father was what you wanted to do.”

“I want to do a lot of things. The diplomatic corps is only the start. Eventually, I want to follow my father and uncle in government. Chancellor, Lord High President. That’s my goal.”

“A man who could live to be many thousands of years old has plenty of time to achieve all his ambitions,” Natalie told him. “But for the time being, your father is ensuring you have a good career, security to offer Julia when the two of you are married.”

“It’s not just that,” Chrístõ noted. “Father is scared that I might be drawn towards his OTHER career. He doesn’t want me to become an assassin for the Celestial Intervention Agency.”

“You wouldn’t? Would you?” Julia looked worried. “Chrístõ…”

“No,” he answered. “Father thinks because I have a certain love for adventure… and maybe a talent for it… that I would want to do it permanently. But he is wrong about that. I know the CIA do necessary work, but it isn’t the work, it isn’t the life I want. I wish to serve Gallifrey. That is my overriding desire. But not like that. Apart from anything else, Assassins don’t tend to have families.”

“Why not?” Julia asked. But Chrístõ clearly didn’t want to talk about it. He drank his iced tea and relaxed. The sun was going down on the lovely holiday planet of Lyria, and he was at last able to enjoy it. As much as the week spent with his father had been enjoyable, and as much as he relished the challenge of representing his world at the conference alongside him, he had missed Julia and Natalie. It had not been the sort of conference that allowed for social activities. It had been a hard fought territorial dispute that might well have ended in warfare between three planets without the intervention of the peace emissaries from Gallifrey, Adano Ambrado and Callistra who worked together tirelessly to find a solution. It was no place for Julia or Natalie.

Lyria was a beautiful place, and nothing ever happened here. It was perfectly safe.

They ate a pleasant meal at the same outside table as the sun began to go down over the sea, then Chrístõ and Julia left Natalie with a pot of coffee and went for a walk on the beach.

“You really missed me?” he asked. “You didn’t have any young men vying for your affections?”

“No,” she answered. “If there were, I would have said no. You’re my only boyfriend, Chrístõ.” She squeezed his hand and seemed to be looking for a way to ask a question. “Is it… is it all right to call you that? My boyfriend? Because… well you being so much older than me. You even LOOK older. Even if you were Human you would still be about twenty. And on Earth colonies I am a little bit too young to have a proper boyfriend.”

“Do you want us to be that?” he asked. He had never really used the term ‘girlfriend’ with the connotations it had in her culture. He thought of her as ‘My Julia’ and knew she was always going to be his no matter what the future held. But ‘my girlfriend’ had a strange feel to it. It would take some getting used to.

“Yes,” she said. “When I have to leave you, and live with my aunt and uncle on Beta Delta IV, when I have to live an ORDINARY life, I want to have one special thing. I want to be able to show people pictures of my handsome, wonderful boyfriend.”


“Other girls, at school,” she admitted.

“You want to be able to show off?”

“Yes, I suppose.”

“I AM your boyfriend, Julia. You are my girlfriend. There is no question of that. I don’t mind if you tell people that. Maybe its time we BOTH told people. Instead of pretending you’re my sister.”

“Does that mean we can kiss?” she asked.

“Not the way you mean. You ARE still only thirteen. But, come here.” He put his arms around her and held her near to him. He kissed her once, very quickly on the lips and then held her close, his face pressed against her hair, scooped up as it was in that traditional hairnet that denoted her girlhood.

The sun went down while he held her. He put his leather jacket around her as they walked back to where Natalie was still sitting. There were lights all around the outdoor café now, and it was becoming busy with evening customers. It looked very pleasant. Another hour there would be nice, Chrístõ thought, before it was time Julia and Natalie were both ready for bed. It was pleasant to do normal things like that, sitting among ordinary people and enjoying simple pleasures. The past week had been instructive and interesting. But he had been glad to get away when it was over.

“Oh, no,” Julia said, breaking him from his quiet thought. “They are early tonight. I thought we’d be back at the hotel before it began.”

“Before what began?” Chrístõ asked. He looked around but all he could see that was in any way out of the ordinary was a van that had pulled up in a no-parking area on the promenade.

“The dust sellers.”

“The what?”

“Chrístõ,” Natalie looked very serious. “We should have told you about this straight away when you got here. We found out about it after you’d gone. People are… Well, look.”

A group of people had climbed out of the van. They all had heavy bags slung on their shoulders and they spread out along the promenade, selling something from the bags. One of them came to the café and the customers purchased enthusiastically. It seemed to be small bags of some kind of purple dust. Chrístõ watched what people did with them. Some of them poured the dust into their drinks. They fizzed and turned purple and seemed to taste much nicer since they were generally downed in one rather than sipped slowly. Others put the dust into roll up cigarettes and smoked them. Inside the café a couple heated the dust in teaspoons over the candles that were lit at the table. It seemed the dust could be enjoyed in many different ways.

And enjoyed it most certainly was. All around, the noise level increased as people lost their inhibitions, laughing, shouting, dancing in the street, kissing each other, completely at random. It looked like a carnival atmosphere and it seemed harmless. But Chrístõ was not convinced. Nor were Julia and Natalie.

“It starts off ok, everyone having fun, but then it gets nasty,” Julia said as she turned away from the sight of a rather excitable young woman shedding her clothes as she ran along the beach, pursued by a man who she was giving every encouragement to. “We made sure we were in our hotel room well before it started every night.”

“But don’t the authorities do something? This has to be some kind of drug… it can’t be legal.”

“The authorities don’t seem to care. There’s been some stuff in the newspapers, complaints about the costs of cleaning the streets the morning after. But there’s nothing done about stopping it.”

“This is…” Chrístõ stared around them. “Neither of you two have touched that stuff have you? I can’t understand why you didn’t mention it before.”

“In the daytime, it doesn’t seem to matter. It seemed unimportant,” Natalie told him. “It was only when the sun went down, it was as if I remembered it all properly.”

“I remembered how scared it made me feel,” Julia added. “But in the daytime I couldn’t think what it was that bothered me. It was like having a nightmare that I didn’t like but in the day it wasn’t so bad.”

Chrístõ looked at them both, then around at the people nearest to him. He sniffed the air. There was a sweet odour. All around him people had been burning the stuff like incense and it was hanging in the air.

“It’s even affecting those who AREN’T buying it, that’s why you forget in the morning when the wind has cleared it away.” He looked towards the hotel he booked them all into, then to the TARDIS where he parked it. They were about the same distance away. But the hotel would be full of people who had bought this strange drug and the air-conditioning was probably filtering it around.

“Come on, back to the TARDIS,” he decided. Come to think of it, even if the hotel wasn’t affected he would probably rather go back to the TARDIS. It was much safer.

It was no more than a hundred yards of promenade away. But getting there was more difficult than he expected. Just getting out of the café area meant negotiating their way around tables where people were now behaving thoroughly silly.

Out on the street it was more serious. In that one hundred yards there were five cars crashed into each other or into lampposts or other obstructions. The drivers and passengers simply got out of their cars and wandered off, laughing.

All but one. Chrístõ pulled Natalie and Julia out of the way as a car mounted the pavement inches from them and crashed into the wrought iron barrier that stopped people falling into the sea. He watched in horror as the passenger was thrown out through the windscreen.

“Here,” he said, thrusting the TARDIS key at Natalie. “Get Julia inside. Quickly. I’m going to see if I can help.”

He couldn’t. The man was already dead. His neck was broken by the impact. Chrístõ dialled the number for the emergency services but the person who answered the phone sounded like she was at a party.

“Get a hold of yourself, people are dying,” he yelled down the phone. The reply was that he should ‘chill out.’ He cut the connection and turned towards the TARDIS.

Natalie and Julia hadn’t gone inside as he told them. They were talking to one of the dust sellers, who seemed to be doing business with them.

“What the hell is going on here?” Chrístõ demanded. “Julia, put that back. You’re too young to get involved with things like that. And you, Natalie, you should know better.”

“Hey, chill out,” the dealer told him. “You haven’t tried the dust, you haven’t lived.”

“I live plenty,” he retorted. “What are you up to?”

“Spreading the joy,” he replied. “Try some, here, have one on the house.” He thrust a packet of the ‘dust’ at Chrístõ. He was about to refuse emphatically then thought again. He put it in his pocket before turning and opening the TARDIS door, pushing the two women inside in front of him before slamming it shut.

“What were you both DOING?” Chrístõ demanded. “I told you to get inside and when I look around you were….”

“I don’t know,” Natalie answered. “I don’t know what…”

“Chrístõ, why are you so angry? We were just talking to that man. He wasn’t…” Julia stopped. “What is it? Why can’t I remember? We were sitting in the café. It was nice. Then… then I was here.”

“And this man you were talking to?”

“What man?”

Chrístõ looked at her. She didn’t look any different. But something had affected here within a few minutes out there and in a few minutes in the clean air of the TARDIS she was well again.

“You two get ready for bed,” he said. “I’ll make cocoa and you can drink it in bed as a treat.”

“With marshmallows?”

Julia skipped off to the bathroom. Natalie followed a little slower. Chrístõ watched her carefully. He wasn’t sure what being affected by an hallucinogen that also acted as an amnesiac would do to her ongoing medical problems. No good, he was sure of that much.

Natalie was in her bed, Julia in hers when he brought the tray through. The connecting doors were open. He gave Julia her cocoa first then went to look at Natalie. As she drank he checked her medication. He gave her the usual night-time injections and made her promise to use the painkillers if she needed them. Then he kissed her cheek and left her.

“What about you?” he said to Julia. “You’ve had a long day. Time to be getting off to sleep soon.”

“Not yet,” she told him. "Sit by me a while. I’m not going to have many more chances like this. You know that.”


“No,” she said. “It’s true. Natalie is… and she made you promise…”

“Because she’s right. It isn’t appropriate for you to be with me on your own. I shouldn’t even be in here, except Natalie is there right next door.”

She wasn’t being selfish. He knew that. He had realised long ago that she couldn’t think in terms of Natalie dying. She mentally skipped that part and thought of the implications for her. That she had to leave him afterwards.

“You’ll be happy with your family,” he assured her. “And I’ll still be around often. I’m your boyfriend, after all.”

“Yes,” she said with a smile.

“Julia… what IS going on here with this dust thing?”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “Only it happens every night. People just get silly. And in the morning, they can’t quite remember. I don’t remember much. Only… oh, there was a car crash, wasn’t there. You went to help. Was the man all right?”

Chrístõ hesitated before answering.

“I’m sure he was. You helped him. so he must be all right.”

“You have such faith in me,” he told her. “I’m glad.” He took the empty cocoa mug from her and she snuggled down into the bed. He tucked the blankets around her and kissed her on the forehead before he left the room, turning down the lights as he went.

He left the cocoa mug in the kitchen and then headed for the medical room. Humphrey caught up with him in the corridor and trilled at him. He smiled.

“No sleep for me tonight, he said. “Want to keep me company?”

He did, of course. Humphrey was so often there that he took him for granted. Something he knew he shouldn’t do.

“The ladies have been affected by this stuff,” he said as he sat at the medical workstation and began to prepare a slide and examine the powder. “And so are a lot of innocent people.”

“La… hurt?” Humphrey asked.

“No,” he answered. “They’re all right. So far. But something has to be done. Lyria is supposed to be a nice, safe place where people enjoy themselves, not a haven for drug-crazed….”

His life didn’t quite contain the experiences that supplied him with the vocabulary. But Humphrey wasn’t really listening to his words, rather the tone of them. Humphrey understood that he was worried.

“What will you do when the ladies are gone?” he asked. “You know that will happen, don’t you. And it won’t be long now. It’ll just be me and you.”

“Friend…to,” he intoned. And that seemed to imply that Humphrey would stick with him no matter what.

“One of these days we shall have to find a home for YOU,” he said. “I don’t intend to live my whole life in the TARDIS. One day I might be Ambassador to some world where it is always sunny. And what would you do then?”

“Friend…to,” he replied. Chrístõ got the feeling he meant that he trusted him to do that best for him as he did for ALL his friends.

“That I will,” he promised. He turned back to his work. Humphrey’s voice in the background was comforting as he first examined the dust under the powerful electron microscope and discovered that it was a crystalline structure that seemed to be the result of some kind of boiling and refining such as with sugar.

That was all he could discover from the microscope. He turned to the chemical analyser and put a sample into the receptacle. That would give him a better idea of what it actually was, and what the active ingredient was that made people act so stupidly.

The resulting print out five minutes later was both disappointing and intriguing at the same time.

He was about to move on to the next stage of his investigation when he was disturbed. A row of test tubes tinkled against each other as the TARDIS shook distinctly. Humphrey’s trill rose up a pitch and as he ran along the corridor Julia emerged from her room, pulling a gown around her and asking what was going on.

“I don’t KNOW,” he answered. He burst through the console room doors and turned on the viewscreen to show him what was happening outside, because the one thing he did know was that it didn’t come from inside his TARDIS.

“What are they DOING?” Julia asked as they stared at the activity outside on the promenade.

What they were doing was something only people who were under the influence of a mind-altering drug could POSSIBLY think was a fun thing to do. A group of people were driving cars along the promenade at speed and then jumping on the roof while the car was still moving. Whole groups of them were doing it, four or five people on the roof of one car.

And they were using the TARDIS as a simple way of stopping the car, by crashing into it – after they had all jumped off.

It wasn’t an attack on his TARDIS. They thought it was a closed down concessions kiosk. If they had enough reason in their heads, they were probably puzzled why it was standing up to such punishment. But he rather doubted it.

“Make them stop,” Julia said. “They’ll damage the TARDIS.”

“They couldn’t damage the TARDIS in a million years,” he assured her. “But it’s very annoying. Hold on.” He turned to the drive console and initiated a non-de-materialising short flight. The TARDIS, still in its disguised form simply rose from the ground in front of some very surprised joyriders and flew over their heads. Chrístõ selected a quiet spot on the jutting headland that marked the end of the bay and parked the TARDIS there.

“That was scary,” Julia said.

“That was downright stupid,” Chrístõ answered. “Has it been like that every night?”

“No,” she told him. “I think… I don’t know. Honestly, you don’t know what it feels like after. You just can’t remember. None of these people will remember.”

“Some of them will be living with the consequences. There have been deaths, injuries. Even the ones who aren’t hurt, I’d like to see them explain the damage to their cars to their insurance companies. Surely THAT would wake them up.” He looked around then. “Speaking of waking up, what about Natalie?”

He ran to her room, fearing the worst. But Natalie was in a deep sleep, enhanced by her medication. Chrístõ tucked the blankets around her and left her. Julia clearly didn’t intend to go back to bed yet, though.

“Ok, you can help me. Get dressed and come to the medical room.”

She did so. She was rather surprised at the first thing he asked her to do.

“You want me to spit into this beaker?” She looked rather disgusted and puzzled.

“Please,” he encouraged her. She looked at him dubiously and did so. He took the beaker and began to mix some of the purple dust with her saliva.

“On its own this stuff is no more dangerous than sherbet. Sweeties. It’s made from the refined pulp of a tangy fruit a bit like a passion fruit. The fruit is called Mallow Fruit. It can be bought in shops on Lyria and eaten perfectly safely. And it beats me how anyone even thought of looking for other uses for it. I can’t imagine what they thought they were trying to do at the time.”

“Make sherbet?” Julia suggested.

“Probably not,” he answered as he put the new sample into the analyser and waited for the results. “You shouldn’t be exposed to this sort of thing,” he told her. “I am sorry.”

“It’s all right,” she assured him. “I know I’m safe with you.”

“But I have been away all week and you WEREN’T safe. What would have happened tonight if I hadn’t got back in time?”

“You thought you were leaving us in a nice, safe place. The last time we were here it was beautiful. You didn’t know something mad was happening here.”

“Beta Delta IV is like an English suburb with nice houses and parks and gardens, schools, bowling alleys and cinemas, theatres, all the nice parts of living on Earth without the pollution and social problems.”

“It sounds boring,” she said.

“Yes, it does, in point of fact,” Chrístõ agreed. “But boring is safe.”

“But you won’t be safe. You’ll be out there, doing those tasks for the Time Lords still, getting into trouble, getting into danger.”

“That’s my risk. But I don’t have the right to expose you to those risks. I want you to grow up into a refined young woman, who dances beautifully and dresses prettily and will be an Ambassador’s wife one day.”

“Will YOU ever stop adventuring and BE an Ambassador?”

“When I’ve done a bit more growing up myself, I suppose,” he said. “I certainly don’t plan to be a space gypsy wandering around in the TARDIS ALL my life. This is only fun for a little while.”

“You know,” she said. “My father worked in the factory where they built starships. And my uncle on Beta Delta IV works in the town hall there. Do you really think I could BE an Ambassador’s wife? I think you were meant to marry the daughter of one of those high-ranking ladies that Valena takes tea with.”

“That much is true! Those girls are bred from birth for that role. Wife to an Oldblood heir, Lady of the manor. I don’t love any of them. I love you. And in the course of time I intend to marry you. I don’t expect you to become like them completely. I still want the girl who was brave enough to hold out against the vampyres, and who has been beside me through so many dangers. That spirit will never go from you. But I want you to be so much more, as well.”

She was about to reply when the analyser signalled it had done its job. He turned and tore off the printout. His eyes shone with excitement as he read the result. Then he set it aside and repeated the experiment using his own saliva. While they waited for the result he again talked to her about the future.

“It would be wonderful if I could get the post my father had when I was young. Ventura IV. Beautiful place. The capital city is a lot like Washington DC in the late twentieth century. The Gallifreyan Ambassador’s Residence is beautiful. And the countryside is so lovely. They have carriage horse parades where people dress up in old fashioned clothes and ride in the carriages and the people watching throw flower petals.”

“That sounds wonderful,” she said. “The only bit I think I would hate about that life, is you going away to conferences. That was the worst of this week. I DID miss you dreadfully.”

“I know,” he told her. “But that can’t be helped. Everyone has to endure partings sometimes. I remember when I was a boy, and my father was called away offworld for five years. I only got to talk to him by videophone once a week or so. I missed him so much. But he had to do his work and I had to study at the Academy.”

Again the analyser bleeped. He read the results.

“Right,” he said. “As I thought. I am the only completely sane person on this planet. Look at the difference between these three printouts.”

Julia looked. She could see that there was a whole lot more information on the printout from the sample using her saliva than the one with the ordinary dust and the one from Chrístõ’s own sample. But the long names of chemicals ending in syllables like ‘paraben’ and ‘anoline’ and ‘propyl’ meant nothing to her, except they vaguely sounded like the list of unpronounceable ingredients on the side of a shampoo bottle.

“Human saliva reacts with the dust to produce all of THESE chemicals,” Chrístõ said. “And these are ALL highly addictive hallucinogens that make people act the way we’ve seen them acting. THIS one…” He pointed to another long chemical name. “Is the one that makes them FORGET the morning after. It also triggers the production of tryptophan, which it's what makes people fall asleep. It takes longer to actually become active than the others, so that people have their insane and uninhibited time and then it kicks in and they find a place to sleep and wake up knowing something went on, but not what.” He pointed to another chemical name. “This one is a sort of mild anti-depressant which has the effect of making people feel there is nothing to worry about even though they know in the back of their mind there IS something to worry about.”

“All that from sherbet mixed with saliva. And what about YOURS?”

“If I was stupid enough to taste it, I’d just enjoy a rather tangy, fruity, sweet taste and nothing more,” he answered. “The chemical make up of my body is JUST different enough to render it totally inert in ME.”

“Making you the only sane person on the planet…. Except maybe the person who invented it and is sending people out in vans to sell it.”

Chrístõ gave a sudden laugh that startled Julia and kissed her on the cheek, equally suddenly, and startling her even more.

“Clever girl!” he said. “For reminding me of two things. First the vans, and second, that somebody must be at the bottom of this.” He jumped up from his seat and ran to the console room without remembering to blink or breathe as he ran. By the time Julia reached him, more slowly since her body insisting on her doing both, he was already sitting on the floor by the console constructing something small and intricate with a soldering iron and sonic screwdriver.

“Dare I ask what that is?” Julia asked. It was about the size of a digital watch and buzzed slightly when he passed the sonic screwdriver over it.

“Very makeshift homing device. Not exactly Celestial Intervention Agency standard. They use ones that are the size of a pinhead and completely undetectable except to the agent who sets the frequency. But it will do for this operation. I just need to clamp it to the van somewhere it won’t be noticed.”

He looked at his watch. It was only just after midnight. Sundown had been at ten. The madness had been going on for only two hours.

The devastation when he returned the TARDIS to the promenade looked like it had been going on much longer. The sweet scent was less distinct now. There was a slight sea breeze bringing in fresh air. Even so, he didn’t let Julia step out of the TARDIS. She stood at the door and watched as he weaved his way towards the van that the dust sellers travelled in. He looked the perfect picture of somebody who was extremely drunk or high. He was tunelessly and raucously singing a song which would have been very rude if he hadn’t deliberately forgotten all the relevant words. Despite the seriousness of the matter, Julia couldn’t help laughing at him.

He lurched against the side of the van and slithered down to the ground. His hand reached under the van and clamped the homing device to the underside of the chassis by its very strong magnet.

The driver jumped out of the front seat and swore loudly as he grabbed him up by the lapels. Chrístõ grinned maniacally and planted a kiss on the driver’s cheek, which earned him a painful kick in the stomach but completed the picture of a harmless Purple Dust user. He returned to the TARDIS, still keeping up the act. He noticed as he reached the door that the sellers were returning to the van. He got his device in place just in time.

“Ok, we’re on our way,” he said as he looked at the scanner and spotted his quarry moving off along the main coast road. He set the TARDIS to lock onto it and follow. He wondered what it looked like from the outside as it skimmed along the road in the dead of night, following the van from a safe distance. He hoped it wasn’t still disguised as a souvenir stand. Though he reasoned there were very few people sober enough to worry about it.

“It feels different moving like this, doesn’t it,” Julia noted as she held onto the console and Chrístõ put a protective arm around her and held on as well. “You can FEEL the movement.”

“Forward momentum,” he said. “Usually when we’re in the vortex or in space the inertial dampeners cancel out the sensation of movement. Unless we hit really bad turbulence at least. But in this mode we’re not going fast enough to need the dampeners.”

“It’s nice. I like it. We should do it more.”

“It puts a lot of strain on the engines. More than vortex flight. Probably because vortex flight was what it was designed for, not this.”

They were going deep into the countryside, towards the farming country beyond the tourist area where much of the food consumed in the restaurants and hotels on the coast was grown.

Including Mallow Fruit orchards.

The van turned down a long lane between copses of the fruit. Chrístõ slowed the pursuit and parked the TARDIS in the edge of the copse.

“You stay right here,” Chrístõ told Julia. “I don’t know what kind of people I’m dealing with here.”

“The kind of people who deal drugs to other people, knowing that they will go crazy and hurt themselves. Be careful, Chrístõ. This isn’t like the things the Time Lords want you to do.”

“Julia…” Chrístõ looked at her steadily. “Would you rather I just took us away from this planet and we never came back? If you think that’s what I should do, then… then just say so. I’ll do it.”

“You would never do that. You’d never walk away. Not while there are people in trouble.”

“If you asked me to, I would.”

“I would never ask you to do that. I’d be asking you to go against yourself. Go on, find out what’s happening, stop this horrible thing going on.”

“I’ll do what I can,” he promised. “Come here.” He brought her to the console. He put the lifesigns monitor on. It showed the area around them. “You know what my lifesign looks like. Different to the others. You can monitor where I am. Then you’ll know I’m ok.”

“All right,” she said.

“Good girl.” He hugged her quickly and then turned away. He slipped out of the TARDIS quietly. It had disguised itself as a fruit storage shed. He got his bearings and headed towards the building that bore a large sign proclaiming it to be ‘Mallow Processing Inc.’

Processing Purple Dust! Chrístõ sighed as he drew close to the building. Julia was right. It wasn’t what he was asked to do by the Time Lords. They were interested in the bigger picture, in preventing wars between worlds or the development of weapons of mass destruction, or to prevent unscrupulous races from learning the secret of time travel.

This was just a local drug problem. It ought to be dealt with by the local police. The only reason it wasn’t was that the local police were as affected by it as everyone else. He had seen police cars in among those crashed up and down the promenade by joyriders and people in uniform behaving as stupidly as everyone else.

He was the only one not affected by it. He was the only one who could do something.

He found a side door. It was locked, but the sonic screwdriver made short work of that. He slipped inside.

He could hear voices. Raised voices, angry voices. He made his way along a short, unlit corridor past administration offices and came to the main factory floor. There were lights on in there. The van that he had followed had been driven in through a sliding door at one end. The argument seemed to be between the dealers and what had to be the boss of the operation. He wore a smart suit and tie and looked like he was doing well for himself. His sort invariably did. He had two henchmen flanking him who looked like they were built up, in a shipyard, rather than grown up.

Even with that sort of muscle backing him up, though, he wasn’t having it all his own way. Chrístõ listened for a while. Some of the dealers were having qualms about the operation. One claimed to have counted sixteen dead bodies, some of them horrible, he said. That wasn’t part of the deal.

“If people lose control when they use the product it’s not our lookout,” the suited man, whose name, apparently was Vinal, replied. “They should read the health warning!” He laughed a sort of laugh that wasn’t in any way humorous. When one of the dealers tentatively pointed out that there WAS no health warning he laughed all the harder. So did his henchmen. Most of the dealers, anxious to keep in with the one paying them money, laughed, but in a forced way, without conviction.

“They get what they pay for. And they’re paying a fortune. And they’ll keep on paying. Because they can’t get enough of Purple Dust. They love it.”

“It’s killing people!” the same protester continued to protest. Chrístõ thought the man was brave but very stupid. Vinal looked like a man you didn’t want to cross and he was pushing his luck.

“You want out, get out. Give me what you collected and don’t expect to get a cut of it.”

“Have your filthy money,” the protester replied, throwing down a bag that made the kind of sound a lot of paper money, tightly bound, makes. It had obviously been a good night. The protester turned and walked away towards the door. As he reached it. Vinal nodded to the henchman on his right. He pulled a gun and shot him in the leg.

Chrístõ ran for it. Out the way he came and around to where the injured man was staggering away as quickly as he could. He reached him and time folded as he lifted him up. The man barely had time to yelp with surprise before he was at the door of the TARDIS.

“Julia,” he said as he laid the injured man on the floor of the console room. “Fetch the first aid kit. And please tell Humphrey to come here. I’ve got an idea how he can help me.” He ripped open the man’s jeans and looked at the injury. It was a through and through. The bullet had gone through his lower thigh and out again. “You’re lucky,” he said. “First, because it’s a simple wound. And second because my lovely girlfriend, Julia, is going to patch you up.”

“I am?” she looked surprised.

“You’ve helped me with simple field dressings many times. This just needs cleaning and bandaging. I’m giving him a tetanus shot and a local anaesthetic for the pain. He can rest on the sofa afterwards. He’s going to have a bit of a think about his statement to the police, aren’t you, sunshine?”

“Yes,” the man gasped. “Yes, just don’t let them shoot me again.”

“There you go,” Chrístõ said as he moved to the console and found something in the cupboard underneath. “I’ll be as quick as I can,” he assured Julia. “If he gives you any reason to be scared of him, call me on my mobile. But I think his days in organised crime are over.”

Julia set to work dutifully. The wounded man was in too much pain, and too glad to have somebody doing something to help him to complain.

Humphrey trilled by his side. Chrístõ put his hand through the top of what passed for his head.

“Come on,” he told him. “We’re going to round up some drug dealers.”

Humphrey trilled in a higher pitch. Chrístõ figured that was him saying he was right with him.

He got back in again the same way, through the back door. Just by the door to the factory floor was something he had noticed before but hadn’t thought important. Now it did. He reached up and threw the main power switch, throwing the factory into darkness. At the same time he turned on the penlight mode of his sonic screwdriver. It was enough light for him to see by. Humphrey saw perfectly well anyway. In the darkness he expanded to twice his normal size as he bowled towards the startled Vinal and his henchmen. Chrístõ saw him expand even more and envelop the three men, who squealed in a way quite unbecoming to a henchman as Humphrey gave them all a mild electric shock, just enough to make them drop their weapons and become very docile.

“Everyone else keep very still,” Chrístõ announced, holding the sonic screwdriver in a way that made it look as if it just might be a weapon. From his pocket he pulled a bundle of plasicuffs that had been in the TARDIS ever since Sammie had kept a small arsenal under the console. He began to cuff the dealers with their hands behind their heads. They seemed unaware that Chrístõ was on his own, or that he wasn’t police. Humphrey deflated to his normal size and stood in front of Vinal and his henchmen as Chrístõ came and plasicuffed them, too. Then he pushed Vinal in front of him.

“Everyone get in line and march out of here,” he ordered. Keep moving. There’s a shed in the orchard. We’re all going in there.”

“Why?” somebody was brave enough to ask. Humphrey hovered towards him and he whimpered.

To Chrístõ’s surprise, the TARDIS wasn’t a fruit shed when he reached it. It had changed its disguise to an old fashioned English police phone box from the 1950s. He recalled that his older incarnations that he had met from time to time in paradoxical situations kept the TARDIS permanently in that shape.

“Don’t get too comfy like that,” he whispered, patting the door as he stepped inside. “All right,” he said. “Everyone kneel on the floor around the edge of the room. Don’t say a word. You’re all under citizen’s arrest.”

“What sort of citizen is THAT?” one of Vinal’s henchmen demanded, as Humphrey hovered in front of him.

“A good citizen,” Chrístõ answered. “Now shut up and be a good prisoner. Julia, is our other internee all right?”

“He’s moaning a bit, but I think he’s all right,” she answered. “Have you really taken ALL these people prisoner?”

“Yes,” he answered. “And now we’re off to the police station to find them all a nice warm cell.”

And that is exactly what he did. He materialised the TARDIS, still disguised as a police telephone box, inside the reception hall of the city police station. The desk sergeant was asleep. The desk was in total disarray. Empty bags of Purple Dust were evidence that the dealers had been to the station earlier in the evening, but of their own volition that time. Chrístõ took the keys from the man’s pockets and opened up the custody suite, ignoring several other sleeping police officers. He put everyone into a cell of their own and locked it. Then he went back to the front desk. He wrote in the custody book the names and charges of all the prisoners and then he wrote a full statement of his arrest of the entire Purple Dust operation. He gave full details of where to find the van, the factory where the Dust was produced and all the evidence necessary to prosecute Vinal and his staff. He also included copies of his chemical analysis showing that the apparently harmless dust was not so harmless after all.

“That should do it,” Chrístõ said and turned to leave. He smiled to see that the TARDIS, now it was no longer a mobile detention centre, had turned into a beach hut. “Good idea, old girl. Let’s find a nice, quiet place.”


When Natalie woke in the morning and wandered through to the console room, looking for everyone else, she found the door wide open. Chrístõ and Julia were sitting on a rug under a parasol on a deserted beach, watching seagulls swooping around the cloudless sky. It was already a warm day and promised to stay that way.

“I paid for a fortnight’s stay at that hotel,” Chrístõ said, turning . “So we might as well enjoy our holiday. But I thought we’d spend today in this nice quiet corner of the coast and return to the city later when they’ve cleaned up and life is back to normal. By the way, here’s a little treat for breakfast. Unprocessed Mallow Fruits are really delicious with natural yoghurt.”