Camilla looked cheerful as the TARDIS began the final approach to materialisation.

“Home,” she said with a smile. “Haollstrom IV.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing your planet,” Kohb told her warmly, his hand reaching for hers.

“I hope you will like it,” Camilla answered him. “I did think that… perhaps… I don’t intend to be a roving ambassador forever. I thought there might come a time when… You and I could be happy together. On the family estate.”

Chrístõ looked up from the console and studied Kohb’s face carefully. Cam, the experienced diplomat might have found a better way of making that suggestion than Camilla, who relied on instincts and emotions. It wasn’t exactly a faux pas, but she had not thought about how her suggestion would be received by a Gallifreyan man.

Camilla was the youngest of her family, but even so she had inherited a substantial property and income as well as a high place in Haollstromnian society. She could offer Kohb a lifestyle that one of his class on Gallifrey would not even dare dream of. He had nothing in real terms to offer her. But Gallifreyans, even of the lower class, were proud people, and distinctly chauvinistic people. For a man to depend on his wife for his position and wealth went against the grain. Small wonder that Kohb found it hard to respond to the proposal.

“We don’t have to decide anything yet,” Camilla said as the silence lengthened and she started to realise what the problem was. “Chrístõ isn’t ready to go it alone on the diplomatic circuit yet. He needs me.”

That was a good excuse. At least for now. But Kohb was no fool, and he would realise it was not true. Kohb would know that Chrístõ had learnt as much as he could about being a diplomat. He had, almost literally, needed Cam’s hand to hold when he began, and it was a hand willingly given to him. But he was more than ready now to go it alone if his friends decided it was time to live their lives one day after the other, as sooner or later he knew they would.

“It’s night time,” Kohb noticed as the materialisation completed and Chrístõ reached to switch on the viewscreen.

“Yes,” Camilla said. “I asked Chrístõ to bring us to a full moon night. I thought it would be a nice way to arrive. Full moons are rather special. And Humphrey can come with us. He so rarely gets to come out of the TARDIS.

Humphrey purred his approval and although it was too bright to see him clearly in the console room Camilla felt him pass through her. A close encounter with Humphrey in a good mood was always enjoyable but for a pheromone-driven gendermorph it was a very exciting experience.

They stepped out together into a parkland under a clear, starlit sky from which a bright, full moon gave form and depth to the shadows. They could see trees and a wide river with a path running alongside it. In the middle distance there was a bridge across the river.

“What’s that?” Kohb asked as they looked across the river where, beyond an avenue of trees they could see moving lights. The sound of drums came from the same direction on the night air. An insistent beat, almost tribal. Chrístõ felt himself shivering with excitement and curious to see what it was. Humphrey seemed just as excited. He bounced along the path in front of them, his round shape moving to the rhythm as they walked towards what proved to be an ornamental footbridge.

“But what is it?” Chrístõ asked as they crossed the bridge and the sounds of the drums and the dancing lights were closer. There was some other instrument, too, not carrying quite so well as those insistent drums, but more clearly heard as they drew closer.

Across the bridge they came through the stand of trees and then they saw it all clearly. The parkland rose gently to a long brow where a baroque folly in white stone had been built. And the folly was the centre piece of the torchlight party.

A party it was, in the open air, under the moonlight. There must have been fifty or sixty people there. Some were sitting, others dancing. On the steps in front of the folly were the drummers, four of them, and somebody playing an instrument a little like a sitar. Others were juggling flaming torches and spinning long sticks with either end lit so that they made circles of firelight in the air. Shorter batons were thrown into the air and waved around to create ribbons of light that left an afterimage on the eye. Some of them even stood on top of the folly, lighting up the scene with their ever moving performance.

“Welcome,” said a young girl who pressed something into Chrístõ’s hand and drew him into the dance. He saw that he was holding an apple with a lit candle embedded in it, and the dancers held them up over their heads in one hand while holding their partner with the other, changing hands before numbness set in.

And all the time the music continued. Chrístõ looked around and saw Camilla and Kohb with their own lights joining in the dance, and Humphrey taking part in his own way, bouncing around in the shadows inside the folly itself, exhorting the drummers to increase the tempo.

Chrístõ laughed and danced all the harder and wasn’t at all disconcerted when his dance partner alternated between a pretty girl and an attractive youth. He was ‘intoxicated’ by the pheromone rush exuded by the people all around him. He felt happy and excited and even more rarely, thoroughly relaxed. He knew that on Earth and many other planets, people used drugs and alcohol to achieve the same effect. Haollstromnians had no need of such dangerous practices. They were high on each other.

Then the mood changed, shockingly and violently. The dancers and musicians were suddenly bathed in unnatural light from a spotlight shone down from a hovering vehicle and an authoritative voice on a loudhailer warned them to stay still and not to attempt to run. Around them figures in black uniforms appeared, wielding long nightsticks. For a moment there was a shocked calm. Nobody moved, nobody spoke. And then somebody sounded a whistle and taking that as their cue the police – as Chrístõ assumed them to be – moved in, batoning the dancers and party-goers. A few fought back. Those with the flaming torches held them off for a while and the folly roof was defended fiercely. But in the end most of them went down, crying and bleeding as they were bludgeoned whether they fought or not.

“What’s going on?” Chrístõ demanded as he tried to protect his dance partner from the blows. “Who are you and why are you attacking these people? They have done no harm. They’re just enjoying themselves.”

There was no reply to his questions. Not in words, anyway. He supposed, later, that the nightstick that smashed against his jaw was an answer of a kind. Though far from a diplomatic one. As he reeled back from the blow he felt his skull concussed from behind and he fell forward, covering the woman he had been dancing with. As he slipped into unconsciousness he thought he saw Kohb taking a battering from two of the officers as he covered Camilla with his own body and protected her from the assault.

When he opened his eyes again, he was still with the woman he had been dancing with, only she had reverted to being a male. Around him a dozen or so other Haollstromnians were uncertain which gender was best suited to their situation and were changing back and forward. Changing gender did not help mend their wounds and many of them were hurting, but nobody seemed to want to do anything to help them.

“Chrístõ,” Kohb’s voice called and he pulled himself into a sitting position and looked around. Kohb was in the next barred cell to the one he was in, along with more of the Haollstromnians. He looked unhurt. They both were. Their wounds mended easily, though the headache remained and Chrístõ felt as if his jaw had been dislocated. He moved carefully among the battered Haollstromnians sitting or lying on the hard floor, until he was next to the bars and could reach out to Kohb’s hand.

“Where’s Camilla?” he asked. “Why isn’t she with you?”

“She was, but she made a fuss and the guards came and took her out of here. I’m not sure where they went.”

“Was the party illegal?” Chrístõ asked next. “Is that why the police broke it up? But… such force. Why?”

Kohb couldn’t answer those questions. None of the other prisoners looked as if they wanted to answer it. They were too hurt and weary to respond. They didn’t even look up when the door opened in the corridor beyond the barred cells and an officer came in, accompanied by Camilla and a woman who looked a lot like her except a little older. As their names were called Kohb and Chrístõ both stood up. The officer stepped forward and let them out.

“What about these other people?” Chrístõ asked.

“Leave it,” said the woman who looked like Camilla tersely. “They’ll be processed later. They’ll lose their Overland Privileges for a few months and have their pay docked. Just come along now. I’ve got a car waiting.”

“This is my sibling, Kaye,” Camilla said as they emerged from the police station. It was still night, but there was a lightening to the south that suggested dawn wasn’t far off.

“Nice to meet you,” Chrístõ said with a slight iciness in his voice. “I would have preferred cocktails or luncheon for a family reunion, but perhaps a beating is more customary on your planet.”

“It’s not,” Kaye answered. “You were unfortunately mixed up in the unpleasantness. Obviously when Camilla made her status known they had to release her. It took a little longer to convince them that you two also should be freed. It was necessary to confirm your diplomatic status.”

“That’s another thing,” Chrístõ added. “Whatever happened to diplomatic immunity around here?”

“I’m not sure what’s going on, either,” Camilla told him as they got into the car. “The full moon celebrations are a tradition. I have attended them since I was a girl.”

“Wait a minute…” Kohb cried out in a sudden panic. “Chrístõ… where is Humphrey? What happened to him when all this started?”

“He was…” Chrístõ began. “I think… I saw him cowering in the corner of the folly.” He looked around at the lightening sky. “Dawn…. The sun is coming up. Camilla, which way did that folly face?”

“Towards the morning sun,” she answered. “Oh, no….”

“Take us to that park, NOW,” Chrístõ ordered with all the authority of his High Gallifreyan blood. The driver of the car looked around at her employer, who looked at her sister uncertainly before confirming the instruction. “Quickly,” Chrístõ added as he looked again at the pale blue sky that was rapidly driving away the dark. Usually he loved sunrises as much as he loved sunsets. He greeted the morning sun joyfully. But right now he would have given anything to hold it back as Kaye told them they were at least a half hour’s drive from the place where they had been arrested.

“Drive FASTER,” Camilla ordered. “Faster.”

“We CAN’T go any faster,” Kaye answered her. “We’re already at the limit. And I’m not spending another three hours at the detention hall because of a speeding fine.”

Camilla said nothing more, but she, too, looked back at the pre-dawn sky. She knew better than her Gallifreyan friends how quickly the sun rose on Haollstrom. They were racing against time.

The sky was very much lighter when they reached the entrance to the park. And as they looked down the grassy slope towards the river and the rolling grasslands beyond, they could see a sliver of sunlight on the horizon.

“It’s locked, of course,” Kaye said as Chrístõ rattled the ornate gates. “It always IS at night.”

“Since WHEN?” Camilla asked. “Get it UNLOCKED.”

“We’ll have to ask at the park administrator’s office. But it’s so early. I doubt if…”

But Chrístõ wasn’t waiting any longer. He launched himself at the gate and began to climb it. He heard Kaye calling to him that he was breaking the law, but he ignored her as he landed sure footed on the other side and began to run. He could see the folly from there. Its roof was pristine white in the early morning light, but it had not yet been warmed by the sun’s rays.

The sun was coming up, though. Beyond the river its golden light was diffused by the avenue of trees and it was only a matter of time.

He reached the folly. It was still shadowy inside, yet. And to his relief he saw the darker, more substantial shadow cowering in the corner. Humphrey’s eyes were big with fear as he opened his mouth to greet his friend.

“Are you all right, my friend?” Chrístõ asked.

“Sc..are…d…” Humphrey replied. “Sunlight…. Afraid…”

“Yes, I know,” he said. “It’s too late for you to move out of here. You’ll have to stay until I get the TARDIS.” He went to the edge of the steps and looked across the river. He could just see it disguised as a wooden hut at the edge of a thick copse of trees. He looked at the rising sun, glittering like precious gold. He turned back and pulled off his jacket. The thick leather and the silk lining made it impenetrable to light. He covered Humphrey with it and told him to stay down. The jacket trembled and wobbled as it were a leather jelly mould.

He knew it was only a temporary protection. But it might buy him a little time.

He turned and ran as fast as he could, watching the sun’s early morning rays racing up the hill as he raced down. When they hit the front of the folly the light would fill the inside and Humphrey would be trapped. The artificial lights of the TARDIS only made him invisible. But sunlight would neutralise the darkness that he was made of and he would be killed. Chrístõ wasn’t even sure if his jacket was enough protection. He knew he couldn’t waste time finding out.

He folded time as he ran through the trees at the bottom of the hill. He didn’t even think about turning towards the bridge. He kept going in a direct line towards his TARDIS. His feet skimmed the top of the water of the river as he ran so fast he barely got his shoes wet.

Reaching the far bank he came out of the time fold and simply sprinted as fast as he could to where he had left the TARDIS disguised as a wooden hut by a thicker copse of trees. He ran inside so fast he had to reach out to the console to stop himself. He didn’t bother to dematerialise. He didn’t CARE what it might look like as the wooden hut flew through the air, back across the river and up the hill, racing the sunlight. He stopped just inside the shade of the folly and opened the door.

Humphrey sprang forward, still underneath his leather jacket. Chrístõ grabbed it from him as he passed over the threshold and bowled along the TARDIS floor to the open inner door. He kept on going until he reached his nesting place by the engine room. Chrístõ saw him on the lifesigns monitor, settling himself down in his safe place as he closed the door and set his course back to the park gates.

Kohb and Camilla ran into the TARDIS as soon as he materialised. Kaye looked dubiously at the open door of the newspaper kiosk that had suddenly appeared in front of her.

“Send your driver home and get in HERE,” Camilla demanded and her older sibling looked disapproving at being ordered about that way but did as she said.

“How does this… It’s bigger on the inside…”

“Just close the door, will you,” Chrístõ answered. “Then perhaps some of the many questions we have might find some answers.”

“I want to make sure Humphrey is ok first,” Camilla said. And she and Kohb both went to find him and assure themselves that he WAS all right after his unpleasant experience. Chrístõ turned the console lights down low as they returned with him, purring as Camilla shared some of her pheromone-laden love with him.

“THAT is what we had to race the dawn to protect?” Kaye exclaimed in astonishment. “What is it?”

“It’s Humphrey, and he’s a friend and companion to us all,” Chrístõ answered. “And his life is as valuable as anyone else’s here.”

Camilla and Kohb both agreed with that sentiment. Kaye accepted it and went to sit on the sofa. The others joined her, including Humphrey, still purring softly.

“So what IS going on here?” Camilla asked. “Locked park gates, police batoning innocent people at traditional festival celebrations. I feel like I’ve come back to a nightmare.”

“You could be right,” Kaye answered her. “About the nightmare. It has been very unpleasant lately. That’s not the first time curfew breakers have been rounded up in that way. It’s not pleasant, but the new laws are clear…”

“WHAT curfew?” Camilla asked. “Kaye, this is Haollstrom. We don’t HAVE curfews and police attacking innocent people who were doing no harm.”

“We do now,” Kaye answered in a sombre tone. “You’ve been away a long time, Cam. Things have changed around here. We elected a new President six moon cycles back and he began to impose new regulations on the movements and activities of the population. Yesterday, they banned any further reproduction among the Underlanders until further notice and today there are proposals to close the university and ban education beyond age sixteen.”

“Why?” Chrístõ asked. “If the planet is badly over-populated the first makes a kind of sense, temporarily at least. But curtailing education is an unacceptable form of control over the working classes. I take it these rules only apply to the workers?”

“We Aristivos are expected to observe the curfew, in order to avoid being mixed up in arrests at unauthorised festivities!” Kaye looked pointedly at her younger sibling then. But Camilla was not daunted by the rebuke.

Chrístõ remembered all that Camilla had told him about her planet. The two tier system of society and the two tier world that went with it. The surface of Haollstrom was a veritable Garden of Eden, with lush green places, watered valleys, grassy plains. A third of the land was owned by the Aristivos, the upper class families with their demesnes, much as it was on Gallifrey, where his own family had a sizeable property. But the rest was parklands of formal gardens and meadows, water features, recreational facilities, and it had always been freely available for the working people to enjoy in their leisure time.

Because the workers, the Underlanders, lived in a very different part of Haollstrom. Beneath the outer surface was the Underland, a subterranean world where the industrial cities were, where the populace worked and lived. Metal ores were mined from deep in the planet’s second crust and taken to the smelting foundaries and metalworks and assembly plants. Two thirds of the population were directly involved in the industry that provided all of the metal components for every bridge, skyscraper, car, ship, plane, space ship and space station in the quadrant.

But as Camilla had described it, this was not some hellish world where the many toiled for the profit of the few. The bounty was shared and even Underland was a place where people could enjoy the fruits of their labour. They had education and health care, good homes, they could afford consumer goods and leisure activities and had nicely laid out towns and cities to do that in as well as access to the public spaces in the overland.

Or at least that was how it was when Camilla was last home. She was appalled as her sibling told her of the changes. Now, among other restrictions, the Underlanders could only visit the parks for a limited time, with a pass they had to EARN by doing extra work. Hours above ground were given in lieu of overtime pay.

“Most of the Underlanders accepted the new regulations,” Kaye went on. “But there was a core. It started in the universities, of course, rather than among the workers themselves. They rebelled in various ways, including breaking the curfew for the Moon Festival. Every full moon they have defied the authorities and held their festival in a different location. At first the police just broke it up and sent them home. But then they were told they would lose THEIR Overland privileges if they didn’t make arrests. The violence… that’s new. And it’s horrible. And…”

“Yes,” Kohb commented acidly. “We saw how it is. But why?”

“More to the point WHO would do this?” Camilla asked. “WHO is the new president?”

“That’s the worst of it.” Kaye stood and went to the console. “Can you pick up local broadcasts?” she asked. Chrístõ went to the communications panel and tuned into the only station that was transmitting. It was a debate in the parliament chamber in the beautiful and fashionable Overland capital city. Or rather it was a series of edicts from the President, which seemed to be accepted more or less without dissent from the ministers.

Camilla gave a distressed cry as the cameras focussed on the President. Kohb and Chrístõ both looked at him and wondered why his face seemed so familiar. Then both realised at once.

He looked like an older version of Cam.

“Your sibling is the President?” Kohb exclaimed.

“I don’t believe it,” Camilla insisted. “It can’t be Drew doing these things. It can’t. It just CAN’T.”

“It IS,” Kaye answered her. “I don’t know why he’s doing it. We’ve not exactly TALKED lately. I wrote a couple of editorials early on that were critical of the new administration.”


“And it’s just as well I only ever got into journalism for something to do. I was fired very quickly and if I leave the family property I tend to have a secret policeman on my tail.”

“What about Brandon?” Camilla asked. “No way SHE would stay silent about this.”

“I don’t know where Brandon is,” Kaye answered her. “She’s… she’s one of the rebels, organising the civil unrest. Drew has declared her an outlaw. The police have orders to arrest on sight. I haven’t seen her. I don’t know where she is or…”

“That’s not true,” Chrístõ interrupted her, looking straight into her eyes. “I hope your sibling isn’t as smart as he looks to be on TV. Because the lie is written all over your face. You DO know where Brandon is. You’re protecting her, aren’t you?”

Kaye turned her head away from Chrístõ’s penetrating gaze. She turned from her sister’s eyes, too.

“Tell us,” Camilla demanded. “Tell us where she is. Take us there. We need to talk.”

“I can’t,” Kaye answered. “If we’re followed…”

“Followed?” Chrístõ laughed. “In my ship? I think not. Just give me the co-ordinates.”

“Tell him,” Camilla said, and even though she was the youngest of the family there was something in her tone that overrode the sibling pecking order.

“She’s at the lighthouse,” Kaye admitted and told Chrístõ where it was. He set the co-ordinate and dematerialised the TARDIS. Kaye was surprised how little sense of movement there was, and even more surprised when they stopped only a few minutes later at their destination.

“But it’s a half day’s drive across country,” Kaye said. “How can you…”

“Never mind,” Chrístõ said. “The important thing is we’re here.”

Here was on the coast, at the edge of a placid blue sea that gently lapped against the jagged rocks of a headland where a white stone lighthouse stood.

“It’s just a relic, of course,” Kaye pointed out as they walked towards the entrance. “People only go to sea for leisure now and they have satellite navigation. But the lighthouse has been in our family for generations. We used to come here for holidays as children.”

“We’re not children now,” Camilla answered. “And we’re not on holiday.”

That much was made very clear to all concerned a moment later when they heard the dry, metallic sound of guns cocking behind them. Chrístõ risked a glance behind his back and saw two people, both female for the time being, aiming rifles at them. Then the lighthouse door opened and two more females with guns stepped out. All of them wore blue-grey working overalls and had their hair cut in short, practical styles. Camilla and Kaye, who both had long, luxuriant hair, seemed slightly embarrassed by that.

A third woman stood at the door. She, too, was armed. She also had short cropped hair. She wore a man’s suit trousers and jacket with a t-shirt underneath. And it took Chrístõ and Kohb a moment or two to realise that she was a gendermorph in female form who had chosen to dress in masculine clothes. It was a subtle point, perhaps, but one that they both understood right away to be an affirmation of lifestyle choice.

And she HAD to be Brandon, Camilla’s eldest sibling. But the expression on her face right now was anything but familial. She nodded to the guards and the four visitors were prodded with the gun barrels and encouraged to move forward, into the lighthouse.

The inside of the lighthouse was much like any lighthouse that had ever been built. It was circular, for one thing. This one was unusual for having a static transmat chamber in the centre of it. A very busy transmat. Young people with short hair and overalls were arriving in pairs or threes every minute to collect boxes of rifles and ammunition from a small arsenal stacked against the curving wall.

“What are you DOING, Brandon?” Camilla exclaimed. “Arming a militia?”

“Yes,” she answered as she sat at a desk. “The Underlanders Citizen Army.”

One of the women in the overalls came and stood to the left and slightly behind her, one hand on her shoulder. Kohb looked at her and realised that this woman was more than just a lieutenant in her citizen army. She was to Brandon as he was to Camilla. And probably as likely to lay down her life for her lover as he was.

“Are you MAD?” Camilla demanded. “You’re arming a people’s rebellion?”

“Take them away,” Brandon said to her guards. “Lock them in the old keeper’s quarters. Make sure they have food, and they’re not harmed. But Drew will realise he can’t send his spies to us.”

“We’re NOT spies,” Camilla protested. “I’m not… What Drew is doing. I don’t…”

“You work for the government,” Brandon pointed out. “As an AMBASSADOR.”

“I work for the people of Haollstrom. I represent THEM. The diplomatic corps is not politically partisan.”

“I still can’t trust you. And who are THEY?” She waved and Kohb and Chrístõ were pushed forward. Brandon inhaled slowly as if she was scenting them. “They’re not Haollstromnians. You brought foreigners into this? Aliens? SPIES.”

“Brandon, for Haol’s sake. THESE are my friends. They’re… Kohb is my significant one. My lover. And Chrístõ… Chrístõ you can trust to the end of the universe. He…”

“We know him,” Kaye said. “Brandon, we’ve known him since before he was born. We were bridesmaids at his parent’s wedding. His FATHER is the Peacemaker.”

Brandon looked at him doubtfully, but also curiously.

“All right,” she conceded. “So you’re not spies. But you’re still not leaving here. I won’t risk you being picked up and questioned by Drew’s paramilitaries. We act tomorrow.”

“Act on what?” Chrístõ asked. “You’re REALLY going to mount a counter-revolution? Bring down the government? How many of those guns do you have? How big is your army?”

“You can’t be serious,” Camilla exclaimed. “You’re turning from illicit Moon Festivals to REVOLUTION overnight?”

“The Moon Festivals, the passive resistance, it was all just to keep the momentum going while we built the REAL movement. Every citizen batoned by the police when they broke up a peaceful protest brought a dozen to the Citizen Army. Drew has orchestrated his own doom by his actions.”

“That’s…” Chrístõ was appalled. “That is SO cynical. You used those innocent people as propaganda to build your resistance army.”

Brandon shrugged. “We live in cynical times. We have a megalomaniac in power who cares about nothing but maximising profits. What do you think all these measures are for? The people work longer and longer hours just to get the chance of a few minutes above ground. The universities are closed. The students are sent to the foundries. Nobody is allowed to procreate. No maternity leave needed. He’s making slaves of them all.”

“Why?” Camilla asked. “Haollstrom is already a rich planet. Our exports are strong. Why increase them at the expense of the people?”

“Ask him,” Brandon answered, taking a hand gun from her pocket and slotting in the magazine with a click that echoed sinisterly around the circular room. “Just before I blow his brains out in the name of the People’s Republic of Haollstrom IV.”

“WHAT!” Kaye and Camilla’s voices were echoed by Chrístõ and Kohb, who were equally shocked by the idea.

“No!” Chrístõ exclaimed. “You can’t DO that.”

“Are you going to stop me?” Brandon demanded.

“Yes,” he answered. “If I have to, I will. Political assassination is not the solution here. It’s not the solution ANYWHERE. And not… not your own SISTER or BROTHER or whatever way it works here. You’re FAMILY, anyway. And surely that counts for something?”

“I always thought it did,” Camilla said. “Brandon, please. There HAS to be another way.”

“NO!” Chrístõ insisted. He stepped forward, towards her. She levelled her gun at him. He was aware of guns being pointed at him all around. And that scared him, because he knew it was perfectly possible they WOULD shoot him. These were desperate people led by a driven woman who fully intended to carry through her plan, despite the dreadful personal cost, for the sake of her world.

But he moved closer. He reached out his hands to show that HE was unarmed, and he kept moving closer.

He felt something in his head. A psychic wave. It was coming from Kohb. He knew his friend was doing something. But his own psychic nerves were still only slowly repairing and he couldn’t help him.

He couldn’t have done much to help him anyway. He was ALWAYS rubbish at telekinesis. He was impressed by how good Kohb was as he saw Brandon’s gun fly from her hand and drop at his feet. He heard startled cries as the rifles, too, were swept from the hands of the citizen guards. Kohb looked exhausted from the effort, but he had given a demonstration of just how they might prevent a terrible thing from happening.

“It DOESN’T have to be that way,” Chrístõ insisted. “Trust me. Come with me now and I can show you a better way.”

“Please,” Camilla begged. So did Kaye. They both looked at their sister pleadingly.

Brandon looked back at them steadily. Then she sighed. She turned to her own lover.

“Marty, I’m going to go with them. But in case it goes wrong, keep distributing the weapons. The plan is unchanged for now. I’m just going to LISTEN to what they have to say for a while.”

She picked up her gun, though, and put it in her pocket, glaring defiantly at Chrístõ as she did so.

“Don’t use that in here,” he ordered her as they stepped into the TARDIS. “I am a duly authorised ambassador of Gallifrey – my home world. This is my ship. And it is therefore protected by intergalactic diplomatic law. You are standing in Gallifreyan territory. Using a weapon here constitutes a breach of that law.

Camilla smiled to hear Chrístõ talk that way. He HAD learnt a lot.

“The same goes for your sibling when we catch up with him,” he added as he crossed the floor and set the co-ordinates for the Presidential palace. “Cam and I are diplomats. Our job is to find diplomatic solutions, to avoid bloodshed. We’re actually quite good at it. We’re going to do our best to do it here on your planet.”

The TARDIS materialised in the presidential office. On the viewscreen they saw the President, Drew Barr Dey Greibella look up in surprise at the sudden noise and air displacement that blew the papers on his desk. Camilla stepped out through the TARDIS door which had disguised itself as the door to the outer office.

“Camilla?” Drew looked at her in surprise. “How did you get in here without an appointment?”

“Since when did I need an appointment to see my own brother? I’m here to talk to you about Brandon.”

“There is nothing to talk about. She will be arrested before long. And if you have any information about her that you are withholding you will be arrested, too. All traitors and conspirators will be arrested. Productivity will not be impaired.”

”Brandon is here,” Camilla said. “She is just outside that door.”

“WHAT?” Drew stood up, reaching for his internal phone. He discovered immediately that it wasn’t working “You cut off my phone?”

“No, my friend did that. If you want to listen, we’ll explain. Just come this way.”

“I have twenty secret security police through there,” Drew said, pushing past her. Camilla followed behind and closed the door as he looked around in astonishment at the TARDIS interior. He turned to leave and found the door firmly locked.

“What treachery is this?” he demanded.

“No treachery. Just the technology of my planet,” Chrístõ answered him. “This, as I was just explaining, is a roving embassy of the Gallifreyan government. Please sit down. A special diplomatic session has been called in this neutral place to attempt to avert the imminent civil war on Haollstrom IV.

“There will BE no civil war on Haollstrom,” Drew retorted, ignoring the invitation to sit down. “The rebel leaders will be shot. Their followers will be interned in labour camps and will work until they die.”

“Drew, what are you saying?” Kaye pleaded. “Stop this madness.”

“All dissenters,” Drew continued, reaching for his inside pocket. “Starting with THAT one.”

He moved faster than anyone might have expected. So did Kohb as he wrestled the gun down. The bullet went straight through Humphrey in his hiding place and lodged in the wide base of the console. Humphrey made an indignant protesting sound but was unhurt, of course. Kohb continued to wrestle the gun from Drew’s hand as Brandon pulled hers and tried to get a clear shot at her brother.

“No!” Chrístõ crossed the floor and disarmed her, too. “Stop, both of you. TALK to each other.”

“There’s nothing to talk ABOUT,” Brandon answered, pulling from his grasp. Drew broke away from Kohb and the two siblings fought hand to hand, beating, kicking, even biting each other viciously. Whatever familial feelings they had were gone as they each drew blood with punches to the face and body. The others could only look on in astonished dismay and cry out to them to end the madness that had taken hold of them both.

“What… did you see?” Kohb gasped as he stepped away from the two of them. “For a few seconds…”

“Yes, I saw,” Chrístõ answered. He knew that gendermorphs, when they were angry or over-excited or hurt often lost control of their morphic ability and would swing wildly from one gender to the other. Brandon was doing that now. So was Drew, but as well as the male and female form, there was something else. Something that was far from humanoid. Something very wrong, that seemed to be taking hold more certainly as the fight went on. Camilla and Kaye both cried out in horror as they, too, saw it now.

Two gunshots rang out. The two sisters screamed in shock as Chrístõ and Kohb both fired, hitting Drew in the head and shoulder. Brandon screamed, too, because Kohb’s bullet had barely missed her head. Then she yelped in alarm as she looked at her brother’ body.

“What…” she exclaimed. “What IS THAT!”

“That is a Hi’t-he’tha-roth,” Chrístõ answered. “And for heaven sake don’t make me have to say that again. It… it is a…” He gulped for air. He felt as shocked as the rest of them. “It is a parasite that invades a host and takes it over, replacing the very DNA with its own while retaining the outer shell and… and the memories of the host, so that it can maintain a pretence of the personality. It…” He couldn’t say any more. He turned to Camilla as she clung to Kaye, both of them crying noisily. He looked at Brandon who stepped slowly towards her sisters. She was not crying, but she looked as if she was only just holding it in. “I’m sorry. But Drew… the Drew you knew and loved… was dead long before this.”

“Then it WASN’T Drew who did all those awful things?” Brandon managed to say as she shook visibly in her attempt not to break down as her sisters had.

“No, it wasn’t,” Chrístõ assured her. “And WE didn’t… we didn’t kill him. If… if I thought for a moment there was ANYTHING left of your brother I would not… I couldn’t have. But that creature… THAT isn’t Drew.”

He didn’t tell them that even he hadn’t been sure at the moment when he opened fire. If he had to quantify it, he would have said he was about seventy per cent sure that there was nothing of Drew Barr Dey Greibella to save. He knew that Kohb had read his mind, saw that calculation. And they had both made the judgement call.

He pulled his sonic screwdriver from his pocket and examined the body, for his own peace of mind, and knew his judgement call was the right one. He wasn’t sure what he would have done if he was wrong. Or how he would have looked Camilla in the face again.

He stood up and went to the environmental console as Kohb did what he could to console the three grieving siblings. He set a wide scale lifesigns scan and looked with growing dismay at what it showed him of the population of Haollstrom, of how far the parasitical creatures had spread. He looked up as Brandon turned away from her sisters and approached him.

“I’m sorry,” he said in a distressed voice. “I am so sorry. I don’t think there IS a diplomatic solution. The people will have to fight. When… when was your revolution scheduled for?”

“Tomorrow at noon,” she said. “But it’s all over now. Drew is dead… and we’re not ready. We need the time to get our people into position. We need to surround the police stations, the army barracks, the Presidential Palace. We can’t do it now.”

“Yes, you can. We’ll buy you that time.” Chrístõ turned and looked at Camilla. She was still shaking with grief, holding onto her sister. But she looked at him expectantly. “Cam… you look so much like your brother…”


It was possibly the hardest twenty-four hours Cam ever had to live through, pretending to be Drew, delivering another set of oppressive measures to the parliament. As the noon hour approached he prayed that nothing would go wrong. If it did, he was as good as dead, and so were his sisters, his lover, his friends, and countless innocent Haollstromnians.

He looked at the camera set up for the broadcast Drew was to make at midday, announcing the latest measures. He glanced at the presidential guards who stood either side of his desk, neither of whom suspected he was not who they thought he was. He looked beyond it to the door that did NOT lead to the outer office. He saw it open and Kaye stood there. She gave a thumbs up sign and a hopeful smile.

“People of Haollstrom,” Cam said as the red light signalled that the broadcast was live. “Today I have to make a grave announcement that affects you all. I have to tell you, that I am NOT the President. He was MURDERED. By THESE creatures that are standing beside me.”

At exactly the right moment he felt a change in the air as the energy wave radiated out from the TARDIS. Chrístõ had worked out overnight how to neutralise the ‘glamour’ the parasites cast and reveal them for what they were. The wave increased in speed and intensity and would pass right around and through the planet in a matter of seconds. All of the creatures who had taken the bodies of policemen, soldiers, palace guards, politicians, were revealed at once. The people could clearly see the skin like that of a sea snake, red eyes, needle like teeth in a mouth with no lips, slit-shaped nostrils that flared in the two guards as they realised they were exposed. Cam threw himself flat on the ground as Brandon and Marty stepped out of the TARDIS and opened fire with a volley of automatic fire. The guards were cut to pieces. Cam stood up again slowly as Brandon came and stood beside him to make her own broadcast.

“Operation Overland is a go,” she said. “Your enemy is visible. Take them down. People of Haollstrom, if you have a weapon, use it against these invaders who have tried to conquer our world by stealth. Good luck, all of you. Haol bless you.”

As the revolution began all over the planet, there was work to do in the presidential palace, where all of the guards had been revealed as the alien creatures. Brandon led the clean up, her own troops aided by those who broke down the gate and stormed the palace on cue.

It was over by nightfall. The enemy was defeated utterly. There were casualties on the Haollstrom side, too. And those whose bodies were taken over and used were mourned as keenly as the survivors counted the cost. They had lost most of their police and army, half the government, and the president himself.

The Greibella family, by common consent, gave over a tract of their demesne as a cemetery and memorial garden for the dead. The funerals took nearly a whole moon cycle. It would take much longer than that for the people to fully come to terms with what had happened to them.

But when the full moon came around again, they all of them tried to put the grief and sorrow behind them. They gathered in all of the public parklands and even some of the private ones were thrown open to them. They waited for the sun to set and the moon to rise in the clear, starry sky and they greeted it with tribal drum rhythms and music and with flaming torches and bonfires, fireworks that burst high in the night sky, and dancing. They celebrated life, and love of life, as Haollstromians always did.

When the moon set, finally, they all sat and waited for the sun to come up on a beautiful morning. The only reveller not present by then was Humphrey. He had danced the night away in the shadows of the folly at the top of the hill, but long before the sky lightened he had gone to his nest, safe inside the TARDIS parked close by.

Camilla and Kohb sat together, holding each other close. Brandon was with Marty, Kaye with a young man she had danced with for most of the night. Chrístõ was the only one who sat alone. He didn’t mind. He had danced with countless partners in the night, but he was content now to sit quietly and enjoy the sunrise.

At last, as others bathed in the golden light of morning, he stood up and went to his TARDIS. He noticed that there was a communication waiting for him. It was from his father. And he looked grim. Of course, he knew what had happened on Haollstrom and was as upset as any of them about it. But Chrístõ felt there was something more.

“Are you able to leave Haollstrom?” The Ambassador asked.

“I think so,” Chrístõ answered. “Why…”

“It’s time for you to come home. The trial begins in ten days.”

“If I have ten days….” Chrístõ began.

“I spoke to the Inquisitor on your behalf. She has granted you permission to bring your friends to Gallifrey in your TARDIS rather than them being subpoenaed by agents using the time portals. I think you would prefer it that way, and so would they.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ agreed. “That would be better. We can get going later today. I want to talk to Cam first. I don’t know if he will be coming with us. There is much for him and his family to do here.”

“Yes.” The Ambassador smiled sadly. “I was distressed to hear about Drew’s death. I knew all of the siblings when they were children. When you are home, remind me to show you the pictures of them when your mother and I were married. Cam was a beautiful little page boy.”

“Please don’t show him that picture,” Camilla begged. She came up behind Chrístõ and hugged him around the neck. “It’s all right. I’m coming with you and Kohb. I have talked to Brandon and Kaye and they can do what needs to be done here. I want to be with Kohb. Especially now. The trial. He needs me by his side. You both do.”

“Thank you,” Chrístõ whispered. His father was pleased, too.

“I will look forward to welcoming you to my home once again,” he said to Camilla. “Chrístõ, I will talk to you again. Good journey, my son.”

Chrístõ said goodbye to his father and turned to his friends. Kohb’s expression was inscrutable and Chrístõ’s psychic nerves were still too ragged to read his thoughts. But he guessed he felt the same as he did. Relieved that the trial was finally going ahead, and at the same time dreading it as an ordeal he would gladly have put off indefinitely.

Chrístõ turned to the console and began to set their course for Beta Delta, wondering how he was going to explain to Herrick and Marianna the reason for his unscheduled visit.