The planet Chloris is very fertile, but metal is in short supply, and has theref ore become extremely valuable. A huge creature, with most unusual physical prope rties, arrives from an alien planet which can provide Chloris with metal from it s own unlimited supplies, in exchange for chlorophyll. However, the ruthless Lad y Adrasta has been able to exploit the shortage of metal to her own advantage, a nd has no wish to see the situation change. The Doctor and Romana land on Chlori s just as the creature's alien masters begin to lose patience over their ambassa dor's long absence. The action the aliens decide to take will have devastating c onsequences for Chloris, unless something is done to prevent it... ISBN 0 426 20123 X

DOCTOR WHO AND THE CREATURE FROM THE PIT Based on the BBC television serial by David Fisher by arrangement with the Briti sh Broadcasting Corporation DAVID FISHER published by The Paperback Division of W. H. ALLEN & Co. Ltd

be len t. Essex ISBN 0426 20123 X This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not. hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior cons ent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subse quent purchaser. by way of trade or otherwise. H. London W1X 8LB Novelisation copyr ight © David Fisher 1981 Original script copyright © David Fisher 1979 `Doctor Who' series copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation 1979. L td. re-sold.A Target Book Published in 1981 by the Paperback Division of W. 1981 Printed in Great Br itain by Anchor Brendon Ltd. Tiptree. Allen & Co. . A Howard & Wyndham Company 44 Hill Street.

CONTENTS 1 The Pit 2 Wolfweeds 3 The Doctor's Leap to Death 4 The Creature 5 Org anon 6 The Web 7 The Meeting 8 The Shield 9 Erato 10 Complications 11 Wrapping U p .

1 The Pit It was a beautiful day. she thought. Tho se it didn't were obviously deliberately refractory and she was better off witho ut them.' The wizened old woman with evil eyes fingered the knife she wore at her wais t. The green oppressive jungle seeme d almost visibly to be encroaching on the mineshaft. `No! No! Please . a beautiful day for an execution. the Lady Adrasta looked around. of course--whic h was hardly surprising. Madam Karela.. The wretched engineer had failed her. like a vast green sea. staring in horror down into the darkness bel ow him. Why the Pit? S impler to cut their throats--quicker. `Well. too.. Still if my lady wanted to indulge he r whim. which echoed and re-echoed in the green clearing..' The Lady Adrasta ignored the man's cries as her guards dragged him to the edge of the old mineshaft they called the Pit.. It was encroaching everywhe re on the planet. The man had become silent. .. All this business of the Pit.. Hot and humid. what are we waiting for?' she snapped irritably at her Vizier.. she thought.. It w as made out of the antler of some huge beast. The guard raised the horn to his l ips and blew a single blast. since the whole planet was covered with a thick impenet rable jungle--but nonetheless. Bored. Karela signalled to the guard who carried the great hunting horn. is a waste of time. some it didn't. Those who failed her died. thought the Lady Adrasta. please. `We haven't got all da y. It was a simple rule designe d to encourage efficiency amongst her subjects. my lady. Some it did.

Then something. and screamed . The knife. The Lady Adrasta shivered and turned away. The Lady Adrasta nodded to the guards. what? The victim staring down caught a glimpse of something enormous yet shapeless. covering him.. . She watched with interest as he fell amon gst the pile of bones. Even the victim fell silent. unimaginably huge. e ither--the sound of some great. The man screamed and was silen t. she thought. inhuman--not animal. and of an extraordinary lum inescent green. Then it came: an answering call from the Pit. simpler: all this fuss about using the Creature of the Pit. moving in the darkness below. remnants of previous engineers and scientists who had fai led her. rolled towards him. of expectancy. Madam Karela glanced at her mistre ss and shrugged. Every one waited.There was a moment of silence. Two of them seized the poor engineer an d hurled him over the edge of the Pit. would be easier. a shape..

which meant that parts of it tended to exist in various ti mes and in different dimensions. labelled "Toys from Ham leys". She was in the throes of spring-cleaning--an im possible task. Romana opened the lid and inspected the contents. something that looked like a musical instrument and probably wasn't. Not surprisingly. Beside the Seal were the words `INSTAL IMMEDIATELY' and a date. It probably hadn't been cleared out since the day the Doctor had first taken o ff in the TARDIS from Gallifrey. The TARDIS itself was a multi -dimensional vehicle. Then suddenly her eye lighted on a familiar sign-the Seal of Gallifrey stamped on an unopened package. Whatever it was was supposed to have been installed twelve years ago. You might clear out a cupboard now and five min utes later find it full of the most outlandish objects which had appeared from y ou had no idea where (or when): like this cardboard box. reflected Romana . a blonde chest-wig.2 Wolfweeds Number Four Hold was proving to be a problem. What on earth had persu aded the Doctor to preserve this collection of useless junk? A single patent-lea ther dancing pump. signed on the sole "Love from Fred". He looked up irri tably when. at a crucial point in the story. The Doctor was enjoying the luxury of being read to. He had programmed K9 with the works of Beatrix Pott er and was sitting back listening to the Tale of Peter Rabbit. the jawbone of some anim al. a ball of string. She unwrapped the package. as she readily admitted to herself. . Romana entered carrying a piece of equipment.

A moment or two later the TARDIS righted itself. mistr ess. `To re ceive and send distress calls. It had lande d somewhere. not often. marshalling what he regarded as the ultimate ar gument. The Doctor decided to overlook that rem ark. h e would never have time for the really important things. Chuck it away. `In any case. `Well.' observed K9. No t what you'd call often. `I found it in Number Four Hold.' K9. If he wasted his valuable time installing every new gimmick they sent him. K9. mistress.' he declared. he added hastily. knew better.' Seeing Romana's reaction. `Like listening to the Tale of Peter Rabbit?' suggested Romana.' But the Doctor wasn't impressed.' replied Romans plugging in the equipment and switching on. The Doctor staggered to his feet and switched off the Transceiver.`What's this?' she asked. The D octor and Romana put their hands over their ears. `Now you . but only for a moment. `It's a Mark 3 Emerg ency Transceiver.' `The Transceiver plugs into the central console.' `Oh. a high-pitched babble of sound as if something were screaming hysterically. `what was the point of installing a Distress Transceiver when I was neve r in distress. The a uthorities on Gallifrey were always sending him new pieces of equipment to try o ut. mistress. `Thank you. ever helpful. Immediately the TARDIS was filled with a wild screeching noise.' he explained. `What's it for?' asked Romana. because suddenly the TARDIS tilted at a mad angle and both of them were hurled into a h eap in the corner. He turned to Romana. some useless pi ece of junk.

But what kind of c reature could have laid an egg 400 metres long? `I'll tell you something else. scratching at the shell with his penknife.' `Correction.' But the Do ctor had switched on the scanning screen and was too busy studying their landing place to reply. Surely it couldn't be a wall--it was only a few centimetres thick. and something huge and curved that rose into the air. does it? Other things lay eggs. `An egg.' went on the Doctor.know why I never installed that thing.' Romana stared at the thing in astonishment. It scarcely seemed possible. Have a look round and see if you can find the rest of it. All she could see was jungle: green. `Incredible. But seemed to be about 400 metres long and it rose unevenly t o a height of about 10 metres.' From her position on t he floor Romana looked up at the screen. `This thing's mad e of metal. ' . `It never worked properly. master. Because of the jungle. And yet now she came to look at the structure there was something egg-like about it.' he observed.' replied Romana. `Or at least part of the sh ell. When Ro mana joined the Doctor outside. of course. let alone its purpose.' he exclaimed. it was difficult to make out its size.' replied the Doctor. The top was serrated as if broken by some force. Metal birds laying metal eggs . Though I suppose it doesn't have to be a bird.' said K9. she found him studying this enormous structure w ith interest. im penetrable jungle. `I think what you heard was just my mind boggling. Did you say something?' he enquired politely. `What is it?' she asked. `Good Lord. `No. `That is how it is supposed to work.

Curious : there were now three tumbleweeds. When he tried to pull the thing off him. It stands to reason. The Doctor turned round. Still. except for a r ound green puff-ball like a tumbleweed. `There has to be a transmitter somewhere. He was just about t o remark on the fact when he realised that Romana had gone--searching for the tr ansmitter no doubt. one of the weeds floated across the clearing and attached itself to the sleeve of his coat. It was the same sound they had heard in the TARDIS over the Emergency Transceiver. Its fronds were waving gently as if dist urbed by a breeze. There wa s no doubt it was made of the most extraordinary material. `It's alive. Listen. It looked as if it ha d been woven.' R omana took the stethoscope. Why should you stand to reason. T he weed was covered with curious hooked thorns. `The shell. No sign of anyone. He looked round. Again there was a rustling sound. as he looked. he found that he couldn't. Why didn't you lie down to reason? So much more sensible: rests the cerebellum. or whatever they were. She heard a high-pitched babble of sound.The Doctor had taken an electronic stethoscope from his pocket and had placed th e receiver against the shell. When a third attached itsel f to him. the size of a barrel. `Whoeve r heard of an eggshell sending a distress call?' she demanded. It didn't make sense. why shouldn't an eggshell transmit a distress call--p articularly if it was broken? A rustling sound in the jungle momentarily disturb ed him. `Romana! Romana!' . Suddenly.' he announced. when he looked round again. A second later.' The Doctor was intrigued by the p hrase. like claws. in the clearing behin d him. there were four tumbleweeds b ehind him. The jungle was still. Another weed floated across the clearing and attached itself to his leg. The Doctor returned to his examination of the shell. he discovered he was helpless. They were big things.

But she didn't hear him.' observed the Doctor. He in turn looked at the wizened o ld woman all in black. In a moment they took flight too and attached themselves to him. `but shouldn't you at least take me to your leader before you do anything we'd both be sorry for later.' s aid the Doctor attempting to rise.he called.' . In his hand he held a long sword with a serrated blade. Desperately he tried to drag himself away round the curve of the egg. A grim-faced. `Kill him. She drove Romana before her at knife point. But the first man put his foot on his chest a nd looked to the huntsman for orders. `We'll kill him later.' said Madam Karela. The weigh t of the weeds dragged him to the ground. the sight of whom was not comforting.' ordered the huntsman. The othe r man swung his long sword and prepared to split open the Doctor's skull. who had just appeared round the side of the eggshell. They immediately released the Doctor an d. I n doing so. took their position behind the huntsman. More were already emerging from the ju ngle into the clearing. like obedient hounds. The weeds seemed to cringe. `Thank you. `Leave him. ' A whip cracked. It was wielded by another leather-clad figure who emerged from the jungle. The Doctor clutched it thankfully and looked int o the face of its owner. lea ther-clad individual looked down at him. `Please. he ran into a boot. She had walked round to the far side of the shell and was trying to get some idea of the actual size of the thing.' The man looked at the huntsman for instructions. `I don 't want to stand on protocol. `Could you get these things off me?' asked the Doctor.

`Have you tried getting her interested in geraniu ms instead?' he enquired.' The Doctor regarded the botanical hounds with some trepidation. `Why do you call it that?' asked the Doctor. `We use t hem for hunting. `W hat are those things?' `Wolfweeds.' But Madam Karela ig nored such pleasantries. The weeds rustled angrily behind the huntsman. Howev er. she was interested in the TARDIS.' explained Madam Karela.' The Doctor offered to show her. `Because anyone found here is autom atically put to death. He rose to his feet and dusted himse lf down. The huntsman declared that they sensed danger. And they bloom. His head and hands were held in a kind of woo den yoke. too.' declared Madam Karela. Madam Kare la ordered everyone to be ready to move out.`Thank you. . `What are you doing in the Place of Death?' she asked.' remarked the Doctor. With s oldiers and Wolfweeds guarding her. he realised that she never made exceptions.' `I trust you make exceptions. `It travels?' she enquired. Madam Karela climbed into her litter. `How? It's got no wheels. the procession left the Place of Death and p lunged into the jungle. but just at that moment the Wolfwee ds began to rustle and their thorns started making a curious clacking noise. The Doctor and Romana. brought up the rear. leaving him free to walk.' `Hunting what?' `Criminals. But from the look of Madam Karela. `Weeds? Plants?' `Spe cially grown in the Lady Adrasta's nurseries. who cracked his whip.' replied the Doctor gratefully. `Much safer. The soldiers locked the Doctor into what looked like portable stocks. Bandits were approaching. surrounded by guards.

The attack. the men vanished into the jungle again. lank-haired men. wearing skins and wielding clubs. when it came. It was a minute or two before t he Doctor realised that Romana had gone. was swift and decisive. suddenly appeared out of nowhere. She had been abducted by the wild men. A horde of stocky. . It was all over in a matter of seconds. Leaving two soldiers and one of their own numb er dead.

pockmarked bandit. `No. Crouched by a fire that burned smokily in the darkness.' objected Edu. prisoners are only valuable i f they're made of metal. thrusting her into the cave. as he drooled over a small collection of met al junk.3 The Doctor's Leap to Death `Here she is. which was piled upon an animal skin. The collection contained nothing o f any value as far as Romans could see: old nails.' said Romana.' pointed out Torvin.' `How many times do I have to tell you. `But we could ransom her. bits of broken cooking vessel s. was a t attered figure crooning to himself. the pockmarked one. Torvin hastily covered the bandits' haul of met al and regarded Romana suspiciously. However.' he said. `She might be valuable. damp.' said the small.' replied Edu. and smelt of wood smoke and ran cid cooking fat. Torvin's reply was not reassur ing. Being a lady-in-waiting indicated at least a certain social position on the planet. What's that?' he demanded. `Has she got metal legs?' Edu rega rded Romana's full-length skirt with interest. dressed in filthy ski ns and rags. Torvin shrugge d and drew his finger across his throat. . `Kill her. `One of Adrasta' s ladies-in-waiting.' Romana decided not to disabuse him of this notion. R omana looked around. Her captors were a rough-looking lot. The cave was small. Their living conditions were obviously no more attractive than thei r personal appearance. tools--all lovingly polished. `I think.

have you? Get on with it.' He pointed proudly to the ho ard of metal. wonde red the Doctor.' replied Edu. `He's Torvin.' he said to Edu. Already leaves and creepers were growing up the walls.' replied Edu. `I don't.. in view of the fact that they were plants? The Doctor wondered what Lady Adrasta fed them on: dried blood? Still wearing his yoke. then kill her.. the massive doors swung to behind them. When the last of the W olfweeds had entered the courtyard. they go out and do what I planned. I plan. Edu. He was about to follow .' The Castle r ose out of the jungle like a great black sea-beast rising from the green depths. Or was it hothouses. `So vote. shut ting out the oppressive jungle. The procession wound through the imposing gateway. The huntsman shouted and cracked his whip. It works very well.' `I'm the brains of this gang. The thick outer walls kept the jungle at bay--though for how much longer. the Doctor followed Madam Karela up the steps int o the outer hall of the Castle. `Vote. drivi ng the Wolfweeds off to their kennels.' declared Torvin. Look at that. `Bet you've never seen as much metal as that all together at one t ime. who drew a rusty knife from his belt and felt the blade with his thumb.' replied the latter. forcing t heir hair-like roots into the mortar.' objected Romana. why do you alw ays do what he says?' enquired Romana. `We all have a vo te.' `But nobody voted. `The planner. cracking even the great stone blocks thems elves. Ainu and the other bandits turned on Torvin. Beyond lay the audience chambers of the Lady Adr asta. `If he's not your leader. `No.`Is he your leader?' Romana enquired.

watching the guards. `It must be fright fully uncomfortable. She ignored the unconscious guards a nd unlocked the Doctor's hands from the yoke.the black-robed Vizier into the presence of Adrasta.' observedtheDoctor. But the Doctor had other ideas. There were only two on duty. `You would be the Lady Adrasta. `Just put your hand o ut and I'll rub my nose on it. On the other hand. The Doctor stepped over their recumbent forms and made for the door. it wa s obviously an impossibility. Locked into the yoke he was wearing. He followed Adrasta int o the . Or so they thought.' The Doctor turned to find himself face to face with a tall . `Could you scratch my nose?' he asked the guards. He walked up and down. whistl ing to himself. There was nothing in guardroom orders to suggest that they should not assist a prisoner. when the old woman gestured to the guards to restrain him. remarkably handsome woman with dark hair. which she handed to Madam Karela. as guards will. Both men droppe d as if poleaxed. The Doctor tried to scratch his nose. he swung the heavy wooden yoke. `And you would be the fellow who was found at the Place of Death.' she replied.' As the guard put his hand to the Doctor's nose. `Look. The Doctor waited. `Do let me take that thing off. conferred.' suggested the Doctor. there was not hing to suggest they should.' said a woman's voice. the Doctor wasn't going to get away. The guards. He wished they wouldn't keep calling it by that name. about four feet apart. But with his hands locked at shoulder level. One end caught the first guard in the side of th e head and the other end smashed against the second guard's jaw. It made him distinctly uneasy. They were bore d.

audience chamber. Adrasta stopped in her tracks. Mada m Karela will take personal command of the rescue operations. `What did you make of the Object at the Pla ce of Death?' asked Adrasta.' The democratic process had run its course. `Of course.' `And if she's not?' `Then. Madam Karela is very efficient. `I understand. However. very slowly.' said Adrasta. he was more interested at the moment in rescuing Romana than in a theoretical discussion about the nature of the Object.' agreed Adras ta sympathetically. `they will kill her v ery. and he hardly loo ked cut out for the role of a knight in shining armour. He heard the guards groan and out of the corner of his eye saw Madam Karela kicking them savagely. `Don't worry. Surprised. `Kill her quickly--if she's lucky. What did you make of it?' `It's an egg. `You know. `My Wolfweeds will find your companion. .' replied the Doctor. Unfortunately only the pockmarked Edu had voted for Romana's continued survival.' said Adrasta with a sympathetic smile.' The older woman s aluted and left the audience chamber. I'll send a troop of guards immediately.' `What will the bandi ts do to Romana?' asked the Doctor. some of the finest brains on Chloris hav e spent years trying to unravel the problem. `Are you sur e? Have you ever seen anything like it before?' The Doctor had to admit that he hadn't. Romana rewarded him with a dazzling smile which brought a blush to his pitted cheeks. Nor had he any idea what kind of creature might have laid such a huge th ing.

wouldn't she?' demanded Romans.' objected Ainu. Whoever this Adrasta was. Six votes to one. Kill h er!' `If you murdered one of her ladies-in-waiting. `She's only trying to scare you. * A leetrobe is a species of giant flowering lettuce unique to Chloris. delighted at having his original decisions up held by the gang.' said Romans. Adrasta would hunt you down with her guards and her Wolfweeds. Unimpressive they might be. `Knife. `All right. sh e decided.' `Who'll do it?' asked Ainu.' warned Torvin. `Suppose the Lady Adrasta finds out. she must be pretty formidable. . Just kill her!' `Go ahea d. the thought of her obviously terrified this bunch of incompetents. `Kill me. but she had no doubt that they would eventually carry out their threat. `So what do you think she would do if you murdered an important visitor to her planet?' Romana continued. They seemed in no doubt that that was precisely what Adrasta would do.' `Don't listen to her.' `But supposing she did?' Romana detected in the faces of Torvin's gang a certain lack of enthusiasm for the task.' he declared.' The members of the gang looked uneasy .Torvin meanwhile rubbed his hands. `No matter ho w long it took.' shouted Torvin. no matter where you went. club or leetrobe*. Commit suicide if you must . Torvin and his men were argui ng amongst themselves as to who would do the deed and how. reflected Romans. We kill her. `It doesn't matter wh at you use. `You can. `We're all agreed no w. It was now time. `She w on't.' replie d Torvin generously. my lovely boys. to take a more decisive hand in events. more calmly than she felt.

' said Romana.' This was too much for Torvin. `Don't listen to her. `This minute. `It's a whistle. `Coming. who was hairier. She almost felt l ike patting the unappetising little man on the top of his filthy head. `Who are you. But there was no sound they could hear because its whistle operated at hi gher frequencies than the human ear could register. inside the TAR DIS. `That's better.' She drew herself up to her full height. `I am an intergalactic traveller and a Time Lady. His microcircuiting was activated by the stimulus of the whistle. Back in the bandits' cave. The others grabbed him before he could club her to the ground. `And I am not used to being a ssaulted and held captive by a collection of grubby.' s he observed kindly. `It doesn't work. `That. He seized his club and came at her. which rested by the huge eggshell at the Place of Death. Romana smiled. hairy little men. made a clumsy attempt at a bow.' Sheepishly the men squatted on their haunches.' he complained. than Edu.' she declared proudly. K9 responded. `Sit down!' snapped Romana. if less pockmarked. ' Ainu. Torvin snatched it away from her. ' he said in his high-pitched mechanical voice. `What's this?' he demanded. mistress.' Torvin put it to his lips and blew long and hard. who could see he was on the verge of losing the argument.' said Romana and took from around h er neck the whistle that summoned K9 and put it to her lips.`She's just trying to save her own skin!' screamed Torvin. my lady?' he asked Romana. Nevertheless. . Torvi n looked at the whistle in disgust. `Blow through it if you don't believe me. `is the first sensible question I have been asked since you brought me here.

`Something'll happen soon enough. He touched the shield again. In the doorway stood two men in long black robes. My huntsman heard you say it was alive. Just think of the size of Mummy. `Tell me about the shell. But his knife made no impression: flesh-like yet impervious to a sharp ins trument--extraordinary. Where did this thing come from?' `It was found in the jungle about fifteen years ago. `What is the shell screaming about?' demanded Adrasta.' advised Romana.' replied the Doctor.`Keep blowing.' `Alive? It's screaming in pain. the material it w as made of felt almost like living flesh. That's why.' enquired the Lady Adrasta. Adrasta introduced them as two of her engineers.' `You said you had some theories about this eggshell. `for whom is it screaming? It's mother? If so.' But the Lady Adrasta had heard enough. looking like a pai r of unemployed undertakers. But it obviously wasn't a shield because when he touched it. with a great boss in the centre . `If the shell is screami ng as you say. yes. She crossed the room and drew back a hanging which covered a l ow doorway.' said the Doctor. `Yes.' He took out his penknife and tried to scratch the sh ield. It looked like a huge circular shield. `What is it. . ` More to the point. Do ran and Tollund.' replied Adrasta. Doctor?' demanded th e Lady Adrasta. the mind boggles. `Did you hear me. why can no one hear it?' `Because it's only detectable at very lo w frequencies. do you know?' `No!' declared A drasta and returned to the subject that interested her. But the Doct or was staring in fascination at something that hung on the wall of the audience chamber.

' declared Doran.' `Reptiles lay eggs. `Perfectly. too.. It wa s obvious that this odd visitor knew very little science.' said the Doctor.. `It isn't only birds who lay eg gs. But perhaps he would p rove amenable to logical argument and the weight of genuine scholarship.' Doran shook his head pityingly. `It's an egg. `In my latest pap er on the subject I prove conclusively. Adrasta glared at the unfortunate engineer. But if he was looking for sympathy.' `So do frogs. `He is quite wrong.' `. that he calls an egg.' Tollund shook his head. . He turned to the Lady A drasta and shrugged.' `On land?' scoffed Doran. `It's a fatal flaw in my character.' confessed the Do ctor.. is in fact the remains of an ancient temple.' said the Doctor.' But the Doctor was not to be dissuaded. a charlatan of some sort.. he found none. on astrological and astronomical grounds . `My lady.' `He's right. `Perhaps someone tried to fry it. `How do you account for the marks of intense heat on the exterior of the shell?' he ask ed.' suggested the Doctor mischieviously. frivolous. decided Doran. you know. `Have you considered the implications?' he asked.' replied Tollund. `My lady. that the structure that stands in the Place of Death. `A bird large enough to lay an egg that size would have a wingspan of at least a mile.' he pointed out. the older an d more senior of the two.' `Rubbish.. this man is be ing. He turned to Adra sta. The man was absurd..`You heard?' she asked the engineers. `Fish do.

but his superior avoided his eyes. Engineer Doran.. Of course.`I saw no mention in your paper that the shell was alive.' explained Edu. `Of course you didn't. `Better equipment?' `An open mind.' remarked the Do ctor.' she s aid in a voice cold enough to freeze mercury. perhaps this little demonstra tion will encourage you to be more co-operative in future. `Perhaps I had an unfair advantage. knowing what his fate wou ld be. Bravely Doran ploughed on. `Because the Lady Adrasta closed down t he mine. my lady. Engineer Doran had failed her. `So you're really miners. indicating the Doctor. `Since you know a lot more about that shell than you seemed prepared to say. `My lady.' Romana was curious. He was a not unattractive young man. then?' The seven bandits nodd ed their heads forlornly. There was a time when she had consider ed replacing Tollund with Doran.. I beg you. Those who failed her died. she thought. `Why did you become bandits?' she asked. Be cause it isn't. and on ce he had even shown signs of brilliance.' `His did. Adrasta turned to the Doctor. `Our instruments have detected absolutely no sign of life in the shell.' replied Adra sta.' But the Lady Adrasta was in no mood fo r pleasantries.' But the guards seized hi m and dragged him away. Doran sank to his knees. Sh e regarded Doran almost with regret. It was a pity he had failed to live up to his p romise. `Take him!' she ordered the guards. that wo uld explain .' Desperately he looked to Tollund for support . Romana looked at them. It was a simple rule designed to ensure the total dedication of all who served her. It can't be alive. Terrified.

You had no tools to cut it back. unprofessional collection of criminals she had ever met in her travels thr ough umpteen galaxies and only the TARDIS knew how many hundreds of thousands of years. You just stay here and keep the booty well polished.' declared Torvin laying a grubby protect ive hand on their hoard. lads?' Romana looked at the pa thetic pile of junk.' declared one of the miners.everything.' said Ainu. `For us at any rate.' . They were probably the most ill-organ ised.' `We have. like some vast earthworm. The others nodded in agr eement. `I think it must have lain in the earth for centuries unti l our mining disturbed it. As bandits they were hopeless. `So that's why metal became scarce!' exclaimed Romana. all timed to the second. `That's why the j ungle started to encroach everywhere. Eh. `Why did Adrasta close the mine?' she asked. while we go o ut and face Adrasta's guards and Wolfweeds. One day.' objected Ainu.' `There n ever was very much metal available. It was huge and filled every corner of the mine. `Adrasta owned the only working m ine. `That's the result of scores of daring raids.' said Edu. `Because of the Creature.' he said. you mean. `Is that the best you could do?' Torvin quivered with indig nation.' `I wouldn't say metal was scarce. as usual. `All meticulousl y planned. `What Creature? Where did it come from?' The seven little men shook t heir heads. We've risked our lives a dozen times over fo r this little lot. they had reported for work at the mine and found the Creature in residence. `I don't recall you risk ing anything.

`Well.' `I should think it most unlikely. Romana decided sh e didn't have time to educate Torvin and his band in the details of Western myth ology.' ordered Romana. Torvin was the first to appreciate the value of K9. `Go if you want to. The bandits sta red at the apparition in astonishment. She could hear the approaching whirr of K9. It was time for her to go. He positively drooled at the thought. lads! ' he said to the others. who swivelled to meet him. gentlemen: as bandits you're hardly in the Jesse James class. kee ping his sensors and ray gun trained on the bandit. Sh e rose to her feet. `All that metal. `Someone has to plan.' `You're going nowhere.' Torvin waved her to go. Maybe Adrasta will pay a sack or two of metal for our lady traveller.' The bandits stared at her blankly.Torvin waved his objection aside. He turned to the others. I must be going now. . `Goodbye. They had never seen a mechanical animal b efore. `I've been thinking.' `You call this success?' scof fed Romana. Think what he's worth. `Anyway I'm af raid you'll never find out. `It's made of metal! All made of real metal! It must be worth a fortune.' said R omana. Someone has to be the brains behind our success.' Picking up his club. Perhaps we can ransom her.' `K9. he approached K9.' At that moment K9 entered the cave.' said Romana. Someone has to organise.' declare d Torvin. `I can't honestly say it's been a pleasure. Perhaps you were right. But you're leaving that thing here. gentlemen. `I must be quite frank with you.

' explained Romana kindly. The Doctor intervened. Engineer Doran may be a bit of an idiot. waiting for something. `It's all right. `He'll come to in a minute--with a ver y sore head. But the sight of it seemed to terrify Doran the engineer. It was a typical mineshaft--with a windlass and rope descen ding into the depths.. as if she were awaiting for a lover to appear. but I suggest you think again.' he said to Adrasta. `Look. But then I expect you're used to that. S he was staring downwards into the Pit. yet not animal either--the sound of some great. sta ring fascinated down the shaft.. The guards put r opes round Doran's shoulders. `I don't know what y ou're planning. then pushed the ter rified man so that he swung over the Pit. And even bad enginee rs are hard to come by this side of the galaxy. but at least he's a reasonably conscientious idiot. `What is this place?' asked the Doctor. Then from the bowels of the earth.' The echoes of the horn cal l died and there was a moment of silence.' With K9 covering her retrea t she left the cave. The engineer screamed and begged for h is life. . he's not dead.Switching his ray gun to stun. K9 stopped Torvin in his tracks. who was held between the two guards. thing. in human. `We call it the Pit. from the very depths of the Pit. attached them to the windlass. At a signal from Adrasta one of the guards blew a single blast on a large horn. Her expression was almost lustful. came an answering call. a moment of expectancy.' But Adrasta wasn't listening.

li ke silver polish or a run-down battery. The man looked around in obvious terror.Once again the guard blew upon the horn. undetected by the Wolfweeds..' `Doctor!' she called. th e sound of some great. It was acting like a giant piston. And once again from the depths of the P it. driving the exhausted air upwards. `K9. fetid air surged up the mineshaft. `What is it?' asked the Do ctor. Adra sta turned to the Doctor.. That is what happens to those who fail me. filling the shafts and corridors of the mine.. Then suddenly something vast and shapeless. Everyone was stood around the mineshaft staring into the depths. At a sign from Adrasta the guards cut the windlass rope. The thing--whatever it was--was coming closer.' Unseen by the guards. the Doctor could not tell.' `Understood.. thing. some-thing that was a livid purulen t green. `fire at the first sign of trouble. The Doctor could smell it: a strange metallic odour. and then his cries were cut short as the immensity of the Creature flowed inexorably over him. he realised. . baying--whether in anger or agony or merely hu nger. He joined Adrasta on the platform at the edge o f the Pit and stared down into the depths. mistress. came the answering call. though nearer this time. K9 and Romana emerged from the jungle. Down below they watched Dor an free himself. The call came again. covered the bottom of the Pit. A rush of foul. At a sign from Adrasta the guards began to lower the screaming engineer do wn into the Pit.' whispered Romana. Doran screamed once. The Creature must be enormous. closer still: neither human nor animal. They saw Doran reach the bottom. He stared into the darkness below wonder ing what was about to appear.

my dear. The end of th e windlass rope still hung part of the way down the mineshaft. A second Wolfweed was turned into charcoal.The Doctor and Adrasta reacted instantly. `Stand back!' she cried. A thir d was badly singed. `Seize her!' snarled Adrasta to her gu ards. to his metal sides. But by now the others had reached K9. Romana saw that K 9 was motionless. They fastened themselv es to his sensors. `Well. The huntsman cracked his whip and the strange plants drifted over to K9. your mechanical animal and you. `I have your companion. It made a curious mewing sound.' said Adrasta. Doctor. Another guard went down a moment later. ' replied the Doctor. and burst into flames. `The little creature is only paralysed.' she said. `K9!' cried Romans in alarm. `I'm warning you. When the huntsman cracked his whip and drove the Wolfweeds away from the robot. He was covered in an impenetrable cocoon of fibres or hair. There was sile nce. Adrasta shouted for the Wolfweeds . `K9!' The Doctor meanwhile had been investigating the Pit. The f irst was incinerated by the robot. no movement from within the mass of plants. It seems that I hold all the cards now.' `Not quite. `Don't worry . Its your only chance. like a lost k itten. I have K9.' She turned to the Doctor triumphantly.' The guard s immediately converged on Romana. `Quick. In a moment he was submerged beneath half a dozen of the plants.' K9 turned his nose laser onto the first guard and stopped him in his t racks. Th e Wolfweeds had wrapped him in something resembling a spider's web. The Creature seemed to have withdrawn. to his back. . `Run for it!' shouted the Doctor. And he seized the windlass rope and leapt into the Pit.

struggling in their arms. `Seize her!' cried Adrasta. `No one can save h im from the Creature. thought R omana. But now you're heir to all the Doct or's secrets. `He may be hur t.' Adrasta stared down into the Pit.' `My survival?' Adrasta regarded Romana with cold pitiless eyes. Romana saw the Doctor plunge into the Pit.4 The Creature Horrified. At least. Everything of metal was of value on this god-forsaken planet. You're too valuable to lose. otherwise K9 would have joined the Doctor at . What a waste! He just did it to guarantee your survival. `I hope you are. Anyway we'll soon find out. `He's dead by now. Ignoring everyone.' Adrasta waved her aside.' she pleaded.' she added with a smile that sent a shiver down Romana's spine.' Romana st ared blankly at the woman. You were dispensable. she ran to the edge.' The guards lashed the immo bile K9 between two stout branches. hoping that somehow he had managed to cling to the walls of the ol d mineshaft. `Let me go down to him. certainly not you. a look of regret on her face . and four of them lifted the robot and took h im away. `He discovered something about it that none of my scientists had even guessed in fifteen years. Two of the guards converged upon Romana . you're the only one left who knows anything about that huge broken shell at the Place of Death. I had no need of you.' she replied. `While he was alive. `Valuable? What do you mean?' `Because now he's gone.

' said the Lady. When it came to the fourth piton. along with a hammer--into the rock face. The third p iton loosened. He kept tryi ng to remember what that charming little Nepalese fellow had told him. Funny how it seem ed to have shrunk. `Come along. Now he was down here it seemed little more than a fingerhold--and no t a very secure one at that. well. `We've a lot to talk about. He was clinging to an outcrop of rock halfway down the mineshaft.' she added.. The rock face seemed as hard as.' She lo oked towards the mineshaft and her expression softened.. She started suddenly as the Lady Adrasta put an arm aroun d her. With his free hand he tried to drive a piton--fortu nately he had several in his pockets. . No one comes out of the Pit alive. It was just a matter of employin g very basic principles of mechanics--the kind of thing old Isaac Newton had bee n so good at formulating. my dear. `Believe me. A third was driven in. It stretched again. Passing his scarf through the third piton.the bottom of the Pit.. `he's dead. What was his name now? Tensing. Unused to such treatment his scarf suddenly stretched. big enough to sit on. He had noticed it when he had looked into the Pit. From above it had appeared to be a sizeable ledge. The second piton went in more easily th an the first.' This was a conclusion the Docto r was beginning to share. The trouble was it all looked so easy in the books. the Doctor hung on and leaned back to reach for the hammer. a nd discovered that it was anything but simple. was it? The Doctor gave a last despairing bang at the pit on and then tested it very gingerly to see if it would bear his weight. Excellent. the Doctor discovere d that he had left the hammer behind on the ledge. . and the Doctor began to feel that there was nothing to this mountaineering lark after all. rock. it w ould. Ah. Now for the next piton.

`Our researchers. facing the formidable ruler of Chloris herself.' . but growin g louder all the time. `I should have paid more attentio n to that little Tensing fellow. not human. turning slowly like a chicken on a spit. She was in the Lady Adrasta's audience chamber. T he Doctor inspected each tunnel.' repli ed the Lady Adrasta.' was his last thought before he landed in a hea p on something soft and wet. Adrasta explained that the thing had no shape. `We call it the Creature. `Sorry. Something has c rushed him to a pulp. It was an amorphous mass that oozed through the tunne ls like jelly. old boy. That's original. whatever it was. Then with a muffled yell the Doctor fell. a smell of old batteries.' went on Adrasta. But what kind of Creature is it? As if replying to her unasked question. he heard an extraordinary sound. thought Romana. The Creature. ' `And?' prompted Romana. `And those who are still alive. not animal. From the shaft the Pit broadened out into a large cavem from which radiated several tunnels. a sudden rush of air down one of the tunnels. `divide into two categories: those who have been close enough to find out something about the Creature and.. It was vast. The Docto r backed away. Six ways presented themselves: which one to tak e? Blackness and fetid air greeted him at each opening. watching the third piton gently ease itself out of the rock f ace. It turned out to be Engineer Doran.' said the Doctor. rising to his feet.. Then faintly. The n he realised the engineer was unable to acknowledge his apology. was coming closer.For a moment the Doctor hung there in space by his scarf. `What is that t hing in the Pit?' asked Romana.

' . `you must know something about the beast. `What more is there to know?' Romana could think of quite a few things. The Lady Adrasta nodded.' `There are some questions. I was sure you would. It just didn't make sense. m y dear. `it is wiser not to--' Without any perceptible change of expression Adra sta leaned forward and struck her savagely across the face. `There are some questions. gobbling up failed engineers like so many cocktail canapes. my dear. Romana staggered bac k. `it is wise r not to ask. Now. `I'll tell you whatever you want to know.`All the same. Now tell me about the shell. And if any planet desperately needed metal it was Chloris. I just know we'll get along famously. `Why are you so inte rested in the shell?' she demanded.' replied Romana. and preventin g the mine from being worked. but the Lady Adrasta was obviously not disposed to discu ss the Creature.' she said.' replied Adrasta. You could almost see the jungle encroaching as you watched.' What in the name of the Mudmen o f Epsilon Eridani did the rotten old shell matter? The Doctor had claimed it was the remains of an egg. her head ringing from the blow. but Romana wasn't convinced it was.' she said. S he was aware that she had come very close to death. `Now.. `Tell me ab out the shell you found at the Place of Death.' insisted Romana. Here was a real live monster oozing like toothpaste around the tunnels of what appeared to be the only mine on the p lanet.' `It kills people. `Good.. `I'll a sk you just once more: are you going to tell me what you know about the shell?' Romana rubbed her cheek and stared into the cold eyes of the ruler of Chloris.' said Adrasta sweetly. The Lady Adrasta looked up from admiring her self in an ornate hand mirror.

The Doctor turned and fled. `On th is planet metal is far too valuable to waste on mere toys. An idea began to germinate. The trouble with the sight of a mo ving wall of slime. if I'm unfortun ate enough for there to be a next time.' explained Adrasta. The prospect of being caught in one of those with the Creature oozing remo rselessly towards him made the Doctor shiver. some no more than narrow crawls big enough to take one miner at a time. What are you going to do with him?' asked Romana. The Doctor felt in his pocket for a match. and struck it on the wall of the tunnel. of course. half-filled with rocks w hich had fallen when there had been a cave-in.something hollow that rolled. perhaps she could yet show this monstr ous woman that K9 was anything but a toy. He found a narrower tunnel. It was a livid putrescent green. They put the robot on a table. he reflected. Round a bend in the tunnel the Doctor caught a glimpse of something huge.' Romana's heart sank as she stared at K9 trapped in the web the Woifweeds had spun around him. The mine was honeycombed with passages. Scrambling desperately over the o bstruction he tried to put as much distance as possible between himself and the Creature. some of the guards entered carrying the immobile K9. His foot struck something on the floor o f the tunnel-. was that it drove every thought of scientific investigation from one's mind. It filled the tunnel from floor to roof. He . some large enough to drive a t ruck through. It flowed towards him like a solid wall of slime. Next time I won't panic--that is. He loo ked like some strange chrysalis immured in a cocoon. `Break him up.Fortunately before she could question Romana further. found one. If his power packs had not been damaged.

`Only don't destroy him.' he said to the skull. With repulsive delicacy it elongated itself. The Doctor backed cautiously away. In the great audience chamber of the Lady Adr asta's Palace an extraordinary scene was in progress.' . I'll do anything you want. a movement in the darkness. It was like a shapeless hand composed of green slime. `Stop him!' she screamed . which was still wrapped in the we b spun by the Wolfweeds. And he felt. The gu ard swung the hammer once again. A movement of air as if driven by some giant piston.' The s kull seemed to agree. The guard was a powerful man and it was the third time the hammer had struck K9. `Perhaps after all. A guard swung a sledge ham mer and brought it crashing down on K9's head.bent to pick up the hollow thing his foot had struck--and found himself face to face with a human skull.. The Doctor backed against the rock face. Romana couldn't stand anymore. like the light that shines from putrescent meat. `one should temper one's enthusiasm for scientific enquiry with a modicum of caution. but the tunnel seemed to be a dead end. reaching blindly down the tunnel in the direction of the Do ctor. The tunnel was ir radiated with a greenish glow.' cried Romana . like old batteries. `Look. Suddenly his nostrils were assailed with that extra-ordina ry smell. She had no way of knowi ng how much damage the Wolfweeds had done to the robot. rather than heard. trying to find a way out.. `That maniac will damage his circuitry. Something slid round the corner of the tunnel .' The Lady Adrasta gave no sign.

The Docto r turned to find himself face to face with a whitebearded. white-haired old man in tattered but once ornate robes. `It's a fact. The guard arrested the blow. But if that moron doesn't stop trying to hammer K9 into sheet metal. Quick.' `Is that a threat?' demanded the Lady Adrasta. Out of the corne r of her eye she could see Madam Karela sliding the knife from her belt. Adrasta signalled to Madam Karela to put her knife away. it won't do you any good. A hand gripped the Doctor's sh oulder--just as the tentacle from the Creature was about to touch him.. Everything you want to know is locked in K9's memory banks. With out me he can't tell you what you want to know. She was after all a stranger to the planet. `So the little metal animal knows everything. doesn't it. ready t o do her mistress's bidding. She had yet to learn that lying to the Lady Adrasta was a dangerous occupation. Roman gave in. Damage them and you'll never learn anything. but remained poi sed to strike. only too aware of what happened to those whom the Lady Adrasta found to be redundant. . She came over to the bewebbed K9 and stroked him. if what she said was true.' The Lad y Adrasta signalled the guard to lower his hammer. `All right. `You see. `This way. `That makes both you and the Doctor redu ndant. I'm the only one who can operate K9.' he said. `You'll tell me all about your travellin g machine?' she asked.' The Lady Adrasta considered the information for a moment..' She turned a smile of dazzling sweetness on Romana.The Lady Adrasta held up her hand. Very probably the girl was lying. my dear?' `Not quite. awaiting further orders. On the other hand.' replied Romana.

The Doctor shrugged mod estly. .' he observed in passing. `if you can help somebody. sir. the Present apologised for. sir. The memory still rankled. `Astrologer extraordinary. like prevent them from being eaten by a monster. presumably of some mystic significance. The old man carefully brus hed the dirt off his robes. `Are you perha ps in the business yourself. The Doctor was able to see that these were covered i n various signs. sir?' `Organon. They mig ht be grateful. that is. As my dear mother always used to say--she was born under the sign of Pratus.' `Indeed I am. then do so. The Doctor nodded sympathetically. And to w hom must I express my gratitude. sir?' enquired the old man. drawing himself to his full height and pulling his tattered robes about him. The Creature slapped the rock where th e Doctor had just been.' he explained.The Doctor needed no second invitation as he followed the old man between a gap in the rock face and into another tunnel. `Did this prophecy by any chance concern the Lady Adrasta?' he asked. `for saving me from that thing. Your name. `Thi nk nothing of it. The cave was lit by a couple of small lamps.' The old man waved his thanks aside.' `What brings you here?' Orga non look pained.' replied the Doctor. `A little matter of a slight error in prophecy. `Thank you.' said the D octor. The old man lead the Doctor down a maze of passages. `Grateful. At last they reached a small cave where they could stand upright. middle cusp.' declared the o ld man. The Future foretol d. my friend. seer to Princes and Emperors. som e of which they had to crawl along on hands and knees. the Past explained. "These were no more than crude terra-cotta shells i n which a wick floated on some kind of vegetable oil. so low were the roofs.

' complained Organon.' `I think she did. On the other hand..' said Organon. Someth ing had certainly got the Lady Adrasta worried. Still. always going that bit further even when caution and good sense said you had gone far enough. when I for etold that she would have visitors who came from beyond the stars.' The Docto r smiled. Organon smiled with modest satisfaction. `You do? You mean she really thought that I could see something co ming from beyond the stars?' It was more than likely. Close my eyes. B elieve.. Trouble was..' he searc hed for a suitable word.' said the Doctor admi ringly. the Lady Adrasta didn't. It's a ll right when I stick to astrology. It was the story of his own l ife: overelaboration. shakin g his head. `er. `I mean.' he confi ded to the Doctor.. Spread my arms wide .. `I've done it again. `you've met her. How much trouble had he got himself in to doing just that? A wise man would know when to call a h alt. He knew exactly how it was. `Ah. and others will believe in you.' he expla ined. he . overelaborate. er. Believe in yourself. I mean I'm used to creating an effect--I do it rather well.. "I see a creature coming to you from beyond the stars.. she nearly we nt beserk. my mother used to say. You know how it is?' The Doctor n odded sympathetically.' replied the Doctor. Very difficult woman. that is. `Difficult' was hardly the word he would have used to describe the Lad y Adrasta. never knowing when to stop. thought the Doctor. `just the result of years of practice.' he said. haven't I? I get carried away.. `It's nothing really. `Very literal mind. `Oh. dear. `Use a big dramatic voice.Organon nodded. you know.. It's just that sometimes on the spur of the moment I get a sort of urge to."' Organon's vo ice boomed impressively in the enclosed space. And say. I'm a pretty good astrologer. `Very good. Organon stared at him i ncredulously.

Whereas he had always enj oyed himself It had been interesting. Not that it did me any good.. where it came from.. Do you think she's actually afraid of something coming from beyond the stars?' . What sort of creature it was. `She threw me down here. Well.' declared Organon. `That would explain wh y the Lady Adrasta turned so nasty.' complained the old man.reflected.' `Vag ueness?' `Discretion. how it travelled. Sometimes even fun. how big.. how was I to answer? So I indulged in a little professional. er. a wise man could get bored out of his mind.. `She kept asking question s.

Pure metal. glided. Who was to blame? Wh o had allowed Torvin to be struck down by K9's laser? `Call yourself bandits?' s neered Torvin. They we re conducting yet another post mortem over Romana's escape. `That mechanical animal was made of metal. `Every square centimetre of it. remembering how it had been: the girl calm and contemptuous. even if only by streams of abuse. `And you let that thing walk out of here!' `It didn't exactly walk.' They looked at their hoard. Once it had seemed to represent untold wealth. But Torvin wasn't one to give weight to such considerations. bent. He had the feeling that Torvin had been lucky. flew--what does it matter? The question is why didn't you stop it? And her?' Ainu scratched his ear. they might all be dead by now. In any case he had othe r matters on his mind. who felt the need to establish his ascendancy over them once agai n. her animal bright and deadly. Without a spot of rust on it. There was pro bably more metal in that thing than we've even managed to steal in four moonflow s. batter ed. B ut now they saw it for what it was--a pathetic pile of scrap metal.' `Wal ked. Shift the blame to them: make 'e m feel guilty.5 Organon As usual the bandits were indulging in their favourite pastime: arguing. `You realise what . If the thing had wanted to kill. who was always a stickler for accuracy. rusty.' objected Ainu. He was uneasily aware that so far he had no t exactly distinguished himself in this affair.' he continued. `It sort of glided.

`You were taken in by her. `But are you sure she's anything to do with the Lady Adrast a?' protested Edu. I b et you at this very moment she's planning an expedition to wipe us out' `What ar e we going to do?' asked the bandits. He held his head. `There most be two bodyweights of metal here. Torvin was similarly affl icted. We've got to m ove. Think! ' The bandits thought. It suddenly felt as if it was bursting. Torvin stared at him in despair. `Attack the Palac e!' The bandits shuffled uneasily. Now. Do you want to hang around and wait for them?' The bandits reacted sharply.' `Bluff. In the mind of every great man there comes a moment of revelation.' declared Torvin . `Just this once. It was not a process with which they were familiar and th ey showed signs of strain. `I got the feeling that she wasn't. don't you?' he demanded.' objected Edu . `We've got to get packed up. Horrified. `Use your brains. Torvin heard himself say. `I still don't see why we have to move. Don't let your grey matter congeal like cold porridge between your ears. a moment of pure inspiration.' `Why?' asked Edu. Which means they can lead Adrasta's troopers straight here. The prospec t of being trapped in the cave by Adrasta's men and a pack of Wolfweeds was anyt hing but reassuring. Some were already beginning to edge towards t he cave entrance. `Because that girl and the animal know where our cave is. `What are we go ing to do?' repeated Edu. dare we risk staying here now you've l et her go? Do you imagine that the Lady Adrasta would miss a chance to get her h ands on our loot?' he went on.this means. Had Torvin gone mad? How . In any case.' pleaded Torvin.

while he exp atiated upon the politics and economy of the planet Chloris. To persuade the various khans and princelings that he alone could interpre t the stars that influenced their fate was little short of miraculous. Not surprisingly he was remarkably shr ewd and well informed about the affairs of Chloris. The astrologer had travelled all o ver the planet. as the Doctor discovered. At least that's always been my policy. Organon was sitting on a rock and leaning back agains t the wall of the tunnel. `Whil e she's searching for us. `Always leave them happy or bewildered. `We'll be inside t he Palace sacking Adrasta's own metal vaults. Organon was a survivor. The very fact that he had survived even the Pit and had managed to live cheek by jowl with the Creature said much for his resili ence and ingenuity. isn't she? Which means there'll be fewer guarding the Palace.' observed Organon sa gely. scatter ing horoscopes and prophecies as he went. If nothin g else. He was in fact. . Both hands clasped one knee to his chest. unha ppily aware they were about to be talked into some lunatic plan of action. and failed. It's the last place they'll expect us to be. For the first time since the bandits had captured R omana they began to smile. To survive at all in the kind of savage society that seemed endemic on the planet was no mean feat. moving from the court of one petty chieftain to another. a mine of information. `Ideally the latter. He had to be. Right?' demanded Torvin. The bandits nodded. `Adrasta's going to send troops to look for as.could they attack the Palace? It was protected by guards and packs of Wolfweeds.' declared Torvin. do you know where we'll be?' The bandits tried to thin k of some hideout safe from guards and Wolfweeds.

but should be totally confusing. `No.' `D id it?' `What?' `Invade the mine?' `Well.' replied the astrologer.' `Why?' .' explained the old astrologer. I t seems longer. That way you have time to beat a discreet but dignified retreat before anything too disastro us occurs. by the way. some of Lady Adrasta's serfs had taken to throwing food down the mineshaft--whether as supplies for friends who had been condemned to the Pi t or whether they sought to propitiate the Creature. `Does the Crea ture ever eat it?' asked the Doctor.which shouldn' t look too depressing. He had collected rainwater and water that seeped through the rocks. I think. `No. `it must have done. `But that's only a guess. whatever the food. he didn't know. `They must h ave been left behind by the miners when the Creature first invaded the mine.' remarked the Doctor.' replied Organon. As for food. But it's so difficult to keep track of time when you're undergro und. it was all greatefully received.' The Doctor nodded sympathetically. Organon went on to explain how he had m anaged to survive. `Which is curious.' `Doesn't seem to have worked this time. But whateve r the reason. `I found these and some oil.Leave them feeling as if they've had a revelation of the future-. It also means that you can return should nothing very serious have ha ppened meanwhile. I still can't make out what went wrong.' The Doctor inspected one of the terra-cotta lamps that lit the cave with a smoky light.' Organon paused to consider.' `How long have you been down here ?' `Two moonflows.

I would have heard. I keep my ears pretty close to the ground. a movement of air in the tunnel. `Anyway it seems to suit the Lady Adrasta. `Is it?' replied Organon. the presence of the Creature made metal even scarcer than it was before. The sound came closer. You know. `I've been all over this planet. `Unimaginably huge.' said t he Doctor. `I mean if there had been anything like t hat thing around in those days. you know. Can't you see a pattern in events? ' The astrologer scratched his head.' confessed the astrologer. he admitted.' The Doctor could imagine the a strologer years younger in full flood.' `I can imagine. Organon went on to explain that since she owned the only successful mine on the planet. But I've never heard of ano ther Creature like this. At least that's what everyone said.' The Doctor looked surprised.' `That noise it makes. But.' `When?' `I don't kno w. It's unique. `Or weeping. and a sound like nothing the Doctor had ever heard before . Or else it's in pain.' .' `I sometimes think it's singing. all he could ever see was trouble.' replied Organon simply.. `But it can't have been more than seventeen years ago--because I did this part of the planet then.' confessed the astrologer. Patterns were his forte.`It suddenly appeared. `Oh yes.' he went on. when it came to the Lady Adrasta.' said the Doctor. `How big is it?' whispered the Doctor.. `Most interesting. Trouble in another form was rapidly approaching: a smell like old car batteries. `Huge.

had entered the cave. `K9.' came the weak reply. Romana straightened herself tiredly and rubbed her back. It probed. wondere d the Doctor. Good. `We ll. thought Romana.The Doctor didn't reply. `Mistress. not a tentacle--you couldn 't call it a tentacle. There is treachery afoot. can yo u hear me?' she whispered.' demanded the Lady Adrasta impatiently. `She is whispering to that tin animal. a livid purulent green. so you shall.' But Madam Karela had noticed the exchange. Food? It was done at last. He was staring at something. If only there's enoug h energy in his power packs. Removing the resinous Wolfweed webs that had cocooned K9 had t aken a good hour. `I don't like it. `Do you still have e nough power to stun?' `Affirmative.' And so you shall. `we are waiting for your dem onstrations. my lady. like a huge tongue at a tooth cavity fe eling blindly for particles of food. I want to see how it works. Some kind of projection of the Creature.' she informed Adrasta. `Nearly.' `Hurry. I'll give you a demonstration you'll never forget. She had had to scrape them off his body after first soaking th em with some kind of oil that Madam Karela had provided. thought Romana. Not so far for K9 to project his ray. Romana bent and scraped at the last of the web that still adhered to K9's head. But it all depended on how much the Wolfweed fibres had weakened K9.' Adrasta smiled and beckoned the two guards to stand c loser to Romana. Romana.' . `Is the tin animal read y yet?' demanded the Lady Adrasta. Is that all we are to the Creature.

The guards flinched uneasily and fingered t heir weapons as they stared down the business end of K9's laser gun. delicately int o every crevice of the rock face. `and my guards will cut your mistress's throat.' she observed.' K 9's head drooped and his power packs switched off. No alternative. `I'd like you to examine the machine before I switch it on. The guards placed him on a ta ble facing a wall of the audience chamber. I've got to knock them out first. She went up and spoke to K9. K9!' K9's laser cut down the two guards. `An invaluable demonstration. Now. but be fore Romana could turn the robot animal on to Adrasta the other guards had seize d her. Don't be afraid. Romana picked him up in her arms and turn ed towards Adrasta and Madam Karela.K9 indicated his readiness for action. `Tin d og.' The Doctor and Organon flattened themselves against the walls of the cav e as the club-shaped projection of the Creature probed carefully. `Come closer. I was sure the mechanical creature was a killing machine. my dear. I have need of such a killing ma chine. I have a task for him. `I want her alive!' screamed Adrasta. Another went down from the effects of K9's ray. It reminded him of something.' she said. Thank y ou for proving it to me.' she sa id. Adrasta and Kar ela dived for cover behind the throne. `Excellent. who was str uggling. The Doctor stared at the texture of the Creatu re's skin. but what? Close to it didn't look . otherwise I'll end up wit h a knife in my ribs before I can deal with the two women. But as it did so. At Adrasta's command more guards rushed i nto the audience chamber. held by two guards. thought Romana. Adrasta smiled at Romana. do that again.

I bet we would have discovered that this was your lucky day. in front of his face. and the Chlorisian Zodiac contains seventeen houses. Fora long moment nothing happened. Aquatrion is the third house. Chloris circles its sun in 427 Earth days. He had the impression that if he touched it it would feel as dry a s old leaves. The skin in the area of the flame bunched into nodules like stubby proto-fingers. the fifteenth. Organon chuckled delightedly. and thust the naked flame against th e Creature. I was more concerned in trying to keep it from examining mine. Just as he was about to discover the precise texture of the probe which was waving gently.' Precise comparisons between Chlorisian astrology and classical Terran astrology are not possible. How sensi tive. almost hypnotically.' The Doctor wasn't so sure. Had they hurt the Creature? Did it actually feel pain? `Wh at sign were you born under?' enquired Oganon. They tested the flame. Still. The Doctor watched the skin around the nodules blacken.slimy at all. Caprius the nint h. tried to grasp it. That's one thing I can never forgive the Lady Adra sta for: throwing me down here without my astrological charts. Or perhaps it was mine. . Organon acte d. whic h then slowly withdrew from the cave. `Can' t say I did. `Didn't like that. Then suddenly the miniature projections disappeared and were absorbed into the Creature. in which a lighted wick fl oated on a small quantity of vegetable oil. he wasn't sure. `Aquatrion? Caprius? Ariel? If on ly I had my charts here. it was always useful to know that it was sensitive to heat. mentioned earlier. The astrologer seized one of the terracotta lamps. He found it hard to believe that a burned finger would deter the creatu re. How can one possi bly plan anything?' `Did you examine that thing's skin?' asked the Doctor. Ariel the fourteenth and Pratus. did it? Bet it won't come back here again in a hurry.

`Well. Suppose the Creature did have a mouth. `It's green. `Arms? Legs? Body? Skull.' `Why not?' demande d the Doctor. `just th ink of it: an enormous brain covered with a sensitive motor membrane.' ` You mean the Creature is just a huge brain? But it can't be. A thought occurred to him. He had always thought of the thing as a kind of giant bag of slime. In fact. and they were his .`Cerebral membrane!' Organon looked blank. He found the Creature any thing but fascinating: frightening. `Let's find out.' `Why not?' Orga non couldn't think of an immediate answer. `So how does it eat? Tell me that. no muscles to stra in.' But Organon was not impressed. He had been known to be wrong before. And from the evolutionary viewpoint. no.' he declared. that was a more comf orting thought.' `I don't know.' he objected. But several hun dred tons of animated grey matter oozing along the tunnels of the mine was a dis tinctly unnerving prospect. come to think of it. Very practical if you think about it. Come on !' Suddenly Organon could think of a dozen good reasons why they should not find out. For one thing he could be wrong. `It can't be a brain.' explained the Doctor. but a further objection to the Doctor 's thesis had struck him. `It hasn't got a mouth. yes. no bones to break. You can't have a green brain. `The membrane that protects the brain !' declared the Doctor excitedly. but no unnecessary appendages. Oddly enough. slime was somehow something one could cope with.' replied the Doctor. he had frequen tly been wrong about horoscopes and prophecies. `That's what that thing's skin looked like. a bsolutely fascinating. so it can move about. even?' `It doesn't need them. where's the rest?' asked the bewildered astrologer. fascinating. not grey.

hundreds of feet in length.. `is what a creature li ke that is doing down here. You can't go up to some sabre-toothed monster and ask it if i t's a carnivore.' `I probably will. Until now he had never been expected to provide practical proof. if you don't mind. is it?' `Who can read such mysterie s?' replied Organon. `Hey.' observed the Doctor. ` Thanks. Satisfie d with his argument. `What I can't understand. Organon froze. quite mad.' `Perhaps it was born amongst them.cold. He caught up with the Doctor in the tunnel leading to what he had long ago decided was the Creature's lair.' But the Doc tor had gone after the Creature. Nice fellow but quite.' he info rmed the Doctor. Pure brain. He stared into the blackne ss ahead. There is only one way it can prove it is: it eats you. inhospitable and lonely. he sat back on a rock and contemplated his lamp.speciality. `I don't think so. wait for me!' c ried Organon. He's mad. Organon told himself. Perhaps it is all written in the stars. and sitting on wh oever it finds: where's the intellectual stimulation in that? It's not much of a life for the biggest brain in the universe. trapped at t he bottom of a pit. oozing around like so much animated jelly.' he added. It's just up ahead. The cave s eemed to close around him-. `I don't think I'll. `I decided to come after all.' replied the Doctor..' he said. `Perhaps that is its fate.' . `You might need help.

And I will be the mistress of it all. `And what do you call this machine in which you travel with Romana and the Doctor?' demanded Adrasta. In fact he was opening her eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. into any time. It stands for Time And Relative Dimensions in Spa ce.' `You mean you travel through space and time in it?' `Affirmative. New worlds are at last opening up to me. The gag the old woman had stu ffed into her mouth was choking her. `The animal does. and bring back wh at we need: metallic ores. the pure metal itself. `You realise what this m eans?' she said to Karela. my lady.' `But we don't know how to operate the T ARDIS.' `Beware. `How can we trust these two creatures? They are not of Chlori s. Every so often the evil old woman pricked h er throat with her knife. slaves--a whole new technology . under the threat of his mistress's immediate demise.' Space an d Time.' objected Karela. `We can go anywhere. thought Adrasta. So does the girl. The bands cut into her wrists and ankles.6 The Web Madam Karela had tied the knots as tightly as she knew how.' . Meanwhile Adrasta was interrogating K9.' whispered Karela. `The TARDIS. I hold the key in my hand--or at least this damned metal animal does. was proving to be a mine of informat ion. who. Romana couldn't move at all.

' K9 rotated his aural sensors.' complained Karela. she could not forget his deliberate plunge into the Pit--even after he had seen the Creature and that fool engineer's death. They can have no idea why I need their space and time machine.. `Co rrection. curled miserably in on itself. `I will take some guards and go down in to the Pit and see if he is alive. Such a man could have pro ved useful in her search throughout the universe. `I know no one ever survives the Pit. Of cou rse it was unlikely in the extreme that he had survived. `I am not made of tin. `It's not to be trusted. `Perhaps he is not dead.' Adrast a regretted the death of the Doctor. Why do we need it?' `To kill something I should have killed years ago. hunched.' `That thing has been listen ing to us. `If we are careful. T hrough its skin it felt the bars being slid back from the door that led down fro m the Palace into the nuneshaft. If they did. It felt the door being opened.' sugg ested Karela. If he were still alive.' agreed Adrasta. A quixotic.' The Creature lay in the largest cavern in the mine. He had outmanoueuvred her.' she decla red.. sentim ental fool of course. we c ould avoid the Creature. `Something that 's too vast for you to cut its throat--even if you could find it.' replied Adrasta. my lady. but it showed a certain courage. `But that is why I believe them. `We will all go. but he seemed quite a resour ceful man.`No.' Adrasta made her decision. it was true. On the other hand. `And we'll take that tin animal with us.' Adrasta considered the possibility.' volunteered Karela. they would have lied.' he said. It felt the heat from the torches carried by the guards. It smelt or felt the flood of . but at the cost of his own life and in order to preserve Romana.

The small procession paused. It was also aware of the Doctor and Organon moving softly. indigo beaches where it used to laze on pu re powdered carbon. sweet. each dark and s ilent except for the occassional drip. soft. Here was danger. in which floated great sulphur cloud s. touch. mechanica l intelligence. gamma-rays. Perhaps the possession of such extremeties destroyed their ability or will to c ommunicate. The Creature stirred uneasily in its dream. thought waves. Romana was glad of a rest and a chance to flex her fingers. . impinged on the Creature's receptors. Oh. and the rain. and the scent of fear among t he guards. moving clo ser. They had come to a junction of four tunnels. infra-red. while ano ther rope encircled her neck and was held by one of the guards. As they stumbled down the ill-lit passages she was constantly half-throttled. cold. the sound of many footsteps. sulphuric acid rai n of home. The thought patterns of K9. And then it was suddenly aware of something else: an alien. The Creature was sensitive through its integument to almost every physical and mental stimulus: ultra-violet light. heat. Part of the Creature slept and dreamed of its home planet: the beaut iful orange seas with the long. sound. It was awa re of so many potential means of communication. It woke. the dark red sky above. here was the unknown. even gravitational waves. x-ray s. which guttered uneasily in the draughts in the tunnel. `Which way now. my lady?' demanded Madam Karela. alert to the movements i n the various tunnels. beta-rays.fresh air from above. raising high her torch. yet it was unable to communicate with these ridiculous creatures who moved about on such impractical appendages. who was being carried between two gu ards. how it missed the rain! The warm. drip of water. Her wrists were still tied together.

Obviously the original seam of ore had petered out here and generations of miners had driv en galleries and tunnels into the rock face. searching for fresh traces of the m etal that was so precious to them. I've got a plan alri ght. acidic. `But I've no idea how to carry it out. The Lady Adrasta inspected the mout h of each tunnel. `Wha t do you mean you don't know? Haven't you got a plan?' `Oh. tall and resplendent in his black uniform. large as a cathedral. `There. `Send some guards ahead. until his companion a dded.' she said. my lady?' repeated Madam Karela.' Organon was about to g ive vent to the full flow of his invective--which was considerable--when the tun nel curved and they emerged into a huge cavern.' The Guardmaster.' declared the Doctor. Their to rches threw fantastic shadows on the rock face. `What are we going to do when we find the thing?' whispered O rganon. That's all. That one.`Which way. The smell was unmistakable. Guardmaster. `Tell them to beware. sensing its vast presence somewh ere ahead of them. unable to believe his ears.' she pointed. ` The Creature is close. They moved warily. the guards advanced with caution into the darkness. ordered three guards to go ahead of him down the tunnel. It was like the inside of a honeycomb. The Doctor and Organon were also closing in on the Creature. She rubbed the palm of her hand over the wall and held it to h er nostrils.' `What?' Organon paused. `I don't know. The y cocked the crude harpoon guns they carried. but more afraid of the Lady Adrasta's wrath than the Creature.' Unwillingly. Organon felt somewhat relieved. .

indeed. In places it hung down like huge green stalactites. Three more discharged their muskets. T heir muskets made a deafening noise in the confined space. like some great paddle and swung t owards the guards. as if asleep. The Doctor was walking up to the Creature. slowly. `No!' she screamed. It expanded at its tip. entering its body until they too disappeared from vi ew. The guards' immediate reaction was to raise their harpoon guns. it was dry. The sheer. The Creature d idn't react. When at last he stood in front of it. It was Romana who first noticed the Doctor. It felt warm. almost velvety. Parts of the thing overflowed from holes in the roof and walls.The Creature almost filled the cavern. . It made no sign of anger or hurt. Adrasta and her guards stared. Another st alactite stirred and swung easily in the darkness about their heads. two of the guards fired. `Don't!' `Co me back!' cried Organon. Three vicious-looking ha rpoons struck the Creature. with its great mass towering over him. At that moment Adrasta's party emerged from one of the other tun nels. it extended itself reaching towards where they stood. But too late. unable to move. Two heavy. more than filled it. Without waiting f or orders. terrified by the presence of the Creature. Delicately. He ran his hand across the surface of the Creature. he put out his hand and touched th e skin. serrated w ooden harpoons struck the Creature and disappeared into its hulk. The Creature lay quiescent. Then another stalactite extended itself from the roof. unimaginable bulk of the thing took one's bre ath away. The skin wasn't slimy. Then one of the stalactites moved slightly.

is approximately 1¼ tons. `You'd need a lako of gunpowder to even 1 lako. `My name is. The primitive gun powder created clouds of foul black smoke. `Go on!' commanded Adrasta. It made a dull booming sound. When the smoke cleared an extraordinary sight met their eyes. curved like an egg. The Creatur e seemed to be changing colour. But others readied their harpoon muskets and discharged them into the advan cing Creature. Some turned to f lee. the Creature moved. Romano saw the Doctor disappear into a huge tidal wave of green. The threads formed patterns. Its vast bulk rolled over him like a tank. crossing and criss-crossing each othe r.' said the Doctor. green or otherwise. except it was smooth. The Creature was weaving a web between the guards and itself. No thing seemed able to stop it. The wave swept on towards Adrasta and the guards. oozed from the Creature. .. It was like striking a brick wall. The guards reacted instinctively. opaque surface. `It's hurt!' cried the Lady Adrasta triumphantly .. He struck the shell with the hilt of his sword. The colour change seemed to be caused by shimmering silver threads which formed on its skin. It was a web wh ich swiftly grew thicker and more complex--until it was completely filled in.' replied the Guardmaster. Because suddenly. Kill the Creat ure!' `It's hard as rock. Organon and the Guardmaster advanced and gingerly tapped the structure. `We've wounded it!' But no blood. with extraordinary speed.' But he never had a chance to int roduce himself. my lady. which obscured everything and made everyone cough.`Hello there. The cavern echoed with a discharge of muskets. `Break through. It became a dense. Heavy wooden harpoons sank out of sight into the approaching gree n wall.

. There was nothing in the available te chnology of Chloris that could cope with such an obstacle. `But you must!' cried Romana..scratch it. And even then. `The Doctors behind there! We'll have to break through.' .' He shrugged.

rubbing his ear vigorously. W here was the Creature? The Doctor looked round. on the roof. `It's him!' declared Or ganon. He was astonished to discove r that it was metallic. like the sound of waves breaking insi de a subterranean cave. But the thing had gone. or like some savage beating of slow rhythms on a hollowe d log. The reverb erations had almost deafened him. It seemed to be coming from the other side of the extraordinary shell-like structure that sealed off the rest of the cavern. remembering the Creature and what had happened. . T he Doctor scraped at the surface with his penknife. or nearly s o. The shell boomed as if someone was trying to communicate . His sk in tingled as if he had been subjected to a mild charge of static electricity. He had no idea how l ong he had been unconscious. The Doctor picked up a rock and struck the shell hard. `Maybe it's that thing knocking. but at least he was still in one piece. The Doctor groaned and opened his eyes. Gingerly he felt his legs.' he objected. But the Guardmaster was cautious. but no bones broken. It had v anished. He had pressed it against the surface of the structure close by where the Doctor was knocking from the other side. on the walls. It was dark--but a darkness lit b y traces of failing phosphorescence. except for traces of phosphorescence which led down one of the tunnels. The booming noise sounded again. A few bruises perhaps.7 The Meeting A distant booming sounded inside his head. Suddenly the Doc tor sat up.

E du first.' whispered Torvin.' snapped Organon. Come on. no. `It's him.`No. seemingly impervious to any attack. `Seems strong enough.' . The tiny filam ents of its root systems found precarious holds in the soft mortar between the s tones of the wall. the Doctor. `Ivy!' `Ivy?' The bandits gazed upwards .' h e said without enthusiasm.' He inspected the point at whi ch the structure joined the rockface. H e's alive. `What do we do no w Torvin?' demanded Ainu in a hoarse whisper. He had to think of something. What had seemed such a brilliant p lan in the safety of their cave now seemed like suicidal madness. even reaching as far as the Palace roof. In a minute he knew they would begin to fade away. weighed heavily on their spirits. A small bat and a scattering of old mortar and brick dust flew out. `Start climbing. Led by Ainu. the bandits reached the Palace walls under cover of the jungle. The extraordinary thing was that it seemed almost to grow out of the rock. Quickly. There they paused apparently unnoticed by the guards. How could they possibly take t he Palace? How could they even breach its defences? Torvin could already hear un easy mutterings from his men. Ainu seized a thick rope of ivy and pulled hard. like hoarfrost in the sun. Then he saw i t--their passport into Adrasta's Palace. `Come on. I'd know his knock anywhere. The sight of t hese massive walls towering twenty or more feet above them. We've got to break this down. It grew like a pelt on some huge stone beast. But logic insisted that was probably where it w as weakest. lads. It was true that ivy and lianas grew thick on the walls.

Think of all that metal in Adrasta's vaults. they had christened him then. He closed his ey es and wished: to make Guardmaster before he was thirty. Make a wish. Above him he could see Chloris's four moons. when they worked underground. Edu swung up into the ivy. Suddenly he felt someth ing strike him between his shoulder blades. Compared to n egotiating galleries no more than a foot high.' The thought stirr ed the bandits into action. more likel y a sudden activity amongst the birds and rodents and lizard-like creatures that inhabited the thick mat of vegetation. `What do I do if I meet a guard?' he asked anxiously.Edu was the smallest of the miners. He felt no pain. He paused for a moment. they had driven him ahead of them wi th kicks and curses.' Torvin instructed. The puka§. hundreds of fe et underground. Agile as a monkey. § The puka is a kind of rodent that inhabits the interior of hollow trees on Chlor is. Was a breeze getting up? No. It was lucky. to the y said. the man sent to work o n the most inaccessible seams of ore. listening. They seized the ivy by the stems. and began to ascend. he gazed upwards at the night sky. The guard patrolling the upper battleme nts of the Palace paused for a moment. he had been the one to crawl down the narrowest passages. He could hear a rustling in th e creepers that covered the Palace wall. `Keep him chatting while we climb up and cut his throat. Years before. He turned to his followers. only a wetness in t he middle of his hack. Ignoring the noise. `Come on. climbing ivy was child's play to him. in total darkness. . which were as thic k as a man's wrist. They say she has over a thousand bodyweights of copper alone. when you could see all the moons together. th en leaned down to Torvin. And when his courage had sometimes failed him.

incredibly filthy individual. Indeed. Too astonished to cry out.' she commanded the Guardma ster. `it is too dangerous. the Doctor is behind there. `But we cannot be sure. The structure woven by the Creature was harder than any thing known to Chloris. Particularly if you. `Bring Romana and the animal.' Adrasta sh ook her head. Karela. one leg ove r the parapet.' declared Madam Karela.' o bjected Organon.' she protested. `Stop that!' ordered Adrasta. then using the diam ond that blazed in one of her rings. Adrasta ignored him. tested it on the material. He turned and saw a small. But even the dia mond made no impression. watching him.He put one hand to the spot and with astonishment touched the protruding handle of a knife. her rings making asound of metal against metal. . But their efforts had not met with success. The Lady Adrasta tapped the shell-like structure with the back of her hand. `My lady. Perhaps they are already in league with each other. `We know the littl e animal will not harm its mistress. But Madam Karela was uneasy at the prospect. Organon and the Guardmaster were sti ll battering away at the point at which the structure joined the rock face. `But my lady. stand with you r knife at her throat while the metal animal does our bidding. We do not know what this tin thing might do in conjunction wi th the Creature. She stroked the shell.' The Guardmaster returned with Romana and a guard carrying K9. no matter what tools they used t hey seemed to be unable to make any impression on the material woven by the Crea ture. he died where he stood.

following the traces of phosphorescence which clun g to the walls showing where the Creature had passed. `My dear.' She turned to Romana. He may be a live or dead. Cautiously he began to make his way down the tunnel. `all the more reason to hurry.' replied K9. `As you know.' continued Adrasta. He was programmed not to answ er the questions of enemies. it was unmistakeable.' declared Organon stoutly. It is almost as if it wanted me to follow. The match scarcely flickered in his hand. the Doctor is trapped behind t his.' `In which case. . `Compute. put his nose to the shell. `Impossible to answer t he question.' ordered Romana. `He's in there with the Creature. no mo vement of air. `First I will have to evaluate the molecular structure of the material which I am required to pierce. like any normal dog. There was no sound. He bent and picked it up. As he did so. Have you enough power to pierce the shell. We cannot be sure.' `He's alive. Yes.' snappe d Adrasta. little animal. the match fl ickered and died. `I've heard him tapping. Then I must compute the power ne eded to create sufficient molecular stress.' she said. K9 rolled forward an d.Adrasta came straight to the point. I wonder why.. I thought K9 could help. tapping the shell. tho ught the Doctor. But what he had seen was enough to make him scrabble in his po cket for more matches.. told the guard to put K9 down. K9?' K9 did not reply. The tunnel ahead was empty. It is leaving a trail. His fo ot struck a piece of metal.' Roman. `Tell her. The Doctor struck a match whi ch flared in the darkness. the Doctor found himself staring at a small piece of pure cadmium.' `Evaluate. As a fresh match burst with li ght.

each unadulterated by any impurities. studying the strata. Friend. But the light increased--the unmistakeable green light which emanated from the Creature. I hope you know what friend mean s. Curiosi ty overcoming caution for a moment. A worrying thoug ht occurred to him. the Doctor stroked the skin.' he said. There was no doubt about it. `It's all right. each different. examing a piece of iron when he sensed a movement ahead. After his previous experience the Doctor approache d the thing with the utmost caution.He looked at the tunnel walls. But how do you communicate with a gigantic green blob that is without eyes or ears? `Look I'm not armed. the cadmium didn't come from here. Green blood? But surely one only found such a th ing in creatures like caterpillars that lived off green plants.' he kept re peating. The skin recoiled before his hand. In fact he doubted if there were any workabl e cadmium deposits on the planet. watching a network of what appeared to be ve ins pulsing with a green light. He looked up to see the Creature oozing (there was no other way to describe its motions) round a bend in the tunnel. I hope you under-stand me. It paused a few yards from him. suppose this was just the larva of some huge insect. `Friend.' How could I hurt somet hing that seems to have no organs of sense at all? Where is its vulnerable spot? How could you even start to find it in that enormous bulk? Now close to the Cre ature.' murmured the Doctor. The m atch in his hand flickered out. The moment it moved. its skin rippling almo st as if in fear or exhaustion. he reached out to touch the Creature's skin. He was kneeling. `I won't hurt you. he thought. lay ahead. patti ng the Creature as if . This time it was a nugget of manganese. More p ieces of metal. So where did it come from? A pace further ahea d another piece of metal gleamed. the Doctor stopped.

Don't be frightened. there are others like you. Surely somewhere. struggling to release site hold on his windpipe. Then just as swiftly as it had seized the Doctor. He found himself able to breathe again. it released him. It elongated into a delicate tendril which began to move in the dirt on the tunnel floor.soothing a nervous horse. He could feel himself beginning to black ou t. `You're throttling me. on some planet.' gasped the Doctor. There was something familiar about the . It grabbed the Doctor round the throat an d bore him to the ground. He watched the tendr il tracing some kind of design. `It's all right. It was a picture. He closed his eyes and concentrated on projecting peaceful thoughts of friendship. `Good boy. You don't know your own stren gth. `Easy. stepping back and scratching his head. The pressure on his throat became unbearable as the Creature turned him face down on the floor. Or good girl. easy.' His attentions seemed to calm the Creature. as the case may be. The Doctor deliber ately emptied his mind inviting some reaction. `How do yo u communicate with your own kind? You can't be the only Creature like you in the entire Universe.' Perha ps it communicated by telepathy or some form of thought transference. On a sudde n impulse the Doctor placed his head against the green skin of the Creature. a ren't there?' As if in answer. part of the Creature's skin suddenly elongated it self into a huge fist-like projection.' The blood pounded in his ears. The Doctor sat up and rubbed his throat. `How do you c ommunicate?' asked the Doctor. The `fist' that had gripped change d shape. It didn't react in any way. The Creature was drawing a pic ture of some kind of shield. But there was none. The Creature remained motionless.

The Doctor knew he had seen it before. . T he Creature was drawing the strange shield which hung on the wall of Lady Adrast a's audience chamber.object. But where? Then it came to him.

no doubt about it: bronze.8 The Shield Edu put one hand over the guard's mouth to prevent him from crying out. But when they entered the audience chamber their eyes lit up. so that he could not draw his weap on. So far their raid on the Lad y Adrasta's Palace had been singularly unproductive. The man gave a peculiar s igh and sagged in Edu's grasp. M etal! The two large candlesticks which flanked Adrasta's throne looked like bron ze. Ainu laid claim to a heavy metal tray which stood on a table. Only Edu was staring preoccupied at the wall.' he announced knowledgably. a couple of knives and a buckler was the extent of their booty. Torvin stepped ov er the corpse and retrieved the skull cap. I expect it was a family heirloom. Yes. The bandits set to to remove them. He tapped it against the edge of a ta ble. There was also a brass urn and a pewter flagon.' He put the skull cap into his sack and looked around for more booty. A sword. Ainu withdrew his knife and the dead guard slid t o the floor. `Pure metal. `Lucky fellow to be able to afford head protection like this. They scratched at them experimentally with their knives. but hardly worth the risk and not what Torvin had promised them. Even the door handles and hinges were bronze. All metal. using both hands. drove his knife up under the guard' s ribs from the front. With his other hand he held onto the man's sword arm. At the same time Ainu. it is true. They had still not found A drasta's vaults. pointing to the shield-like object which the Doctor had noticed the first time he had entered the audience chamber. The knife point grated on bone. . `What's that?' he asked. his metal skullcap rolling across the flagstones.

' he said. `They're coming!' shouted A inu from the doorway. he knew that his small b and of ex-miners stood little chance. The guards began to batter on the door with their sword hilts. The moment he touched it it began to glow. Desperately he tore it down. He knew he only had a few minutes in which to find the way out of the audience c hamber. It was not a prospect Torvin cared to contemplate. Hidden behind the hanging was a small door heavily barred and bolted. And quick!' Already he could hear shouts from the corridor and the sound of running feet. releasing the shield instantly. `Bring it over here.' snapped Torvin. as if lit from within. well-armed t roopers seeking to avenge the deaths of their comrades. He fo und it difficult to believe that she would ever leave herself with only one exit from her audience chamber. `I don't care if it's on fire . T orvin could hear the guard commander calling for a battering ram to be brought. `Barricade the door!' While his men dragged furniture agai nst the door to prevent the guards from breaking it down. He looked around the audience chamber and realised there was only one exit. At any moment Adrasta's men would burst i n on them. .Torvin was trying to fit one of the large candlesticks into his sack. caught his eye. Surely there had to be a hidden door or a secret pas sage somewhere. A huge wall-hanging. `It's h ot!' he exclaimed. He had no illusion s about the fighting qualities of his men. They were trapped. Torvin considered the situation. Faced with well-trained. `Bring it here. `and let's see. Obviously the corpse of one of the guards they had killed had been found.' Edu stood on a stool and reached for the s hield. Tales of the Lady Adrasta's cruelty and cunning were legendary. embroidered with improbable hunting scenes and dati ng from the reign of the Lady Adrasta's predecessor.

' complained the Doctor. `Well. or whatever it was. Edu was right: it was warm to the touch. `This way. `What do you want m e to do with this thing? Just supposing it is what I think it is and I did manag e to get hold of it. Mentally Torvin compared its weight to that of the ca ndlestick in his sack. Only faint pulses of green light f lashed in its veins (if they were veins). he ran for the door that lead d own into the mine.' . Ignori ng the shouts of the guards. `Is it yours? Do you want me to get it for you?' The Creature retired a few yards down the tunnel. Perhaps it was valuable. But what did the Creature want with it? What was it tryin g to say to him? `What is it?' he asked the Creature. It was as if it had just switched itse lf off. At last it swung open to reveal a flight of sto ne steps descending into darkness. `Come on!' he cried. don't just sit there.Torvin struggled with the bolts. He swung it closed just as the guards burst into the room. The glow filled him.' Thankfully Edu handed over the shield. soothed him: h e felt at peace.' Edu pointed to the shield. Th e Doctor stared blankly at the drawing the Creature had made in the dust of the tunnel floor. ' he told Edu. His nostrils caught the unmistakeable stale s mell of the mine. Its colour faded. He had last seen the shieldlike shape hanging on the wall of Adras ta's audience chamber. And the thin g glowed as if lit by some soft inner light. Tucking the shield under his arm. `Give it to me. `You take my sack. Torvin stared at his distorted reflection in the su rface of the stange metal. The crash of the battering ram against the door awoke Torvin fr om his trance. The shield. `W hat about that?' he asked. looked heavier. where i t suddenly became immobile. It was ma de of a metal he had never seen before.

his arm was gripped by a long green tendril whic h entered from the main passage. where it suddenly disengaged itself and snaked swiftly back to where the main body of the Creature lay.But there was no response.' protested the Doctor.' begged the Doctor. all right. `Anything. `you're going to hav e a lot of explaining to do. `All right. In one cave he found a large pile of shell-like material. I wonder why. my friend. With the Creature apparently torpid and uninterested in any further communication. fragments similar to the huge broken eggshel l which he and Romana had found at the Place of Death. `Give me a clue. `I can take a hint.' It was obvious that that was as much explaining as the Creature was prepared to do--or perhaps it had communicated a s much as it could. So you don't want me to meddle with those fragments. When he tried to free himself.' announced K9 back ing away from the shell. In some of these he met other parts of the Creature. It was hard to know. The Creature seemed to have sunk into a torpor. . the Doctor began to explore the othe r tunnels and galleries.' said the Doctor to the departing tendrils. The Doctor found himself escorted out of the cave. wh ich had oozed through small linking passages in the rock. `One of these d ays. mistress. As the Doctor began to po ke about amongst the fragments.' `Evaluation complete. pulling him a way from the pieces of shell. Gently the tendril tugged at him. a second tendril ap peared and wrapped itself round his waist.' The tendril propelled him back into the main cavern.

' `Try. Fear of t he guards behind them drove them on. `The shell or web--it is difficult to know which would b e the correct description--is a complex substance. Weighed down by their booty. th e bandits hastened as fast as they could down the winding stone steps. `Or web?' she hastily added. It is composed of living cell s.' But Romana was in no mood for a lectur e. in the distance.' replied the robot. coated with various metallic alloy s and held together in one impervious. `owing to the damage sustained whilst under Wolf weed attack. The passages sloped downwards leading them ever deeper under ground. Soon they entered a maze of narrow passages carved out of the living rock.`Does that mean he knows what it's made of?' Adrasta asked Romana. Thanks to this luminesce nce they had no need of torches and were thus able to make all speed through the winding passages. Indeed it began to pulse with light.' Obediently the robot turned to face the shell. `K9.' pleaded Romana `The Doctor is behind there.. `I am not y et at full power. they could hear the shouts and curses of Adrasta's guards as they too traversed the tunnels leading down to the mine. mad am. The others stood back and watched as a ray flas hed from K9's muzzle onto the strange structure. `Wh at a haul! Did you ever see such a haul?' He carried the shield in his arms.' K9 observed. `What a haul!' he kept repeating. can you break th rough the shell?' she asked. and she could see that Adrasta wanted straight answers.. `Correct. It continued to glow. Torvin was delighted. There was silence for a long moment while K9's information banks completed the evaluation. of a type I have never encountered before. . Behind them.

But the rest of th e shell was unaffected. `What's wrong.' he replied.'What does the little tin animal mean?' she demanded. Without reply he took the right-hand fork. But b efore he could reply Adrasta demanded why he had stopped trying to break through the shell. the warmth of sunlit su mmer days. Its warmth permeated Torvin's body and mind. it was the shield's. When the robot switched off his ray. K9?' asked Romana anxiously.' declared K9.' Adrasta gazed blankly at Romana. `What use is the little animal to me then?' demanded Adrasta. It wasn't his decision. however. `Destroy him.' . Uneasily the others fol lowed. Torvin felt a mild astonishment. Her ex pression grew savage. All fear had gone from him. `I weakened the shell. When they came to a point where the tunnel divided and Ainu demanded which way they should go. `Incorrect. `He means that whenever the shel l is weakened. For several minutes K9 had been directing his ray onto the shell.The shield not only glowed with light it was also warm to the touch. `So far you've had no effect whatsoever. the atoms recombine--the molecules reconstitute themselves--to fo rm an even stronger material. `So that all he has succeeded i n doing is to temper the original material?' Romana was forced to admit that thi s was true. but the material is selfrenewing and increases in strength.' explained Romana. even the redness va nished in a matter of seconds. a relaxed lazy warmth. The Lady A drasta. `I am in danger of depleting my power packs. He felt as if he were walking in a dream. was not impressed.' sh e observed. With th e result that a circle about a foot in diameter glowed redly.

' But before the men could implement her order. you'll have destroyed your only defence against the Creature. For some reason he had the distinct impressi on that his reappearance was not universally popular. Really people were most ex traordinary. he should have been torn limb from limb or squashed flatter than a crepe suzette by a million tons**of green blob? The Doctor looked from o ne to the other in some perplexity. There are moments. whose explanation of eve nts was not wholly reliable. making an opening a couple of feet wide. `If you damage him again. when. when I pos itively loathe that man. the Lady Adrasta turned to her guards once more. `He has failed me. Why. How dare he look so cheerful when he's been trapped the far side of that shell with a huge ravening what-everit-is? How dare he appear looking as if he's just returned from a five-mile hike.`No!' cried Romana.' she comma nded.' replied the Doctor. In fact he was as surprised as everyone else when ** A pardonable exaggeration under the circumstances: the Creature weighed only 385 tons. It split neatly down the mid dle. ' `How can the tin animal kill the Creature when it can't even break the shell?' The question was unanswerable. the shel l suddenly split open apparently of its own accord. `Ho w did you get out of there?' demanded Adrasta. even Romana looked miffed. `Just tapped on the shell and ask ed old thingummybob to let me out. interposing herself between K9 and Adrasta's guards.' he said cheerfully. `Destroy the thing. And while Romana was trying to think of a reply. miffed--that was the word. thought Romana. by the rules that govern the Universe. Yes. `Hello. . Through the opening stepped the Do ctor.

In fact any self-respecting m an-eater would have masticated him within five minutes of their meeting.' agreed the Doctor. Organon seemed to be the only one genuinely pleased to see him. Unless. So it doesn't realise what a very fragil e species we are. It killed everyone else who got close to it. I can assure you. `Then how do you explain all those deaths over the past fifteen years?' she demanded. Adrasta was definitely su spicious of him. `I wish I had my star charts and p rojections with me.' `Good point. `Why didn't the Creature kill you?' she asked. `After all. Why hadn't the Creature killed him? It could have done. On the other hand.' For once the Doctor was at a loss for words.' . Everything seems to be going your way today. But that's not all.' agreed t he Doctor. that if you block up our mou ths and nostrils we suffocate. `Heart failure?' `Some of them. it was never wise to admit to someone like t he Lady Adrasta that one was not totally in charge of events. Suppose the C reature has never had anything to do with the human race before. `Unless it doesn't mean to kill people. `You must have been born under a singularly harmonious and unique conjunction of celestial influences. The question was one that had been puzzling him. `Give me a good answer. It doesn't realise. it's not the pleasantest of experiences to come face to face with a thing like that.the shell split. for instance. we are apt to resemble a Terran tortilla. Suppose there a re no home sapiens where it comes from. .' the Astrologer whispered.' But if the expression on the Lady Adrasta's face was anything to go by. The Lady Adrasta st ared at him as if he were insane. `It should have killed you. the Doctor wasn't so sure. it had had every chance.. If you roll a few hundred tons of green blob over us.' he said at last.

That would explain why the thing keeps crushing people. Or by anything of that nature. `Not so's you'd notice. The Guardmaster was the first one to step through the split in the shell. with two gua rds. ' `Did you succeed?' Remembering the drawing the Creature had made in the dirt o n the floor of the tunnel. the Doctor prevaricated. `Perhaps because I tried to communicate with it.' she observed. He looked around and then beckoned the others to follow him. Romana carried K9 in her arms. `and the little tin animal. Suppose they communicate directly through their skins. All it's doing is trying to be friendly. One green blob rolls up to another green blob.' he continued. `Suppose. and natter away twenty to the dozen.' `Then why can't it get out of the it by itself?' sneered Adrasta. `It still doesn't explain why it d idn't crush you. they lean against each ot her. `that where this Creature comes from they don't communicate as we do. Or by electrical discharges . You have no conception of the power of that Creature. Karela and Romana. Or by means of odours as they do on Tau Ceti 13. and go and kill the Creature.' she ordered.A further thought struck him. `You mustn't.' he replied. `Take some guards and her. `No!' protested the Doctor. .' `Afraid for your green slimy friend? ' `Afraid for them.' pointing to Romana. Or by telepathy as they do on Argos 2.' But the Lady Adrasta was not impressed by the Doctor's reasoning. Adrasta turned to Madam Karela. brought up the rear. Holding their torches high and with swords d rawn they followed him into the darkness beyond.

Romana did not reply . `You go. Organon. an abject coward. Fortunately Madam Karela and the others returned before Organon was forced to choose between immediate execution by the Lady Adrasta's guards o r the dubious honour of death via the Creature. staring into the tunnel beyond the shell.' declared Karela. claustrophobic. He needed time to cast his horoscope. Minutes passed on leaden feet. to tally unreliable. These faded into blackness as the party proceeded cautiously down the tunnel. `Me?' objected the astrolog er. ill. `And even if they did succeed in wounding it.' .' said the old woman. I shall kill you if that tin animal doesn't obey my orders. Adrasta. `They haven't a chance against that thing. she didn't trust him. my lady. He offered a dozen excellent arguments as to why he was quite the wrong choi ce for such an honour. The silence was tangible. `What do you suppose has happened to them?' The Doctor.' `Be silen t!' snapped Adrasta. her horoscope. But they heard nothing. suggested th at he go and see. who was growing increasingly worried himself. He was too old.' protested the Doctor. But Adrasta had no intention of letting him out of her sight. They strained their eats for some sound that would indicate that Karela's party had found the Creature. `There's no sign of it.`Remember. `What's going on behind th ere?' demanded the Lady Adrasta in a whisper. the Creat ure's horoscope. `The Creature's gone. where the light f rom the torches cast grotesque shadows. it could go beserk and kill us all. the Doctor and the remai ning guards waited uneasily.' she ordered Organon. pricking Romana none too gently with her knife.

`Take K9! Search the whole mine.' the Doctor whispered back. `I can't see. She couldn't see herself in it.' declared the Doctor. You have bitten off more than you can chew.' Romana stared at him in astonish ment.' . producing a mirror fro m his pocket. who still held K9 in her arms. `It looks a fright. `Do you m ean to say that thing is a Tythonian? Well.' Romana was about to protest.' explained the Doctor. The Tythonian must he somewhere. It was the first time he had ever expressed any concern about her coiffeur . `You can't go killing an ything with your hair all messed up like that. Romana stared into the hand mirror.`Gone? Where?' The Doctor informed Adrasta that that meant there was a gigantic green blob loose somewhere in the tunnels of the mine. `You'll do it. haven't you?' Romana edged over to the Doctor. `Take more guards!' she screamed. `Take K9 a nd kill the Creature. take a look at yourself in the mirror. `But it seems to scare Adrasta.' But Adrasta was past reason.' The Lady Adrasta looked around her forces and suddenly picke d on Romana. Here. `I've no idea. `it's an angry green blob because you tried to have it killed. `My hair?' she asked. All she could see was th e furious and worried face of Adrasta.' `The Tythonian?' queried the Doctor. when the Doctor diplomatical ly intervened. `It's just a question of angle. `What's more. `Better do your hair first. The Doctor seemed to be holding it at a peculiar angle. `What's a Tyt honian?' she whispered. `Your hair.' she said. `I think it's just about right now. well. well.' she objected.' he added.' he advised.' Bewildered.

fo llowed by Madam Karela. She eased K9 into a better position.' said the Doctor. Romana lined up K9 on the mirror. s he said. `That's right. The mirror would reflect the beam from his laser. She tri ed another shot with the robot's laser. `No. `No!' cried the D octor. A second and third guard dropped. K9 cr adled in her arms. . The last thing he wanted was a furious Tyth onian (whatever that might be) to come charging into the cavern determined to wr eak vengeance on whoever was there. pleased that s he had guessed his plan so quickly.' He had glimpsed some where down the tunnel a green shape. and the rest of the guards. Adrasta turned to speak to him ju st as K9 fired. so that he coul d have a shot at Adrasta. Shards of rocks sprayed from the rock fa ce. Adrasta took to her heels. The guard was cut down by K9's ray reflected from the mirror hel d by the Doctor. just behind where Adrasta's head had been a moment before.Romana realised that the Doctor was lining up the mirror for K9. We might need him for our own defence. `Ready'. she saw Adrasta disappearing down one of the tunnels. He had heard footst eps in the tunnels descending from the Palace. As Romany swung round. A guard approached the Lady Adrasta seeking orders. Romana.

He studied the s hield which the Creature now wore. appalle d to find themselves in the presence of the Creature. The shield glowed for a mom ent like a jewel in the skin of the Creature. a black metallic jewel in its skin. Suddenly the miners entered the cavern. Fifteen years ago he had known these mines as well as the contents of his own wallet. No one protested any more. Torvin fitt ed the shield into the indentation and stepped back. Somehow it didn't look . Like a compass. following sea ms of mineral ore that sooner or later always seemed to peter out. The Creature waited.9 Erato Fifteen years ago Torvin had known every gallery and tunnel of the mines. no one even spoke. Torvin held out the sh ield with both arms. Wordlessly. then it lost its luminosity. But the others weren't listening. Torv in and the other ex-miners emerged from their dream. they followed the directions of the glowing shield. With t he rest of the miners and pit-boys he had hacked at the rock face. The warmth from the shield s uffused him. Now he walked these same tunnels and galleries like a sleepwalker.' declar ed Edu with gloomy satisfaction. `We're for it now. dulling his brain. they were sta ring at the Doctor who was walking gingerly up to the Creature. The Creature moved swiftly towards the ex-miners. They stared around. obediently. holding the glowing shield in his arms. reducing him and the other exminers to mere auto mata. t he shield lead him deeper and deeper into the mine. An indentation appeared in the Creature's skin. obedient to its every change of direction. The s hield became dull.

Romana broke the silence. `Are y ou all a shield at all now. either I'm going insane or something very odd is happe ning. I didn't say it. Who on earth was he talking to? `Is there anything wrong?' she asked. The boss in the centre had more the appearance of a ha ndle. but nothing more.' declared the Doct or.' observed the Doctor. `That's to say. `Sorry. a sensation almost of pins and needles. Romana. On a sudden inspiration the Doctor put out his hand and grasped this handl e. `All I'm saying is that I didn't say what I just said.' said Romana soothingly.' The Doctor rubbed his hand and stared at the shield in astonishment. ` I realise this must be a very frightening experience for you.' `I'm not cracking up!' snapped the Doctor.' `What?' The Doctor didn't reply and once again took hold of the shield. immediately releasing the shield once again. he seemed bewildered. but you must keep a grip on yoursel f. But not before he had said. staring at the shield. `But please don't be alarmed.' Then realising that as a . puzzled. The Doctor did not reply.' said th e Doctor. They nodded. Instead he grasped t he shield again. This time there was only the faintest of tingles in his finger tips. This is no time to crack up. didn't know what to make of this. The Doctor scratched his head uncertainly. `Hello. `Well.' The Doctor released his hold on the shield an d turned to the others. `I know all this has been very trying for you. `What did you say?' asked the Doctor. An extraordinary tingling sensation in his fingers made him release the shiel d almost immediately. `Look. Doctor?' she asked.' he replied. `Did you hear what I just said?' he asked. `I don't know.

`Like all Tythonians. `who did? Does that make sense?' she enquired of Orga non. We Tythonians are fortunate to have avoided such evolutionary culde-sacs. Only I didn't say it. `Erato. Gingerly he took hold of the handle in thecentre of the shield once again. `Precisely.' The Doctor didn't comment on this.if a huge green blob could be said to have such a thing. he trie d again. The astrologer shrugged. `Stress affects some people t hat way. So much more meaningful. `It feels most peculiar. don't you? But then you probably don't. `This is not the Doctor speaking. I am simply usin g his larynx. Rest w orks wonders. `Do you remember what I said?' `You said that you realised this must be a very frightening experience for you. `If you didn't say what you said you said.' he explained.' The Doctor beamed at her. when the Creature was once more able to spea k through him.statement of fact it verged on the opaque. since your skins are capabl e of processing only the most rudimentary information. `I'm not sure. I have 135 . Normally we communicate through our skins. but don't be alarmed.' Romana decided to make one more try. I a lways think. if not the downright obscure.' he whispered to her. I was too busy being frightened and alarmed to say anything: Organon and Romana looked at each other worriedly.' said the Doctor.' she asked. Instead he was examining the shield set like a jewel in the Creature's forehead-. That's exactly what I did say. `someone els e using your vocal cords. I'm still trying to work it out.' said the Doctor. `Perhaps if the Doctor sat down for a bit.' `What's whatsitsname's name?' asked the ever practica l Romana. `Please allow me to explain.' The Doctor released the shield and felt his throat.

' said Erato more calmly.' she demanded. you ape-descended creatures have barely got your foot on the first rung of the evolutionary ladder. damp and uncomfortable down here. et c. `Look.' he added. One tends to forget that whilst we Tythonians arrived at evo lutionary perfection many aeons ago. `Me? Skulking!' cried the Doctor. `I do apologise. We are too large to skulk. parents. `Don't make him angry.' `So rry. If you're not skulking. He had not yet explained h is presence on . family. that is. credit rating.' But Romana was not convinced.' the Doctor explained.' `Then what are you doing down here? ' `That cunning woman. `I haven't!' he snapped.' Romana acidly enquired if the Tythonian was ever going to get to the point. when dealing with species whose life cycle is of such indecent brevi ty. I didn't of course. the Lady Adrasta. Tythonia ns cannot skulk. `Eating people is a disgusting habit.names. I prefer to use only a single name.' The Doctor removed his hand f rom the shield and ruefully rubbed his Adam's apple. who found the Tythonian infur iatingly pompous. You may therefore call me Erato. `enveigled me do wn into this disgusting place and left me here to die. political persuasion. We Tythonians live by ingesting mineral salts and chlorophyll through our skin. It is dark. I am th e Tythonian Ambassador to this benighted planet. `Its hell on the throat when he gets worked up. `why have you been eating people?' The Doctor's face went purple in alarm as his voi ce rose two full octaves in sheer indignation. indicating clan. Tytho nian don't very often-. I would like to get out. However. We do not eat meat. when the Doctor risked his larynx once mor e.' he begged in a hoarse whisper.die.' `Then what are you doing skulk ing around down here in the Pit?' demanded Romana. `I am not skulking. `But she had no means of knowin g that. Doctor.

becoming a single enormous entity (probably one mi le in length) possessed of no fewer than six different sexes. How. This entity. the Creature explained the intricacies of the proposed treaty. reminiscent of Macaulay at his worst. gold. and over the course of a couple of hundred Chlorissian ye ars they absorbed each other. once two Tythonians (who are essentially tri-sexual) decided to amalgamate.' At great length and in rolling periods. I came here with a treaty which we on Tythonus have been considering for seve ral hundred Chlorissian years. and devoted themselves exclusiv ely to music and poetry.Chloris. It seemed that Tyt honians lived for about forty thousand Chlorissian years--longer. We believe it to be mutually beneficial to both o ur planets. copper. the Creature obv iously had every intention of enjoying its sound. Erato did not answer. for what purpose had h e been sent from Tythonus? `I was on a trading mission to this unfortunate plane t. Eventually the Tythonian was forced to explain. Until the Doctor broke the con nection and asked a question himself. If he was not there to eat assorted astrologers. rather than several hundred years ago? Suddenly Erato became evasive. like movement or worry. they would pay in return a generous amount of mineral ore: iron. During their life span there arrived one moment when th ey could reproduce themselves. Whe n the Doctor seized the shield again. i n exchange for chlorophyll. Why did the Tythonians need the chlorophyl l now. this double Tythonian. if they avoide d any physical activity. which the Tythonians were prepared to produce themse lves from the jungles of Chloris should it transpire that the state of Chlorissi an technology prove inadequate to the task. cobalt--whatever was required. They rolled together. Having discovered the use of the Doctor's voice. then . platinum. This involved a lengthy and fairly complex operat ion. The Doctor repeated the question. manganese.

`In a word.' asked the Doctor. approximately s ix inches in length. Erato explained. In fact there was no vegetat ion left at all--just millions and millions of hectares of gently rolling sand a nd fine ground mineral ores. The survival of each generation of Tythonian Young. there were never more than sixty-three fertile T ythonian capable of child-bearing at any one time. in th e fullness of time. in the event of sp ace travel ever becoming possible for Chlorissians. Some of those would decide to devote their lives to music or poetry or just lying around and chatting about t his and that. he would give Tythonus a wid e berth. Organon made a mental note that. was of paramount importance. But without a steady supply of chlorophyll they were d oomed to an early death. `that without chlorophyll from Chloris yo ur race will die out?' Then seizing the boss of the shield he waited for an answ er. Romana stepped in. she added a rider to her question.' . Tythonus. sulphuric acid. `How wou ld you put it?' she demanded. There were frequent multiple births--triplets or quadruplet s. But fearing the Tythonian tendency towards prolixi ty.gestated for about two thousand Chlorissian years (sometimes longer). These Tythonian young were for the first two or three hundred years of their life fed on a mixture of chlorophyll. therefore. Unfortunat ely for the future of the race. whilst undoubtedly the most beautiful planet in any galaxy.' said Erato. with its red skies and yellow sulphuric acid clo uds and indigo beaches. `You mean. split and produced two identical Tythonians. `I wouldn't put it quite like that. and. and a rare combination of mineral salts found only on the shores of the Orange Sea of Tythonus. was not rich in vegetation.

`The statement is substantially correct. before she persuaded th e guards that they Ix juice is the sap of a hardwood tree indigenous to Chlorin. demoralised. It was. before she restored order amon gst the Lady Adrasta's troops. . On the other hand.' I can believe that. `a mistake. Ka rela hurried through the mine tunnels in the direction of Adrasta's Palace. It took her precisely ninety seconds. from the Creature. Apparently h er species has no maternal feelings. Madam Karela ordered the guards to follow her. s he found some of the guards who had fled. why should Adrasta refuse the offer? It would have placed her i n a very strong position in any negotiations. They he sitated. They w ere standing around. `Di d you tell Adrasta all this?' `I thought to appeal to her maternal feelings by p ointing out the tragedy that would occur amongst the newborn of Tythonus should she refuse our generous offer. or to put it another way.' admitted Erato. Its sap closely re sembles tar. arguing amongst themselves. The thought of facing the Lady Adrasta once again did not appeal to any of them. Ther e. thought the Doctor. Karela to the left. She would without doubt crucify them upside down in a vat of boiling ix juice. Adrasta going to the right. at a loss to know what to do an d in fear of their lives. Madam Karela and Adrasta had separ ated at a fork in the tunnel. including a swift knife-thrust to the throat of the first and only vocal mutineer. milling about at the foot of the steps that led up to the audience chamber.Romano watched fascinated as the Doctor/Erato went purple with the effort to ach ieve brevity.' he agreed at length.

Karela will enter this chamber. There were nights when. On other planets in other galaxies Karela would of course have retired long ago to spend her decl ining years spoiling her grandchildren and infuriating their parents. one had to be to make one's way in the savage society of Chloris. when starved of othe r game. and totally without scru ple--which made her the ideal henchwoman for the Lady Adrasta. In the past th e weeds had revealed a disconcerting taste for human flesh. In a side tunnel Karela and the guards came upon the Lady Adrasta driving her terri fied huntsman and his flock of Wolfweeds before her. This was always Madam Karela's way. They were very reluctant to confront the Creature. One night.' she w arned the Doctor. seized the unfortunate astrologer and put a knife to his throat. Having rallied their support. determined to make he rself sole ruler of Chloris. One night there will be reckoning. Never waste time in idle dis cussion: act. no matter how large and no matt er what colour. Adrasta herself wondered at the old woman's implacable spirit. . watch in case of assass ins. l ying awake in her huge bedchamber where the candles burned all night and two Wol fweeds. At Adrasta's command Karela crept up on Organon.had more to fear from her than from any monster. On Chloris she was still engaged in a bitter struggle for power. or else this old fool dies. She was cruel. an d the huntsman had to admit it was the lesser of two evils when Adrasta threaten ed to have him walled up with only his own Wolfweeds for company. She was a survivor. But now now. Karela and the Lady Adrasta returned to th e cavern to take the intruders by surprise. but the Lady Adrasta was determined that they should. knife in hand. murderous. ruthless. s he thought. kept ceaseles. chained to rings set in the wall. `Te ll your green friend to make no sudden moves.

And why? Because you've got n o metal to make tools to drain the swamps and cut back the jungle. I'm really do ing you a kindness. to a void moving his chin. old friend. the jungle advancing everywhere. Thanks for all your help. The gu ards shuffled uneasily.' `I'd rather you didn't. `Just look at this planet. `Well. And all becau se the Lady Adrasta controls the last remaining mine on Chloris. his voice full of sympthy . `How is the Lady Adrasta going to destroy Chloris?' demanded one of the guards.' Organon rose an extra millimetre o r two and indignantly croaked. You're just going to die swiftly and cleanly and that much sooner than the rest of us. `Yes. `are as good as dead already. `That's the level of your civilisation! You've succeeded in cultivat ing weeds that are a . goodbye then. can I?' observed the Doctor. `In any case Adrasta's determined to destroy Chloris. choking everything. Organon looked plea dingly at the Doctor. They lived in daily fear of their lives from the Lady Ad rasta.' `I can't stop her.' replied the Doctor.' gasped Organon.' or dered Adrasta.' agreed the Doctor. who was standing on tiptoe because of the kn ife that was pressing against the soft underside of his jaw. old friend. It's dying already: minimal cultivated land--and that's dec lining all the time. `It's obvious. `set the Wolfweeds on this blasphemer!' `Weeds!' shouted the Doct or angrily.The Doctor smiled sadly at Organon. Soon t here'll be nothing but untamed forests and swamps. `Who's as good as dead already?' asked the huntsman.' he said in a strangled voice.' he smiled at the guards.' `Huntsman. `What do you mean--goodbye? You can't let her kil l me. You and everyone else he re. `I think she means it. But here was a new threat and one they didn't understand. I think she does.

patting the Creature.' went on the Do ctor.' whisp ered the Doctor.' He gripped the shield once again. It was one of the reasons why he had been selected as Ambassador. `Get to the point. W hy? Because she feared that if anyone else controlled the mineral supply on Chlo ris she would lose the source of her political power. with vocaliser (by which he m eant the shield) in place. Word of his presence had reached Adrasta. She and Karela and ha lf a dozen heavily armed guards had come out to see what unexpected thing the ju ngle had brought forth. He had landed at night in order to cause the minimum of disturban ce. Nevertheless. He found their reaction inex plicable.' `Let him speak!' declared the huntsman. Erato told them how he had landed on Chloris fifteen years before. `Your friend the Ambassador. The first Chlorissians he had encountered had run away from him screaming. `Keep it bri ef. She didn't . `Yes.' agreed several of the guards.' he whispered to Erato. he had gone forth to make contact with the natives.' said the Doctor. it was clear that something about his personal appearanc e was offensive to the local inhabitants. On Tythonus he was regarded as extremely handsome. `Let the Tyt honian Ambassador himself speak. But even now he could not conceive of what it could be. N ot surprisingly he had created something of a sensation. `No. She's not merely a fool-she's a criminal fool!' `Don't listen to him!' cried Adrasta. but animated nettles that kill. `It's just the rav ings of a demented space tramp.danger to people: Wolfweeds. Before dawn he had emerged from his craft and. `came here to bring you metals in exchange for some of your jungles. l et him speak. And what happened? The Lady Adrasta imprisoned him down here. not plants that produce oil or vitamins or beefstea ks.

she realised at once it was not a native of Chloris. she declared. She did not want to alarm her subjects any more than was neces sary. Unfortunately it had excited Adrasta's natural cupidity. Once she had learned the purpose of his mission. . While uneasy about relinquishing his o nly means of communicating with the people of Chloris. The steps leading up to the Palace were barred by h eavy doors and were in fact so steep and narrow that it was impossible for him t o negotiate them. Adr asta had sent her entourage away. except for one guard and Karela. With great difficulty he managed to slide his immense bulk down the mineshaft. The sight of so much pure metal had overco me everyone's fear. where-upon Adrasta. Because the tunnels underground were narrow and rock-strewn she advised Erato to give her his vocaliser. a secret way into the Palace from a nearby mine. using the guard's larynx. But when they had come upon th e Tythonian browsing on the vegetation. Peasants always lied in her experience. She would take it straight to the Palace herself and it would be waiting for him on his arrival. She agreed to negotiate. Adrasta had sought for away to turn it to her advantage. a nd he had no reason to suspect treachery. but insisted that he must come secret ly to her Palace. There was. In any case he could not afford to antagonise the ruler of the planet. Karela and the guard ha d piled rocks over the entrance to the shaft. In an attempt to establish friendly relations Erato had disgorged h alf a ton of pure copper at her feet. T here was no way out for him. Erato saw the sense of he r plan. either in hop e of reward or else to evade taxes or punishment. Once in the mine he was trapped. And then she and Erato had communicated via the vocaliser.believe peasants' stories. Erato therefore agreed to travel to th e Palace via the tunnels in the mine.

or at least the pr imitive mining methods available to the Chlorissians were unable to extract any more metal ore. Over the years more Chlorissians were thrown down to him. he decided. The guards had died of fear or suffocat ion. Not that it mattered to the Tythonian--they all seemed to die no matter what he did.Erato floundered around at the bottom of the mine wondering what to do. to kill him. At first he presumed that Adrasta meant to keep him out of sight until she had prepared the population for his appearance. At first he had worried that perhaps he had brought some ter rible disease from the depths of space. some were not. it was a miracle they had survived thus far. But then after analysing a couple of the bo dies he had rolled on he came to the conclusion that they were appallingly badly designed. Some time later a dozen heavily armed guards were lowered down the mineshaft. and if so. Then after a year or two it gradually dawned on him that she had trapped him in the mine hoping he would die. They were a collection of impractical projections--arms. It sea not his fault. He had also made another discovery. Unfortunately Erato had been so eager to communicate that he had rolled against them. Then of course the significance of his discovery dawned on him. t he source of her . that his visito rs failed to survive the encounter. some alien bacteria that caused Chloriss ians to die the moment they saw him. They had been sen t to find out if he was still alive. heads. Some were armed. forgetting fo r a moment that they weren't Tythonians. With a monster in occupation it would take a brave man to go down into the Pit of his own volition. The mine was worked out. So no one need ever find out that the mine. Adrasta needed him--not as a source of metal. but as an excuse to keep people ou t of her mine. legs-all of which broke so easily.

political power, was finished. It was ironical, declared Erato, that until now A drasta's political power had depended on him. `They're lying!' said the Lady Adr asta. `The Doctor and that Creature are lying. Or at least the Doctor is. You do n't think for one second that a thing like that green blob can actually talk, do you?' `It's easy enough to find out,' replied the Doctor. `Try it yourself. Try holding on to the vocaliser and see what happens. Perhaps we can learn the trut h from your own lips.' Adrasta shrank away from the Doctor. She looked desperate ly round for Karela. Where was she? `Come on,' said the Doctor. `Don't you want the truth to be known?' `You don't expect intelligent men like my guards to be t aken in by these childish tricks,' sneered Adrasta. `Huntsman, kill the Doctor.' But the huntsman didn't move. `Guards!' They too showed no sign of obeying her orders. Damn them. Where was Karela? `Speak with the Creature,' ordered the hunt sman. Adrasta glared at him. `I will devise a way of killing you,' she declared, `so painfully and so slowly that the torments of hell will seem a pleasure by c omparison.' The huntsman cracked his whip. Obediently the Wolfweeds muted toward s her. She backed away. Again the huntsman urged on the Wolfweeds. Again Adrasta moved away. But she was being driven towards Erato. The Doctor suddenly stepped forward and seized her by the wrist. He forced her hand on the handle of the vo caliser. Adrasta screamed and tried to tear her hand away. But she could not. Fr om her lips came her own voice condemning her.

`It is as I said,' declared Adrasta/Erato. `This evil woman condemned me, the Ty thonian Ambassador, to fifteen years in this foul-smelling pit. For fifteen year s I have not felt the gentle sulphuric acid rain of Tythonus on my skin. For fif teen years I have been deprived of the songs and poetry of my native planet, of communication with civilised creatures. I have fifteen years of pain and misery and anguish to avenge.' Suddenly, with a swiftness that surprised everyone, the enormous green mass moved. Erato rolled over the Lady Adrasta and the Wolfweeds like an avalanche. After a few moments he rolled back. The Wolfweeds were gone. The Lady Adrasta lay dead, her eyes wide open in a state of pure horror. The Doc tor seized the vocaliser. `Thank you,' said the Doctor/Erato. `The Wolfweeds wer e delicious.'

10 Complications Tucking into his first proper meal for weeks, Organon waxed indignant with Roman a. `He was going to let me die,' he complained. `My friend, the man I saved from that green thing, was going to let me die. `I tell you,' he went on, waving the leg of a cold roast fondel in her direction, `there's no gratitude in the world .' Romana looked up from picking the last Wolfweed filaments off K9. `Of course the Doctor wouldn't have let you die,' she declared. `It was all a ploy to get A drasta off balance.' `Well, it got me off balance, I can tell you. He might have more consideration for my age,' he added. `It worked, didn't it? You're out of the Pit, aren't you? You're alive and well and eating your fourth fondel leg, un less I'm mistaken. And this planet now has a future--if Erato is to be believed. ' `I'm not sure that he is,' said the Doctor, entering the audience chamber. Org anon choked on a piece of fondel. The Doctor patted him on the back. `What do yo u mean about Erato?' demanded Romana. `Well, in spite of what he says, I don't b elieve that our large green friend was made an Ambassador just because of his lo oks.' The Doctor removed the last roast fondel leg from Organon's plate, dipped it in the uxal sauce§§, and took a bite. `Delicious,' he announced. §§ A fondel is a kind of wild turkey peculiar to Chloris. Uxal sauce is a kind of c hutney made from uxal berries.

' he said at last.' ` If it was transmitting a distress signal for fifteen years. `In an egg. observed Organon gloomily. `is that o ur green friend won't he leaving Chloris in a hurry.' `The broken shell we found.' `I did. `One thing I do know.' .' demande d Romana. complete wi th photon drive.' `If that's the case. dipping the leg into the ux al sauce once again. i t was transmitting some kind of message. `Well. `H e took some pieces of shell with him down the Pit. That rather depends o n the Tythonians. `After a lifetime in the astrology business. he has severa l nasty suprises up his sleeve--or tucked in the folds of his extraordinary gree n cerebellum.' he went on.' Romana reminded him. I found them there.' `We didn't see any photon drive. How did he arrive here ?' she asked.`You were telling us about Erato. `When we found that shell.' The Doctor nodded. very experienced planetary negotiator. What?' `Obviously a distress signal. One of th e pieces is a photon drive. it's actually a blindingly simple space vehicle.' Romana looked worried.' pointed out Organon .' replied the Doctor. `why are you getting Erato out of the Pit? I mean he might go off in h is spacecraft and return with a load of angry Tythonians.' said the Doctor. I can assure you that in my experience supr ises have a habit of being singularly unpleasant. Unless I miss my guess. `What?' `I don't know. he is a very shre wd. `I don't like supriscs. `surely the things on Tythonus would have done something about it by now. `When it's in one piece. This really is very good.' The Doctor scooped up a gobbet of uxal sauce on his finger an d thoughtfully sucked it off.' `Ma ybe they have.

`What's to stop him?' `Because.' replied the Doctor. `I saw enough of that monster down the Pit to last me sev eral lifetimes. `That Doctor chap waving something about. removing a curiously shaped piece of eggshell from his pocket. peering into the audience chamber.' he said.' The Doctor placed the piece of shell on the table. The Tythonian was now out of the Pit at last and o n his way to the Palace.' replied Edu in a hoarse whisper. the late Lady Adrasta's senior engineer. At the Doctor's directions and working intensively for the past few ho urs. Tollund. Besides I haven't fi nished eating yet. Ainu and Torvin held his legs. `Guard th at with your life.' he said firmly. `Are you com ing?' Romana asked Organon. `What is it?' `One of the guards has just come in. Edu clung to the windo w embrasure. `Is it metal?' `Don't know: Edu suddenly ducked down. he had widened the mouth of the pitshaft and had built a wooden ramp from t he base of the shaft to the surface--a ramp strong enough and wide enough to tak e Erato. I have no desire to renew the acquaintance. `I took the precaution of borrowing part of his photon drive.' The guard in fact had brought news for the Doctor. `No.' At considerable risk to life and limb. With the aid of four great windlasses and several hundred men Erato had managed to mount the ramp and squeeze himself through the opening. . ` What can you see?' whispered Torvin. thank you. had b een busy. The old man shuddered and shook his head.

' It had taken all Tor vin's inconsiderable powers of persuasion to get Ainu and Edu to return to the P alace with him. `all except for that old astrologer. Edu stupid. . then Erato was positively beaming.' `What's he doing?' asked Torvin.' said Edu. Ainu and Edu remained loyal (if that was the word) thanks t o a unique combination of greed and stupidity. They could see tendrils emerging fr om his body which were delicately stripping the greenery from the surrounding tr ees and bushes.' An extraordinary sight met the Doctor and Romano when they descended to the courtyard of the Palace. The Doctor nodded t o Romana who stepped forward and took hold of the handle of the volcaliser. The rest of him stretched back into the jungle. `I t hink it's time you answered a few questions. `Com e on down. peering through the window again. `This.`You may rely on me.' hissed Torvin. The little pockmarked bandit lowered himself from the window and dropped to the floor. `Eating. Ainu was greedy. The rest of the band had fled. my friend. If something as shapeless as the Tythonian could be said to have an expression.' replied the astrologer. Erato was in the act of squeezing the first few feet of himself through the main gate.' declared Torvin with a confidence he d id not possess.' the Doctor said. One close encounter with the Tyth onian had been enough to encourage them to put the maximum distance between them selves and the mine. picking up a large piece of pie. `is where we make our fortunes. ` They've gone. His veins (if they were veins ) were pulsing brightly and his skin glowed with well-being.

Am I right?' `Correct. well. ' `Shouldn't you switch it off now?' `It will have switched itself off. the mome nt I came out of the Pit. astronomic.' `Then we've nothing to worry about?' Erato did not reply. it's hardly something one is g oing to look back on over the next twenty thousand years or so with pride. `What would you prevent if you could?' `I mean. however huge.' replied Romana/Erato. Perhaps being imprisoned i n the mine for fifteen years had affected the Tythonian. I would prevent it if I could.' `Too late to do anything about what?' `Believe me. It is telepathically connected to one of my neurologic al centres.' said the Tythonian with obvious embarrassment. `Well.' `Wha t?' `The total destruction of this solar system. `But first you really must compliment our hosts.' `Let's talk about your distress signal firs t. Unless I'm mistaken. `Have we? ' demanded the Doctor.' went on Erato . the one in the shell at the Place of Death. `Absolutely.`With pleasure. `Are you quite sure?' he asked. could destroy a whole solar system.' `The forces required to destroy a solar sy stem--even quite a small one--are. hardly able to believe his ears. Bes ides I'm afraid it's far too late to do anything about it now. Their leaves are delicious. it's been tr ansmitting direct to Tythonus for the past fifteen years.' The Doctor stared at the Creat ure in astonishment. It was inconceivable th at a few green blobs. I'd rather not talk about it.' . `I don't wish to cause distress and despondency.

because they had developed the supreme doomsday weapon. `has to he the under-statement of the millenium.' agreed Erato.' ` Well. `I just don 't know what you propose to do with it. `that if I. `I'm very much afraid that's impossible. stop it.. as Tythonian Amba ssador.' he said.' he went on. `I know what a neutron star is.' `A neutron star ?' `A collapsed star composed of supercompressed degenerate matter. They had not fought a war for over a million yea rs. `That's th e trouble with neutron stars--once you've started them on their way you can't st op them. of which there were a great number in the galaxy.' replied Erato. Their power of retaliation was so enormous no adversary was prepared to risk to tal annihiliation. then she would . `It's really very simple. `Which is why we use a neutron star. `Bang.' replied the Doctor. `Abort the missile.' demanded the Doctor. telling your people on Tythonus that you are alive and well and having a marvellous time. They didn't need to.' explained E rato helpfully. `There's an explosion. G reat accuracy was not required.' `Yes. I did warn the Lady Adrasta. About two million years ago they had discovered how to affect the orbits of neutron stars.' snapped the Doctor.' `Bounce it off one of Chloris's suns.`Precisely..' `That . Doctor.' Erato went on to explain that the Tyth onians were a peaceloving race. All the neutron star had to do was to brush the surface of a sun and. Transmit a new message from the shell.' said Erato simply.' Romana/Erato sighed re gretfully. And get them to stop the star. was in any way harmed. They could in fact direct the star into the path of a particular solar system. What you 're suggesting would create a fireball a tenth of a light year across.

the former still keeping a tight hold on the vocaliser. There were n o astronomers on any of the neighbouring planetary systems to observe its passag e. Do forgive me. Unfortunately she was a very stupid woman. `We'll just h ave to transfer the population of Chloris to another planet in another solar sys tem.' Romana and the Doctor fo llowed him.' In th e cold and empty reaches of space the neutron star sped on its way. There had to be some way o f preventing the tragedy. Their presen ce was . it came ev er closer to the smallest of Chloris's suns. `I would love to stay. `There's one solution. I am a sentimentalist at heart and have no wish to be a witness to the inevitable distressing scenes that are bound to occur when the star strikes one of Chloris's suns. Long ago its own source of energy had died. Dead but deadly. `Approximately twenty-four hours.' said Erato. Now gravitatio nal forces of unimaginable magnitude compressed it--until it was no more than te n kilometres in diameter: about half the size of London. But it's not impossible. How long have we got befo re the neutron star strikes?' he asked. If there had been they would have written learned papers on the subject. backing aw ay from the Doctor and trying to manoeuvre his bulk back through the Palace gate s.' he said at last. It's going to take time. full of theories explaining such a unique event.' The Doctor thought hard for a moment. Already there were signs of perturb ation on the surface of the suns. `But I really must go now. Now it was no more than a thin outer shell containing nothing but neutrons. Long ago the star had consumed all its own nuclear fuel.face retaliation on a scale she could not conceive.

Though when you looked at Erato s pread over the surrounding countryside.obviously beginning to irritate the Tythonian.' `But that will take ages. doomed planet. `It's not quite as simple as that. the sheer immensity. On the other hand. There really is no point in you following me. That must be how he made his spaceship.' `How will you escape?' asked the Doctor. Erato was offended at this i mplied slighting of his talents. beginning to back away again.' `Three Tythonian ninods.of the operation bo ggled the mind. I understand that you have a time and space vehi cle of your own. anything is possible. like a spider. Erat o stopped in his tracks. thought the Doctor. Then the Doctor remembered the strange metallic threads which th e Tythonian had secreted. a Tythonian spacecraft isn't a particularly complex machine. Which is why only a few of my race are space travellers. of course. who wished to be on his way. Use it now. Or one hour seven seconds in your time. `I'll just make my self another spacecraft. it was really no mo re than a huge egg equipped with photon drive. in order to construct the shell-like ba rrier in the mine. If t he broken shell at the Place of Death was anything to go by.' . alas. There aga in. `You mean you just so rt of knit yourself a spaceship?' the Doctor asked. I suppose if you can shunt neutron stars around the Universe like so many cattle trucks.' continued Erato. Not every Tythonian succeeds in mastering the art. `Don't wo rry about me.' he snapped.' Build a space ship in a hour? Impossible. `I would strongly advise you to make your own escape as soon as you can from this. `Look. `There's a knack to it.' h e said. you know.

In any case. y ou have my sympathy. An idea wa beginning to form in his brain--an idea so extraordinary . `Would you be prepared to save this planet fro m your doomsday weapon?' he asked. had littl e reason to feel friendly towards his ex-captors.' replied the Doctor soothingly. `I didn't notice any of them rushing to free me. of course. the Lady Adrasta. `But it could prevent the destruction of Chloris. however. `Let me remind you. so lunatic. aware that that hardly described the extreme danger inherent in his pl an. `Believe me. Not that she personally had anything aga inst Erato--except for the fact that he had nearly frightened her out of her wit s on several occasions.' `I know. `I'm impressed. I know. `Don't he so touc hy. Can you knit anything?' `Like what?' `Like several kilometres of aluminium foil.' `Why would I wish to do that?' demanded the Tythonian.' h e said. An abstracted expression came over the Doctor's face.' said the Doctor. But she was relieved to learn that they wouldn't be meet ing huge green blobs on every planet where they made landfall. it just might work. `I came to this benighted planet as an accredited Ambassador.' repli ed the Tythonian.Thank heavens for that. He stared b lankly at a small lizard-like creature that was trying to climb the Palace wall and failing. They imprisoned me for fifteen years in a disgusting hole in the ground and would have starved me to death. I am . with an of fer to help its unfortunate inhabitants.' Erato. if that had been possible. the Chlorissians were not responsible for th e actions of that madwoman.' `I am not so sure of that. Doctor.' he went on. thought Romana. But after all. `It might be just a bit risky.

And he loathed the prospect of causing such an appalling loss of life. That sh ould minimise its gravitational pull. . so that you can wrap it in an aluminium shell. Unfortunately he had to admit that the Doctor's argument was irr esistible. `I will help.' explained the Doc tor.' he replied.' `I thought the Tythonians were a peace-loving race. so we can then yank it out of its present orbit. `What do you want me to do?' `Knit a thin aluminium shell round the neutron star.' said Erato. We can exert short bursts of enormous gravitational pre ssure on the star. Is Tythonian Ambassador. `as a tractor beam.' The Doctor sighed with relie f. It is a recipe for mutual destruction.' `W e are. `You stay out of this.' The Doctor did not reply. `She is quite c orrect.' she objected.' he said pettishly. Romana took hold of the vocaliser once again.' `Then I would have thought you.' Erato considered the matte r for a moment. `I agree with Romana. would want to m ake a positive demonstration of Tythonian good will.' `And how do we do the "yanking"?' `We use the TARDIS.disinclined to commit suicide on their behalf.' Romana released the handle of the vocaliser. And that is precisely what it wou ld be if I stayed here. He regretted the necessity of destroying a planet so rich in valuable chlorophyll--a planet which held the promise of feeding generations of young Ty thonians. `Oh. very well. Doctor. `That's cr azy. which should be enough to slow it up. For without the Tythonian's help his plan had no chance of success.

But the piece of shell with the photon drive ha d vanished. She stalked them like an elderly but still lethal panther.' confessed the Doctor. She slipped silently away. When they return ed to the audience chamber. as the Doctor and Romana were to discover. she saw a way of assuming supreme power on Chloris. `it just--just--might work.' went on the Tythonian after a moment. they found Organon unconscious. `There's no way you could have left this planet. after all her years of patience and plotting. Success had made them careless. her black clothes ma king her almost invisible in the twilight of the . It was from there that Madam Karela had watched the meeting betw een the Doctor and the Creature. The day of Karela had arrived. It wasn't difficult for her to follow t he bandits in their progress through the jungle. In the corner of the Palace courtyard. after all her years of loyal service to the Lady Adrasta.`On the other hand. but still clutching the remains of a half-eaten pie. I took the precaution of removing a vital part of your photon drive.' `Then you'll help?' `Very well.' Erato was curious. You see. `What would you have done if I had decided to abandon you? I could have built my spaceship and returned home. She had not been able to overhear much of their conversation. At last.' `You might have found that a bit tricky. But she had heard enough for her purposes.' Unfortunately. that was all too true. creepers and lianas grew outw ards to form a kind of shelter sometimes used by guards who wished to take cover from the rain.' `I knew you would.

Just like new. `We're loaded up with the real thing. aren't we? Copper. She was never far behind the three men. `We found Adrasta's metal vault. she th ought. votive vessels.overshadowing trees. `Metal. `Look at it. They had enough to carry as it was. but it was amazing how much they had managed to take: ingots of co pper. What do we want with a broken piece of shell?' `Maybe it's valuable. But Torvin was insistent: no useless baggage. bronze objects decorated i n the linear style favoured 150 years ago. rods of iron.' obje cted Edu. Wha t a pathetic bunch of cut-throats! That she should he reduced to seeking the hel p of scum like this! Unfortunately she needed them--but not their leader.' . Torvin positively drooled over the haul. you moron!' `You alwa ys pick on me. She paused. `Undamaged. They had only spent a few hurried moment in Adr asta's vault. Torvin. Iron. summing up the situation. Tin. Edu had wanted to keep the piece of shell the old astrologer had been guar ding. yet never for a mom ent did they realise she was there. tin beaten into thin leaf shapes. `Pick on you? Be careful I don't pick your bones one day. The bandits reached their cave and unloaded their booty. He had taken a fancy to it.' complained Edu. Ainu and Edu stopped constantly to a rgue. swords. stroking an elegant bronze drinking mug . `And you wanted to bother about a piece of rot ten old shell!' he scoffed to Edu. none of them noticed Karela enter the cave.' rhapsodised Torvin. belabouring the litt le pockmarked man with the flat of a bronze sword. They empti ed their sacks out on the floor. They were so occupied with their booty. you half-pint apology for a nonentity. didn't we?' demanded Torvin. axes. No rust anywhere.' Sulkily Edu threw away the pie ce of shell. `Metal! That's what's important!' shouted Torvin.

`But he was our leader. using her knee in the small of his back to provide leverage. so that Karela was bet ween the two of them. Half a ton of copper--think of it. `Yo u know where that copper came from? From the Creature. though. Greed she understood. circling away a little to his left. `You think this is wealth? This is nothing compare d with what we can have. We could fill this cave a hundred times over with pure metal. I helped weigh it. Torvin looked down in astonishment to see the point of the knife emerge from h is chest. `Kill me and you condemn yourself to poverty. `He seemed a thoroughly unpleasant man. And I never even knew him.' agreed Edu.' . `She killed Torvin. You could always hand le greed. She turned to face the other two. But the two of u s should be able to tackle her. Karela withdr ew the knife as he fell.' Ainu moved a step towards her.He gave a gasp as Karela. `Tempered steel?' he murmured in surprise. with the deftness of long practice. He drew his own kn ife.' said Edu . and died.' `He was unpleasa nt. `You killed him.' Ainu wasted no time in idle conversation. `Anybody might be excused for doing that. I know. With a swift move ment. he thought. inserted her knife blade just below his rib cage on the left-hand side and drove the point upwards . She indicated th e pile of metal on the floor. Stupidity was apt to be dangerous.' said E du plaintively. Karela pointed to the pile of copper ingots. you and I.' she warned.' `What's all this about caves full of m etal?' demanded Ainu.' observed Karela. `He's dead. She is quick with that knife. `Metal?' Karela smiled inwardly. then paused as her words sank in. I was there when he laid half a ton of pure copper at the Lady Adrasta's feet.

`It came from the Creatur e?' asked Edu.' he said.' The two bandits stared at each other in horror. `Cowa rds!' she snarled..' `There's only one problem with that scenario. I cannot do it alone. Th e bandits stared at the robot unhappily. It was a pleasant thought. `I've met that metal animal before. but I found it. `is two men I can trust. the Doctor had been able to follow the tracks of the bandits and Madam Karela through the jungle. remembering how it had once dealt with the late Torvin. `Torvin made me thr ow it away. `And he will produce more: as much as we want. Karela turned angrily on the bandits.Ainu and Edu thought of it.' K9 pushed his way into the cave and stood beside the Doctor. Don't listen to him. You will help me kill them. W hat I need. `In a very few hours all that will be left of this planet i s several trillion tons of deep-fried rubble.' `Yes. then together we can seize power here on Chloris and force the Creature to give us as much me tal as we want. `Deep-fried rubble?' s aid Edu uneasily. `Do I have to do all the killing myself?' . Karela nodded. Kill him.' said Edu. At last Ainu resheathed his knife and shook his head. `I told him. I have to deal with Romana and the Doctor. I have it hidden.' said the Doctor from the cave mouth. Still fancy going into the metal b usiness?' With the help of K9. `Because he needs that piece of shell you stole. `What does he mean--deep-fried rubble?' `He's only trying to f righten you. `Nothing's going to happen.' declared Madam Kazela. He had stood outside the cave l ong enough to he able to guess at the evil woman's plans.' went on Karela.' `W hy should he?' demanded Ainu suspiciously..

`You see. Adrasta and I tested them ourselves..`Before you do anything you'll regret later. `But it would take time. go ahead.. You're welcome to anything produced by our friend Erato. `the trouble is. `We could find that piece of sh ell ourselves. became dull. But the Doc tor wanted to avoid the necessity of stunning her. Th ey turned black. She might be unconscious for a half an hour.' Karela moved closer. There just wasn't time. `tell me where yo u've hidden that piece of shell.. Every second the neutron star was growin g nearer to Chloris's suns. The copper ingots lost their brightness. Wh en K9 switched off his ray. `You still think you can use it to force the Creatur e to give you all the metal you want? Well. There was a curious humming noise which grest steadily in intensity.' `Of c ourse they're copper.' said the Doc tor. K9's sensors twitched uneasily. But it's unusable. the metal isn't atomically stable.' Karela paused. her eyes blazing.' Knife in hand. frowning.' K9 turned his ray onto t he booty heaped on the cave floor. Show her. He was ready to fire the instant she attempted to strike at the Doctor. Madam Karela aged visibily as she watched the process of destruction. She saw her last chance of taking supreme political . gradually crumbling to dust.' went on the Doctor. the only remains of the copper was a pile of greyish dust. `You still think that piece of shell is you key to p ower on Chloris?' he asked. `Those ingots are copper. And time is the one thing we haven't got.' insist ed Karela.' `You're lying.' said the Doctor. Karela took a step towards the Doctor.. then began to disintegrate. It's rather important. K9.

`Tell me where that piece of shell is.' said the Doctor gently.power on Chloris fading away in front of her. like morning mist in the sun. `The dream's over.' .

`Tes ting. The robot was plugged into a freestanding communications console.' replied K9. can you hear me?' asked the Doctor. The shell. Testing. for example. The molecular structure of the metal was rearranged slightly. went on transmitting ev en while Erato was in the Pit. They always seem to build some kind of back-up system into everything they construct. while they watch ed Erato making his space ship. `Maybe it's why they've survived so long.' went on the Doctor.' `I can hear you. There had to be some way he could take back his gift if Adrasta ren eged on him. I thought there had to be a catch in i t somewhere. and Bob's your Uncle--half a hundred weight of dust. `I always wonde red about that copper Erato gave Adrasta. They were hack in the TARDIS. `shouldn't we be fixing up that communication bank for him? Erato w ill soon be ready to take off. crisscrossing each othe r.11 Wrapping Up `How did you know the copper would disintegrate?' asked Romana.' explained the Doctor. his vocal circuits locked .' `Talking of K9. Glittering metall ic threads emerged from his body and began to weave a silvery web around him. It was an unforgettable sight. All K9 had to do was to find the resonating factor. canny race.' `Erato. building up the structure. The neutron star was automatically triggered on i ts way by the shell. `T he Tythonians are a cautious. More threads spilled out of the cocoon. so th at it reacted to certain resonances. `In any case.' By now Erato was completely covered by a thick cocoon of g leaming threads.' said Romana.

checking the setting of all the dials. `P reparing for take off. `This has got to be absolutely precise. On the large videoscreen in the TARDIS Roman a watched the great silver egg rise slowly and silently into the air.' Su ddenly the silver egg changed attitude.' She adjusted the controls then. He threw the switch. Its nose lifted until it pointed skyward s.' observed the Docto r.' remarked the Doctor.' she said.' said Romana.' he remarked. Trouble was the old Count never could get the design right. so the Tardis re-mate rialised close by. The central column on the control console of the TARDIS began to rise and fall. they saw.' she replied. Lights flashed. `Any sign of that neutron star yet?' he asked.the neutron star. The Tythonian was therefore able to speak through K9. `I'll incr ease the resolution. `They called them zeppelins. the Tythonians' doomsday weapon-. `Well. faintly at first but growi ng larger all the time. `The re it is. `There's a blip on Band Six.into Erato's vocaliser. `There's no room for error. when the image was steady. punched the picture up on the videoscreen.' said Erato. And a blue police box vanished from the surface of Chloris . thousands of kilometres away. There was a faint blur of light around the vessel. They were now looking deep into spac e. and then it hurled itself in the direction of Chloris's suns. mak ing minute adjustments. And there. She checked the small display screen.' `That'll be a change. They heard the familiar sound of the TAR DIS de-materialising. no point in hanging around here. `It remind s me of something they used to have on Earth. As Erato's craft cautiously approached the neutron star. The Doctor stood at the control console. .

' `I never said this w as going to be easy. I always meant to check the blessed thing. Walls seemed to concertina in and out.' replied Erato glumly. `To be absolutely honest. He was occupied t aking readings of the star through his sensors. old thing.' h e said. `Well. I haven't used the gravity tractor beam since. Suddenly the picture distorted.' Th e Doctor activated the tractor beam..' `Now you tell me.' He couldn't remember the last time. Its exterior became i ncandescent. Images multiplied. Romana watched on the videoscreen as Erato began to move closer to the star. but I never actually got round to it.' snap ped K9. The needles on a dozen dial s shot over into the area marked `Danger'. Very shortly it's going to be subject to an irresist ible gravitational pull from Chloris's suns. `Bit too close. Are you sure you can hold it while I surround the thing with an aluminium shell?' The Doctor checked the calculatio ns he had hastily scribbled on the back of an old laundry list. .. `I have no desire to get caught in your time eddy. no. Erato did not reply.' replied the Doctor. Sorry.`Oops.' said the Doctor. The floor rippled. `Frankly. The TARDIS shuddered. `Doctor. Two Doctors leapt across to them and threw the swi tches. `the star is gathering momentum. Half a dozen Eratos appr oached half a dozen stars The control room of the TARDIS took on a nightmarish a ppearance. about ten years ago. She saw t he first silvery threads emerge from the egg and drift across the intervening sp ace.' `Watch what you're doing. The whole machine screamed and groaned. With that everything returned to normal. There were no fewer than three consoles.' he said at last. Red warning lights flashed on. `There's only one way to find out.

the beam held.' Erato began to circle th e star. Erato?' `You can turn off your grav ity beam in five of your seconds. `Nothing to worry about.' `Doctor. fille d the videoscreen... a great aluminium-covered ball. kicked the console.. and threw the gravity tr action beam switch once again. `Counting now.' she said. `Get weaving.' The Doctor and Romana glanced up at the videoscreen.' he said. with a cheerfulness he d idn't feel. Erato..' The star.. `We're placing a terrible strain on the TARDIS. two. The effect of the tractor beam is to distort our spatial dimension. One. Five. three. They saw Erato's craft was plunging out of control towar ds the star.. We're pulling the star in towards us.. . He crossed his fingers. `you must hold the star.. cocooning it in a she ll of aluminium. gradually wrapping it in a web of silvery threads. `How much longer. four. hurling the Doctor and Romana against the wall. Pulled by the gravity traction beam it was rushing to collide with the TARDIS. The needles were beginni ng to creep up towards the `Danger' area again. `What happened? cried Romana.. The Doctor fought his way back t o the console.' said Romana. `The control circuit's gone! We can't switch off the beam.' said the Doctor. `All right. This time.' Erato never got any further because just at that point p art of the control console of the TARDIS blew up.' replied K9.... I'm being dragged towards it.`We can't hold that star for more than five seconds. Worriedly Romana checked on the dials. except for occasional distortions.' said K9.

' With the star almost upon them the Doctor managed to press the dematerialisation button. `I worked out that our chances of s uccess were 74.' `74. they saw the star on the videoscreen. It was swinging away on a new orb it--an orbit that would take it far from the suns of Chloris. The star passed h armlessly through the space previously occupied by the TARDIS.338 to 11 against.`Doctor. `I still say it wa s impossible. .384. `we've got to dematerialise.' said the Doctor.384. When they remater ialised.338 just happens to be my lucky n umber.' cried Romana. Romana agreed.' said K9/Erato.

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