Before he was plunged into the middle of attempted regicide and a constitutional crisis, Chrístõ had hoped for a peaceful interlude on Adano Ambrado. He finally got it once the Dragon-Loge signed his Treaty and departed. Penne was delighted to have him stay as long as he desired as his honoured friend. Chrístõ was happy to enjoy the hospitality of the palace and most especially the long warm baths that Penne insisted on them taking together every morning.

His father and Maestro both stayed, too. They claimed that Gallifrey could get on without them for a while. The two older men and the two young ones formed a male only quartet, going out horse riding together and practicing archery in the courtyard or challenging each other at sports and games. In the evenings they played multi-dimensional chess and talked late into the night. Cirena pretended to be annoyed at Penne’s lack of attention to her, but she wasn’t really. She was glad that he was alive and well and had his friends around him. And she was busy getting to know Nestista, Penne’s suddenly adopted sister and helping her adapt to life in the Adano Ambradan court. Now that she knew the girl wasn’t a rival for Penne’s affections she enjoyed her company.

“That young woman has her eye on Chrístõ, you know,” Maestro said of her when the ladies had retired to bed and left them to their drinks and conversation. “She knows it was he who accepted her from her brother, not the King, and she has ideas about him.”

“I hope not,” Chrístõ answered, horrified. “Somebody tell her I’m spoken for.”

“That you are,” Maestro admitted. “And you’re a fine fiancé to your promised one, never letting your head be turned by pretty young women.”

Chrístõ’s father laughed and said something in a low voice that sounded like ‘Cam’. Chrístõ blushed.

“NOTHING ever went on between me and Camilla,” he protested. “OR Cam. And Father, you know that PERFECTLY well.”

“Yes, I do,” he admitted. “You’re an honourable Gallifreyan.”

“There you go, then. Somebody will have to find that girl a good husband, but I’m not the one. Besides, she’s a princess. She needs somebody higher placed than me.”

“You’re my blood brother,” Penne answered him. “How much higher placed could you be.”

Chrístõ smiled and reminded him that he came from a meritocracy and added that he believed Adano Ambrado ought to be a Republic. This was something he teased Penne with occasionally just to see his reaction. The two of them grinned conspiratorially.

“I disagree,” his father told him, knowing that it was a joke between them, but feeling he should have his say about it. “Penne is a fine ruler. No President could love his people as much as he does, and no President with a fixed term of office could do as much for them as Penne can.”

“There is only one problem with my rule,” Penne said in a sadder tone. They all knew what he meant.

“I have no heir, and will not have one with the woman I love, my Queen. And I will not dishonour her by taking a second wife. It has been hard enough convincing her that I don’t love her any less. You may smile, brother, knowing my former way of life, but my vow is true. I shall have no other lover but my Cirena for as long as she lives.”

“That is the core of it, of course,” Maestro told him. “You are Gallifreyan. Your Queen is of Human descent. She has a lifespan of maybe eighty or a hundred years if she has good health. You can love her every moment of her life, and when that life is over, when you have grieved as you should, when time has healed, you are free to fall in love with a new princess.”

“I don’t even want to think of that,” Penne said. “I know you mean well, grandfather. I understand what you are saying. But I can’t think of it like that. For as much of the future as I want to think of I shall be childless and that is all there is to be said.”

“Unfortunately, it is not,” Ambassador de Lœngbærrow said, slipping easily into that mode of the King’s chief advisor. “It will become apparent to others that there is a problem with the Adano Ambrado succession, and that will be a weakness you can’t afford. The recent attempt on your life was based on the assumption that Cirena would be unable to rule without you. I think that was a mistaken assumption. Cirena is a brave young woman who would stand up to any attempt to use her. And besides, she would have us to support her. But Penne, if, Rassilon forbid, you and your Queen should both die, what happens to the crown? Who stands to inherit?”

“No-one,” he replied. “Neither Cirena nor I have relatives other than Maestro.”

“I cannot accept the succession from Penne,” Maestro said.

“Why not?” Chrístõ asked.

“Because if I should die before Penne, which is entirely possible since I am an old man even by Gallifreyan measure, the next in line would be my nephew… the last person who anyone would want to see inherit the title.”

For a moment none of them realised who Maestro meant. Then Chrístõ swore softly in Low Gallifreyan.


“Epsilon?” Penne was startled. “Epsilon doesn’t even know he IS my relative. Which is a state of affairs I should like to remain. Besides, he is on Shada, in cryogenic prison for three thousand years.”

“It would not take very much digging in the public records of Gallifrey for somebody – a sympathiser - to work it out as we have,” the Ambassador said. “Even with the House of Ixion expunged it would be possible to make the connection to the House of Dúre. And as for Epsilon…”

He paused. He had an inscrutable expression on his face, and that alone made Chrístõ worry.

“Father… what…. He IS still on Shada isn’t he?”

His father sighed.

“For now he is. But there is talk of an appeal. There are those who think the Council was too harsh. They want his youth to be taken into consideration. They seek to have his sentence reduced.”

“No,” Chrístõ murmured in dismay. “No, they would NOT be so foolish.”

“Whether they are or not, Adano Ambrado’s King has another constitutional issue that he really has to consider,” The Ambassador said. “Penne, if you cannot have a natural heir in the foreseeable future, you should consider conferring your succession.”

Penne looked at his most trusted advisor. This was a startling suggestion, but one that would solve his immediate problem.

“Do you mean…” Chrístõ began. “He names somebody as his heir? Anybody… not a relative?”

“Exactly that. There is a precedent in Ambradan history. Three centuries ago the line was passed from the childless King to the chief of his army.”

“I should do that?” Penne asked. “I mean not necessarily to the chief of the army… though she is a good woman… but…”

“That I can’t help you with,” the Ambassador answered. “You must think about it. I am here to advise you. So is your grandfather. But the decision is yours. For what its worth I am confident it will be the right one.”

“Thank you,” Penne said. Then he grinned mischievously. “When I was Lord of Adano Menor I didn’t have to do all this tiresome thinking. I had other people do that for me. Being King is such HARD WORK!”

Everyone smiled. They knew he was only joking. Penne took his rule of Adano Ambrado seriously. Nobody could accuse him of anything less than wholehearted commitment to his people.

“Sleep on it,” Maestro told him. “We’ll talk again tomorrow.”

That concluded the matter and they retired to their beds. Chrístõ didn’t sleep, though. At least not at first. He lay there thinking about the new and uneasy ideas that had been revealed in their conversation. He had not even thought about Epsilon for a while. He had thought his cousin was out of his life forever. Or at least for a good part of his life. Three thousand years. He would be his father’s age by then. Epsilon would still be young, but he would be dishonoured and disinherited and powerless to cause him any trouble.

But if his sentence was reduced to – what – two thousand years, a thousand...

A thousand years. Approaching middle age for a Time Lord. Maybe on his first or second regeneration. He would surely have achieved most of his ambitions by then. He would probably hold some high ranking position in the High Council. His children would probably have good jobs in government, too. Nothing Epsilon could do would harm them.

But a thousand years was about Penne’s lifespan without the ability to regenerate. He would be old, dying, probably. And if he still didn’t have an heir then Epsilon really COULD make a claim. He WAS his closest kin.

And that thought was with him as he dropped into sleep. It turned into a dream that quickly became a nightmare. He saw Adano-Ambrado ruled by Epsilon, ruled by fear and cruelty, the army and battle fleet that Penne had built up for the defence and peace of the Empire used to crush rebellion within and to conquer other worlds.

He saw Gallifrey at the mercy of that battle fleet, a friend and ally turned against them, his family and friends destroyed, the Capitol reduced to ashes, the Time Lords enslaved by the one they had cast out.

He woke suddenly, sweating and shivering at the same time. He had slept soundly since the end of the trial, but now he was affected by nightmares again.

“Chrístõ!” He felt a gentle whisper in his mind. It was Penne’s inner voice calling him. “Chrístõ, you’re awake at last. Sweet Mother of Chaos! Your imagination… It scared ME, let alone you.”

“You… you saw my dreams…” He knew that Penne’s chambers were only a short way from his own and when they were near each other they often did share dreams. Chrístõ had taught Penne to use his telepathy and the link between them was hard to sever. But it felt strange knowing that his friend had shared THAT dream with him.

“They were so intense. They woke me. “Chrístõ… Is that just your imagination or is it a premonition?”

“I’m no good at precognition,” he answered. “It must be a dream. It must be.”

“Come on,” Penne told him. “Get dressed. Meet me in the garden. Let’s take a walk in the fresh air. It will do you good.”

He got up and dressed in a robe and cloak. He saw Penne in the formal garden already. He opened the window and climbed down to him using the ivy that covered the wall.

“That looked far too easy,” Penne told him when he reached him. “I think I ought to put a double guard on this side of the palace. But never mind that, now. Come on, brother.”

They walked through the formal garden and across the meadow forevermore known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold after the visit of the Dragon-Loge. Beyond that, still within the palace demesne, the ground dropped gently to a meandering river that provided the fountains and pools in the formal gardens with water. They lay down together, side by side, and listened to the sound of the river, to a night hunting bird hooting somewhere and the buzz of night flying insects. They looked up at the sky. It was a less familiar one to Chrístõ. He knew Gallifrey’s constellations well enough. He knew Earth’s. But he needed Penne to point out the features of this sky.

“That bright one there,” he said, pointing almost directly up. “The one that doesn’t twinkle… That’s Adano Menor, where I was born. And to the right of it, Adano Gran. My first conquest!” He smiled as he remembered, though at the time it had been terrifying.

“Where is my home?” Chrístõ asked. “I know Kasterborus should be visible from here. The double arrowhead…”

“There,” Penne told him, pointing to a bright constellation of six stars that had been obscured by a cloud at first.

“Home, Gallifrey,” Chrístõ whispered. “It’s good to be able to see it even if I don’t necessarily want to stay there just yet.”

They both lay there quietly for a long time. It was almost morning. They watched until it was light enough to see each other properly. Penne sighed as the light of his home world began to fade into the brightening sky.

“If you don’t want to go home to Gallifrey,” he said. “I wish you’d stay here. I’d love you to be around more.”

“I couldn’t,” Chrístõ answered him. “I belong out there. You’re the King of Adano-Ambrado. I’m a Prince of the Universe. I can’t settle anywhere. At least not yet. When I’m older, when I’m ready… but not yet.”

“Do you think you could be ready by the time we’re a thousand years old?” Penne asked.

“Yes, I expect I will have to be by then,” Chrístõ answered with a soft laugh as he remembered the ambitions he had recounted before he slept. “I’ll be ready to be a full time citizen of Gallifrey by then.”

“Could you become a citizen of Adano-Ambrado?”


“I have called you brother for a long time,” Penne said. “I like to call you that. It seems fitting. I… I must confess something to you. When I first knew you and your father, I had a fantasy, a dream that I kept to myself. I imagined that we WERE brothers, twins, somehow separated to live different lives, different destinies. I wanted you to be my brother, and your father to be my father. When it was proven to me that we weren’t related I was quite disappointed. But I still call you brother. I love you as a brother…”


“No, don’t talk yet. I’m trying to tell you something important. I’ve made a decision. I’m going to have a special royal ceremony. I’m going to formally recognise Nestista as my sister and confer upon her the rights of a princess of Adano-Ambrado.”

“That’s a good idea. She needs the protection that will give her. I didn’t like the way she was ‘given away’ like a piece of second hand furniture. But… does that mean you’ll name her as your heir?”

“No,” Penne answered. “I want you to be part of the ceremony, too. I want to formally recognise you as my brother, as a prince of Adano-Ambrado. I want to invest YOU as my heir.”

“Oh.” For a moment Chrístõ was lost for words. Unusual enough for him. Then he ran back the conversation for the last few minutes and realised that Penne had been building up to this moment.

“I think that might have been what your father meant when he told me I’d make the right decision. He knows how much you mean to me. Who else can I trust to take on my burden if I should die?”

“Heir presumptive,” Chrístõ told him. “That’s what I should be. If you and Cirena should have a child after all, or if in the future you DO find another princess, then your own child should take precedence.”

“No,” Penne replied. “No, it must be Heir Apparent. You must become my Crown Prince. Because otherwise – you and I are cousins many times removed, I think. But Epsilon as my grandfather’s brother’s child is much closer and he could press a claim to supersede you. I cannot allow that. Chrístõ you must accept the Crown for yourself absolutely.”

“But what if you do have a child of your own?” Chrístõ asked.

“You could renounce the Crown in his favour,” Penne answered. “But we cannot put that down as any kind of clause. I must trust your honour on that point. I will have your father draw up the constitutional form of it if you will say yes.”

“Then…” Chrístõ stood. Penne did, too. Then Chrístõ knelt before him formally as he had been taught to do in the presence of royalty. “Your Majesty, I would be honoured to serve you in that capacity.”

Penne looked at him and smiled, touched by the gesture, then he reached out and took his hands and lifted him to his feet.

“My brother,” he said as he embraced him. “My brother, prince of Adano-Ambrado.”

When the rest of the royal household were awake Penne put his plan into action. He began by telling his Queen and his house guests, who all fully approved of the idea. He then told his government, including the newly appointed Prime Minister. They were less whole-hearted in their approval, pointing out that Chrístõ was a stranger to most of the people of Adano-Ambrado and it might be felt that a foreigner was being foisted upon them at the whim of the King.

Having had that dampener put on his enthusiasm he then put out a royal command to the mass media of Adano-Ambrado and arranged a series of telecasts to the people of his empire explaining to them who Chrístõ was, especially his role in a great many moments of crisis in their recent history. The media, and through them the people, were enthralled by the idea of the King’s ‘doppelganger’. Chrístõ quickly found himself becoming as well loved as the King himself.

The only snag in the plan seemed to be the one that Maestro pointed out as they watched a telecast about the making of the two new crowns that would grace the heads of the adopted prince and princess. They would never again be able to play their ‘Prince and the Pauper’ game of switching identities. Penne and Chrístõ both laughed and said it was probably time to give up that game anyway.

Chrístõ confessed to being a little excited about the investiture ceremony and regretted that Julia couldn’t be there to watch him. He had told her all about it, of course, when he videophoned her, but her aunt and uncle had put their foot down about more trips offworld during term time. Herrick had talked privately to Chrístõ about the problems he had keeping Julia’s feet on the ground with such things going on. She would be day dreaming now about marrying a Crown Prince. He had accepted Herrick’s point and later he had reminded Julia that this was only necessary because of Penne and Cirena’s sad inability to have a baby of their own, and that the only way he would become King would be if something very terrible happened to their two friends. That put it in perspective for her, and her guardians thanked him and reminded him that, Crown Prince or no, he was joining them for a very ordinary family Christmas in a few week’s time.

The crowns were made. Robes were made. A grand banquet was planned. Street parties for the people of Adano-Ambrado across the seven planets were organised.

And then, three days before the ceremony, something happened that threw it all into confusion.

The royal couple and their guests were breakfasting in the private dining room. They were contemplating a quiet, leisurely day when the footman announced that the Prime Minister had an urgent matter for the King to attend to. Penne asked him to show her in.

The new Prime Minister was a woman named Deonna Galm who had loyally served in the Adano-Ambrado government since the first day of Penne’s rule. She bowed to the King and Queen and came straight to the point.

“Something has been brought to my attention which calls into question the Investiture of the Crown Prince.”

“What?” Penne asked at once. Deonna Galm stepped forward and gave him a box file. He opened it and read the documents inside for a long, silent time. Chrístõ watched his face. He seemed startled and emotional. He tried to reach him telepathically but found himself blocked. That was all right. He had TAUGHT him how to do that. It was his way of protecting himself against other telepaths reading his mind to discover state secrets. He was surprised that he was blocked from Penne’s thoughts, but he was fully entitled to his privacy.

Then Penne closed the file. He put his hand on it thoughtfully and turned to his Prime Minister.

“They’re here? Now?” he asked.

“They are, your Majesty.”

“I’ll see them in my council chamber.” he said. He looked at his Queen and his friends. “I must do this alone. I shall talk to you later.” He kissed Cirena, then he picked up the file and walked out of the room with Deonna Galm.

“What is THAT all about?” Cirena demanded. “Chrístõ, he must have told you something?”

“No,” he answered. “He didn’t. He blocked me. I don’t KNOW what it’s about.”

“I couldn’t reach him, either,” Maestro said. “But there was something in that file that hit him emotionally. His mind felt as if it had been given a shot of adrenaline.”

“He’ll tell us when he’s ready,” the Ambassador said. “Meantime, let’s all try to be calm and go ahead with our usual daily business.”

“USUALLY, after breakfast Penne takes me off to his bathroom for a long soak and a gossip about court affairs,” Chrístõ pointed out. He felt at a loss. “I’m going for a walk.” He stood up and walked out through the French doors into a warm, summery morning. He crossed the garden and the meadow and found himself in the same spot by the river where he had sat that very early morning when Penne had been inspired by the idea of making him his heir. It had been almost a spur of the moment idea. Chrístõ had not even been sure he wanted to be a Crown Prince of Adano-Ambrado. He had accepted because it meant so much to Penne. But he had not really wanted it for himself. It was not one of his ambitions to rule an empire. Yes, one day, Lord High President would be a good achievement. And his only thought about what he would do with his power was to order a less silly looking uniform for the Chancellery Guard.

No, he had never imagined himself as a King.

So why was he so disappointed that something or someone had called his right to be Penne’s heir into question?

He had no answer.

He lay down on the grass and looked up at the Adano-Ambrado sun. He thought of the seven planets of Penne’s empire that orbited it. Penne had done so much for that empire. The three fully inhabited planets, Adano-Menor, Adano Gran and Ambrado-Uno had all been raised from feudal and largely non-technological planets to ones that used the best of technology without losing anything of their way of life or the beauty of either towns or countryside. The latter two planets were freed from slavery and fear under the rule of the despots Penne wrested them from. He had made sure the bounty of the empire was shared by all. Even the lowest paid worker was not so low paid he could not support his family and everyone had health care equal to that of the King himself. They had free access to any level of education they chose to take up. They were all equal under a law that had been reformed to be as fair and merciful as Penne and his advisors could make it. There was reason for contentment on those three planets. On two others, once identified only by numbers, but now known as New Adano and New Ambrado there were colonies. New Adano was the second planet of the system. It was mostly desert and dry plains, but it was the source of great mineral wealth and the mining communities established on the plains shared in the wealth. New Ambrado, the second outermost planet, was dry and cold, but special habitats were built and inside them were the universities of research in the fields of science and technology and the Military Academy where new recruits to the army and space corps were trained to be proud defenders of the empire. Only two planets could not be inhabited. The inner one, called Belle, was too inhospitable. It served only as a fantastic light in the night sky. Every month or so, the gases in its atmosphere ignited and it burned like a small sun, giving off a fantastic aurora that delighted the eye. The outermost cold, frozen chlorine planet, served as a beacon that told visitors they were entering the Empire of Adano-Ambrado and formed the first line of defence against any hostile visitors.

Yes, Penne had made a good ruler. His people were as happy as they could be. He didn’t understand why Neevus should have sought to betray him. Was power so important? Why couldn’t he have been content to serve a good man like Penne Dúre?

He looked up from his daydream as he heard his father’s voice. He began to climb to his feet as he told him that Penne had summoned them to the Cabinet room.

“What does he want?” Chrístõ asked. But his father had no answers.

“Whatever it is, Penne has made some decision and as his advisors, his friends, and as his brother, we must respect that decision.”

That could not be denied. Chrístõ followed his father back to the palace.

The Cabinet room was already full. The Cabinet members sat around the long, wide polished table. Penne sat at the head of the table. Cirena sat by his side, and by her was Nestista. Maestro sat between her and the Prime Minister. On Penne’s left side were two strangers, a boy of about sixteen who looked very nervous and a man in a black suit who seemed to have the word ‘lawyer’ in invisible letters over his head. Chrístõ and his father sat at the only two remaining seats next to them. They were the last to arrive. There was a brief, slightly awkward silence then Penne stood. He gestured to the boy by his side and he stood, too.

“The investiture ceremony will go on. But there is no longer a need to confer the succession. I have my Heir Apparent. This is Corwen Kane. Or… from this day forward, his true name is Corwen Dúre. He is my son. And I shall acknowledge him as such when he is invested as Crown Prince of Adano-Ambrado.”

There was a stunned silence. The phrase ‘You could have heard a pin drop’ was appropriate.

Instead they heard a cough. It came from the Foreign Minister who stood and coughed a second time before speaking.

“Your Majesty,” he said, bowing politely to him. “How is this possible? Where has this child come from?”

“He comes from Adano Menor, the land of my birth, where I was Lord for most of my life. And where… I am ashamed to say it, especially in front of my Queen who I have been faithful to since the day we met… I was free with my affections. There was a woman by name of Dalle Kane. I don’t… again I am ashamed to say it… I don’t remember her. She was a maid, I am told. There were a lot of maids… I don’t remember their names. This one… died in childbirth sixteen years ago. Corwen is my son.” He dared to look at Cirena. She looked calm, but he wasn’t sure. She had every right to be upset. This was cruel to her.

Chrístõ looked at Penne and at the boy, and wondered. His first thought, despite what he knew of Penne’s former lifestyle, was that this was a hoax.

“It must be true,” he heard his father say telepathically. “That boy… He looks like you did when you were as young as that.”

Chrístõ looked at the boy again and saw what his father meant. He had the same brown eyes that he and Penne had. He had the same hair, though his was cut so very short that it was without curl. When Chrístõ was sixteen he had thick curling shoulder length hair that he wore in a pony tail. But it was true. The boy WAS very much like him, like Penne must have been when he was a boy.

The Foreign Minister didn’t know Chrístõ or Penne when they were boys. He asked if there was proof of the boy’s royal parentage. The man in the black suit rose. He introduced himself as Shannin Anek and opened the file that Penne had read already. He showed them a deathbed confession from the mother, naming the father of her child. He showed her work record from when she was a maid in the palace. He showed them a lock of hair sealed into a laminated card that bore the signature of Penne Dúre, Lord of Adano Menor. Chrístõ held it between his fingers and looked at Penne quizzically. He confessed that he had no idea what the signature was for, but that, in his vanity, he had often given locks of his hair to his casual lovers.

But all that was circumstantial. There was better proof. Anek distributed copies of a blood test on the boy. He himself held up the original with a phial of pale orange blood taped to it. The tests confirmed that he had Gallifreyan DNA.

Penne’s DNA.

Chrístõ looked at the test results with a more expert eye than any other around the table. It was irrefutable. This WAS Penne’s DNA. The boy WAS his son.

The Ambassador stood and approached them.

“Pardon me,” he said. “I don’t mean to impose, but…” He touched the boy on his chest, both sides, then he pressed a finger gently against his eyelids. “Two hearts. And vestigial tear ducts. He IS the child of a full blooded Gallifreyan.”

“Yes,” Penne said. “He is mine.”

Chrístõ tried to talk to Penne telepathically. He wanted to know what he was really thinking. But still, he found himself locked out.

“Penne?” Chrístõ said out loud. Penne turned to look at him. For a moment he let the wall down and let him through.

“Congratulations,” he told him telepathically. “You have your heir. I am glad for you, my brother.”

“Don’t worry,” Penne answered in an unexpectedly cold tone. “I still intend to acknowledge you. You will still be a prince of Adano-Ambrado.”

“I don’t need a consolation prize,” Chrístõ answered. “I’m NOT disappointed. I think you need to talk to Cirena, though. She seems a bit shocked.”

“Cirena is fine,” he answered. “I need to talk to Corwen. I need to talk to him a lot. It’s all rather strange for him, too. He grew up on a farm on Adano Menor. And suddenly, here he is, in the palace… and I’m… Oh, I hope he can forgive me, for not being there all of his life. But he IS the only one who matters right now.”

And then the wall blocked him out again. Chrístõ tried again but it was no use. Penne was only interested in the boy who stood by his side. Nobody else mattered. Not his closest friends, not his wife.

“Your Majesty,” The Foreign Minister was speaking again. “I really don’t think the people will accept this…. This illegitimate boy who came out of nowhere… as Crown Prince. It is unconstitutional. Only a legitimate heir….”

Penne glared at the Foreign Minister. A less brave man would have stopped at that point. Others around the table looked glad they had not been the one who had stood up, even though they might have agreed with him.

“Your Majesty,” he continued. “I must urge you... There is something sordid about all of this. You may gain an heir, but you may lose the respect of the people.”

Penne looked at the Foreign Minister coldly.

“This is my son. He WILL be my heir. You will not stand in my way. Nor will any man or woman.”

“Penne…” Maestro stood and came to his side. He put a hand on his shoulder. “I think you should take his advice. Postpone the investiture. Give this some thought.”

“No,” he answered. “No… the ceremony goes ahead.”

“Then at least… Wait a day before we publicly announce this. THINK about it, Penne.”

“Can’t I make a decision for myself?” he snapped. “Am I not King? I didn’t summon you all here to ASK your permission. I just wanted to TELL you of my decision.”

“Penne?” Chrístõ spoke sharply to him. “Penne, that wasn’t necessary. Calm down.”

“I don’t need you to tell me what to do, either,” he answered. “I’ve decided. I used to make decisions of my own before I knew you.”

“No you didn’t,” Chrístõ answered him. “You had other people to think for you.”

“Well, now I’m thinking for myself. And now…” He looked around the table. “Go away, all of you. Go and do the jobs you are paid to do. I will walk alone with my son in the garden. I will have peace. And I will be obeyed.”

At that he turned and walked away. The boy looked around nervously and then ran to follow him. Cirena stood up, as if to go with him, but he was already gone. She stood there in silence for a long moment, then she ran away. She managed to get out of the room before she burst into tears, but in the silence everyone heard her anyway. The Cabinet looked at each other in embarrassment, sorry to have been witness to the Queen’s loss of dignity. Chrístõ began to stand up to go after her, but Nestista beat him to it. She ran to comfort Cirena.

Maestro stood. He looked at Penne’s ministers.

“Until the boy IS formally recognised, I am the King’s closest kin here. And as such, I advise you to do as he said… carry on with the business of government. But for the time being, let nothing that was said in this room be conveyed to the people of Adano-Ambrado.” He turned to Anek. “You, sir, will obey that instruction, too. If I find that you have made anything here public, I will see to it that you are tried for High Treason.”

Anek looked defiant, but Maestro stared hard at him. Chrístõ knew the power of his mind. As a student under his private tutelage he had met that stare many times, when he tried to be defiant and arrogant as teenagers are from time to time. HIS will had been the one to succumb. So it was with Anek, now.

Except, not quite. There was a flash of defiance in his eyes. And something like disgust, as if he detested all three of the Time Lords who met his gaze. Then he stood and turned away. As soon as he was gone the Prime Minister went to the door. She summoned one of the Guardia Real on duty outside the Cabinet room and instructed her to have Anek watched wherever he was in the palace and to have any outside communication by him monitored.

“Come,” Maestro said to Chrístõ and his father. “WE will speak of this together. But not here.”

Maestro turned and walked away as the Cabinet began talking among themselves about this new development. His fellow Time Lords followed him through the strangely silent corridors of the palace and out to the garden where Maestro’s TARDIS was disguised as an ionic pillar with ivy growing around it. Chrístõ saw Penne and Corwen sitting by the fountain, deep in conversation. He tried to go to them, but to his surprise one of the Guardia Real stepped in front of him.

“The King does not wish to be disturbed,” she said. “You must not approach him.”

“But…” Chrístõ began.

“I am sorry, sir,” she added. “But those are my orders.”

“Chrístõ, come,” his father said, taking him by the arm. He turned and followed his father into Maestro’s TARDIS.

Inside he noticed two things. Firstly, how very like the monastery on Mount Lœng the interior of this TARDIS was. Not only in its interior design of cool, clean stone walls with ancient runes inscribed on them, but its feeling of inner peace and contentment.

The other thing he felt was as if a weight was lifted from his soul.

“Is that because of the monastery theme?” Chrístõ asked.

“No,” Maestro answered. “It is because inside here we are protected from baleful influences. From the moment we came into the presence of that child we have all been under an aura, a suppression.”

“The boy?” Chrístõ was surprised. “But… He has Penne’s DNA. He probably has some latent telepathy. He probably doesn’t know he’s doing it.”

“That is so,” said his father. “I looked into his mind. The boy is an innocent party in all this, I am sure. But there is something about him. I think it accounts for Penne’s behaviour. He was completely out of character.”

“Yes,” Chrístõ agreed. “And yet, in some ways he is right. WE, between us, have been there too much for him. We’ve changed him from the man he used to be.”

“For the better,” Maestro said. “If he cannot even remember the name of a woman he bedded… if he can’t even recall her from among the many like her that he took such advantage of. That IS a shameful thing. He NEEDED to be shown the error of his ways.”

Chrístõ half smiled as he remembered Penne when he first knew him. He recalled the first time he had invited him to bathe with him, and the scantily clad attendants of both sexes who had been there for his pleasure until Chrístõ put his foot down.

“Exactly,” Maestro said. “It is a wonder there is only ONE illegitimate claimant to the throne. Yes, he needed our guidance. He still DOES. Penne is NOT acting of his own free will. He is not acting according to his true nature.”

“He’s acting like he USED to act,” Chrístõ said. “Arrogant and superior. It IS in his nature.”

“It is in all our natures,” Maestro told him. “We’re Time Lords. We’re used to being the most powerful beings in the universe. But some of us try to temper that superiority with an understanding of the universe. Penne learnt to do that, too. His TRUE nature is the man we all love, who is loved by his people, respected by even the High Council of Gallifrey. And we must bring him back to himself.”

“How?” Chrístõ asked.

“By finding out the truth about this boy.”

“Penne IS his father,” The Ambassador said. “There is no doubt. The blood tests prove it.”

“It takes more than DNA to be a father,” Chrístõ said. “Penne always thought of you as HIS father. And me as his brother. To suddenly present a son to him, only a few days before he was to name his heir….” Chrístõ paused. “It’s NOT… Father, Maestro, believe me, if nobody else will. I am not casting doubts upon this because I am jealous. If Corwen IS Penne’s rightful heir, then I’m glad of it. It is a burden less for me to carry. I only accepted it for Penne’s sake. But IS he?”

“The blood…”

“Yes, father, I know.” Chrístõ reached inside his robe and took out what looked like a copy of the blood test. Except it wasn’t. It was the original, with the phial of blood attached. Chrístõ walked around Maestro’s console, with which he was less familiar than his own. He found the receptacle for analysing substances and placed the blood sample in it. A few minutes later the results appeared on a screen. They matched those on the paper, of course. And yet….” Chrístõ typed quickly on the keyboard and brought up a number of files from the TARDIS database. He displayed them simultaneously.

“Father, remember when Lord Ravenswode demanded that we were all tested to prove that Penne was NOT your son. These are the results. This is YOUR DNA, father, a pureblood Gallifreyan. THIS is mine. I have the same quadruple helix, of course. Except there is a very small error in it…”

“Not an error, son,” his father told him gently. “A variation. Your mother’s Human DNA that makes you a unique being even among our own people.”

“A variation then,” he amended. “And this is Penne’s DNA, which differs from ours significantly. His parents were Maestro’s daughter and the patriarch of the House of Ixion. And of course… Penne has lost the quadruple helix. When he was exposed to the Artron chamber and was forced through all twelve of his regenerations instantly, it mutated his DNA back into normal Gallifreyan. He was no longer a Time Lord.”

Neither Maestro nor his father said anything about that. He knew their feelings about events that took place in the far past. Chrístõ brought up another file. “This is Maestro’s DNA. You can see that he and Penne are related. There are points of similarity. Penne’s mother’s blood inherited from her father.” Then he returned to the test on Corwen’s blood. “Look at this, now. And tell me what you see.”

His father and Maestro looked. At first they didn’t understand what he was getting at. Then it occurred to them.

“If Corwen is the child of Penne and a Human citizen of Adano Menor, then his DNA should be like mine. With that – variation. But…”

“He appears to be pure Gallifreyan,” Chrístõ’s father said. “There is no trace of his mother’s DNA at all.”

“Now, I’m not sure,” Chrístõ said. “I know Gallifreyan DNA is much stronger than Human. That’s why there is only a trace of my mother in me, whereas you and Maestro and even Penne have almost equal elements of both your mother and father. Of course, Penne’s DNA should have overwhelmed the Human woman. But TOTALLY? Is it possible?”

I often wondered about that when your mother and I were struggling to have a child of our own,” his father said. “I asked those sort of questions of the few physicians I found who were willing to look into the matter at all, those who didn’t dismiss the idea of mixed race birth completely. It’s a million to one chance that a natural conception could result in the birth parent’s DNA being overwritten so completely.”

“So Corwen wasn’t conceived naturally? Or he IS a million to one chance?”

“There is something else,” Maestro said. “Something that has been missed by both of you.”

“What?” Chrístõ asked. But Mastro just shook his head.

“I’m going to take a quick visit to Adano Menor,” he said. “I think some things need investigating there. Meanwhile, Chrístõ, can you find a way of getting close to Penne without incurring his wrath. And you, Chrístõ Mian, find that so-called lawyer and see what you can make of him.

Chrístõ and his father stepped out of the TARDIS. It dematerialised behind them. Penne and Corwen looked around at the sudden noise and Chrístõ was aware of Penne’s voice in his head briefly.

“If you all don’t stop doing that, I shall have your TARDISes impounded. You ride roughshod over all of my security measures.”

“Penne, don’t be silly,” Chrístõ responded, but the shutter clamped down once more. He watched as Penne turned again, putting his arm around the boy’s neck and kissing him on the cheek. He seemed to have become very close to him, very quickly.

And that was worrying, because something was not right about Corwen Kane Dúre. And Penne was going to be very hurt when he found out the truth.

Chrístõ headed for his room near the royal apartments. Twice on the way he was stopped by the Guardia Real, who wanted to know where he was going. His freedom to roam the palace was curtailed as it never had been before. He reached the room at last and found what he wanted in a drawer. He picked up the perception filter medallion and carefully tested it. The field was only meant to be a weak one. A good telepath would know he was there. And with Maestro’s coaching, Penne had become a good telepath.

He pulled out his sonic screwdriver from the concealed inner pocket of his robe and used it to boost the perception field. It wouldn’t last long, but long enough.

He moved unhindered this time through the palace, out into the garden. Get close to Penne, he was told. But he thought there was something else he should do, too. He saw his chance. Penne had stood up from the seat by the fountain. As he drew close he heard him say he would order some food brought out to them. He had banished the servants from the garden so he had to go and look for one. Chrístõ stepped close to Corwen. He reached out and touched him on the forehead. At once the boy’s eyes widened fearfully. Chrístõ put his other hand over his mouth.

“Be quiet,” he whispered. “I could easily kill you in several ways if I chose. But I don’t want to hurt you. I only want see what is in your mind.”

The boy obeyed him. He stayed quiet, though still fearful. Chrístõ was sorry about that, because he agreed with his father that Corwen WAS an innocent in this affair. But he was also the key to the whole mystery. Chrístõ looked into his mind, probed his memories.

And saw the very last thing he expected, though it DID explain everything.

Well, almost everything. He watched as Penne crossed the lawn to return to the boy he had begun to call his son. He was startled to see his frightened, pale face.

“Corwen? What is it? What’s wrong? Who has hurt you?”

“I didn’t hurt him,” Chrístõ replied, pulling the perception filter from around his neck. “I just looked for the truth. Penne, you’re being deceived. Not by him. He is being used as much as you are. More, even. He’s… he’s the REAL victim here and always HAS been. And I am very, very sorry for you BOTH. But…”

“Get away from him,” Penne replied angrily. “Get away from my son. Get away from me or.. or I’ll have you arrested and thrown into the dungeon.”

“Do that, if you must,” Chrístõ answered with tears in his eyes. “Do that. Arrest me. Because under the law – the law that you made – you have to grant me a hearing within twenty-four hours. You have to listen to me. So… so DO THAT. Arrest me…” He looked at Penne and tried one more time to reach him telepathically. Still his mind was closed to him. Chrístõ choked back a sob of despair as he did something he thought he would never do.

He hit the King. He pulled back his arm and swung at him. It was a punch with no finesse, that belonged to no school of unarmed combat, except perhaps the hard one of the streets of 19th century London. It connected with Penne’s jaw with a crack and he staggered back.

“THERE is something to arrest me FOR,” he said as the Guardia Real came running, their crossbows raised. He put up his hands in surrender and let them take him prisoner.

He had never seen the dungeons of the Adano-Ambrado palace. He had no idea what they were like. The term ‘dungeon’ suggested something unpleasantly dark and dank. In fact, they were not so bad. They were simply rooms that had bars instead of a wall and door on one side. They provided for his comfort, too. There was food and drink, water to wash with. There was a chair and table and a bed. He lay on the bed and ignored the other comforts. He didn’t need them. He needed to focus his mind. He needed to wait until his father or Maestro came to ask him what he had done, as he knew they would.

Somebody else came first. Cirena, accompanied by Nestista. Cirena was red-eyed from crying and pale-faced. She looked at him through the bars.

“I am sorry,” she said.

“What have you to be sorry about?” he answered her gently as he went to the bars and reached to hold her hand. “Cirena, my dear, this is none of your doing.”

“I am sorry because of what Penne has done to you. I never thought the two of you could fall out. You and him… I was only his wife, his Queen… YOU were the other half of his soul.”

“Why the past tense?”

“Because he has lost his senses. And as long as that boy remains here, bewitching him, he won’t regain them.”

“Bewitching?” Chrístõ noted her choice of words.

“What else would you call it?”

“I don’t know. Maybe that IS a good word for it. But Cirena, do one thing for me. Forgive him. Forgive all the hurt he has caused you this day with this madness that has come over him. Forgive the hurt he has caused you by this reminder of the kind of man he used to be. I know having his past laid bare was embarrassing for you. It was for him, too. Forgive him. And… the boy… try to understand him. Try not to blame him. It’s not his fault. I can’t tell you any more just yet, but the boy… the boy needs our understanding.

“You’re a good man, Chrístõ. To say all of that when… when he has done this to you.”

“I did THIS to me,” he answered. “I have my reasons. Trust me and don’t lose your trust in Penne. Tomorrow it will all be put right. I promise.”

“I trust you, Chrístõ. I will TRY to do as you say.” She held his hand tightly for a long moment, then she turned away. He went back to his bed and lay there, thinking over what he knew, what he had guessed, and what he hoped would yet be revealed.

It was several hours before his father and Maestro both came to see him. He knew that it was evening, now. His watch, along with his sonic screwdriver and the perception filter had been confiscated, but his personal body clock told him how long he had been there.

His father looked at him solemnly as he stood and went to the bars again.

“They won’t open the cell door. I’m too dangerous a criminal.”

“Don’t joke about this,” his father said. “Chrístõ, this situation goes from bad to worse.”

“No, it doesn’t,” he assured him. “It’s fine. I know what I’m doing. And I know what’s going on. Maestro, what did you find on Adano Menor? No… don’t tell me. Let me tell YOU.” And he outlined to Maestro and his father a scenario that he had thought through in his quiet hours in the cell. Maestro smiled grimly.

“Word perfect,” he said.

“Tragically so,” his father added. “Anek… In some ways his is the most tragic story of all. But what he has done…”

“Tomorrow, the truth will be told,” Chrístõ said. “Penne has to hear me out. It would be unconstitutional of him not to.”

“Ah,” his father managed a slight smile as he understood at last. “A desperate measure. But it might just work.”

“I didn’t hurt him too much, did I?”

“For a little while it WAS possible to tell the two of you apart. He was the one with the broken jaw. But he’s mended now.”

“A pity you didn’t hit him harder and knock some sense into him,” Maestro said.

“Maestro, a man of peace and humility, you shouldn’t say such things,” Chrístõ told him. “Penne has us ALL out of sorts right now. But it WILL be all right. Tomorrow.”

He leaned against the bars and his father reached in and held him for a long moment. Then he went back to his bed. He closed his eyes and let himself drop into a deep trance, ridding his mind of all anxieties for a few hours.

The hearing took place the following morning after breakfast. That is to say that Penne and his son breakfasted together with Cirena and Nestista. The Ambassador and Maestro brought food and a change of clothes to Chrístõ and made sure he was ready. They walked alongside the guards who brought Chrístõ to the Throne Room.

“Oh, NO!” Cirena protested as the strange procession came to a halt before them. She stood up, looking at her husband, the King. He didn’t even make eye contact with her. He turned instead to speak to Corwen, sitting on his other side.

“NO,” she repeated. “Remove those shackles at once.” The Guards hesitated. “I am Queen. I rule alongside the King, equal to him. And I have given you an order. Obey it.”

Penne looked at her then, but he said nothing. She was right. He could not countermand her without denying that same Constitution that entitled Chrístõ to be heard.

The guards removed the shackles. Chrístõ flexed his hands a little more theatrically than he had to. His father stepped forward.

“I am representing the accused,” he said. “I intend to call several witnesses to give evidence in mitigation of his behaviour.”

“Very well,” Penne said. “Continue.”

“I call, first,” the Ambassador said. “Penne Dúre, King Emperor of Adano-Ambrado.”

“What?” Penne stared at him. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

“It is perfectly acceptable within the Constitution,” the Ambassador said. “You and I drew up the Constitution. YOU said that the King should be equal to any of his citizens under the law. Therefore, I call you as a witness for the defence of my son, the accused. You do not need to take the witness stand. But I will ask you to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Constitution of Adano-Ambrado.”

Penne stood and recited the words of that Oath, not to the King, but to the Constitution, to the people of Adano-Ambrado. Then he sat and looked at the Ambassador.

“Before you were King-Emperor, you were Lord of Adano Menor, that is correct?”

“It is.”

“And as Lord, you considered yourself free to do as you pleased with the people of Adano Menor, especially with the women, young women, especially those who worked for you?”

“I… Must I go into that again?”

“You are under oath.”

“Yes,” he said. “But only the ones who were willing. I never FORCED myself on anyone.”

“Well, that is subjective. You were their master, their Lord. Maybe they felt they couldn’t refuse you?”

“That is… possible. If so… I am sorry. I never… I admit I WAS careless with other people’s lives. I admit that I used them. And I have given up that way of life. I have… I have been faithful to my wife, to the Queen.”

“Yes, you have. But have you really given a thought to the fate of the women you used. Or the men, for that matter. Have you thought of what happened to them when you were done with them?”

“No,” he answered. “I haven’t. I know I should have. But I haven’t.”

“You don’t remember a lady called Dalle Kane who was one of your sweethearts?”

“It was more than sixteen years ago,” he protested. “No, I don’t remember her. And I am sorry. If she had come to me… told me… I WOULD have helped her. I would not have left her to die. I wouldn’t. I’m not… even THEN I was not that cruel.”

“I believe you, Penne. Tell me, do you remember any of the ladies you knew more recently…say, three years ago?”

“No,” he answered. “No, it’s still… No, I DON’T remember. But what… what has THAT got to do with anything?”

“Think about it, while I call the next witness,” the Ambassador said. He turned and called Maestro to the stand. He gave his real name for sake of Constitutional accuracy. He took the Oath.

“Tell me how you spent yesterday afternoon,” The Ambassador asked him.

“I went to Adano Menor to trace Dalle Kane, the mother of Corwen Kane Dúre.”


“And nobody by that name gave birth sixteen years ago. Nobody by that name died sixteen years ago.”

Penne looked puzzled. He turned to look at the boy.

“However,” he said. “There WAS a Dalle Kane who died in childbirth a year and a half ago. She and her child died. Ironically, on the day that the King-Emperor of Adano-Ambrado was married to his Queen.”

“The child died?” Cirena asked that question. “Dalle Kane’s child…”

“Yes,” he said. “I have death certificates for both.” He took the documents and handed them to the Ambassador. He, in turn, gave them to Penne.

“It’s a different woman,” Penne said. “It must be.”

“Is it?” the Ambassador asked Maestro to show them the other documents he had. One was a blood test made on the baby that had died that day a year and a half ago. The test result showed that the child had a mixed parentage. One half of its DNA was Human, its mother, the other half Gallifreyan.

“What you are looking at is the double helix DNA of a non-regenerative Time Lord. This child was conceived before you transcended and became a Time Lord, Penne. If you look at Corwen’s DNA sample… HE has the mutated DNA that resulted from your exposure to the Artron chamber the day before your wedding to Cirena.”

“But…” Cirena began.

“No, my dear,” The Ambassador said. “Penne has NOT been unfaithful to you. Be sure of that. Be at peace, both of you. The truth is far more complicated.” He told Maestro he could stand down and called, instead, Shannin Anek.

“State your name for the court,” the Ambassador said to him. “Your full and correct name.”

“Shannin Anek,” he answered.

“No, it is not,” The Ambassador snapped back quickly. “I checked the census records of Adano-Ambrado yesterday. The whole record. There is no citizen of the empire called Shannin Anek. There IS a citizen called Shannin Kane.”

“Kane?” Penne echoed the name. “Dalle Kane… Corwen…” He put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and looked curiously at the man who had claimed to be a lawyer, representing the boy.

“He is no lawyer, either,” the Ambassador continued. He turned back to Anek – or Kane. “Please state your real name, and if you wish to avoid a long term in prison for perjury, I suggest that we hear the truth from now on. I know the truth anyway, and it WILL come out. But it would be far better to hear it from you.”

“I am Shannin Kane,” he said. “I am not a lawyer. I am a scientist. A genetic research scientist on New Ambrado.”

“Yes, we’ll come back to that. But please tell me what your relationship was to the late Dalle Kane?”

“She was my daughter,” Kane said. “She was eighteen. She was beautiful and talented. She was going to university in the autumn. She only took a job in the Lord of Adano Menor’s Manor House because… because she was in LOVE with him. It was a young girl’s infatuation, but she wanted to be near him. And of course… because he could not resist a pretty face, he used her just like all the others. Only my girl, my Dalle, fell pregnant. She was happy. She was having her Lord’s child. Even though he would never look at her again, she was happy. Even when it was announced that he was going to marry a foreigner. She didn’t mind. She had been ‘loved’ by him. And she was going to give birth to his child. Except… it went wrong. She died in agony, and the child lived no more than a few minutes longer.”

“The child died?” Penne’s eyes told of his confusion. “Then how… Corwen… how…”

Kane looked away nervously.

“Chrístõ,” the Ambassador turned from Kane and asked his son to take the oath before he put a question to him.

“Yesterday you looked into Corwen’s mind. Tell us what you found. And let this Court remember that as a Time Lord my son’s honour is beyond reproach. Tell the truth, my son, as you always do.”

“I saw an implanted memory of sixteen years of life,” he said. “And behind that implant, six months… six months of life. Corwen is a clone. A force grown clone. Sixteen years of growth in just six months. It was painful, horrible. Behind the implanted memory I saw such PAIN. He was created in a laboratory and all he knew was PAIN.”

Penne looked at Chrístõ, then he turned to Corwen. He put his hand on his forehead. For a long time he said nothing. The boy trembled with fear. Then Penne pulled him close and hugged him.

“I am sorry,” he said. “I am sorry for the pain. I… I authorised the research laboratory. I… I opened it. Cirena and I travelled there. We opened the laboratory with a ceremony, celebration. I… Cirena and I donated our blood to the genetic bank. The first…”

“That’s how it was done,” Kane said. “I used your blood… your DNA… to create the child.”

“WHY?” Penne asked.

“Revenge,” said The Ambassador. “That’s what it was about. Revenge.”

“Revenge… how?” Penne asked. “He… he lost his daughter. He gets his revenge by giving me a son? How….”

“Force grown clone,” Chrístõ said. “Penne…. Nobody has ever discovered a way of stabilising that process. Six months… That’s how much life he has lived so far. And… if he’s lucky, he has six months more. Long enough for you to love him, to cherish him. Then he would DIE. You were meant to know a father’s grief the way Kane did when his daughter died giving birth to your child.”

“Sweet mother of chaos,” Penne swore. “That…. Is it true?”

“Penne,” Chrístõ said. “Would I lie to you?”

“No,” Penne admitted. “You wouldn’t. You…” He stepped down from the throne dais and approached him. “Chrístõ… I am… I am sorry… I shouldn’t have…”

“I forgive you,” Chrístõ told him as they embraced. “I know it wasn’t you. You weren’t yourself.”

“No, I wasn’t.” Penne’s eyes widened suddenly. He was still hugging Chrístõ but he looked around. He saw Cirena, still sitting there, Nestista by her side. Corwen standing up, looking puzzled and distressed. He looked at Shannin Kane. “He did something?”

“A pint of your blood,” the Ambassador said. “That’s what you donated to the research lab. It needed only a tiny bit of it to extract your DNA. The rest… He constructed a device that anyone who does not understand genetic science might call magic. It has the same effect as the effigy used by a witch to manipulate a victim in some mythology. He remotely manipulated your blood, Penne, to create a confusion in your mind, making you distrust those you have always trusted and believe everything he told you without question. If you’d been in your right mind you would have spotted the truth.”

The Ambassador waved a hand and one of the Guardia Real stepped forward with a curious contraption that she said had been found in Kane’s room. It looked like a small radio transmitter with a dish beneath that proved to contain orange coloured blood. Penne looked at it and shivered.

“I knew it wasn’t really you,” Chrístõ told him.

“It’s me now, though,” he said. He kissed Chrístõ on the cheek and hugged him once more. “You never lost faith in me.” He turned and went to Cirena. He hugged her, too. “My wife, forgive me.”

“Of course I do,” she said. “I love you.”

He turned then to Corwen. He took him by the hands, gently.

“You’re… you’re a part of me. I didn’t have anything to do with your creation, but you ARE mine. You’re… You ARE my son, Corwen. I will look after you. I promise. I will love you till the day you die. You’ll never again feel the pain you have felt before.”

“Father…” Corwen said. He looked at him with eyes that were glassy as the nictating membrane struggled with the excess water. Penne’s eyes were the same. The commonly known fact that Gallifreyans don’t cry was almost proved false. The two of them were as close to it as anyone of that race ever came. Penne hugged the boy tightly as he looked around at Shannin Kane.

“I am sorry for what happened to your daughter. If I had known… I would have cared for her. I WOULD. Believe me. But how did you think causing me the same pain you went through would make your grief go away? You’re a very sick, sad man. I pity you. I…” He nodded to his guards. They closed in on him. “Gently. He IS to be pitied, not punished. The medical services of Adano-Ambrado include mental institutions. See that he is found a place in one of them. When he is well again, when the hurt is gone and he sees things clearly and sanely, perhaps there is some useful work he could do, still.”

Kane was taken away. Penne held onto his son, named and acknowledged as such. His Queen came to his side. Chrístõ would have gone, too, but his father reached out to hold him instead.

“I don’t do that often enough,” his father told him. “If I should ever lose you, I’d go as mad as that poor man did. So while I have you, let me…”

Two days later, the investiture ceremony went ahead. There was only one change to the proceedings. A third crown had been hurriedly made on Penne’s instructions and as well as naming Nestista as his sister and Princess Royal of Adano-Ambrado, and investing Chrístõ as the Crown Prince and heir apparent, he introduced to the people of his empire his adopted son, Corwen Kane Dúre and named him as Duke of Adano Menor. Penne smiled warmly at the three new official members of his family as he presented them to the assembled guests and to those watching on telecast across the seven planets.

“For as long as he lives,” Penne said to Chrístõ later, as the two sat outside in the darkness of the formal garden while an investiture ball went on inside the palace. “For as long as he lives, I’ll take care of him. Long enough to love him. Yes. And I will grieve for him afterwards. And maybe that’s what I deserve. I never grieved for Dalle Kane and her child. I should have done. The sorrow I will have when he dies… is my penance. But until then… I have a son, Chrístõ. There is so much I want to do with him, while I can. So much to show him. So many ways I can be a good father.”

“You do that,” Chrístõ told him. “And… if you need me…” He looked up at the night sky. He saw his home world’s constellation and many more besides. “I’ll be out there somewhere. But I’ll be here for you at a moment’s notice if you really need me, my brother.”

“My brother,” Penne echoed.