Chrístõ smiled serenely as he programmed one of the few preset co-ordinates he knew had no hidden agenda about it. It had a note from his father.

“Show the ladies this. Julia will be astonished and Natalie ought to see some of the wonder of the universe up close while she still can.”

“You’re going to love it,” he told them as the blue vortex indicating travel back in time resolved into real space. “Watch.”

Julia and Natalie both looked up from the sofa at the viewscreen as the TARDIS slowly turned and a planet came into view. Or at least something that might be a planet one day. At the moment it was a ball of red molten rock with blacker places where it was only just starting to cool.

Orbiting around it was a small molten globe and what seemed to be hundreds, thousands of smaller pieces of debris.

“Where is this?” Julia asked.

“This is Earth,” Chrístõ answered. “When it was only about half a billion years old and hardly begun to cool. It had a small mishap a bit back. I won’t try to scare you with more figures, but a planet whose orbit hadn’t settled veered too close and caused all that debris to be pulled away. Luckily the Earth has quite a strong gravitational pull of its own and the pieces all began to orbit it.”

“Like Saturn’s rings?”

“Something like that, but not quite,” Chrístõ went on. He was in his element. He had always loved astronomy from the earliest age. People said it was because of his grandfather. Chrístõ De Lun, was Gallifrey’s foremost authority on what lay beyond her skies. He had the fondest memories of the old man taking him up to the high places and setting up telescopes to watch all of the universe’s wonders, planets aligning, double stars, nebula, supernovas. He had seen them all through a lens before he was fifty. But it was only after he passed his TARDIS piloting test that he was allowed to examine them closely.

This was wondrous to him, too. He knew the theory of how such things happened. But watching it before his eyes was another matter.

“The whole process will take several more million years,” he said. “But we’re in a time machine.”

This was a function he had only used one or two times before. Mostly he used the vortex to move between times and places. But it was possible to travel in normal space at accelerated speed. The people within the TARDIS were protected by its own temporal field, but outside time was passing at a rate of ten centuries a second. They all watched in awe and wonder as the debris surrounding Earth was slowly pulled together into one molten ball that orbited the still cooling planet.

“Oh!” Julia said as they watched both bodies slowly cool and become solid. “Oh, it’s the moon. I didn’t realise at first. It’s the moon, isn’t it? But it doesn’t look like it yet. I suppose…. All the craters… they’d be things crashing into it?”

“That and still active volcanoes. But they settle down long before Humans evolve. The moon will soon look just as it does in your time. There is no atmosphere on Earth yet. That is still forming too. But it’s just a matter of time.”

Again he pushed the lever forward slowly and they saw those things happening. The moon suffered several direct hits from meteors in the still forming solar system, and both planet and moon had a great deal of volcanic activity. Craters, mountains formed and reformed as the crust cooled and it began to look like a solid planet.

“Thank you for showing us this,” Julia said. “Nobody else has seen it. It’s amazing.”

“I could never have done a lesson in class that compares,” Natalie told him. “Oh, but… I feel… So very small and insignificant when I look at this. It’s frightening.”

“We are all small and insignificant in the grand scale of things,” Chrístõ admitted. “Even Time Lords. I think some of us should try to remember that.”

“We’re the only people who have seen this!” Julia sighed. “We’re unique.”

“There’s just one thing,” Natalie said. “All of this… seeing it. Our world being created. So… is the Bible all just fairy stories then? Where is God in all of this wonder that we’ve just witnessed?”

Chrístõ looked at her and then at Julia, whose expression matched Natalie’s. He knew he had to choose his words very carefully here.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “I’m only 192. I don’t know everything. But I think… if I had to guess… well…” He paused. He really did feel a little out of his depth right now.

Then he had a small flash of inspiration. He hummed softly for a moment, finding the tune, and then sang a verse of a song he had learnt in the 20th century, but came from the late 19th century.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power through-out the universe displayed.

“I have never been to the beginning of the universe. I don’t think any of my people ever have. I don’t know, and I wouldn’t even want to speculate, what power sparked its creation from the darkness and the nothingness before time. I can’t deny the existence of a higher power that began the work of Creation we see going on here. It is hard to believe that it was all coincidence, all a random coming together of molecules and particles. I don’t know. I can’t say yes or no, but when I look at something like this, I have to admit the possibility.”

Natalie and Julia both looked at him again, then up at the viewscreen, to the view of the new world being formed.

“Chrístõ,” Natalie said very quietly. “That means that God created your planet, too.”

“Yes, if you believe that God… or A god… created the universe.”

“God made you, Chrístõ. As He made all of us,” Natalie insisted.

Chrístõ smiled gently. She knew, because he had talked to them both, that Gallifreyans had no concept of a god. Rassilon created the Time Lords through scientific knowledge. They didn’t ask who or what created the Gallifreyan people before then. They worshipped nothing and nobody and were, themselves, regarded as gods on many other worlds.

But the universe was a vast, complicated place and the Time Lords didn’t know everything.

Natalie was satisfied anyway. Chrístõ realised that the question had worried her. Watching her own planet and its moon created over the millennium was so daunting to her, and conflicting with her own beliefs. But his answer had settled her mind.

He turned back to the TARDIS controls, still humming that so inspiring hymn. He remembered that it was written in 1886 by a Swedish pastor after he was caught in a thunderstorm and filled with the same wonder at the glory and majesty of nature as the three of them had experienced just now. Whoever created the universe, it was a beautiful place and he loved the chance to explore it all and see it all.

The planet had been getting on with things while he wasn’t looking. The surface was now cool and the atmosphere was forming. There were ice caps at the poles and the beginnings of the oceans. Verses nine and ten of the book of Genesis were accomplished, he noted, remembering Natalie’s concern earlier.

“Almost ready to support life,” he noted as he stopped their movement through time and took them into orbit around the brand new world.

“Chrístõ,” Julia said. “We’re NOT alone.”

He looked up from his controls and saw that she was right. There was a ship there. A big ship. He estimated it to be a good half mile wide. It didn’t look like a battleship of any kind. In fact, if he had to guess anything, Chrístõ would have said Research Vessel. It put him in mind of the sort of thing the Klatos people used for their medical research purposes. Except it didn’t have their livery and in any case, why would Klatos be here at the birth of a planet?

“It doesn’t know we are here, of course. The TARDIS is undetectable to ordinary scanners and radar. I think I will announce our presence to them.”

“Is that a good idea?” Natalie asked. “What if they’re hostile?”

“We’ll still be invisible to radar. They won’t be able to fire on us.” He moved slowly around to the communications console and opened a video channel to the neighbouring ship. A surprised communications officer in a semi-military uniform appeared on the screen requesting the registration of his ship. He was not Human. The body shape was what was called humanoid, but he was a tall, thin, pale blue figure with a head that tapered in the middle top of the skull giving him the appearance of a pale blue coconut.

Chrístõ didn’t recognise the species or the uniform he wore, or his ship either.

“I think you should tell me yours first,” Chrístõ answered. “Are you authorised to be in this space sector?”

“Are YOU authorised to be in this space sector?” the officer replied. “You don’t LOOK like an officer of the Federation.”

“That’s because I’m not an officer of the Federation. ANY Federation. And I still question your presence here. Who are you and what is your purpose here? Don’t you know the planet below is at a crucial stage in its development? Any interference with it could adversely affect billions of years of future history. You could even prevent life from developing. And that would be devastating to the whole universe.”

“We are aware of the state of the planet,” the officer replied.

“Good. But the question still remains, who ARE you?”

The officer looked around as his superior officer addressed him and then the view switched to a general one of the ships bridge and a female who was obviously the captain addressed him.

“What species are you?” she asked.

“Again a question I was going to ask you,” Chrístõ answered. “But we are getting nowhere here with this line of questioning. Stand by. I am boarding your ship. Please drop any anti-transmat protection that may adversely affect the transfer.”

“You cannot do that,” the captain told him. “We still have no confirmation of your identity.”

“I have no confirmation of YOURS,” he answered. “I am taking it on faith that you ARE of peaceful intent. I will be unarmed. Carrying weapons is not something I habitually do. Stand by.”

“Chrístõ?” Julia looked at him curiously. “You seem very…”

She stopped. She wasn’t sure WHAT he seemed. Out of character, certainly. She had never seen him acting quite so arrogantly as he was just now. He seemed to be trying to exert his own superior authority over this other ship.

“Do you realise what would happen if they interfere with Earth now, at this time in its development? They could prevent life ever evolving there. Human beings would not exist. Do you know what that would mean?”

“We would never be born. Natalie and me.”

“Or me,” Chrístõ said. “I am half-Human. But more than that. Humans have a huge impact on the universe in their own way. They are never as powerful as the Time Lords or any of the ancient empires, but they spread their influence so far. If they have any motive that would be dangerous to the planet, I have to stop them.”

He noted that they HAD turned off the anti-transmat barrier. They were at least curious enough about him to do that. He turned to the drive control and a few moments later the TARDIS materialised on the bridge of the ship. Chrístõ stepped out. Julia and Natalie followed him. He noted that the TARDIS had kept its exterior shape in default mode, a grey-metallic rectangular cabinet with his own TS symbol on the door and the Seal of Rassilon identifying it as of Gallifreyan origin. It saw no need of subterfuge, and perhaps a greater need for him to be correctly seen as a representative of his world.

“I am Chrístõdavõreendiam?ndh?rtmallõupdracœfiredelunmiancuimhne de Lœngbærrow of Gallifrey, Lord of Time, Prince of the Universe, Guardian of Eternity,” he said when he was sure everyone on the bridge was giving him his full attention. “I am here to prevent any interference with the planet below. For reasons I hardly need to outline.”

“I am Captain Veira Gellar, Captain of the Genome IV. This is an authorised science vessel observing the conditions on the planet below, designated 452??SO.”

“You mean Earth,” Julia protested. “Not 452… whatever it was. The planet is called Earth and Natalie and I come from there in the future. So whatever it is you intend to do…”

“I’m still waiting to hear who you ARE exactly,” Chrístõ said. “What species are you?”

“We are Glyx,” Gellar answered. “And where was it you are from?”

“Gallifrey,” he said. “I am a Time Lord.”

“You’re a very young one,” Gellar observed. “Surely not much of a… what was it… Guardian of Eternity.

“Glyx?” Chrístõ questioned, ignoring the disparaging reference to his youthfulness. “A race of mere mythology on my planet. You have not been heard of for millennia."

"Who are they?" Natalie asked him. "What do they do?" She stood close by Chrístõ. So did Julia. They were neither of them worried by the obvious alienness of the Glyx, but they found Chrístõ's suspicion of them disturbing.

“They’re observers,” he said. “Observers and statisticians, measuring and calculating.”

“Measuring what?”

“Everything. Life, the Universe and Everything, as an Earth writer once coined it. You could say they are the auditors of life in the universe.”

“You are dismissive of our work, young Time Lord,” Gellar said. “You misunderstand the nature of it. You misunderstand the reasons why we are here. You…”

The Communications Officer shouted a warning, cutting the captain off in mid-sentence. She turned as he patched the communication over to the main screen.

Chrístõ blanched as he saw what had entered orbit around the planet now. If the “Genome IV” didn’t look like a battleship, this one DID.

“Two of them,” The Communications officer said as another ship appeared.

“Suggest cloaking field,” the tactical command officer said. The Captain concurred. Chrístõ, with his heightened senses, was aware of a slight shimmer in the air as the great vessel made itself invisible to the two ships that were on the screen.

“Do you know what THOSE ships are?” Julia asked Chrístõ. He didn’t answer. Julia looked at his face. He was pale and only by keeping his teeth clamped together could he stop himself from vocalising his fear.

“Sontaran and Rutan,” he answered. “They…” He paused. “They have been fighting a war between each other for millions of years. My father was trying to broker a peace Treaty between them on the day I was born. They are the two most aggressive races in the universe. And despite the efforts of my people to stop them they have the ability to travel in time as well as space, even if it’s not an especially comfy ride for them all. Comfort was never a Sontaran priority and I doubt the Rutans have even heard of the concept. And neither have anything on their minds but victory over the other.”

“Shouldn’t we warn them about not interfering with the planet?” Julia asked him.

“NO!” Both Chrístõ and Captain Gellar responded sharply.

“No,” Chrístõ repeated a little less urgently. “We don’t want them to even notice the planet. We want them to pass on by and get on with their war somewhere else. Preferably their own space sector or some empty part of the universe. We don’t want them to know we’re here, and we don’t want them to know there is anything important about the Earth. Because they would attack us and the planet simply out of malevolence. Discretion in this case is the better part of valour.”

“Those ships just LOOK evil,” Natalie said with a shudder. “What do the Sontarans and the…”

“Rutans,” Julia reminded her.

“Yes, them. What do they look like?”

“I’m not entirely sure,” Chrístõ answered. “I’ve never met one of them. Most of the species I ever came across were at the intergalactic conferences my father took me to when I was a child. Neither of those species are interested in trade agreements or Treaties and Conventions of co-operation. But I understand that the Rutans are a sort of energy being with a non-humanoid form. The Sontarans are…” Chrístõ laughed softly. Julia and Natalie looked at him expectantly. So did the Captain and those of her crew within earshot. “My father, is known throughout the galaxy as a man of unlimited compassion and mercy, who never takes anyone or anything at face value and reserves judgement until he knows the facts. So when he says that the Sontarans are the ugliest beings he ever sat at a conference table with, my imagination goes into overdrive.”

Captain Gellar looked at him and shuddered. She saw Julia slip her hand into Chrístõ’s while he put his arm around Natalie’s shoulders. Though she was a Captain of a ship, with twenty years service in the Scientific Corps of her world, she wished fervently there was a hand SHE could hold right now.

The Rutan ship, meanwhile, was taking evasive manoeuvres. It was smaller and more manoeuvrable than the huge Sontaran battleship. It had a crystalline look to it, as if it was grown or accreted rather than built.

“It’s using the moon as a shield,” the tactical officer said.

“Oh &@#£$%,” Chrístõ swore. “The Sontarans have weapons that could blow the moon to atoms if they chose.

But it seemed as if they weren’t choosing to do that much damage. They were aiming at their enemy with a weapon that emitted a precise beam of what seemed to be pure heat. They missed the first two times as the Rutan ship manoeuvred out of range. They created the craters known as the Seas of Tranquillity and Serenity. The irony of the names given to them by Humans in the far future was not lost on Chrístõ, although he did note that both currently seemed to be on the dark side of the moon as seen from the planet and wondered what happened to cause it to be the other way around in the future.

The Rutans fired back and managed to cause damage to the Sontaran ship, but nothing life threatening. The Sontarans fired their beam of heat once more and the Rutan ship was caught in it. The crystalline structure seemed to heat up and expand and none of the observers had any doubt that it had suffered a death blow.

But they weren’t completely finished yet. The observers observed in horror as the stricken Rutan ship seemed to climb up the beam that enveloped it, accelerating all the time.

“Kamikaze,” Chrístõ murmured, though the word didn’t mean much even to his 24th century Human friends. They all saw what was happening, though. The Captain ordered protective shields to maximum as the Rutan ship impacted on the underside of the Sontaran battleship.

Both ships exploded together. Most of the structure disintegrated. But a sizeable chunk of twisted metal, which Chrístõ noted contained the energy core of the Sontaran ship went crashing towards the moon, creating the huge crater known as the Ocean of Storms.

But it did worse than that. Chrístõ gave a gasp of horror and ran into the TARDIS. Julia followed him. So did Natalie. Captain Gellar and her tactical officer stood at the door and stared at the interior. Chrístõ ignored their astonished gasps. He wasn’t worried about explaining relative dimensions right now. There were more important things to worry about.

“Earth is in BIG trouble,” he said with a calmer voice than he thought he would have managed. “The moon has been knocked out of line. It's in a decaying orbit, falling towards the planet.”

“Oh no!” Julia gasped as the implications sank in. “Oh but… But… it would…”

“It would do any of several things. It could split the planet in half. It could create a massive crater, throwing up dust and debris into the atmosphere, blocking the sunlight, preventing life from even beginning. Or it could….”

“Chrístõ, DO something,” Julia said. “Stop it from happening.”

“I can’t,” he told her. “Julia, Natalie, I’m sorry. I can’t. I... I don’t know how to stop a moon from falling.”

“Chrístõ!” She ran to him as fear enveloped her. “Chrístõ… if it happens, if we suddenly don’t exist…”

“It hasn’t happened yet,” he told her. “It might never happen. We might be able to do something.”

“If it happens….” Natalie began. “Do we just disappear, cease to exist…”

“Yes,” he answered. “That’s why I know there IS something we can do. But I don’t know WHAT. I don’t know WHAT I can do.”

Julia looked at Chrístõ. The shock silenced her own tears. For the first time since she had known him he had been forced to admit that he couldn’t do something.

“You have to do it,” she said. “We DO exist. There must be something. Guardian of Destiny… Is that just a word? Does it mean nothing?”

“No, it means something,” he said. “It means that we Time Lords are meant to prevent things like this happening. We’re supposed to stop time being unravelled and destiny from being prematurely halted.”

“Well, then DO it,” Julia almost screamed at him.

“I can’t!” he protested, tear stinging his cheeks. “I’m just… just one man. Just one… YOUNG Time Lord. I don’t KNOW everything.”

“Well find one that DOES,” Natalie told him. “What do OTHER Time Lords do? Sit around doing nothing?”

“No,” Chrístõ answered. “Not all of them. But…”

“Is this just your pride?” Natalie asked him. “You don’t want to ask other Time Lords to help you, in case they think you’re a useless half-blood who can’t handle it.”

“NO Time Lord could handle this alone,” he answered. “This is too big for any of them. Pure blood or not.”

“Well then. Call them. Get help.”

“I’m trying,” he said. “We’re a long way in the past. The Laws of Time prevent me from contacting any Time Lord outside of my own time. I have to send the emergency signal forward through time to my own people.”

“Will they come in time?” Julia asked.

“Will they come at all?” Captain Gellar interrupted. “Yes, I have heard of the Time Lords. But I have never seen one in the flesh. What did you call us? Mythical? The same is true of your people. And I have to make a decision now. Whether I should keep this ship waiting here, near an unstable planet that could become dangerous debris within hours or leave while we still can.”

“I’m not stopping you from leaving,” he answered. “I won’t be. I care about this planet. It matters to me.”

“We can’t JUST leave. We came here for a purpose. If you and your people DO succeed we need to continue with it.”

“What purpose?” Chrístõ asked. “What ARE you here for?”

“That’s classified. “We still don’t know WHO you are.”

“I’m the one who intends to try to save this planet,” Chrístõ answered. “You can stand by here if you wish or you can go. But stay clear and don’t interfere with what we’re doing. I suggest you step off my ship now. I’m going to take a closer look at the moon and take an accurate measurement of the rate of orbit decay.”

Gellar and her officers stepped back. Chrístõ closed the door and activated the dematerialisation. Moments later the viewscreen showed them the moon and planet Earth close up as Chrístõ matched the orbit. He checked his database and his hearts sank. The Earth had less than five hours before it was too late. Before life NEVER began on the planet. Before the planet ceased to exist.

Because the TARDIS database was giving him the worst case scenario. The planet was too new, too unstable yet, to survive intact. It WOULD break up. The graphic of a dead world with a half hemisphere broken off in a huge chunk chilled him to the core. He couldn’t let it happen.

He couldn’t do it on his own. He needed help. He DID need other Time Lords.

He had managed for a long time without needing any of them, apart from his father and Penne, who was only technically a Time Lord. As much as he loved his world as a whole, he disliked the company of other Time Lords generally.

But right now, he NEEDED them.

“What if they don’t come?” Natalie asked. She and Julia both watched him, trying NOT to watch the viewscreen.

“They’ll come,” he told her. “This shouldn’t have happened. If it isn’t stopped it will cause a cataclysmic ripple in time and the Time Lords will NOT let that happen.”

They couldn’t let it happen, he thought. Surely not.

Another long, anxious hour passed though, with the communications console silent. Even the Captain of the Genome had nothing to say to him. The ship remained at a safe distance, he noted. Did that imply that they had faith in him? Or were they waiting to see the planet destroyed?

Suddenly a light blinked on. He knew what it was - the DRD indicator telling him that there was another TARDIS in the vicinity.

Not just one TARDIS. He looked at the data on his computer screen. SEVEN TARDISes. He hadn’t seen that many in formation since his first piloting lessons, when he had learnt along with other students under…

“Professor Azmael!” Chrístõ smiled happily as he recognised the face of his former teacher on the viewscreen. “But why did they send you.”

“I picked up your signal, Son of Lœngbærrow. I relayed it to the High Council. They told me to take whatever actions I deemed appropriate.”

“Those are training TARDISes,” Chrístõ said. His smile faded. “They sent a teacher and a bunch of students who can’t even pilot themselves without supervision yet to deal with something as VITAL as THIS?”

“I told them we could handle it,” Professor Azmael answered. “And I believe we can. You’re thinking of the Omegan manoeuvre?”

“Yes. But it is a class one manoeuvre. They can’t…”

“We can do it!” A voice came over the communication. It was a young voice. Chrístõ wondered when he had stopped sounding that young. He knew the students would all be around 150 to 170. Just starting their senior years, on the verge of adulthood but without the responsibility yet.

It seemed a long time ago.

But when he was 150, he knew he would have been raring to have a go at something like this, to be doing something that really made a difference in the universe.

“All right,” he said. “We don’t have time to try anything else. Sir, you know how important it is that we prevent this disaster.”

“I do,” Azmael answered. “You can count on my students. After all, they are learning everything you learnt.”

“From the best teacher,” Chrístõ responded. Then he became busy. He opened all his communications circuits to the three student TARDISes Azmael assigned to his command. He had them position themselves around the moon. Azmael and his three groups of students did the same. They surrounded the moon on all sides and then all eight TARDISes on Chrístõ’s command turned their external gravity fields so that they exerted a powerful force. A force that the graphic display showed as surrounding the whole moon. Slowly, then, they started to move, pulling the moon with them.

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t quick. Chrístõ felt the TARDIS’s engines protesting as they pushed against the weight of a moon. All the TARDISes were the same.

“I don’t think we can make it,” he heard one of the students call to him. “Sir… this is a type 40. It’s really old. I don’t think it can handle it.”

“THIS is a Type 40,” Chrístõ responded. “You’d be surprised what it can do. Listen to me, what’s your name?”

“Diol Malcanan,” he answered. “My two brothers are here with me. We’re in charge of this ship.”

“You’re Caretakers?” he asked.

“Yes, sir. But Lord Azmael says we’re going to graduate in the top 100, no problem. That is… Sir… I don’t want to die… I don’t even know where I am. So far from home and I don’t want to die here.”

“You won’t die,” he assured the boy. “Julia, come here. You can help. Listen, Diol, I’m going to hand you over to a very nice girl. She is going to read you some figures from the drive console. I want you to match those figures on your console. That will stabilise your engines and you won’t blow up. Believe me. Type 40 TARDISes don’t blow up often.”

“Only the once?” Diol answered and Chrístõ heard nervous laughs from the others aboard the other TARDIS. He smiled, too. It was a silly joke, and in any other circumstances it wouldn’t even seem funny. But on the edge of disaster with nothing else to lose, it lightened the load for them all.

“Let me help, too,” Natalie asked as Julia took over talking to Diol. Chrístõ looked at her. She still looked scared and worried. She needed to do something to keep from fretting.

“Take that console,” he told her. “Two dials. Turn them both, in opposite directions, one click every twenty seconds.”

“What does it do?” she asked as she did what he said.

“It keeps the TARDIS from veering off out of position and dragging the others with it,” he answered. “It’s important at this stage. We’re starting to make a difference. But it could take hours yet. Are you all right to stand that long?”

“I’ll have to be,” she answered. “If we fail… Earth….”

“Yes, I know,” he told her. “We won’t fail.”

He was sure of it now. It was a difficult job, but it wasn’t an impossible one. It just needed stamina and courage.

He glanced at Julia as she talked Diol through the stabilisation of his ship. In-between reading out the figures and listening to his responses she was talking to him and his brothers about their training, about their families. They were surprised to learn that she was not Gallifreyan, even more so to learn that she had, nevertheless, visited their planet and was fond of it, and looking forward to living there in the future.

“Chrístõ,” she called out suddenly. “The levels are climbing again on Diol’s console. And this time they’re not coming down.”

Chrístõ glanced at the schematic. They were almost there. Half an hour more and the work would be complete. They would have restored the moon to its correct, stable orbit at the right distance to avoid it spinning off into space as a free moving object and at the same time to withstand the pull of the Earth’s gravity.

But Diol and his brothers didn’t have half an hour. He could tell they really WERE in trouble.

“Lord Azmael,” he said, calling up his professor again. “I’m going to break formation. Have the Type 43 move into a more central position to compensate. And have the Type 48 do the same once Diol’s Type 40 is neutralised. That leaves you with only six machines to complete the manoeuvre, but I think it will be enough now.”

“I think it will, too,” Azmael answered. “Good luck, Son of Lœngbærrow.”

“Luck isn’t in it,” he answered. “I was well taught.” He closed the communication and told Julia to tell Diol to stand by.

“We’re going to get him?” she asked. “Him and his brothers?”

“Yes,” he assured her. “We’re going to get him. “Natalie, come and hold this lever for me now. Keep holding it until the materialisation is complete.”

Natalie came to his side and took over holding the lever. She didn’t ask who or what was materialising, only that Chrístõ trusted her to do that small but vital thing. He, himself, stepped away from the console and was waiting for something to happen.

What happened was an unspectacular clunking sound such as when two train carriages connected. Then he dashed to the door. He opened it and on the other side, instead of the vacuum of space there was another TARDIS. He ran in. Two young men ran out. Diol’s two brothers.

“Ok,” he told the youngster as he kept at his helm. “Your brother’s are safe now. Let’s see what we can do here.” He moved around the console making adjustments. He had piloted a Type 40 since his own training days. He understood how the engines felt. He knew how to coax them, how to soothe them just like a patient in hospital. He was soothing Diol’s TARDIS.

“Ok,” he said again when the tortured whine of the engines was restored to a content and barely audible hum. “All of the dials to zero now. We’re standing this ship down for a well earned rest. I’ll slave it to mine in a minute and bring us both out of the way of the operation.”

“Thank you, sir,” Diol said. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“You will learn,” he answered. “Lord Azmael taught me everything I know. Try to keep this TARDIS. The type 40s are the BEST, no matter what anyone says.”

As he and Diol stepped through into his own TARDIS there were shouts of jubilation on the communications channels and Julia ran to him.

“You did it,” she said. “The Moon is back in its stable orbit. You did it, Chrístõ. You SAVED Earth.”

“We all did,” he answered, putting an arm around her and the other on Diol’s shoulder. “We all did it.”

“Chrístõ,” Natalie called to him. “The spaceship is trying to contact you.”

“What do they want now?” he wondered, but he opened a videophone channel to Captain Gellar.

“Congratulations,” she said. “Impressive work.”

“All down to a bunch of very young Time Lords,” Chrístõ answered. “But that surely isn’t why you contacted me.”

“No,” she answered. “I thought you ought to see what we are here for after all.” Then the view changed to an exterior view of the Genome IV as it slid into orbit around the planet that would one day be known as Earth. Chrístõ watched the view alternatively with the schematic on the screen in front of him. He was astonished as he saw the planet enveloped in a beam that emitted from the ship. He looked at the schematic and read the composition of the beam.

“What….” he began. “But you’re….”

He looked around. Natalie had made herself busy serving tea and biscuits to Diol and his two brothers. Julia had joined her and they were chatting amiably to the three would-be Time Lords. They were neither of them taking any notice of what he was saying to the captain.

“You’re bombarding the planet with amino acids. The building blocks of organic life.”

“That’s correct,” the Captain told him over the videophone. “That is our work, finding suitably viable planets and seeding them. It will take millions of years yet for anything even bigger than a microbe to have evolved. But in a billion years… two billion…”

“You do this all the time?” Chrístõ asked. “Life begins everywhere with you giving it a boost?”

“Not everywhere,” the Captain answered. “It is a natural process. It happens without our help all over the universe. But we have experimented on several planets.”

“I’m not even going to ask what the point of the experiment is,” Chrístõ said. “You Glyx and your notions about the universe are bewildering. But, if you’ve done what you came to do, I think you’d better be going.” He snapped off the videophone and the view of the Earth returned to the screen. He watched that for a long time. He noticed that the Moon was the right way around now, with the craters formed by the Sontaran and Rutan battle facing the planet. The forces they had exerted on it as they pulled it back into orbit had spun it around.

Which meant, he realised, that the Sontarans and Rutans were always destined to fight that battle, that he was destined to be there to witness the damage and call on his fellow Time Lords to make things right.

And the Genome IV was meant to be there, too.

Which meant life on Earth was meant to begin as an experiment by the Glyx.

Was that another verse of the first book of Genesis fulfilled or did it throw the whole Book out of the window?

He was glad Natalie didn’t know. He was sure it would upset her to feel that another tenet of the belief at the core of her understanding of the universe was whittled away.

As for himself, what did he feel?

He felt that even if the Glyx were involved in some small part in igniting the spark of life on planets like Earth, he still wasn’t ready to dismiss entirely the possibility that they were part of the higher purpose and plan of something or somebody that made the Glyx with their power, and the Time Lords with all of theirs, seem very small and unimportant.


Another communication distracted him from that deep philosophy. He took it with a smile then went to where Natalie and Julia were entertaining the Malcanan brothers.

“Lord Azmael said you all got top marks in today’s lesson and you can have another half hour to discover the delights of tea and ginger biscuits before he wants to see you back in formation along with the rest of the class.” Julia gave him a cup of tea and Natalie passed him the biscuits. He relaxed and allowed himself to be satisfied for a few minutes. He had just saved the planet his mother came from. He had good reason to be satisfied.