The hours passed slowly. The others slept. Chrístõ stayed awake and alert. Several more times he disturbed their sleep with warning shots that kept the wildlife at bay. But it seemed to him that they were closer each time, and they did not retreat as far.

It was nearly dawn when a pair of lions, apparently without any fear, began to close in. He fired another warning shot, but they did not flinch. Hunger, he thought, had made them bold. The knowledge that fresh meat was waiting here in this cave was too much for them. They came forward relentlessly.

He took careful aim. A wounded animal was even more dangerous. He had to kill first time.

He fired. He saw the first lion go down. He had got it clean through the head. As he turned the gun he saw the other begin to pounce. Sinew and muscle tensed for a leap that could easily reach him. He aimed as the sleek, powerful body rose into the air. Two bullets into its heart. The curving arc of its leap turned into a ragged fall.

“You got them?” he heard Terry ask.

“Yes,” he answered. He stood up. “Come and help me. Camilla, take the gun and cover us.”

“Help you do what?” Terry asked.

“Move the bodies away from the TARDIS. These lions will eat anything. Even their own dead. We put those far enough away from us, the rest of them will be pre-occupied. We should get some peace.”

“Ok, it’s a plan,” Terry said. “I just hope the others are lying low for now.”

They were. In the cold night air they could hear growls and roars, but far off. They accomplished the grisly work of moving the two carcasses and ran back to the TARDIS. Cassie was there with blankets for them both. As Chrístõ wrapped himself up in his he realised just how cold he had become.

“It’s time I took a watch,” Camilla told him. “You go and lie down.”

“No,” he protested. “I can’t let you…”

“I’m a better shot than you,” she reminded him. “I can handle it. And just because I am ‘expecting’ does not mean I am suddenly helpless.”

Her voice was so determined that he had no choice but to concede to her. As Cassie took Terry to their corner and cuddled him until he was warm, Chrístõ found a place to lie down. It was far from the soft bed he expected to sleep in at the family mansion. But it was better than nothing.

He felt a movement beside him, and Julia spread her own blanket over him and then slipped under it to lie beside him.

“No,” he protested. “You mustn’t.”

“Body heat,” she told him. “I read about it. You get warmer faster, and stay warmer if you have another body beside you. And you said it yourself. Time Lords have a lower temperature to start with. So I can warm you, being Human.”

She put her arms around him tightly. She was fully dressed, including a coat. So was he. So the principle of shared body heat didn’t really count. But it was nice not to be alone. He put his arms around her shoulders and felt her head pressed against his chest, her arms around his waist. He kissed her forehead and closed his eyes and felt sleep come upon him easier than he expected.

Marianna sat up and watched them. In any other circumstance it would be inappropriate. She wasn’t even sure she shouldn’t have stopped them now. But both seemed to be asleep. That was all.

 

The sun rose behind them, proving, if nothing else, that they WERE still heading East and Kohb’s night time navigation was spot on.

“We’ll keep going a few more miles,” Sammie said. “While it’s still quite cool. Look out for a place to pitch the tent.”

“By the rocks?” Penne suggested. “there will be shade for part of the day.”

“No,” Sammie answered him. “The animals we’ve been shooting at all night use the shade during the day. We’ll steer clear of rocks.”

The fact that the carnivorous wildlife hunted by night and slept by day was something he was banking on so that they could get their share of rest. They would still need to take turns on watch, though.

They walked another six, maybe eight miles, he reckoned, before the sun was high enough to start baking the sand. After that, it was just impossible. Even as they pitched the tent their feet were burning inside their boots. The sand was like a hotplate.

Inside the tent, it was cool. This was not the sort of tent he had used in his desert operations on late 20th century Earth. It was what he would call ‘futuristic’. It had an insulating layer within the lightweight canvas that repelled the heat of the sun. He was glad of that. He’d been in plenty of tents that were either baking ovens or fridges.

He looked at his companions and then reached in his pocket. He held up three matches, one of them broken. The most democratic way of deciding who took first watch. Penne accepted the luck of the draw and took up a position by the tent entrance. He and Kohb made the best bed they could and settled down to sleep.

 

They let Chrístõ sleep on even after everyone else stiffly rose from their makeshift beds. Cassie shared out the breakfast food ration. After she had eaten Cirena went to the door and told Camilla she would relieve her.

“I’ve done my share of hunting, too,” she said. “The weapon of choice for a lady of Tirregna was a crossbow, but that doesn’t look much more difficult.”

“It’s not,” Camilla assured her. “It’s already set to fire single rounds. You keep a steady hand, point and shoot. Are you sure you can…”

“Because I’m a queen, does that make me stupid or weak?” she asked. “I might as well do this.”

Camilla gave her the gun and stood up stiffly. She went to eat her share of the breakfast.

“Show me how it works and I’ll take a turn with the gun,” Terry said. “It seems like I ought to make more of an effort to be a man around here. Protecting you all.”

“We can protect each other, whether we’re men or women,” Camilla answered him. “But you might as well, later.” She glanced at Chrístõ. “Let him get as much rest as he needs. We can manage.”

“We should have power in a while, shouldn’t we?” Cassie asked. “When the solar panels fire up.”

“I don’t think we should try to use that without Chrístõ,” Bo pointed out. “We don’t know how safe it is.” She thought about being in one of the other rooms if the field collapsed and shuddered.

“Do you suppose people just DIE, cease to exist, when it happens,” Julia said. “Or is it like being held in a transmat beam, and when the field comes back they’re back, too? After all, the rooms come back. The food in the fridge, the furniture.”

“I don’t want to be the one to find out,” Camilla said. “Let’s just stay where we are for now.”

“Julia,” Marianna said as she saw her niece go to where Chrístõ was sleeping and ‘check up’ on him as if he was a patient who needed nursing. “I really… last night… I don’t think you should do that again.”

“It’s all right,” she answered. “We were just cuddling.”

“Yes,” Marianna continued. “But it’s not… cuddling when you’re stood up, or sitting, is one thing. But…. Lying down, under a blanket…” Marianna looked to the other women around her for back up. “It’s just not…”

“I do understand,” Julia insisted. “I’m thirteen. I know where babies come from. And Chrístõ and me won’t be having any until I’m 23 and he’s 204.”

Marianna considered the mathematics of that relationship and gave up for now.

 

Penne quickly found that it wasn’t so much a gun he needed to protect them as the morning wore on. Even Sammie wasn’t a good enough shot to kill the scorpions and large multi-legged bugs that crept into the tent. He wasn’t sure how many of them were poisonous. He flattened them all with the mess tin they had made a cúl nut puree breakfast in before settling to sleep. When some kind of snake slithered in he scooped it up with the barrel of the P90 and flicked it away across the burning sand.

Occasionally he reminded himself that he was the ruler of seven planets. They all seemed so far away right now. His palace and the pleasure gardens with their fountains and shady trees; the plains of Adano Menor where he grew up, where he rode horses across country and rested by peacefully flowing rivers while his servants prepared sumptuous outdoor feasts. He thought of Cirena by his side, his beautiful queen who he loved.

Even she seemed far away right now, and she was on the same planet, no more than eighty miles away if Sammie’s estimate was correct. The palace, his empire, almost seemed to belong to somebody else. Or it was a dream. He was real, and the desert was real. The gun in his hand was real. He couldn’t be entirely sure about anything else.

 

Chrístõ woke. His dreams had been sweet ones, but he was awake now. He looked at his watch. It was nearly midday and the TARDIS was becoming unbearably hot again. He sat up and looked around. Cirena was guarding the door. He was surprised by that. Cassie and Marianna were preparing food. Camilla, Bo and Julia were sitting together. Terry was doing something with the broken TARDIS door.

“I was thinking,” he said when Chrístõ asked him. “Maybe we could use it to barricade the door partially. Turned on its side, it would block the bottom half. We need to leave part of it open for air, don’t we?”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said. “With the doors closed the console room is airtight and the CO scrubbers are not functioning. We’d die of carbon monoxide poisoning in a few hours. But a barricade is a good idea. I should have thought of it.”

“That’s why you have us as friends, Chrístõ,” Terry replied. “So you don’t HAVE to think of everything. You don’t have to be the genius all the time.”

“Thanks!” he laughed. “At least I can provide some brute strength to lift it into place.” He joined with Terry in hauling the half door up on its side and dragging it across the doorway. They pushed the remains of the food synthesiser up against one end to hold it in place and the other they put an armchair. Cirena mounted the chair and sat on the back of it to give herself a vantage point at the barricade.

“It’s slightly more comfortable than the floor,” she said with a smile.

“It’s not exactly a royal throne either,” Chrístõ replied. “But you’re a real queen, Cirena. Even without the trappings of state.”

He turned and looked at Bo and Camilla. He needed to do what their men had asked him to do. He couldn’t get to the medical room, and he couldn’t rely on the power for long enough even if he could. But he had some basic medical equipment and he could be their doctor.

“Your baby is all right,” he assured Bo as he finished examining her. “Seven months already. It is a perfect, fully formed Human child by now. It only has to keep on growing another two months, until it’s strong enough for life outside of the womb.”

“We won’t be stuck here for those two months, will we?” Bo asked.

“You don’t want to have a baby who is a bone fide Gallifreyan citizen?” Chrístõ joked with her. “I can just picture the High Council coming to terms with that.”

“No,” she said. “My baby is going to be Human.”

“Her baby is going to be a Scouser,” Cassie added. “Like mine. And when you consider where we all come from, that’s a strange enough thing.” Cassie sighed and Chrístõ knew she was thinking of her own little boy. He was being looked after by friends while she was away. But she was missing him now.

“Gallifreyan is rather more prestigious than Scouse,” Chrístõ pointed out good naturedly. “But on the whole it might be better if you just hang on in there, precious.” He turned to Camilla and insisted on her lying down. Her pregnancy was at the very early stages. But Haollstromnians had a shorter gestation period. At seven months, her child would be ready to be born. He put his hand over her stomach and concentrated. His telepathic abilities were slowly returning and with an effort he had been able to examine Bo that way, seeing the healthy child in her womb, feeling its calm dreams, unconcerned by the drama surrounding them beyond the safe, warm place it was. With a little more effort he could see the embryo growing within Camilla’s body. Incubating, they called it. A strange phrase, it always seemed to him. But not inaccurate. He remembered her telling him that when she was ready, when Cam had forged another few peace treaties and Camilla had danced a few more balls and seduced a few more men with her love games, she would be ready to be a parent. But she had done the unthinkable for her species. She had fallen in love. She had taken Kohb as her partner for life. He wondered if they had decided together to be parents. For Kohb it must have been a strange decision. Gallifreyans considered their DNA to be important. Passing it on to their children was a significant achievement. When he thought of his own future, with Julia, when he thought of being a father, one day, as he had been told he would be, he expected his child to be a Time Lord like him, whether it was a son or a daughter. One with tear ducts, perhaps, and perhaps some other Human traits. But a Time Lord, with the DNA his own father had given to him, at the core of his or her being.

But then Kohb was not a Time Lord. He was a Gallifreyan of humble origins for whom all that pride in family and House was nothing. And if they loved each other, and if they both loved the child that Camilla was bearing, then perhaps DNA wasn’t so important after all.

 

Sammie took the second watch. He smiled at the collection of squashed and rapidly desiccating evidence of Penne’s morning of insect annihilation. But he agreed that at least some of them could have been poisonous and kept the mess tin handy as he took over the guard position. Penne stretched himself on top of the bedroll and settled to sleep. Sammie looked at him, and at Kohb. A king lying next to a man who was born a servant, even if he had improved his lot slightly. And he was a soldier. A strange kind of comradeship. But it was, he admitted, as strong as the comradeship he knew in the Regiment, in what seemed like another lifetime now.

 

After they had eaten the best lunch they could muster with the rations, Chrístõ checked the energy levels and told his friends they could probably manage a bathroom break of twenty minutes. That news was greeted with cheers. He himself went to the medical room and filled a bag with what he thought might be needed over the next few days, and the kitchen to stock up on food. There wasn’t anything fresh left, but there was a store of canned foods and some dried fruits. If they could spare the water, that would be a nice treat. Terry joined him and filled water containers that they lugged back to the console room between them.

They were both quite surprised when they returned. All of the women had used the window of opportunity to shower and change their clothes. And they sat now, doing each other’s cosmetics.

“For me, an underarm deodorant and some talcum powder was heaven,” Marianna admitted, and the others said the same. Chrístõ smiled and looked in the medical supplies. He opened a packet of small white tablets and gave them out.

“It’s a drug called Ticlofibaneptilin,” he told them. “Ticloflin, it is branded as. It is used in much the same way as aspirin is on Earth. It cures headaches and in small daily doses it thins the blood. Which is good for us all in this heat.”

“What’s wrong with ordinary aspirin?” Terry asked as he looked at the pill in his hand.

“It’s deadly to Time Lords and very bad for pregnant Humans,” he replied. “This has no known side effects on any humanoid species according to Klatos Research.” He took a paper cup of water and swallowed a tablet. The others did the same. He watched as Cirena swapped places with Terry and came to rest in the relative shade and slightly cooler air at the back of the console room. Julia was bringing her diary up to date. The others were doing their best to keep themselves occupied. He checked the power levels and reckoned on them being able to get one more bathroom break before the sun went down. He might follow their lead and get a shower then, he thought. For now, he had nothing else to do but sit and wait, just like the rest of them.

Prince of the Universe? Guardian of Eternity? Right now he didn’t feel like any of those things. He wasn’t even the one making the effort to rescue them all. It was Sammie who organised that. HIS skills were the ones that were needed this time.

“You look sad,” Julia said to him.

“I’m all right,” he assured her. He smiled. He DID feel all right with her near. He reached out to her. She glanced at Marianna hesitantly before sitting next to him, cuddled close.

“Cuddling while sitting down is ok,” she said.

“Huh?” He was puzzled until Julia explained about Marianna’s disapproval of her sleeping beside him last night. “Well, maybe she’s right. I’d better just warm myself up some herbal pillows tonight.”

“But it’s not night now,” Julia told him as she snuggled closer to him. “I’m glad we’re together. I don’t have to worry about you.”

“You don’t have to worry about me anyway. It’s my job to worry about you. And everyone else here that I have to look after.”

“Good heavens, Chrístõ,” Marianna told him, as she overheard their conversation. “You’re little more than a boy. Somebody should be looking after you. Yet you take on the responsibility for us.”

“It’s my TARDIS. I was flying it. It IS my responsibility to take care of you all until help arrives.”

“I think we should take responsibility for each other. And if you mean to stay up all night again, then you should rest.”

“Time Lords don’t need to sleep as much as we do,” Julia told her aunt.

“Then he doesn’t have to sleep. But he should rest.”

“You’re bossing him about now,” Julia protested on his behalf.

“Well somebody should.” Marianna looked at him and as ever she wasn’t sure what she saw. On the one hand a very capable man who at a young age, for his species at least, was already doing a respectable, responsible and highly important job. On the other, a dangerous young man with a knack of getting into trouble and who Julia was far too fond of for her own good.

And on the other, he WAS just a boy who had lost his mother, who needed looking after just as much as he looked after other people.

 

Kohb woke the others as the sun began to drop low. They all felt the difference in the air. It was warm, but not hot. They took a drink of their water and ate some food and struck camp.

“There is one huge problem with travelling at night,” Sammie said as they set off, Kohb in front, navigating by the sun until it was dark enough to see the stars, Penne in the middle, and he bringing up the rear.

“What’s that?” Penne asked.

“We can’t make a water trap to catch condensation in the cold air overnight. It’s the way I was taught to survive desert conditions. Our water will run out by tomorrow night unless we find an oasis.”

“What do we do then?” Kohb asked.

“We will have to camp overnight, try to catch some water, and then attempt to make up the lost time during the day. We might at least be able to make some headway in the morning and late afternoon when it isn’t as hot.”

“But we’d need more water to walk in the heat,” Penne pointed out. “We would use more of it.”

“Vicious circle. Anyway, we’re walking for tonight. Best foot forward. And if anyone gets discouraged I’ll start singing army marching songs. So be warned.”

 

In the TARDIS, they WERE singing. It was Terry’s idea. Before the sun began to go down, Chrístõ announced they had a twenty minute window for the bathroom. He sent the ladies to the main bathroom and he and Terry went to the dojo changing room where they took advantage of the chance of a shower. On the way back, Terry ran into the room he and Cassie had been sleeping in on their TARDIS journey, their old bedroom. He grabbed his guitar and brought it to the console room as they settled down for a night under torchlight. He sat on the floor and tuned it carefully and then began to play a song that was new when he was a teenager in the late 1960s, but had become nostalgia in the era he now lived in.

“What would you think if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
And I'll try not to sing out of key.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm I'm gonna to try with a little help from my friends.”

Chrístõ sat beside him and sang along. The song fitted him pretty much exactly. And even their troubles right now were that little bit easier because they were friends together.

“I know one of those songs,” Julia said after he finished and she whispered to Terry. He grinned and began to play the tune. Julia sang along with him, looking at Chrístõ meaningfully.

“When I get older, losing my hair,
many years from now,
Will you still be sending me a Valentine,
birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out 'till quarter to three,
would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?”

“Yes, I will,” Chrístõ promised her with a kiss on the cheek as he got up and went to take up his position by the door, relieving Camilla. He smiled as Cassie sang a song from that same hippie, flower power era that she was a teenager in, one that brought a strange lump to his throat.

Words are flying out
like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

His mother had loved that song. When he grew out of nursery rhymes – which was at a quite early age, being a precocious half blood Gallifreyan - she had sung that to him to send him to sleep with dreams about rain and sunlight and laughter and the bigness of the universe that he was too young then to really understand. He watched the Gallifreyan sun set and the stars brighten in the night sky as he listened to that gentle song. When it was fully dark he didn’t dare to watch the stars any more. He had to keep his eye on the landscape as the wildlife began to prowl again. He was in for a long night. He was glad at least part of it was punctuated by music and laughter from his friends and that their spirits were still high.

 

Again, it had been necessary to shoot several animals that stalked them as they walked. And again, it had made their trek easier as the other animals fed on the carcasses instead of them.

They DID sing. Loud, raucous songs that kept their spirits up and, they hoped, let anything that thought of eating them know they were too loud to bother with.

“Wait,” Kohb said, suddenly. “Shush. I think I heard something.”

“What?” Penne asked.

“I’m sure it was a voice.”

“Human you mean?” Sammie asked. “I mean… people.”

“I can’t be sure,” he answered. “I could have been mistaken. It might have been a bird. Anything.”

“Let’s go quietly for a while,” Sammie suggested. “And keep a look out.”

“Could be one of those, what was it… Sheb…” Penne said.

“Sheboogans,” Kohb answered. “It COULD be.”

“Are these guys likely to attack us, or help us or what?” Sammie asked, his hand on his gun.

“I don’t know,” Kohb admitted. “They shun civilisation. We represent that civilisation. Perhaps they’ll run away from us.”

“Perhaps,” Sammie mused. He didn’t want to run into a civilisation shunning tribe and have to explain himself. He didn’t need them knowing that there were five women back there with only two men to protect them. His imagination ran a little wild for a while as he thought of what could happen.

But he didn’t want to have to use his gun to shoot people. That wasn’t what he had armed himself for.

Besides, COULD he shoot them? These were Gallifreyans. They may have dropped out, but they were still people with the same anatomy as Chrístõ, Kohb and Penne, with two hearts, and orange blood and the ability to repair themselves if injured.

He hoped Kohb was right.

He hoped Kohb was wrong and it was just a stray sound on the air.

He hoped the shape he saw on the slight rise to the south of them was just a wild animal.

 

Chrístõ had a long night. Again he found himself having to fire warning shots as the animal life came closer. Again, that only worked for a short time, before he had to fire at the animals and kill them.

“Terry,” he called out, as everyone was roused by the noise. “Help me shift the carcases out of our way again.” He moved their door barricade aside and he and Terry went out to do the same grisly business as they had done the night before. It was messy work. And the bodies were heavy and awkward, but they managed it.

They were walking back when Chrístõ suddenly gave a soft cry of pain and stumbled. Terry caught his arm and stopped him from falling and as he did, he saw a shape moving away. A snake. A large one, about the size of a rattlesnake on Earth.

“Come on,” he said to him. “Let’s get you back to the TARDIS.” He shouted for help as he half carried his friend back. Camilla came running to his side as Cassie held Julia back from following her.

“Get some more light,” Terry called as he laid Chrístõ down on a blanket. “Get the first aid kit.” He pulled off his boot and rolled up his trouser leg. There was a bite there, right enough. It had gone right through the denim fabric and into his calf. Camilla held a torch directly over them and he could see a large area of the skin was turning a very ugly colour of purple.

“Chrístõ,” Cassie said, lifting his head. He was half conscious. “Chrístõ do you know what sort of snake it was? Do you know what you need as an antidote?”

“R…ee…dd…ddd,” Chrístõ stammered. Terry touched his face and he was clammy and cold. “Red Sc..orp…ian Sn…ake…” he managed. “Poison is… N…Neuro…tox….in… attacks… nervous system.”

“What can we give you?” Terry repeated. “What cures it?”

“No… no cu…re,” he said. “Water…. Need water.”

Julia ran to get it. She knelt beside him and gave him a drink. A much longer one than he had needed until now. He had taken only small sips of water when the rest of them drank. But now he needed his full share.

“Why can’t he force the poison out of his body like we’ve seen him do?” Cassie asked. “Why is it affecting him?”

“His telepathic abilities are damaged,” Julia answered. “He had an accident a while ago and he’s not fixed properly yet.”

“Is he going to die?” Bo asked.

“No,” Julia cried. “No, he can’t. He can’t. Chrístõ… Chrístõ… stay awake. Stay with me.”

She knelt by his side and held his hand. She kissed his cheek, her tears falling on his clammy skin. His eyelids flickered as he fought to stay conscious.

“No,” Cirena said. “No, he has to do the opposite. He needs to go into a deep sleep. A trance. Maestro…. Penne’s grandfather taught him how to do it. He said there’s a level that Time Lords can reach, where their bodies are nearly in suspense, frozen. He said they would be stone cold like death, but still alive. He said they only did it when they were badly wounded or ill. It’s a way of buying time, giving their bodies a chance.”

“Can he do that?” Julia asked. “I’ve seen Chrístõ do meditation instead of going to sleep. But not like that.”

“Chrístõ?” Terry spoke to him. He didn’t respond. He slapped his cheek and forced him awake. “Chrístõ. Don’t go to sleep. You’ve got to do something else. Do you know how?”

“De…ep… med..it…ation,” he stammered, his teeth barely parting as if opening his mouth was difficult. “Yes. It’s… diff…d…d… it’s hard.”

“It’s the only way,” Terry told him. “What can we do to help?”

“No…nothing…. Just… stay by me. Terry… Ju…l…Julia…”

They both grasped his hands. Camilla held the torch above them and they watched as he half closed his eyes. They felt his hands get colder. Very cold.

“He’s dying,” Julia cried. “He’s going rigid.”

“He’s not. It takes hours to get this cold and stiff through death. Even in a cold room like this. He’s alive. He’s doing it.” Terry let go of his hand and gently pressed his arm over his chest. He made Julia do the same. Chrístõ’s body was freezing now. His fingers were stiff.

“I’m not leaving him,” Julia insisted.

“You stay right there with him,” Terry told her. He put a blanket around her shoulders as he stood and looked around at the rest of them. Camilla had taken up the watch at the door. Cirena was heating up coffee with Chrístõ’s sonic screwdriver. Marianna and Bo sat together, shocked at this new turn of events. “It’s all right,” he said. “We’re ALL going to be all right. Chrístõ is… well, he’s not so good right now. But he’s been worse. I saw him pull a bullet out of his own lung once and get better. He’s going to be all right. He just needs time. As for the rest of us. We have food and water. We have the gun. We can manage. We might not be able to get the bathroom breaks. I don’t know how Chrístõ worked that. But we can manage.”

“You’re in charge now?” Marianna asked.

“Yes,” he answered. “Cassie and I were the first to travel with Chrístõ. We were his first crew. I’m his next in command in the TARDIS. Sammie knows about fighting, and about being an officer, giving orders. And if he was here, maybe he’d take charge. But he’s not. I am. So, I’m in charge. I’m looking out for you all. And…” He looked at his watch. It was an Earth watch. Gallifreyan days were two hours longer. He worked it out in his head. “Two more hours until daylight. Six until we can call it breakfast time. We have a hot drink now and then everyone settles down to sleep. Yes, Julia, you, too. You can sleep beside him. But you sleep.”

He wondered if anyone else was going to argue. But they all did as he said. Soon a calm had come over them. Terry went to see if Camilla was all right at the door then he found Cassie, not quite asleep. He lay beside her for warmth and for comfort. But he knew he would have to stay awake.