They were travelling in style, in an executive travel capsule, dining in what looked like the state room of a luxury liner before relaxing with coffee in a comfortable lounge. His friends had all joked about it being a vast improvement on their last TARDIS trip.

Of course, Penne and Cirena were used to travelling in luxury. So was Camilla as an aristocrat of her world as well as a respected diplomat. And it was their presence in this party that convinced the High Council to lay on such comforts as these. His other friends were doing their best to enjoy it and take their minds off the reason for this journey. He looked at Julia and her aunt, sitting with Bo and Cassie, talking together. Bo looked a little tired, it had to be said. Even luxury travel at the late stage of her pregnancy was wearisome. Sammie was clearly worried for her. He was in conversation with one of the Chancellery Guard officers that accompanied them on this trip. Most probably talking ‘shop’. But every so often he looked across at his wife and bit his lip. Terry seemed the most relaxed, listening to music on a headset in the corner, making the most of this interlude.

Epsilon wouldn’t be having such a pleasant time, Chrístõ reflected as he sat quietly and watched his friends. He took no pleasure in the thought. He hated his cousin as much as his cousin hated him. But he still felt sorry for him and regretted that it was his depositions that had made his extradition to face this trial possible. It was for that reason he didn’t really feel like enjoying the hospitality of the Gallifreyan government. He didn’t want to pretend he was just on a pleasant afternoon’s cruise.

He wanted to remember that they were on their way to Shada. Or to be exact, to Shada’s moon where serious capital crimes were tried. Epsilon had the distinction of being the youngest Gallifreyan to be tried there. He was only just old enough to be considered an adult and not a juvenile. But the list of his crimes was scandalously long and there was no question of his guilt. Only whether he would face the death penalty or whether he would be incarcerated on Shada for thousands of years.

SHADA! It was a name that struck fear into the hearts of Gallifreyans like Alcatraz to San Franciscans, like the Black Hole of Calcutta, like the Frez of Katcha Bez.

Except no prison Chrístõ had ever heard of was as terrible a place as Shada. It had always frightened him.

He remembered why.

He was nine, maybe ten. It wasn’t very many years, anyway, after he and his father returned to Gallifrey. His father had taken the post of Magister, a judicial position just below that of the Inquisitor. There was a very grave case. One that seemed to worry all of the adults that Chrístõ remembered coming to the house. And it had been tried on Shada’s moon. Chrístõ had travelled there with his father. He had sat in the judge’s chambers and read books and amused himself. When the case adjourned he had gone with his father to lunch in a big room with a glass roof. They could see Shada, high in the sky. It was a frightening planet. It was not a globe. It was a fragment, like an asteroid, elongated and flat on one side. A piece of what had once been a giant planet. It was big enough to have gravity and an atmosphere but it was not a place anyone would want to live.

Even from that distance you could see the prison as a dark shadow on the planet’s surface. The ten year old Chrístõ had stared at it and been repulsed by the sight. But childish curiosity had made him keep looking back, and feeling that same repulsion. He managed to frighten himself so much that he could barely eat. At night he had to have the shutters closed before he could sleep. And on the last day of the trial, when it was all over, his father came and told him he had to wait while he went somewhere he couldn’t take him. Two Chancellery Guards had waited with him while his father went with more guards and a man who was chained hand and foot. His father had held the man’s arm as they walked. Chrístõ had panicked, convinced his father was not going to come back. He had cried non-stop for all of the long hours until he returned.

He had stopped crying and run to his father’s outstretched arms, wanting to be comforted by him. And to his ten year old surprise and horror, it was his father who needed comforting. His face was pale and he was trembling. They had clung to each other for such a long time.

“You remember that?” Chrístõ felt his father’s voice in his head. He was surprised. His psychic nerves had only just repaired and he had got used to being alone in his own head. But he was glad to feel the touch of his father’s mind on his. He was glad, too, when he came and sat next to him. Right now he needed him there almost as much as when he was ten years old.

“Yes, I do,” he answered. “Father… what had the man done?”

“Killed his wife and child,” his father answered. “He murdered the boy first, made his wife watch. Then killed her.” The question “why” arose in Chrístõ’s mind. “Because he believed she had been unfaithful, that the child was not his.”

“Was she…”

“I don’t think so. But the man had let his obsession grow. He had become blinded by it. The jury declared him insane. So he was sentenced to Shada to become more insane. If he had been sane, he would have been atomised. It would have been over in minutes and he would have been at peace. As it is… he is there still. Living still, trapped in the nightmare, the anguish of what he had done still with him. One thousand years of slow death.”

“One thousand years of slow death!” Chrístõ repeated and it was Epsilon he was thinking of, not that man from so long ago.

“Yes, if it is determined that he is insane. And if they consider his youth as mitigation. Though there is no reason why that should be. He’s committed the crimes of a man, not a child.”

“Father… do you… do you mean you would prefer Eps was executed than sent to Shada.”

His father sighed deeply and when he replied he was speaking very slowly and deliberately.

“If it was you, my own son, facing these charges, Rassilon forbid, I would beg the inquisitor to pass the death penalty. I would not want you to suffer. And nor could I wish it on Rõgæn.”

“I don’t…” Chrístõ began. “No, I can’t agree. Shada is a chance of life, at least. As terrible a place as it is. One thousand years. More, perhaps. Two or three thousand years. But at the end of it he could start his life afresh. No, I could not…”

His father nodded. He understood Chrístõ’s point of view. But they had to agree to differ on that point.

“What happens to Rõgæn, whatever his fate, is not our doing,” his father said. “Neither of us made him what he is. Neither of us, in the end, will decide whether he lives or dies.”

That didn’t make him feel any better.

“This is having a bad effect on Valena, too,” his father said, and Chrístõ turned and looked at his stepmother. She was talking to Kohb, and both looked anxious.

“They both have to go through what happened on Adano,” Chrístõ said in a flat voice. “Valena has to remember again what he did to her. Kohb…”

“He has full immunity from prosecution. His part in that sordid plan is not to be used against him. HE is not the one on trial.”

“We can be thankful for THAT much,” Chrístõ noted. Kohb had been fully prepared to give his evidence regardless of personal consequences. But the immunity was a load off his mind. His only concern was that Camilla had yet to know the full truth about that affair. He was worried it might sour her opinion of him.

But they all had to tell the truth. There was no gainsaying that. And Chrístõ was sure Camilla would not hold anything against the man she loved so dearly.

He glanced around the room again. Here they all were. All touched by Epsilon’s crimes, all brought here to do what must be done. Not for revenge. None of them wanted that. But for justice.

Julia came to his side. He put his arm around her shoulders and she hugged him.

“We’re nearly there. I saw pictures of the planet. It’s really creepy looking. I’m glad we don’t have to go there, only the moon.”

“So am I,” Chrístõ answered her sincerely. “I wish we didn’t have to be here at all.”

“But Epsilon deserves it,” she told him. “He deserves to go to prison.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ agreed. But the same thought turned around in his head once again. “BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE THE ONE TO PUT HIM THERE.”


More Chancellery Guards met the craft when it landed. A phalanx of them. And as they were taken to the secure building where the witnesses were to be quartered for the duration of the trial the escort was more than ornamental. They carried weapons. The prison and the court both had automated robot guards, but for serious cases like this the Chancellery Guard were necessary, too.

Under such protection they slept the night. At least most of them slept. Chrístõ didn’t DARE to try. This was the very place of his childhood nightmares. He spent the night, instead, in a dreamless meditative trance, his mind and body switched off from it all.


In the morning his mind and body felt refreshed as they should do after a night’s meditation, but the dread feeling in his hearts, in the pit of his stomach, still remained as he went to join his friends in the private room where they ate breakfast before their day in court. He did not feel like eating, but his father insisted, reminding him that he might be required to take the Deposition Chair more than once in the course of the day and he needed the protein in his body.

As they made their way through the foyer of the accommodation hall, they were met by a woman coming from the day room. She was tall and thin; thin of body, thin of face and, Chrístõ thought, thin of soul, too. One of the Chancellery Guard escorted her and an attendant in the livery of a maid of her House walked a pace behind.

She was Lady Oakdaene, mother of Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene, the youngest Gallifreyan to stand trial here on the moon of Shada. Her face was set in a cold, emotionless frieze that hid her true feelings. She paused and looked at them and her nostrils narrowed as if she detected something foul smelling before her. She looked from one to the other of the friends. Her gaze fixed on Valena for a while. She met the stare with all the haughtiness of a highborn Gallifreyan. Lady Oakdaene turned from her and fixed on Chrístõ.

He could not look away. To do so would be to admit some share of guilt for the circumstance she found herself in. And he DID feel guilty. But he could not let her know that. So he kept his own face impassive and he put up the strongest mental barrier he could against the waves of bitter hatred emanating from her. He was the one, above them all, that she hated. The half blood who was honoured and respected while her son languished in chains.

“Enough, Miniette,” Chrístõ’s father demanded in a sharp voice that made her head snap around to look at him. “Both your husband and your son were architects of their own doom. You have no cause to blame anyone else. Go now, as we also go, and let justice and truth be seen and done this day.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but what was there to say, after all? She averted her eyes from him and walked away. The guard offered her his arm gentlemanly, but she brushed him aside.

“Her pride is making her a lonely woman,” Valena commented. “She has cut herself off even from those who would support her, like Lady Ravenswode. I have heard she may go to the Sisterhood for a time after the trial.”

“The Sisterhood is for those who devote their lives to contemplation and peace with a serene soul, like my own sister Renita and young Romana,” her husband answered. “It is not a hiding place for one whose shame is known to us all. She should swallow her pride and find a way to live with the consequences of this affair, as we all must.”

The trial had already been going on for a week. They all knew that. Chrístõ’s illness had delayed their arrival. Meanwhile evidence had been heard from witnesses to Epsilon’s lesser crimes, especially his money making schemes that included using his TARDIS to place bets after races had been run. That, in itself, was a serious infringement of one of the fundamental Laws of Time. It was strictly forbidden for a Time Lord to use time travel for financial advantage. The penalty was a harsh one to prevent the unscrupulous from using their gifts to the detriment of the economies of lesser species. But the Council of Time Lords who sat as jury at this trial knew there was more to come and they held these ‘minor’ offences over until they heard the rest.

This morning began with evidence of Epsilon’s involvement in the attempt to sell advanced weaponry to the Drixian government against not only several of the laws of time, but also many intergalactic non-proliferation treaties that Gallifrey was party to. It had surprised them all to learn that there WAS any evidence connecting Epsilon with that incident. An investigation by the Celestial Intervention Agency had turned up the very loosest of connections, enough to include it in the list of charges. Selling weapons or any other technology that was ahead of its time was another serious fracture of the Laws of Time. If Epsilon’s involvement could be proven then it was another nail in his coffin.

Chrístõ shivered at the euphemism that came to his mind and looked at Epsilon. He was as defiant as ever as he sat in the dock, dressed in a brown overall and bound hand and foot. His head was shaved, even the goatee beard he usually sported. The effect of being clean shaven somehow made him look younger than he actually was, and if he had in any way looked repentant or sorry for himself he might have gained some small sympathy. As it was, his eyes burned with hatred of those giving evidence against him. Especially his cousin. He glared at Chrístõ. But there were psychic dampeners around the dock, preventing him from influencing anyone with the power of his mind and he could do no more than stare.

Chrístõ turned from Epsilon and looked instead at the first witness, and he cast his mind back to the time on the space station in the Gamma quadrant when they had met the young time agent called Jack Harkness. The slender but well-muscled young man saw Chrístõ and smiled and waved as he was escorted to the Deposition Chair.

Despite that show of cheerfulness, Chrístõ thought he was trying not to look nervous as he was strapped into the chair. To humans it DID look horribly like an electric chair used in executions not a method of questioning witnesses.

The screen behind the chair lit up and as the prosecution counsel questioned Jack pictures appeared – images in his mind of the events as he remembered them, the meeting with Chrístõ and his friends, their combined efforts to prevent the gun-running freighter from entering hyperspace, the fight to the death against the mercenaries. Jack recalled it all in detail. But he seemed to have something else on his mind. Five or six times as he recalled the important information the screen shimmered and an image of him kissing Chrístõ appeared. The public gallery burst into laughter. The Council of Time Lords looked disconcerted. Chrístõ blushed and tried not to look ANYONE in the eye. Finally, the inquisitor suggested very gently that Chrístõ should leave the courtroom until the witness was done and then perhaps he could concentrate without any more distractions.

It wasn’t the most embarrassing moment in his life, Chrístõ reflected as he left his seat and followed one of the guards out through the main courtroom door. But it came close. He sat on a bench outside and waited. There were two of the fearsome robot guards on duty by the door and more of them in the corridor. The Chancellery Guards were a splash of red and gold in the drab, dismal place and he felt quite mellow towards them compared with the soulless robots.

They were used, of course, precisely BECAUSE they were soulless. They could not be bribed or blackmailed. They would not listen to excuses or entreaties. Prisoners had a marker put in the nape of their necks, under the skin. The robots could differentiate them from the innocent witnesses and visitors that way and any attempt to escape was dealt with swiftly and finally with the weapons built into their arms.

Chrístõ was wondering if Epsilon was insane enough to try to escape when the courtroom door opened. He saw Jack Harkness escorted out having finished his evidence.

“Hang on,” the time agent said when he saw Chrístõ. The guard protested, but he broke away. Chrístõ stood to greet him.

“Seems a long time ago,” he said.

“It IS a long time ago,” Chrístõ answered. “But you didn’t seem to have any trouble remembering.”

“Not sure it did much good. My evidence doesn’t tie the one they have in court into it at all. I never saw him anywhere near the ship. He wasn’t on the space station. I think they’re going to throw this charge out for lack of…”

“Excuse me, sirs,” the Bailiff of the court said, coming up and tapping Jack on the shoulder. “You really should not discuss things like that outside the courtroom.”

“Fair enough,” he said. He turned back to Chrístõ. “Apparently I’m going to be sent right back to where and when I was, the exact moment, and I won’t remember anything.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ said. “That’s the usual thing with foreign witnesses.”

“Will they do that to you?”

“No, I’m not a foreigner. I’m a Time Lord.”

“Ok.” Jack said with a nod of understanding. “In that case…” To Chrístõ’s acute embarrassment, since there were SEVERAL Chancellery Guards watching, Jack put his arms around his neck and kissed him fully, and passionately, on the lips. “Even if I don’t remember you, that’s for you to remember me by,” Jack said with a grin when it was over.

“Goodbye,” Chrístõ managed to say as the guard persuaded Jack to move along. He watched him go, touching his lips with his fingers and remembering the unsolicited kiss. He wondered if he would ever meet Jack again, and would he be happy to see him or not? He smiled, anyway. The kiss was meant with genuine affection and it cheered him as he was escorted back into the courtroom.

Sammie was in the Deposition Chair now, giving his evidence, as an expert soldier, of what had happened aboard the freighter. It confirmed Jack’s evidence, but it didn’t point any fingers at Epsilon. Neither did Terry’s version nor his own. They none of them saw Epsilon that day. The only thing that connected him was a seedy looking man who gave an account, backed up by pictures extracted from his memory, of Epsilon paying him to be a go between in the hiring of a freighter. But he could not confirm what the freighter was being hired for, no matter how much he was examined and cross-examined.

Chrístõ watched as the Council of Time Lords went into a huddle and murmured among themselves. And then the chairman announced that the evidence in this case was TOO loose to fully implicate the accused, and though the crime was a heinous one, and the damage he might have caused astronomical, they reluctantly had to set aside this charge.

Jack had been right, Chrístõ noted. Smart man, if a rather odd one.

A recess was called after that. A brief respite while the counsels prepared for the next set of charges to be heard. Chrístõ shivered as he recalled the events that were next to be gone into in such painful detail, and he wished the lunch hour would go a little slower. But even a Time Lord could not hold back time – at least not for very long. All too soon they were called back into the court.

This was the murder case from Grepharia III. Chrístõ’s hearts lurched as he remembered being accused of what they all knew Epsilon had done. He remembered the pain of the fire meant to burn him to death and his narrow escape. He knew that HE was still a fugitive from Grepharian law, still believed to be the killer. And he was half afraid that this Gallifreyan court might come to the same conclusion. He dreaded that even their technology, with which they believed the truth could always be found, would be unable to prove him innocent and Epsilon guilty.

There were other witnesses first. Several of the villagers, the innkeeper and others had been brought by the time portal. They were frightened people from a pre-industrial age who hardly understood what was happening. They took the Deposition Chair fearfully despite the reassurances of the Inquisitor herself that they would come to no harm. They answered the questions put to them reluctantly and the images produced from their memories were fragmented and largely unhelpful. That they all told the truth was not held in doubt. People so primitive could never have hoped to deceive the Deposition Chair.

All they could tell the court was that Chrístõ and his friend and Epsilon had all been there that night when two villagers were murdered in a dreadful way. Some could recall a figure in a dark cloak following the woman. None could say for certain if it was Epsilon or Chrístõ.

Terry was called next. Then Cassie. Both told from their point of view the meeting with Epsilon, then going to see the Grepharian sunset and then to bed, and nothing else until Chrístõ was arrested in the morning.

Chrístõ was called and took the chair for the second time, hating the feel of the probes on his head, hating being strapped down for his own safety. But he gave his own view of events. There was, as he expected, some interest in the fact that he had spent that night with Bo. He had almost forgotten how sweet it had been, lying beside her, holding her soft body in his arms as he slept peacefully. He had almost forgotten how much he loved her then, before he gave her up to Sammie. And he had forgotten how it would look to those who did not understand the purity of their love. He hated the questions put to him by the defence counsel, insinuating and insulting questions that he didn’t know how to answer. He was relieved when the inquisitor declared the questions irrelevant to the case and ordered that part of the testimony struck from the official record. The sniggers and looks from the public gallery were so humiliating, though.

And to make matters worse, Bo was called next to give her account. She stood and walked towards the Deposition Chair nervously. Everyone in the court watched her progress. And after the line of questioning Chrístõ had just refused to answer they all thought the same thing. Even a psychic dampener couldn’t hold down THAT many similar thoughts. Chrístõ’s embarrassment deepened. For himself and for Bo.

Them the Inquisitor stood and raised her hand.

“This young woman is with child? She cannot possibly give evidence using the Deposition Chair. It would be far too dangerous.”

Bo looked frightened enough as it was. She looked around at the strange place full of strangers in strange clothes. Was this really part of Chrístõ’s world? She never expected it to be so intimidating and unfriendly.

“It is quite all right,” the Inquisitor said to her. She left her seat and came to where Bo stood, trembling and uncertain. You come and sit over here.” She brought her to an ordinary chair and beckoned to one of the other female members of the Council. “This is Madam Thalika. She will sit with you. Just answer the questions that are put to you. Don’t be afraid. We are not here to harm you or your child.”

Bo sat on the chair. At a signal from the inquisitor the bailiff brought a cushion to support her back and the court waited until she was comfortable and ready to speak. Madame Thalika held her hand and when she began to talk pictures appeared on the screen behind the Deposition Chair. They were not so sharp or clear as before. But Madame Thalika was a powerful telepath and she was able to project Bo’s memories without subjecting her to the Chair itself.

“First,” Bo said in a trembling but determined voice. “I just want to say… I know it is nothing to do with the case. But Chrístõ was not my lover. He was my protector. He cared for me. He looked after me until the man I married came along. He never did anything wrong. He spent that night with me only for my protection. He is a good man. And he is a friend to me and to the father of my child.”

The Inquisitor nodded and did not ask that this should be stricken from the record. The spectators seemed disappointed at being robbed of a scandal. But there was plenty of interest to come as Bo remembered that night, corroborating what had already been said, and then going on to describe what had occurred the next night. Chrístõ was not a witness to that. He had been in the Grepharian prison awaiting execution. So it had not been in his original deposition and neither the prosecution nor the defence had asked him or Terry or Cassie about it. But Bo began to tell of meeting Epsilon again that evening, and she recalled exactly the conversation that had taken place.

“You know very well Chrístõ didn’t murder anyone,” Cassie had said in answer to his taunts.

“Not what the jury decided, though, is it. It was so easy to fool them.”

“Chrístõ is innocent,” Terry had then replied. “You know he is. He is innocent. YOU are the guilty one.”

“Well of course I am!” he had sneered. “But Chrístõ is the one who will burn for it.”

As Bo repeated the words the pictures were on the screen. She went on to tell of the fight between her and Epsilon, a fight he had lost in the end. The spectators were amazed and just a little disturbed at the idea of a Time Lord being brought down by a Human – and a woman at that. Quite a few sniggered, though, and Epsilon glared at them with a vicious expression in his eyes. Bo turned her face away from him. She didn’t want to look at him. She had condemned him with his own words.

The defence counsel tried to put the idea that Epsilon was joking when he had said that. But Bo shook her head.

“No, he meant it. He did it,” she insisted as the question was put several more times. Then the inquisitor asked the counsel if he had anything more to ask. He hadn’t. She thanked Bo for her brave efforts and told her she could stand down now. She did so gratefully as Terry and Cassie took the Chair once again and recounted the same events from their viewpoint. Again Epsilon’s words condemned him, as did the sneering tone with which he spoke them. Again the defence counsel tried to suggest it was a joke. The inquisitor remarked that she thought it was a very strange kind of joke and in very poor taste and told the defence counsel to find something better to say.

“There is no more to say,” he answered her. “Except that this is not enough to prove guilt in this case. A single line said in the heat of the moment, in a light-hearted way. It is not a confession.”

“Then HE must take the Chair,” responded the Prosecutor and there was an audible gasp from all parts of the courtroom. Lady Oakdaene cried out above them all.

Epsilon turned his withering gaze on the Prosecutor but said nothing.

There was another recess. What the Prosecutor had suggested – that Epsilon should give evidence against himself - could not happen without the consent of the Lord High President.


“He’ll lie, won’t he?” Cassie asked as they waited in a quiet room until they were recalled. “He’ll lie. This is EPSILON we’re talking about.”

“He can’t lie,” Chrístõ explained. “The Deposition Chair can’t be beaten. It can detect false memories. Even implanted ones. It was designed to be used on Time Lords. Even the strongest mind cannot beat it. And I don’t believe Epsilon has the strongest mind here.”

“Chrístõ…” Terry said to him. “In that case, does that mean that we will SEE on screen what he did to those people.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ replied. And he looked at Julia. She had been present in the court and heard the details so far, as sickening as they were. She had blanched when she heard of Chrístõ condemned to death in that dreadful way, even though it was something that happened long before he knew her.

He looked at Bo. Even giving evidence the way she had, she was still tired. And SHE didn’t need to see that, either.

“Julia, you stay here when we go back in,” he decided. “There’s no need for you to be there. No, don’t argue. Yes, I know you’ve already seen plenty of dreadful things. But one day I hope you’ll forget some of them. We don’t need to heap more on top. Stay here. Bo, you stay and rest, too. Marianna… will you take care of them both?”

“Of course I will,” Marianna answered. “Chrístõ…” She looked at him and then at Bo as she sat next to Julia. Chrístõ knew what she was thinking.

“Bo told the truth in there. About the two of us. I loved her only as one who was protecting her for the man she was destined to love for eternity. That man is Sammie.”

Marianna nodded. Chrístõ’s life was far more complicated than she could begin to know. But he spoke sincerely and she had to believe him.

They were called back by the bailiff, and when everyone was settled the Inquisitor gave the decree of the Lord High President. The guards stepped up to the dock. Epsilon was brought, still in chains, to the Deposition Chair. His feet were manacled, his arms fastened down and a neck brace was put in place that was not used for the ordinary witnesses. Probes were fixed to his forehead and temples and the two guards stood either side in case he found a way to break free. The prosecutor stood and began to question him.

The first questions had to be repeated several times. The Chair could not be beaten, but he was trying to beat it. He was concentrating hard on blocking the probes. He held out for a long twenty minutes with the Prosecutor unable even to make him confirm his name. But even he could not keep it up forever. Slowly shadows formed on the screen and resolved into gradually sharpening pictures. He grunted angrily with the effort as his own mind betrayed him. The questions of the Prosecutor threw onto the screen the answers as if they were a cinema film. The whole courtroom clearly saw from his point of view the meeting with Chrístõ and his Earth friends. They heard Epsilon’s taunts to them. They saw him turn away from their table in the inn and follow a woman out. She was carrying a jug of ale to her home on the other side of the village square. He followed her all the way, grabbing her on her doorstep and pushing her inside. The jug of ale fell with a crash on the stone flagged floor as she struggled against his intentions. There were cries of disgust from all around the courtroom as they watched his attack on the woman, heard her cry for mercy, and got none. They saw him interrupted in his vile deed by the woman’s husband, and how in an instant he had drawn a sword and killed the man. He had turned and killed the woman, too, then cut off their heads and carved into them the symbols , intended to throw the suspicion for this vile act onto Chrístõ, who was known by those symbols as Theta Sigma.

And then he stood back from his evil work and laughed.

His laughter rang around the courtroom. And then suddenly it was drowned out by a scream.

“No!” cried Lady Oakdaene. “No, it’s not true. It can’t be true.” She stood up and then fainted dramatically. Ambassador de Lœngbærrow was the first to reach her. He called for water and wet his own handkerchief to bathe her head then pressed the carafe to her lips as she started to come round. It was clearly not just an act of melodrama. She had been truly horrified by what she had seen her own son do, and then LAUGH about it. For all that she was a cold, hard woman who had always been scathing towards the Lœngbærrow family and their half blood heir, she was, at that moment, a creature to be pitied.

Chrístõ looked from her to Epsilon. He was not even looking at his mother in her distress. He stared at the Prosecutor with venom in his expression as the moment of his laughing mockery looped back and forward on the screen.

Lady Oakdaene’s maid pushed her way through and one of the Chancellery guards helped her to stand. This time she could not shrug either away as she was taken from the courtroom. That drama over the spectators turned once more to look at Epsilon. The inquisitor gave him a look of disgust and ordered him to stop. The screen went blank and she turned and asked the defence counsel if he had anything to ask his defendant.

“On the day that you committed these terrible acts,” the defence counsel asked Epsilon in a nervous voice. “Had you consumed any intoxicating substance, any hallucinogenic drug? Had you suffered a nervous imbalance?”

“Well, it was a bit of a shock to see my cousin with two ape-Human women,” he answered. “I suppose that might have affected my mind.”

A few people in the public gallery laughed. Most were horrified that he showed no remorse. The counsel himself asked that very thing of him.

“Do you have no regret, no remorse for your actions?”

“Only that cousin Thete escaped the bonfire,” he answered and laughed. The inquisitor told him to be quiet and asked if the defence counsel had anything more to say. He had not. The Inquisitor turned to the Council of Time Lords and asked them to consider their verdict on this part of the proceeding. They took only a very short time to decide that Epsilon was guilty of a vile double murder.

There was silence in the courtroom. Nobody spoke. Not even Epsilon. Should there have been cheers or jeers? Should there have been shouting and uproar? Chrístõ wasn’t sure. What he was sure of was that there was no triumph in this verdict for anyone. Least of all for him.

“But aren’t YOU pleased?” Sammie asked him when they were travelling back to the accommodation hall. “Doesn’t it mean that you are vindicated? They can’t say you did the murder now.”

“If I ever set foot on Grepharia III I am STILL under sentence of death,” Chrístõ answered. “Gallifreyan law has vindicated me. But those people they brought here by time portal will not know anything about it. On their return their memories will be wiped. It is necessary – they must not be troubled by knowledge of our advanced technology. So to them none of this happened.”

“It’s not fair,” Cassie told him. “It’s so not fair.”

“My father has always told me not to say that. Life isn’t FAIR. It’s not easily laid out for us. We must strive to make the best of it. Grepharia is one planet. A non-advanced one with no space travel or official contact with extra-terrestrials. My reputation in the rest of the universe is sound.”

His friends still thought it was an outrageous insult to him. And despite what he had told his friends, it burned in his soul, too. The more so since the horrible truth was now known. To think anyone thought him capable of such horror was sickening. But there was nothing he could do about it except avoid that planet.

Back at the accommodation hall they ate a meal together. It was good to be among friends, at least. But it could not have been called a happy meal. It was in no way a celebration.

“Why did the defence make such a big thing out of whether Eps might have been drunk or under the influence of some drug when he killed those people?” Penne asked. “I don’t understand that.”

“Because,” Chrístõ explained. “This trial is not entirely about guilt or innocence. It is clear that he is guilty. What they must determine is whether he is mad or sane.”

“You mean if the declare him insane he could walk free?” asked Cassie in disgust.

“No,” Chrístõ answered and explained the difference between atomisation and incarceration on Shada. As one the group of friends looked at the planet visible through a large window in the room where they dined. Penne turned to one of their attendants and asked for the blinds to be drawn, then he turned back to Chrístõ.

“It was you who taught me about fair trials and justice and mercy being seen to be done together. But even before, when I was only Lord of Adano Menor and not as fair as I could have been I had no death penalty and the mineral mines I sent prisoners to do not sound as horrific as THAT place.”

“I know,” Chrístõ admitted. “I don’t like the way we do things here. I hate both our methods of punishment. But the trial is a fair one. Even though it seems in this instance to rely far too much on eye-witness testimony and has no scientific evidence to present at all. Epsilon is getting the best justice we can offer here under Gallifreyan jurisdiction. But if he were tried on Adano-Ambrado, would the verdict be any different?”

“Probably not,” Penne admitted. “But I think I would rather condemn him to the mineral mines of Adano than to THAT place.”

Eyes turned again to the now closed blinds and imaginations filled in the blanks. It made a sad meal for them all. They ate only because they all needed sustenance after a long, difficult day.

After they had eaten Chrístõ went to talk to Penne and Cirena privately for a while. They were giving evidence for the first time tomorrow and he wanted to reassure them. He went to find Camilla and Kohb, too. Camilla was anxious. She wasn’t giving evidence. She had never been involved in any of Epsilon’s schemes. But she WAS worried about Kohb. Chrístõ assured her that the immunity clause could not be broken. Kohb would not be in any trouble. But she clung to him fearfully all the same. Chrístõ was powerless to help either of them. All he could tell them was to sleep well and not worry about what could not be avoided or evaded.

He wandered quietly by himself, wondering if any of them would be unscathed by this whole affair. A trial was supposed to bring things to a closure. Justice was meant to bring healing. But it wasn’t. It was just opening old wounds. He had not thought about Grepharia III for a long time. Kohb had all but forgotten his part in Epsilon’s murderous scheme that almost killed Penne. Maybe it would have been better if it had all been forgotten.

He stood in the foyer of the building and looked out through the window at a desolate moon with an artificial atmosphere, and above it, there, yet again, was the terrible dark shadow that hung over them all. Epsilon was the only one destined to be taken there, but the shadow lay on all who were involved in the trial.

He heard footsteps behind him and turned around. Lady Oakdaene stood there, and her face was no longer impassive. It was downright murderous. Chrístõ instinctively took a step back away from her but she moved closer.

“It is YOUR fault! she cried. “You did this to us. You, the half blood whelp. You should have been smothered at birth. Your mother was a low born foreigner your father found on a worthless planet. He shamed himself and his family name by taking her as his wife. And you… you… you…”

Chrístõ had long since stopped being hurt by words such as that from people such as her. He was shocked only by the vehemence and rage in her words.

“Chrístõ!” He was aware of a hand on his arm and saw Valena there. “Chrístõ, go to Julia. This day has distressed her more than she is letting on. Spend some time with her. Cheer her up.”

He wasn’t entirely sure how he was going to do that when he felt at such a low ebb himself, but he turned away as she suggested and walked away quickly. Even so he was not out of earshot when Valena turned back to speak to Lady Oakdaene.

“Control yourself Miniette. These irrational outbursts. Chrístõ’s mother was a good woman and he is a fine young man. If your son had half his qualities he would not be in such trouble. He has only himself to blame. Now go to your room and compose yourself. I know you are grieving deeply. But you are a lady of Gallifrey. Bear yourself with more dignity than this.”

“Dignity?” Lady Oakdaene laughed hollowly. “Coming from you, Valena de Arpexia, married to an assassin for the government and knowing so little of what he does in their name.”

“Chrístõ Mian left the CIA many years ago. He has served our government in other ways since.”

“That is all you know. My husband… your father…”

“My father was not assassinated. He died of hearts failure, in his own study, alone.”

Miniette Oakdaene laughed again.

“His mother was skilled in the use of herbs and potions. There were many who called her a witch. Do you not think the witch’s son might not have learnt how to stop the hearts with a potion that does not leave a trace?”

“You are the witch,” Valena said. “Your hearts are black and your tongue is evil. But I pity you, still.”

She turned and walked away. Chrístõ watched her go. He watched Lady Oakdaene go in another direction entirely. Then he did as Valena had suggested. He went and spent the evening with Julia, listening to music and talking about everything but the day that had gone or the day that lay ahead.

But something of what was said stayed in his mind, and after he had kissed Julia goodnight he went to find his father. He found him in his room, sitting in an easy chair beside the bed, drinking a glass of the malt whiskey he had a fondness for and looking out of the window at the night sky. The dark shadow that was Shada blotted out the stars in one portion of it and Chrístõ averted his eyes from it as his father waved him to sit down. He poured a second glass of the liquor and offered it to him. Chrístõ shook his head but his father pressed it into his hand.

“There’s no milk here. And by the look of you, it would do you good.”

“How could whiskey possibly do me good? Father, I’ve seen people on Earth destroy themselves with this stuff.” But he took a mouthful of it and felt its burning heat in his throat. He tasted the water that had trickled down through a peat bog in Islay and had the faintest tang of it still. He didn’t exactly LIKE the taste, but he understood why his father did, and why he thought he needed it right at that moment.

“Father…” he began, hugging the glass in his hands. He cleared his throat and told him what Lady Oakdaene had told Valena. His father listened carefully and said nothing until he was finished.

“Did Valena seem to believe it?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” Chrístõ answered. “I didn’t see her face. But… a thing like that. If she gives it even a second thought, it could poison her mind against you. She might start to think it possible.”

His father nodded.

“Chrístõ… Do YOU think it possible? Do you believe me capable of such a thing?”

“I…” Chrístõ was on the point of saying an emphatic no. Then he paused. He looked at his father’s face. He reached out to him mentally, but found only a strong wall blocking him.

“No, my son, you cannot find your answer so easily,” his father said quietly. “You must look to your own hearts.”

“I… I know you USED to be an assassin. A good one. But Valena was right. You gave it up even before you and my mother were married. The Executioner became The Ambassador, The Peacemaker.”

“Sometimes peace comes at a high cost, though,” The Ambassador said. “And you yourself have discovered in the past year that sometimes there is no diplomatic solution.”

“Father….” Chrístõ’s eyes grew wide with shock as he caught the meaning hidden in those words.

“If you know the truth, will you think any less of me?”

“You’re my father. I love you. But please… Tell me. IS it true?”

“Not about Oakdaene. You know as well as I what happened there. But Chancellor Arpexia…” Chrístõ listened in silence as his father related a secret he had kept for more than a year now, the long, complicated reasons why he had become The Executioner one last time.

“It must have been a guess. Lady Oakdaene could not possibly know the truth. Yes, I used a poison. No, it was not one I learnt from my mother. She did not deal in poisons. She was a herbalist who brewed tonics and made poultices to soothe headaches and fevers. I learnt about poisons in the CIA, in service of my government. I chose that way of killing Arpexia… for Valena’s sake, first and foremost. To spare her the grief of knowing her father was a traitor. For Gallifrey. A scandal in the government was the last thing our world needed. But mostly, for Valena. I never meant her to know. I hope she will forgive me.”

“Can’t she keep on not knowing?”

“No,” his father said. “Not now the seed of doubt has been planted. I must tell her. But not yet. Not tonight. Tomorrow she must give testimony about events that are linked to that affair. It is best she does not know until this is over with. But I will tell her. And I hope I will still have her love afterwards. She WILL have mine. And my protection.”

“That’s as it should be,” Chrístõ said. He put down the half drunk glass of whiskey and stood up. “Father… No, I don’t think any less of you. I hope she won’t either.” He turned and went to his own room. What his father had told him was painful for them both. But perhaps not as painful as it might have been.

Ambassador de Lœngbærrow was still sitting there when the door opened again and Valena came in. He looked at her and reached out his hand. She came to him and he drew her down on his knee and kissed her tenderly.

“We have much to do tomorrow,” he said. “Much that may happen that we cannot foresee. But let us not think of it tonight. Let us have this night in peace and love.”

“Yes,” she said. “Oh, yes.” She leaned close to him and felt the warmth of his body and took comfort from his nearness. “Yes.”


Chrístõ again spent the night in meditation. He did not trust himself to sleep in this place. When he saw his friends the next morning he wondered how much rest any of them had managed. Julia, especially, looked worried. He held her hand as they travelled to the court and promised he would be there for her all the way.

One person was NOT there this morning, he noticed as the Council of Time Lords took their places and the prisoner was secured in the dock. Lady Oakdaene was missing. He wondered about that. Even after her distress yesterday, surely she would come to court for her son? Epsilon didn’t seem to care. He sat impassively and listened to the evidence against him.

The first to give such evidence was Kohb. Camilla clung to his hand as he was called. Cirena and Cassie comforted her as she watched Kohb sit in the Deposition Chair. He stated his name and that he was a Gallifreyan by birth, currently in the service of the junior Ambassador De Lœngbærrow. Then the questioning began. Kohb told how he had been in the service of Chancellor Arpexia, a footman in his household. He had been asked by his master to go offworld and deliver a package.

On screen they all watched the scene. Valena clung to her husband’s hand as she saw her own late father handing Kohb a small box.

“What is it?” he had asked.

“You don’t need to know,” the Chancellor answered. “You just need to deliver this to a Gallifreyan son who is stranded offworld.”

“And the name of this ‘Gallifreyan son?’” asked the Prosecutor.

“Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene,” Kohb replied.

“What do you suppose the motive for Chancellor Arpexia’s actions?” the prosecutor asked.

Kohb looked as if he was remembering, and on screen the Chancellor spoke some more.

“His mother has pressed me to do what I can to help him. She is distressed by his continued absence.”

“THAT was his true motive?” the Prosecutor asked.

“I do not know,” Kohb answered. “That was ALL he told me. I did as my employer asked me to do. That was my duty. I know no more than that. And I do not understand why you are pressing this line of questioning. Chancellor Arpexia is not on trial here. He is dead. He cannot explain his reasons. All I know is that he sent me on this errand. When I reached the place where Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene was, I discovered from him that my Master, Chancellor Arpexia, was dead. Oakdaene then employed me as his servant. I did his bidding. That is my duty. I am a Caretaker. I serve. I do the bidding of my master.”

“But you knew that your new ‘master’ was planning to commit a criminal act. A murder?”

“I knew. But I could do nothing to stop him. He could read my mind. If he thought I was disloyal he would have killed me.”

“May I remind the court that this witness has immunity from prosecution,” Ambassador de Lœngbærrow said, standing forward. “HIS motives are not relevant.”

“I did not want him to kill anyone. I did not want to kill anyone,” Kohb said. “I hoped I could find a way to stop him. But there was nothing I could do. I was powerless to stop him. I just did all I could to save the man he tricked into his infernal killing machine.”

Chrístõ listened with interest. This was a side to the story that he didn’t fully know. He had never pressed Kohb to talk about it, judging that it was best forgotten. But now it all came back. Now he felt Kohb’s shame that, as a Caretaker, as a man born to be a servant, he obeyed the instructions of one master then the other, both with evil intent. There was no law that prevented a servant from walking away from his master. Kohb had not been indentured or enslaved to either Chancellor Arpexia or Epsilon. But TRADITION dictated that he do his master’s bidding, right or wrong. And if it was wrong, he shared the guilt.

How much was Kohb responsible for what happened? If it were not for the immunity clause he WOULD be in a lot of trouble. If it were not that all those involved had forgiven him long ago he would have been a very lonely man.

“Excuse me, sir.” Chrístõ looked around to see one of the Chancellery Guards in his bright red and gold trying to discreetly attract his attention. “Would you please step out of the courtroom. There is somebody who wishes to speak to you.”

He was puzzled. What did that mean? Who would want to see him? But he went along with the man, quietly excusing himself as Kohb’s testimony continued into what happened on Adano-Ambrado at the celebration of the King-Emperor’s wedding.

Outside he was surprised to see Lady Oakdaene waiting. He hoped she was not going to make a scene.

“Madame,” he said politely, as he had been taught.

“Come with me,” she replied and turned away. Chrístõ followed. He didn’t know what was happening, but he followed her. He was surprised and even more puzzled when she brought him to the turbo lift that descended to the holding cells beneath the courtrooms. He said nothing. She did not look as if she was interested in conversation. He followed her through the narrow corridor between the cells. Many of them were occupied. There were more trials going on in the complex than Epsilon’s. None of them said anything. They just looked at them as they walked past.

They came to an empty cell. The door was unlocked.

“This is where my son has been kept for the last three months, waiting for his trial. In that tiny room, with that poor bed and the means to wash himself twice a day. This is where I had to come to see him.”

“Your son is guilty of many terrible crimes,” Chrístõ answered. “This is where he belongs.”

“No, it is not,” Lady Oakdaene answered. “It is where YOU belong.” And as she spoke she had moved. Chrístõ did not see it coming. He felt a syringe plunged into his neck and a neural inhibitor coursing through his veins, freezing his muscles. Before his body shut down he felt a second pain in the base of his neck. He fell onto the unmade bed as his brain began to numb and he blacked out.


Julia was upset. It was her turn to give evidence and Chrístõ was not there. He had broken his promise to her.

“Come on, child,” Chrístõ’s father said. He took her hand and led her to the Deposition Chair. She cried as the attendants adjusted the Chair to allow for her smaller size than the adults who had gone before her.

“Ambassador, you must resume your place,” said the Inquisitor.

“I shall not,” he answered. “Bring me a chair. I will sit here. This is a courtroom not a torture chamber. And this Earth Child is an innocent witness not a guilty party.”

While that was being done, nobody noticed Penne, Sammie and Kohb all leave the courtroom.

“Something is wrong,” Penne said. “Chrístõ would not let Julia down. He wouldn’t let any of us down, least of all her.”

“Then where is he?” Sammie asked. “He’s been gone at least two hours already. You and Valena have both given evidence while he was gone.”

“This is a scheme to stop him testifying.” Kohb said. “To vindicate Oakdaene.”

“I don’t think so,” Penne answered. “He’s going to be found guilty whether or not Chrístõ gives his evidence. This isn’t even a particularly important part of the case against him. Attempted assassination of me… the death of Valena’s unborn child as an unintentional result of his actions. They are only making a big deal of it because of my political importance. They don’t really NEED Chrístõ’s evidence. Not now that Kohb and I and Valena have given ours.”

“So what is it about then?” Sammie wondered.

“I don’t know. But Chrístõ would not have stayed away this long by choice. He is in trouble. And we have to help him.”

“Where is the guard who led him out of the courtroom?” Kohb asked. "These are different men. The shift has changed.”

Penne asked one of the guards and discovered that there was a rest room where the earlier shift would be. He turned and walked quickly. His friends followed. They found the rest room and quickly identified the man they had seen speak to Chrístõ. They were surprised when they learnt he had been sent into the courtroom on Lady Oakdaene’s instructions.

“I simply took the message,” the man repeated when Penne questioned him further.

“He’s telling the truth,” Kohb observed. “Lady Oakdaene is the one we need to speak to.”

Lady Oakdaene had been assigned a room where she could rest during the recesses and adjournments. A private place away from the gaze of the public. A Chancellery Guard stood outside.

“Her ladyship is resting,” he said. “She asked not to be disturbed.”

“She is alone?” Penne asked. “Is her maid not with her? Could we speak to her?”

“Her Ladyship came to the court alone this day,” said the Guard. “She left her maid at the Accommodation Hall.”

“That doesn’t sound right,” Sammie observed. “We have to go in there.”

“Sir… I cannot,” protested the guard. Penne looked at him.

“Do you know who I am?” he asked. And though he was the exact double of Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow the guard knew well enough who was speaking to him.

“You are the King-Emperor of Adano-Ambrado,.” He answered. “Sir… You are the one who saved many of us from Lord Ravenswode’s clone army. I owe you my life. But still I cannot…”

“I am also the Patriarch of the House of Dúre, a Time Lord of Gallifrey,” he added, “And I am commanding you to open this door in the name of Rassilon.”

It was the first time in his life he had acknowledged his Gallifreyan ancestry or called upon the name of Rassilon. But it had the desired effect. The guard turned and opened the door. They stepped in.

“Oh hell,” Sammie swore. Penne looked once and turned to the guard.

“Go to the courtroom. The trial must be suspended.”

He turned back and looked again. He didn’t want to, but he found himself compelled to look as Kohb and Sammie stepped forward and between them lifted down the body of Lady Oakdaene that had been hanging from the light fitting, her neck broken by the strong cord twisted around it.

Penne picked up the note on the table by the day bed.

“Justice is done,” it said.

The neural inhibitor began to wear off. Chrístõ stretched his limbs stiffly and painfully. Even without looking at his watch, he knew that at least four hours had passed. That made it mid-afternoon. He MUST have been missed by now.

Where was he? He opened his eyes and looked around. He was in a cell. Epsilon’s cell. He stood up slowly and stiffly and went to the barred door. He saw several other occupied cells and the robot guards.

He remembered the pain he felt before he blacked out. He reached and felt his neck. Just below the rough scar tissue that he had borne for so long there was something else. A marker chip under his skin. He had been marked as a prisoner. He was even wearing the prison overalls.

“I’m a prisoner of Shada!” he whispered in a weak, shocked voice.

He fought against his own instincts. He tried not to panic. He forced his hearts to stop racing and regulated his body temperature to control the cold sweat.

But he WAS scared. And he didn’t know what to do.

The door to the cell block opened and a rank of robot guards entered. They took up positions by each of the occupied cells. Chrístõ looked at the one facing him and knew he did not dare try anything. He would be dead in seconds. He tried to stay calm as a scanning beam emitted from the red eyelight.

“Prisoner X23€F45,” the robot intoned. “to be transported to Shada for Cryogenic sentence.”

“No!” he cried. “I’m not... I’m not Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene. I’m Chrístõ de Lœngbærrow.”

But it was no use. The robots could not be reasoned with. They accepted no pleas or excuses. He was a marked prisoner. He was forced to leave the cell and step into line with the other prisoners.

“Father!” he murmured. “Please find me before it’s too late.”

His father was TRYING to find him. There was a major search going on. His father led it. His friends who had first raised the alarm were his lieutenants as he organised the effort.

“Could he be dead?” Kohb asked. “Lady Oakdaene… did she kill him before she killed herself?”

“No,” Penne groaned. “Don’t even think it. We can’t. He MUST be alive.”

“Sir,” Sammie turned to The Ambassador. “Can’t you sense him at all? Your telepathic connection…”

“Not here,” The Ambassador answered. “There are psychic barriers to prevent security breaches.” He sighed. “My boy. My poor boy. Lady Oakdaene always resented him. She hated his mother. She was one reason I decided to take the Venturan Embassy post. I wanted my son to grow up without such resentments and hatred. But when my wife died, Gallifrey called us back.”

They looked around at the sound of heavy feet. The Chancellery Guards were moving the body of Lady Oakdaene on a stretcher. Behind them, in chains and guarded by three more men and a robot guard, was Epsilon. He had been brought to see his mother. Ambassador de Lœngbærrow approached him.

“What did she do?” he demanded coldly. “Your mother… what did she do to my boy?”

“How would I know?” he answered. “I’ve been in court the whole time. It was very boring. Except the bit about your wife. So… I managed to kill ONE of your blood after all.”

Ambassador de Lœngbærrow was a man who had been trained to hold in his emotions. As an assassin and as a diplomat it was necessary to hide his true feelings. But in that moment he forgot his training. He raised his hand and punched Epsilon square in the face. He reeled back and then lunged forward towards The Ambassador before the guards grabbed him and restrained him on the floor.

The robot guard remained impassive.


The robot should have reacted. The sudden movement from Epsilon ought to have been interpreted as an escape attempt,. It ought to have at least issued a warning to him.


Ambassador de Lœngbærrow reached for his sonic screwdriver before he realised he did not have it on him. Something like that could be used as a weapon. He turned to the robot guard.

“Scan this one,” he ordered. The robot did not react. He took a deep breath and recited a long alphanumeric code. It was the code that officials of the court used to access the robot programming. He had known it since he had been the Magister of Southern Gallifrey. The codes remained unchanged. He repeated his demand. The robot reacted at once, moving forward to scan Epsilon as he was dragged to his feet.

“Non-prisoner,” the robot reported.

“He damn well IS a prisoner,” The Ambassador snapped. He grabbed Epsilon by the shoulder and span him around. He pushed his head down roughly and examined his neck. There was no marker. There was no sign of him ever having one. But the small incision needed to remove it would easily heal in Time Lord flesh.

“The cells,” The Ambassador said. “Bring this one. Put him back where he belongs. Make sure he has a new marker inserted. Sweet mother of Chaos, I knew the father and son were touched by the same madness. I thought the mother… she’s not even of the same blood. I thought she at least was no more than an insufferable snob.”

Chrístõ was more afraid than he had ever been in his life. The transmat had swiftly brought him to the planet. He was waiting now to be ‘processed’. It was only a matter of time before he was taken to one of the cryogenic cells and frozen for eternity. He tried not to cry in front of the other prisoners. But it was difficult. He could not get the thought out of his mind. He was never going to see Julia again. Or his father. Or any of his friends. By the time he was released from the cryo-prison they would all be long dead.

“Look,” Kohb said as they looked around the cell. “Chrístõ’s clothes. His jacket.” Sammie reached and picked it up. The leather jacket Chrístõ habitually wore.

He had been there. But he wasn’t there now.

“A group of prisoners have been transmatted to Shada,” the guard told them. “No more than an hour ago.”

“An hour!” The Ambassador’s face was pale. In that time he could….

The Ambassador turned and looked at Epsilon. “YOU go back into that cell. I don’t want to look at your face again until you are standing in the dock hearing your sentence passed. And let THAT be the last time I have to look at your face. Your blight will be removed from my life and my son’s life forever. No matter what else happens, the House of Lœngbærrow will be free of YOU.”


“Prisoner X23€F45, sentenced to no less than 3,000 years in cryogenic prison.” The Robot guard pushed him forward onto what looked like a sophisticated weighing scale. He knew it was to scan his body, determine his species, his blood temperature, measure his height and weight and determine the length of time the process of cryogenic freezing should take.

“Error,” said the robot. “Prisoner X23€F45 is a Gallfreyan. This prisoner has partially alien DNA. There is an error. The prisoner must be…”

“Chrístõ!” a cry rang out. He looked around as Penne ran towards him. “Chrístõ, turn around and stand still. I’m sorry. This will hurt, but it’s the only way.” He had a knife in his hand and he cut into the base of Chrístõ’s neck with it. Chrístõ winced as he felt the cut and Penne’s fingers feeling in the wound until he found the marker. He heard a ping as he threw it away. “Ok, come on, Chrístõ. Walk slowly. Don’t panic. Just walk away now.”

Chrístõ did as he said, every moment expecting the robot guards to shoot him down. They didn’t. They remained silent and still as he walked away into the arms of his father. He felt Sammie wrapping his leather jacket around his shoulders as he cried at last, in relief that the nightmare was over.

“Julia…” he said. “Where is she? I need to…”

“She is safe. Back up there,” his father told him. “Do you think I would bring HER to this vile place? Come on. Let’s go.”

Yes, the nightmare was over. It took only a little time to return to the court complex on the moon. In a few minutes more he was reunited with Julia and his other friends. The fear and the terror melted away in the kisses of his girlfriend and the smiles of his friends.

“Chrístõ,” his father said to him, “Are you ready to go into the courtroom again? It is late in the afternoon, but if you and I both give our testimony that is the end of it. The Council can deliver their verdict without another adjournment. This WILL be over at last.”

Chrístõ felt that giving evidence was the last thing he wanted to do. But the thought of another night in the Accommodation Hall and another day in court was even less palatable.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ll do it. I’m ready.”

The trial was resumed. Chrístõ took the Deposition Chair and gave his version of the events that led to Penne being trapped in the Artron chamber that nearly killed him. He reminded the court that HE had been the intended target. It was an attempt to kill him, not the king. It was all a part of the same insanity that had gone on so long before.

“Insanity?” the defence council picked up on that word. “Do you BELIEVE Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene is INSANE?”

“Yes” Chrístõ answered. “Yes, I do. No sane man would have done what he did. He is insane.”

The same question was put to his father when he sat in the chair. He paused before he answered. Chrístõ knew why. He remembered what his father has said only a few days ago.

“If it was you, my own son, facing these charges, Rassilon forbid, I would beg the inquisitor to pass the death penalty. I would not want you to suffer. And nor could I wish it on Rõgæn.”

His father wanted Epsilon to be sentenced to die, not because he hated him, but because he pitied him.

But he could not lie. He could not say that he thought Epsilon was sane. He had to tell the truth that was in his hearts.

“Yes, he is insane. He had an irrational obsession with destroying my son. It overrode all sense of proportion. Yes. He is insane.”

Chrístõ sighed with relief.

The council of Time Lords took less than an hour to make their decision. The court convened again and there was silence as the chairman of the council stood and delivered their verdict.

“The defendant, Rõgæn Koschei Oakdaene, is guilty of multiple charges including murder, attempted murder, defilement, fraud, infringement of eight separate Laws of time. Guilty, but insane. We recommend, therefore, that he is sentenced to a term of cryogenic detention on the penal planet of Shada.”

Chrístõ looked at his father as the verdict was announced and the Inquisitor confirmed that sentence. Hs face was impossible to read. He was looking at Epsilon. Chrístõ looked at him too.

Epsilon looked back at them with the same withering hatred he had always had for them both.

Then his father stood up and walked out of the court. Chrístõ followed him.

“He would be better off dead,” The Ambassador said. “He is going to a terrible fate. And I… I am GLAD. I am glad he is going to suffer. He doesn’t deserve the easy death. He DESERVES to suffer.”

That didn’t sound like his father, Chrístõ thought. He was usually fair minded and forgiving. But this time he had been pushed to the limit of his patience.

“It’s over, anyway,” Chrístõ said. “Let’s go home. All of us.”