“The Council of Ioxa?” Chrístõ said as he expertly slid the TARDIS into the time vortex. “Ioxa is in the Pi quadrant. Take about two hours to get there.”

“The Council doesn’t convene until tomorrow morning,” Camilla told him. “We can take the scenic route. Maybe do some shopping. I simply have NOTHING to wear!”

“Liar,” Chrístõ answered. “I saw how many trunks you brought on board with you.” But he’d had enough women on board to know that even a dimensionally relative ship never had enough wardrobe space for the female of the species. “We can take in some sights,” he said. “I’ll take a look at my presets in a bit. But first….” He glanced at Camilla. She was wearing a distinctly feminine halter neck dress that suited her very well but wouldn’t do for her male persona. “I want to talk to Julia. She should be home from school by now.”

He glanced at the real time clock that was set to the time and date on Beta Delta IV so that he would always know how much time was passing there no matter where and when in the universe he was. He moved around to the communications console and pulled up a leather chair to sit in as he keyed in the number of the videophone at her home.

He had expected to speak to her aunt and uncle first but Julia must have been expecting the call. She came on screen as soon as it connected. Her face lit with joy as she saw him.

“I’ve missed you,” she told him. “But I’ve had loads to do at school. I am keeping up with the work all right. But it feels different being in a class with other girls. AND boys.” She gave a disgusted look with that last word. “They’re so immature, the boys in my class. All the other girls think you’re gorgeous, by the way.”

“You told them about me?”

“Not everything. Not about you being a Time Lord with the TARDIS and everything. Or any of the adventures we had. I said you were a pilot in the Space Corps.”

“Oh, all right. But our life in the TARDIS isn’t a secret, you know,”

“I know. But I don’t think they’d believe me anyway. And they already think I’m daring with a boyfriend who’s 20. If they knew you were 192…”

“I’m glad you’re making friends, anyway,” he told her. “And you look beautiful in that outfit.”

She laughed. The deep purple cardigan and white blouse with grey pleated skirt looked like any school uniform ever devised. Dull and uninteresting. And it served as a reminder, should he need one, that she was only thirteen. But he loved her still, and he told her so. She smiled even more deeply and told him she loved him, too.

“I can’t wait to see you again,” she added. “The summer holiday is still AGES away. You won’t be late, will you?”

“I’m a Time Lord,” he told her. “I’m NEVER late.” He listened to more of her news and then he told her of events since he had taken her home. She was concerned about his father’s injury and the danger they had all been in, but thrilled when he told her the rest.

“You’ve got a REAL job,” she said. “With the diplomatic corps, like you always wanted. That’s great. And Kohb is your own personal Aide now, just like a real ambassador.”

“And then there’s Cam,” he said. “You don’t mind her being with me, do you?”

“Does she still want to kiss you?” Julia asked with a giggle.

“All the time,” he answered. “But you’re still my one and only girl.”

“I don’t mind,” Julia said. “She can borrow you from me when I’m at school.” He heard Camilla laugh as she overheard that comment.

“She accepts the proposal gratefully,” he told her. “Given that Cam is a lawyer as well as a shameless flirt, perhaps we should have her draw up a contract of lease, setting out terms and conditions.” Julia giggled. So did Camilla. Chrístõ was relieved. The thought of spending some TARDIS travelling time with Cam had thrilled him, but he had worried that Julia might resent Camilla.

“I’ll take good care of him for you, Julia,” Camilla said as she put her arms around his shoulders from behind. Julia laughed on screen. She laughed even more when Camilla actually transformed and looked rather silly in his male form wearing a very feminine dress. He had done it, of course, to make Julia laugh and make it abundantly clear that Chrístõ’s hearts still belonged to her.

“You are a VERY good diplomat,” Chrístõ told him when he had talked some more and said goodnight to Julia. “Thank you.”

“I’m not a very good cross-dresser,” he laughed as he turned back to Camilla and Kohb dutifully appeared with a shawl that covered the side seam that had split in the dress because Cam’s masculine frame didn’t fit as neatly.

“What you need,” Kohb said. “Is an Empathy Suit.”

“Come again?” Chrístõ asked him.

“You’ve been away from the homeworld quite some time, sir.” Kohb told him. “They were very popular among the wealthier Gallifreyan ladies a few years back. Your stepmother, Madame De Lœngbærrow, started the trend. She brought one back from a visit offworld with his Excellency, and the next thing all the ladies were buying them.”

“I somehow don’t think I’d have been interested in what the society ladies were all wearing to their coffee mornings even if I WAS home,” Chrístõ remarked dryly. “But do go on.”

“An Empathy suit is a special fabric with its own morphic field that changes how it looks according to the choice of the wearer,” Kohb explained. “Style, fabric, colour, the whole outfit changes.”

“So Camilla wouldn’t be bursting out of Cam’s business shirts and Cam wouldn’t be destroying Camilla’s best frocks?” Chrístõ mused. “And she wouldn’t need so many of those trunks,” he added. “I can’t see a downside. Where can we get one?”

“Nova Londinium,” Kohb answered. “At the Hypermall.”

“It’s in my presets,” Chrístõ said as he checked for the co-ordinates. “It’s not one of the places I’m supposed to expect trouble, though.” He keyed it into the navigation control. “There’s a note from my father. He says it’s an excellent place to take a lady.”

“Your father,” Kohb noted. “Is a very perceptive man.”


The famous Empathy Suits were made to measure in a special department of the Hypermall on Nova Londinium, an Earth colony with an eye on the fashion market. They were VERY expensive. While he and Kohb waited for Cam to finish having his suit fitted, Chrístõ calculated his chances of buying Julia one for her next birthday. If he actually saved some of his allowance, to say nothing of his salary as a member of the Diplomatic Corps, he could probably manage it. She wasn’t a vain girl, but she did like new things and it sounded ideal.

“What do you think?” Cam asked as he stepped out of the fitting room. Chrístõ tried not to think what Kohb had just thought – that both Cam and Camilla would be equally disturbing in the ‘default mode’ of the suit; silvery-grey, figure hugging fabric that left nothing to the imagination. In his male form it fitted all the contours of a handsome, well developed man. Chrístõ reminded himself he was Gallifreyan and a man of honour and formally bonded to Julia, and tried NOT to imagine Camilla’s curves outlined in silvery-grey.

“I think you’ll make Humphrey cry,” he answered with a grin. Cam grinned too. The tailor emerged from the fitting room and told him to visualise an outfit. He tried. Chrístõ and Kohb both laughed out loud. He had visualised a business suit of the sort he usually wore as Cam, but the bottom half was a skirt and stockings and size four ladies court shoes that were very uncomfortable on his size 9 male feet.

“It takes a bit of practice sir,” the tailor said politely. “Try again.”

He tried again and the result was even more distressingly funny as he ended up in a bikini top and suit trousers.

Several mixed up minutes later he at least managed to get the whole outfit to belong to the one gender – unfortunately it was an evening gown, stockings and high heels.

“Oh dear,” the tailor sighed. But Cam grinned.

“Actually, I like this one,” he said and shimmered and became Camilla. Immediately the gown fitted in all of the right places and the legs encased in the stockings were slim, elegant and feminine.

“Ah! I see, you’re a gendermorph,” the tailor said, relieved that it was not his product at fault. “You just need to concentrate a little harder. And do be careful at first around people who are telepathic. They may be able to influence the suit’s morphic field.”

“What, like this?” Chrístõ grinned and turned the elegant deep purple dress into shocking pink. Kohb laughed too and it turned bright green.

“It’s a good job Kohb and I are gentlemen or we could make it see through.”

Camilla laughed and turned the dress back to the right colour and then turned back to Cam, this time wearing a smart pair of black trousers and a cotton shirt with a black leather jacket over it - a perfect duplicate of Chrístõ’s usual choice of casual clothing.

“I think you’ve got the hang of it,” Chrístõ told him. “And I DEFINITELY shouldn’t take you to see the King of Adano-Ambrado looking like that.”

They paid for the outfit and left the store. They didn’t stay long in the hypermall. Camilla, left alone, might well have done, but Cam’s personality overruled her and it was as three men that they sought out the quiet parkland outside the great shopping dome.

“I really SHOULD bring Julia here,” Chrístõ remarked as they relaxed by a peacefully flowing river. He idly watched a flock of water birds that looked like swans who had bought Empathy Suits and forgotten how to switch from salmon pink to any other shade.

“You DO love her very much, don’t you,” Cam said. “I never really stood a chance of seducing you.”

“Why the past tense?” Chrístõ asked. “Have you given up trying?”

“Yes,” he said with a sigh. “Because it wouldn’t be fair. Quite apart from your love for your Julia, I couldn’t give you what you want, Chrístõ.”

“Well, no,” he said pointedly. “I should think that would be down to CAMILLA.”

“That’s not exactly what I mean,” Cam said with a wry smile. “Though in point of fact, you should understand that Cam and Camilla are not two people in one body, two souls, two minds. We are one soul, one mind. There are slight personality differences. I am far less interested in clothes than Camilla. But we have largely the same desires. I DO prefer the company of men. The very few times when I have courted women as Cam I have not enjoyed myself as much as when Camilla turns on the seduction for men. And I have never actually been ‘all the way’ with a woman, whereas Camilla…” He broke off and blushed charmingly. But Chrístõ and Kohb got the picture.

“Do I qualify as one of Camilla’s conquests?” Chrístõ asked.

“I think you’re the one neither of us could conquer,” Cam said with a regretful smile. “My unrequited love. You fascinate me, Chrístõ. If I could seduce you in either form, it would be delightful. But I am happy to accept defeat and be your friend just as long as you let me be a friend who loves you.”

Chrístõ smiled at him. It was strange to be having a conversation like that with another man, and one dressed exactly like him, at that. It ought to have been disturbing. His reserved Gallifreyan upbringing hadn’t prepared him for relationships like this.

But he liked Cam. And being loved by him wasn’t as strange as it should have been.

“You’re a very special friend. Both of you.”

“I’m glad,” Cam continued. “So is Camilla.”

“Really?” he answered with a smile. “I thought Camilla might be disappointed that she can’t have me.”

“Camilla loves to flirt and have fun. And she adores you. But she knows, as I do, that it can’t be.” Cam took a deep breath and his words when he spoke again were far more serious. Chrístõ listened more attentively as his companion revealed far more about himself than ever before.

“The reason it can’t be.” Cam continued. “I know the one thing you want most, is children of your own, born of your own blood. And with Julia that will happen in the fullness of time. But it wouldn’t with me. We don’t reproduce the same way as you do.”

“Oh,” Chrístõ said, not really understanding. “Then… does that mean there will be no little Camillas around, ever.”

“Oh, there may well be. When I’m ready. My career means a lot to me. Representing my world and working for a more equitable universe for all species is my primary ambition. As I think it is yours, Chrístõ. But when I am ready I will take a leave of absence and gestate a…” He laughed softly. “Yes, a little Camilla-Cam.”

“You’ll find a mate among your own kind?” Kohb asked, the conversation interesting him as deeply as it was Chrístõ.

“You mean you can’t mate with other species?” Chrístõ said. “There are no mixed marriages in your people such as my father and mother were – Gallifreyan and Human.”

“No,” Cam explained. “No, I mean that we don’t MATE in that sense even within our own species. We have intimacies between each other and Camilla has had her share of them with other species. But when we want children… when I am ready I… within my own body… I will fertilise an embryo and lodge it within myself.”

Chrístõ and Kohb both looked at Cam with the same expression. He was not telepathic, but he knew what they were both thinking.

“You mean you don’t need a mate at ALL?” Chrístõ felt like a complete idiot as he caught up with what Cam was saying to him. “You can have a baby entirely by yourself.”


“But that means…” Kohb was the one who began the other burning question that they both needed to ask

“Yes,” Cam told them. “I will be a pregnant male. At least when I am Cam. I think I shall enjoy the experience. I have friends who have already had children and they enjoyed it. Even their male forms loved the feeling of the life growing within them. I think I will, too.”

Chrístõ and Kohb both began to ask the same question. Cam nodded. “Yes, there is an obvious practicality. In the last few months Cam will have to give way to Camilla. Only in our female form can we actually give birth. But when the child is born, I will be its parent in both forms.”

“And all your people do that?”

“Yes. We have no concept of mother and father the way you understand it. We grow up with one parent who will love and cherish us in every way. When I have a child of my own, I will give it all the care and attention it needs.”

Chrístõ tried and failed to imagine Camilla as a mother. Her flamboyant manner seemed quite the opposite to the care and attention of a helpless being that he associated with parenthood. Yet when he looked at Cam he could easily see him as a father. He wondered if, in fact, Cam wanted children more than Camilla.

“No,” Cam explained. “When I am Camilla it tends to be at parties and balls and even you have never really been able to see more than the superficial. Camilla has deep feelings and needs too. But just as much as the Cam part of me has the career ambition, the Camilla part of me needs to dance a few more carefree dances. I need to negotiate a few more Treaties and see more of the universe. In a few years time she will be ready. And so will I. And so will you and Julia. One day in the future there will be a little Chrístõ to play with little Camilla in the Embassy crèche while the Ambassador for Gallifrey and his lady wife meet for cocktails with the Ambassador for Haollstrom V.”

“A nice dream,” Chrístõ said. “One I should like to share with you.”

He had wanted to travel the universe to meet people who were different to his own people. And Cam, Chrístõ thought, was about as different as it was possible to get. He tried to imagine a society such as his. He tried to imagine being both father and mother to a child in the way Cam had described.

“Isn’t it lonely?” he asked. “I know my father was a very lonely man after my mother died and he had to be both parents to me.”

“No,” Cam explained. “Your kind were meant to be paired. It IS lonely for you when it goes wrong. But we are singular beings. We have no need for permanent pair bonding. And we don’t feel the solitude that your kind do when accidents take one of the pair and leave the other bereft.”

“But all that sensuality… you seem as if you are born to love.” Chrístõ said.

“We do, but we don’t love the same person all our lives. We give ourselves freely. My birth parent formed many bonds of affection during my childhood. For enjoyment of sensual pleasure. My parent was called Hillary. When I was very young there was another called Nikki who had two children of his own. Then I remember when my parent was bonded with one called Meredith. She was in the last months of child-bearing and my parent helped her through it. After that there was Evelyn.” Cam smiled. “I think Evelyn was my role model for Camilla. She preferred the female form. I can’t even remember what she looked like as a male. And she always looked stunning. My parent used to attend Embassy balls with her as a very handsome man. I used to watch them getting ready and thought they both looked beautiful. I used to practice shifting from one form to the other and making believe I was them both going to a ball.”

Chrístõ smiled as he thought about that. He had similar memories of his father attending such functions. When he was dressed in the regalia of his rank young Chrístõ had thought his father the most elegant being in the universe. He remembered his father, as a single man, acting as escort for unattached females and recalled him saying he had once known Cam’s birth parent.

“I spent a few hours dancing in the arms of a very lovely woman and the next day he and I forged a vital treaty,” his father had said.

“Will you form a bond like that?” Chrístõ asked.

“I don’t know,” Cam answered. “I have never really needed that. Camilla has her love conquests. I have my work. We BOTH want to be a parent. I think I will not need such bonds. Besides, I will always have friends such as you.”

Chrístõ thought about that for a while and decided Cam’s way of life wasn’t the worst he could imagine.

“I think I understand you much more now than I did,” he said. “When I first met you, I thought you were a terrifying woman.”

“And then you thought I was a terrifying man,” Cam reminded him. “I’m glad you changed your mind about me.” He smiled and put his arm around Chrístõ. He shimmered and turned to Camilla, while the black leather jacket and cotton shirt transformed into a seductive black catsuit. Chrístõ laughed and gave in to her teasing and let her kiss him, and in the middle of the kiss she transformed to Cam again in a duplicate outfit to his own. Chrístõ laughed as he drew back from him. He was starting to get used to it now. And knowing that Cam wasn’t a threat to his relationship with Julia made it easier to accept his affection.

He would have been happy to lie there in the warmth, in the company of friends and enjoy the peace of the afternoon.

Their peace was broken. Kohb became alert to it first. Chrístõ felt a little guilty because he was paying more attention to Cam’s playful affections and had not heard what he ought to have heard. When he did, he sat up and then stood. Kohb was already breaking into a run. Cam stood and came to his side.

“What is it?” he asked.

“We can hear somebody screaming,” Chrístõ said. “Kohb and I. Our hearing is superior to most other beings. It’s…” He began to follow Kohb’s lead. Cam ran alongside him. “It’s a woman’s scream. She’s terrified.”

Kohb had found her. She was lying on the grass by the river bank. Chrístõ knew even just looking at her that it was too late. She was dying. Kohb held her in his arms and soothed her. She opened her eyes just once and looked up at him. She reached out her arms and clung to him and then sank back into unconsciousness. A few minutes later she was dead.

“Kohb…” Chrístõ gently prised her from his grasp and laid her down. He looked at his friend and saw his nictitating membrane flickering. Pure-blood Gallifreyans don’t cry. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel. His empathy for this poor woman was complete.

“I looked into her mind,” he said as Chrístõ examined the body with his sonic screwdriver in medical analysis mode. “I thought Caretakers worked hard for their living. But she… She was a slave, little more. I saw her life. All her life, working.”

“Working where?” Cam asked as he looked at the woman’s clothes. She was in a sort of overall of pale grey-white fabric such as workers anywhere might wear. There was a name tag on the breast pocket that identified her as worker no. 573.

“Worker no. 573!” Cam was appalled. “She doesn’t even have a name. She’s just… worker no. 573.”

“They work the assembly line,” Kohb said. “Hundreds of them. Day and night. Long shifts. They sleep in the factory in great dormitories. They eat their meals. And then they work again. That is their life.”

“What factory?” Cam asked.

“I think she died of some kind of brain aneurism,” Chrístõ concluded after examining her with the medical analysis mode of his sonic screwdriver. “But she was only clinging to existence anyway. Look at her. Thin as a rake. Those meals they eat can’t have much nutrition.” He gently pulled down the zip front of the overall and revealed the emaciated body. He covered her again decently.

“Sir!” Kohb gave a warning, but Chrístõ didn’t need one. He, too, had heard the sound of the vehicle approaching. He looked around at what he mentally noted as armour plated tricycles. Two men jumped down from the vehicles and approached. One of them raised a huge weapon that also looked armour plated and ordered the three of them to put up their hands.

“Identify yourselves,” came the barked order. All three went into their pockets and found their diplomatic credentials. The second officer looked at them all carefully and could find no reason to question their identities.

“Who are you?” Chrístõ asked.

“Nova Londinium Police,” was the reply.

Cam began to speak but was told to be quiet. The fearsome weapon stayed on them as the other policeman went to the body of the woman. He pointed a smaller weapon at the body and Chrístõ was aghast when it disintegrated.

“What did you do THAT for?” he demanded. “There should have been an inquest, an investigation into how she died. Evidence taken….”

“Investigation?” the officer replied scornfully. “If we investigated every time a worker drone blew a brain fuse and went wandering off in the park we’d be knee deep in paperwork. Easier to just dispose of the body and be done with it.”

“You may go,” the other one said. “Just take care not to interfere with police business again. Your diplomatic immunity might not save you next time.”

With that the officers mounted their tricycles again and left noisily. Chrístõ looked at his friends. Kohb, especially, was disturbed.

“Sir,” he said. “I realise this is not in the remit of our diplomatic work. But that woman… Clone or no clone, she was a living being and she died painfully.”

“I know,” Chrístõ answered. “And I don’t intend to leave it alone that way either. But we need to know more. Let’s go back to the TARDIS and look up some information about this planet, other than it being a great place for the ladies.”

“It wasn’t a great place for THAT lady,” Kohb noted, and then he said nothing more until they were in the TARDIS, parked in the Hypermall hangar bay.

“I will make a pot of tea, sir,” he said as Chrístõ began to pull up information on his computer database.

“Tea would be nice,” Cam answered him without thinking about it. He was thinking about too many other things already.

“Kohb,” Chrístõ added. “Bring three cups and sit with us. You are NOT my servant. I don’t want you to assume such a role here in the TARDIS.”

“I am your Personal Aide, sir. That title covers the making of tea. But I would be honoured to join your Excellencies in the refreshment.”

Excellencies? Chrístõ looked startled by that term. Cam smiled.

“You’re an Ambassador now. That IS your title. Get used to it.”

“It’s a good title,” he admitted. “An earned title. Not like Marquess de Lœngbærrow, or even prince of the universe. I was simply born into those.”

“Indeed,” Cam agreed. “But what of Nova Londinium? What have you found?”

“Not a lot,” Chrístõ answered as they sat together, the three of them – four rather, because Humphrey was an indistinct presence. Cam turned to Camilla especially for him. He had accepted Cam as a member of Chrístõ’s TARDIS crew immediately, and had been especially delighted by the feminine persona. He lapped up those pheromones that Camilla exuded.

“Everything sold at the Hypermall on New Londinium is manufactured on the planet in eco-friendly, non-polluting factory units discreetly built around the parkland,” Chrístõ said, reading off the official description of the local commerce that he had found in the TARDIS database. “The closest one to where we were sitting was the Empathy Fabric manufacturer. I strongly suspect she came from there.”

Camilla looked appalled. She shimmered between her two personas as she let the Empathy Suit return to default mode. As Camilla she was, indeed, a distracting figure in that default suit. But she was not looking to allure anyone with her feminine charms. She was angry and upset.

“THIS outfit was made by slave labour?” she asked. “If I had known I would not…”

“Nor would I,” Chrístõ assured her. Nor, I think, would my stepmother. Whatever her faults she would not condone such a thing. And my father certainly would not have endorsed the product as he did. And it goes without saying I don’t think I WILL be buying one of those for Julia, after all.”

“He said worker drone,” Cam added. “The policeman who disposed of the body. ‘If we investigated every time a worker drone blew a brain fuse and went wandering off in the park we’d be knee deep in paperwork.’ That’s what he said.”

“Which makes me think this must happen a LOT and they cover it up. But - worker drone?”

Gallifrey and Haollstrom both had insects with complicated and hierarchical hive systems - a queen and soldiers and workers and so on. The worker drones would be the smallest, they would be infertile, and they would be dispensable.

Two Gallifreyans and one Haollstromnian all thought of that at the same time. Then Kohb spoke up.

“That is all very well for insects, but sentient beings should not live that way. Even we Caretakers are recognised as the same SPECIES as you of the Oldblood, Sir, and if one of us is killed the Chancellery Guard consider it to be a crime. As flawed as our system is, as much as it failed me, Caretakers are more than expendable ‘worker drones’ in our society.”

“The same is true of my planet,” Camilla added. “My people are hierarchical, yes. And there is new money and old money and too many with no money at all, but we don’t have slaves whose lives are so meaningless as that.”

“What can we do about it?” Kohb asked.

“CAN we do anything about it?” Chrístõ added. “I am sorry, Kohb. Once I would have dived into this without a second thought. And maybe I would have sorted it out, maybe I would have made it worse. But I would have tried. But… am I ALLOWED to do it now? I am no longer just a rich kid in a time machine doing as I please. I represent my government. Cam, so do you. Kohb, even as an Aide, you are bound by the diplomatic protocols. If we act on this, we are involving our governments in the internal affairs of this planet. That directly conflicts with the non-interference policy of Gallifrey. And as for Haollstrom…”

“My people, if they knew this, would immediately embargo all goods manufactured on this planet,” Camilla said. "They would NOT approve. But you are quite right, Chrístõ, how we act in this matter is important. We must make sure nothing we do embarrasses our governments. But after all, your remit, Chrístõ, is still the same as it was before. You are a roving Ambassador for Gallifrey at the official engagements such as Ioxa. But inbetween your job is to prove to Gallifrey that interference in injustices such as we have found here is their duty as one of the most powerful races in the universe.”

“And you?” Chrístõ asked.

“Cam is for business,” he said. “Camilla for pleasure…. And anything else.”

As she spoke, she concentrated and her outfit turned into a replica of the white overalls the ‘worker drone’ had worn.

“A little espionage?”

“NO!” Chrístõ protested. “You are not trained, not qualified for undercover work.”

“Nor are YOU, Chrístõ,” Camilla pointed out.

Chrístõ was about to respond to that when it occurred to him that his reply would not have been his own. He, Chrístõ Cuimhne de Lœngbærrow had NEVER trained as an undercover operative. But the essence of Mai Li Tuo was within his soul, and not so long ago he had been touched by his father’s spirit imbued in his ring of eternity. Both had been experienced and clever operatives for the Celestial Intervention Agency.

He had not realised until that moment how much both had affected his thinking.

I’m still a pacifist, he told himself. And if I do this, I will do it without loss of any further life. I am not an assassin. Neither you, my father, nor you, my old friend, want me to be that. But I WILL trust your instincts as well as my own.

“Cam,” he said at last. “Be VERY careful. Aside from the diplomatic scandal it would cause, I don’t want you to be hurt. You’re… You ARE special to me.” He reached out and touched Camilla’s beautifully manicured and feminine hand. He smiled as he brought it to his lips and kissed it gently. “You had better wear gloves when you go into that factory. These are the hands of a lady, not a worker. Whatever clothes you wear, Camilla is underneath.”

“Camilla isn’t just a pretty face,” Camilla answered him. “She has Cam to look after her, too.”

“You have ME to look after you, too,” Chrístõ added. “And you’re not going in there alone or unequipped.” As he spoke he reached into the cupboard below the console. He found a wrist held lifesigns monitor that had served a purpose in many dangerous situations. He brought it to the worktable in the corner of the console room and spent a half an hour of deep concentration working inside it with the sonic screwdriver. Neither Kohb nor Camilla knew what he was doing exactly but they knew it would be interesting.

“Here,” he said, strapping it beneath Camilla’s overall sleeve. “Now it doesn’t just monitor lifesigns, it collects details of them. We need evidence of who and what these ‘worker drones’ are. And THIS button here is a panic button. If you have any trouble, any danger you or Cam can’t handle, press it. We’ll be right on the case.”

“Chrístõ,” Camilla said, taking his hand in hers as he finished fastening the wristlet to her arm. “I’m a little scared. I think you’re right about me not being a trained espionage operative…”

“No,” he said. “Trained operatives are scared too.” He felt as if Li Tuo and his father would be nodding when he said that. “They just don’t let it stop them doing what they have to do. You DON’T have to do it, of course. We CAN stop this right now and just go through official channels, making a complaint about unethical business practices…”

“We owe it to that poor woman to do something more than that,” Camilla said. “I’m ready. If you can get us to the factory...”

That was the easy part. The TARDIS located a suitable corridor between the dormitory area and the shop floor by detecting those workers who were at something approximating rest and those who were working. The heart rate and body temperature of the two main sections of the people within the factory were easy to distinguish. So was the fact that the few people who were supervising them were of the SAME DNA.

“That’s important,” Chrístõ said. “This is NOT a different species being subjugated. This is a rank of their own society. And I don’t think they are drones, either, in the usual insect sense of the word. But I might have to investigate further.”

“Shift change,” Kohb noted, as the lifesigns began to move around. “This is our chance.”

“Camilla…” As she went to the door he tried to find something to say to her, but he couldn’t.

“See you both later,” she said and stepped out. They saw her join the line of workers going TO the shop floor as the night shift while the day shift came to their allotted rest area.

“Ok,” Chrístõ told Kohb. “Give it an hour and then we’re going undercover, too. First I want to hack into some local computer systems.”

“I’ll make some more tea, sir,” Kohb said.

“Tea would be nice,” Chrístõ told him. “But later, we’re going to find something for you to do that properly uses your talents.”

“Yes, sir,” Kohb answered.

It was a little more than two hours, in fact, before Chrístõ and Kohb exited the TARDIS dressed to impress. Both were in business suits that looked straight out of Cam’s own wardrobe. They both smiled at the TARDIS’s ‘store cupboard’ disguise and then turned left, towards the rest quarters of the Empathy factory.

What they found when they opened the door reminded Chrístõ immediately of pictures he had seen on Earth of the forced labour camps run by the Germans in the twentieth century conflict they labelled World War II. He looked at the long lines of narrow bunk beds with only the thinnest of mattresses and pathetically inadequate blankets. He saw thin, undernourished people resting in the bunks. Some of them were awake and looked at him with eyes that were past caring. He saw the long tables where they ate their ‘meals’ and an examination of the residue in the empty stewpot told him just how little nutrients there were in the food they had eaten.

He recalled how much an Empathy Suit cost to buy. Just the one Cam had bought would have fed these people ADEQUATELY for a year, and the information he had pulled up on the TARDIS computer showed that Empathy Fabrics sold tens of thousands such suits every year.

Massive profits were being made at the expense of these people’s very lives.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” a voice demanded. Chrístõ turned and stared dispassionately at the weapon trained on him by a guard in all black clothes that contrasted with the industrial white of the workers. He had a logo on his uniform that identified him with Empathy Fabrics Inc.

A clothing manufacturer with armed security! Chrístõ tried to imagine any circumstances where that was a normal state of affairs.

Not in his definition of a fair and democratic society

“I am Kristoph De Leon,” he said, holding up his psychic paper. “This is my associate, Karl Morley. We are government inspectors, here to ensure that your factory is being run within guidelines for fair treatment of your workers. I’ve finished looking at the private quarters. I think I should speak to your CEO now.”


“But as you saw, we are already operating well above the government’s own standard for treatment of clone workers.”

Mr Grehy, the Managing Director of the factory explained to Chrístõ and Kohb after they were sat comfortably in his office and plied with good quality whiskey and cigars, both of which were refused. “We have increased the quantity of protein in the ration and allowed the workers an extra hour of rest. And it has reduced the number of worker deaths from 60% to 40%. It was becoming counter-productive having to train so many new machinists every week.”

“What about discipline?” Chrístõ asked as he stood and went to the big window that looked down at the factory floor. The ‘hive’ analogy was appropriate, he thought as he watched hundreds of female clone workers producing yards and yards of cloth at great looms. “I notice your supervisors are armed.”

“We have a unique product,” Grehy explained. “We cannot allow any kind of industrial espionage. Misdemeanours on the factory floor are dealt with in the usual way. As you can see.” Grehy pointed to a space just below the office window which Chrístõ’s eye had not yet been drawn to.

He swallowed hard and tried not to react as he saw the young woman being held in what looked like a modern version of a medieval pillory and listened as Grehy said that she would be released after an hour and made to work through her rest period in order to make up the lost time.

“What did she do to warrant such punishment?” Kohb asked as he noted that there were three such pillories in a line. The other two were currently unoccupied. Chrístõ could feel him also trying to stay calm.

“Slacking. Mistakes in the fabric that caused a whole batch to be rejected.” Grehy shrugged his shoulders. “That’s one thing that hasn’t changed since we went over from citizen workers. Still got to have overlookers to check for flaws in the finished product.”

“There are no citizen workers here now?” Chrístõ asked.

“Only the overlookers. I’d never go back to citizen workers. They cost more, and production was far slower because they insisted on workers rights and conditions of labour. Since we started using the clone workers profit margins are wider. Get the most out, put the least in. It’s still a battle to keep the overheads down, though. I’m sure the stock we’re sent these days is inferior. We get far more of them blowing a brain fuse. Had one today, just started screaming in the middle of a shift.”

“And how do you deal with that?” Chrístõ asked.

“Same as any other business,” Grehy said. “Throw her out of the factory. Let her scream out there, where it doesn’t disturb the other workers. Eventually the brain just implodes and they die. The police dispose of the bodies. It’s easier than when they just drop dead on the spot. Then I have to arrange for collection of the body. Last year when the police were striking for more pay and refusing to collect them, I had a shed full of the bodies.”

“Very well,” Chrístõ told him, still trying to control his stomach as his imagination went into overdrive over that last detail. “I think we’ve seen enough here. Keep up the profits. We’ll see ourselves out.”

“Er…” Grehy cleared his throat meaningfully. “I would rather you didn’t. I am still trying to find out how you got IN without my authorisation. I understand that government agents have the right to make unannounced inspections. But there ARE procedures.”

“We’ll SEE ourselves out,” Chrístõ repeated and stared at the man hard before turning and walking out of the room. Grehy didn’t move.

“Walk quickly, but not too quickly,” Chrístõ told Kohb. “I’m not sure how long he’ll stay under hypnosis. It’s not a skill I use very often. I don’t like taking people’s free will. But I’m not going to be escorted to the gate by corporate henchmen with guns aimed at my back.”

They had reached the TARDIS before Grehy blinked and looked around. He remembered he was supposed to have a guard escort his visitors to the main gate. But his visitors were no longer there. He turned to his videocom.

“Have the two government inspectors left the premises yet?” he asked the receptionist at the front desk.

“WHAT government inspectors, sir?” she replied.

A search of the premises found no trace of the visitors.

Grehy shook his head. Maybe he was working too hard. But he couldn’t imagine why, in that case, he had dreamt about being inspected.

“What now, sir?” Kohb asked when they were safely inside the TARDIS.

“I’m not really sure,” Chrístõ admitted. “This is bigger than I thought. It’s not just that factory. The evidence shows planetary-wide use of those cloned workers.”

“Clones always have to struggle for their rights,” Kohb noted. “To be recognised as sentient individuals.”

“The Treaty of Ux passed a resolution determining that clones were to be recognised as full members of the species which forms their dominant DNA. Cam and I both signed it. SO did the Ambassador of New Londinium. I’ve just looked up the Resolution. The government of this planet are breaking the Treaty. Clone workers are being created using DNA samples from the indigenous species. They are being used as slave labour to produce commercial goods sold on the galactic market. Whatever the government guidelines are on this planet, the rest of this galaxy does not approve of such practices.”

“I thought we might start some kind of workers revolt inside Empathy fabrics,” Kohb said.

“I had that in mind, too. But those workers have neither the will nor the strength for that, and with armed guards in the place I would just be encouraging them to walk into a slaughter. I JUST honestly don’t know WHAT to do.”

“What about Madame Camilla,” Kohb asked. “She has to go through a whole shift in that factory before she can get to us.”

“It will be the hardest manual work she has done in her life,” Chrístõ said, allowing himself a small smile even though he chided himself at the same time for being so uncharitable to his friend. “She’s tough. I am sure she will be all right.”

Camilla wasn’t all right. She was deeply regretting going undercover in such a way. The work was horrendous. The looms on which the Empathy Fabric was woven were a combination of automated process and manual labour. The job she found herself doing was feeding the thread into the loom. She had to make sure it was always going at an even rate, and had to be ready to reattach broken threads and to put a new skein of thread onto the machine every ten minutes when it ran out. The girls around her did it quickly and skilfully, without stopping the loom, and without the fabric showing any flaw or sign of the join.

She looked at the bolt of cloth she had produced. It was full of flaws. There were OBVIOUS joins, missed stitches, rows pulled too tight. It was completely worthless.

And for all the effort she ached in every muscle in her body. Her hands were cut by the threads pulling at her skin, her nails broken. She felt dreadful. She only hoped the data she was gathering was worth it.

“You’re new, aren’t you,” the girl next to her whispered. “Why did they put you straight onto the looms? Usually they put the new ones on packing.”

“I don’t know,” Camilla answered. “What will happen?” She looked nervously at the ‘pillory’ where one worker had just been released and sent back to work. The two either side were currently occupied.

“You’ll never pass the overlooker with that material,” the girl the other side told her. “You’ll get HOURS in punishment.”

It was said without any sense of triumph by the skilled worker who had made no mistakes. There was a general sympathy for her plight all around. But Camilla knew as the overlooker passed down the line, dressed in a dark blue version of the same overall, that she was in trouble. Her heart sank as her fabric was inspected.

What would happen, she wondered, if she morphed now into Cam in a business suit? But that would blow her cover and she was a long way from the TARDIS, still.

Should she press the panic button or not? That was her next thought. Her hand reached towards the wristlet slowly, then she looked at the armed guards patrolling the floor. She couldn’t put Chrístõ in danger to save herself a few hours of discomfort. Besides, he needed the data the wristlet was gathering about the people around her.

The workers didn’t even look up as she was led away to the punishment stocks. They didn’t dare stop working, and any obvious sign of sympathy might be noted against them. She thought she could FEEL their empathy with her, though. There were few who hadn’t suffered the way she was going to suffer.

“Keep still,” the overlooker said as the guard forced her head down into the narrow half circle where the neck was enclosed and her wrists into the armholds. “Don’t struggle, or you’ll have an extra hour’s punishment and we’ll cut your rations, too. In fact… we’ll cut the rations of the whole shift.”

The last was said loud enough for all the workers to hear despite the noise of the factory floor. Camilla saw that none of the girls so much as looked her way. They didn’t dare. But she understood how cruel a punishment that was. The other workers would be bound to shun the one who had caused them all to be punished, no matter how much they empathised.

If she was a real worker, she would be feeling very low as the pillory was locked down over her neck and wrists.

“Wait a minute!” the overlooker said as he tested to ensure she was securely fixed. “What’s this?” He pushed up her sleeve and looked at the lifesigns wristlet. He touched the microphone link in his ear. “Mr Grehy, sir, you’d better come down. I think we have an industrial spy here!”

Camilla sighed. She needed the panic button now, but she couldn’t reach it. Chrístõ wouldn’t KNOW she was in trouble.

“Carry on working!” A barked command rang out across the factory floor as Grehy came down from his office. “So, what have we got here?”

“A spy, sir,” the overlooker said, grasping Camilla’s arm and pulling the wristlet off. “Look at this. And look closer at this one. No clone worker is THIS healthy looking, even when NEW. This one has eaten well all her life.”

“Who do you work for?” Grehy demanded. Camilla said nothing.

“Answer him,” the overlooker demanded, and he smashed his fist into her face with bone-crunching force, leaving a bleeding nose and a cruel bruise across her fine cheekbone. Camilla breathed in deeply through her mouth but said nothing.

“Answer….” Camilla closed her eyes as his fist came down towards her face again. But this time the blow never connected. She heard a familiar sound and the air moved and when she opened her eyes again she was still in the pillory, but all three of them were inside the TARDIS. Kohb had the overlooker’s arm in a firm grip and Chrístõ had brought Grehy to his knees with a Gung Fu kick before coming to her side to release her.

“How did you…. I couldn’t reach the panic button.”

I also programmed in a proximity alarm that would trip if the wristlet was no longer next to your pulse.”

“Clever,” Camilla said as she stood up shakily. “Those two girls, too. Help them.”

“On it now,” Chrístõ said and he ran to free the two girls. Camilla, meanwhile looked at the overlooker with a disgusted expression.

“So you like to hit defenceless women?” she said. “Want another swing at me? Let him go, Kohb. Let him have a go, man on woman, now my arms are free.”

Kohb did as he was told. The overlooker didn’t even TRY to hit her. He cringed away from her. But Grehy rose up from the floor and ran at her. As he hit the floor, knocked for six by an old fashioned boxing blow that was just as effective as any of Chrístõ’s martial arts, the last thing he thought he noticed was the woman in overalls turning into a young man in a business suit.

Cam grabbed Grehy by the collar and the overlooker by the shoulder and propelled one and dragged the other to the door. He put them both outside and closed it again. Chrístõ grinned and initiated dematerialisation.

“What next, though,” he asked as he put the TARDIS in a safe temporal orbit. He looked at his friend. Even as Cam, there was a dreadful bruise on his face. Proof if he ever needed any that Cam and Camilla WERE the same person. They hurt the same hurts, physically and emotionally. He adjusted his sonic screwdriver to tissue repair mode and applied it to Cam’s cheek.

“Ohhh,” he whispered. “That feel nice. So soothing. Like a cool poultice.”

“Can’t have Camilla sporting a shiner at the formal ball when we get to Ioxa,” Chrístõ said in answer. Cam smiled and shimmered back to Camilla, looking beautiful and bruise free. She kissed him fondly.

“Sir,” Kohb interrupted him. “The videophone…”

Chrístõ turned his face, though he was still holding Camilla. He saw that Kohb had already accepted the connection. Penne Dúre, his dearest friend and blood brother grinned wickedly at him.

“And you’re the one who lectures ME about fidelity,” he said. “Chrístõ, who is this lovely young woman then?”

“This is my friend and colleague Camilla Dey Greibella, Ambassador of Haollstrom V,” Chrístõ replied.

“Ah,” Penne nodded in understanding. “This is a diplomatic meeting that I’ve interrupted?”

“What was it you wanted, Penne,” Chrístõ asked, laughing.

“To congratulate you on your promotion. I see you are listed as the delegate for Gallifrey at the Council of Ioxa.”

“You’re attending the Council?”

“Yes, I am,” Penne told him.

“Your Majesty,” Camilla said, stepping away from Chrístõ’s embrace and addressing him formally. “You are already at Ioxa?”

“I am, yes.”

“We will be there soon. Could you… to save us some time… could you use your influence to convene a special committee. There is a Resolution that the Ambassador for Gallifrey needs to present to the Council – seconded by the Ambassador for Haollstrom V. And… if we could have your backing, too, it would be advantageous.”

“I’m prepared to stand by ANY Resolution Chrístõ puts forward. He knows that.”

“I do, indeed,” Chrístõ said as he bid his friend farewell and turned to Camilla. “What Resolution am I making?”

“Censure of Nova Londinium, immediate embargo on all goods produced on that planet, intergalactic monitoring of the integration of the slave clones into their society and a return to a full wage-based manufacturing economy.”

“I’m an Ambassador now,” Chrístõ said with a smile. “I have the diplomatic option. I had almost forgotten. If the Council pass the Resolution it will cripple Nova Londinium’s economy until they comply. But it was your idea. Why am I proposing the resolution?”

“It will be a great coup for you in your new career,” Camilla told him. “They will take you seriously in the main Council debates.”

“Ok,” Chrístõ grinned. “Brilliant plan of mine.”

“Those girls will come with us,” Camilla added, looking at the two young women they had rescued along with her. They were sitting on the sofa now, clutching hands together and looking around the strange place they had found themselves in. “They can give evidence. They’re scared right now, but I’m going to prepare them. I’ll see about getting them political asylum on Ioxa afterwards. I don’t think they will want to go back to working at Empathy Fabrics.”

The diplomatic option! Chrístõ smiled. It wasn’t HIS way. It wasn’t the way his father and Li Tuo USED to do things. It maybe wouldn’t work EVERY time and in every situation. But just this once he was glad he HAD the option.