The Lair of the Zarbi Supremo
The Doctor is excited when he hears a voice coming through his radio speaking in English and materialises on the planet Vortis. He puts on his breathing apparatus and atmospheric density jacket and sets out across the landscape. His observation that the mists and basalt spires of his first visit are not to be seen so he concludes he is on a different part of the planet from his previous visit. The voice on his radio keeps repeating the plea for help, the warning against the Zarbi supremo and the need to warn Earth that he first heard as he came back into real space. He returns to the TARDIS to find some binoculars which he trains on the uncountable 'anthills' - each a hundred feet high at least - which stretch across the plain before him. He sees millions of Zarbi swarming over the hills. He uses the antennae on his walkie-talkie to get a rough fix on where the message is coming from, presumably sent by an imprisoned Earthman, and sets off in that direction.
He makes his way between the Zarbi, who seem to pay him no heed. When he thinks he must be near the sender of the message he replies, asking for a landmark to guide him. There is no reply. He makes his way forward and spots something half-buried in the sand. It is a large metal sphere. Assuming it is a space ship belonging to the sender of the message he searches for a door and enters an airlock. When he passes through that into the main part of the ship he finds that the message he has been listening to is being played on a tape machine.
Passing further into the ship he finds a room where two figures are lying on a bed. One is a boy and the other appears to be a dead man. The boy, Gordon Hamilton, says that the recorded voice is his father's. when the ship crashed onto the planet the rest of the crew went out to explore. His father was too ill to go and stayed behind. Something they saw outside made them convinced that an invasion of Earth was planned. The Doctor is puzzled when the boy says this. Even assuming that the ship has the ability to travel at several times the speed of light, as Gordon says, and travelled for two years, it has no chance of being even a millionth of the way to Vortis.
The boy tells him that there were six crewmen, all scientists, and they left the ship five days earlier. Looking out of a porthole the Doctor notices that many of the 'anthills' are torpedo shaped. The boy tells him that they are space ships. His father apparently has been listening to telepathic messages that say the ships are to be used in an invasion of Earth. The Doctor asks him where he thinks the planet is. Gordon says that it is a rogue planet that has been steered into the Solar System and is currently near to Jupiter. This seems very improbable to the Doctor. He suggests that Gordon is of no help to his unconscious father and that they should leave the Solar Queen and look for the missing crew.
On their journey, the Doctor explains that the Zarbi are one of the two dominant species on the planet while their rivals are the peace-loving, butterfly-shaped Menoptera. They come across six Zarbi lying in the sand. At first they think they are dead but on closer inspection it is apparent that they are metal facsimiles of the Zarbi and in each is a dead Menoptera. They remove two of the dead and climb inside to see if they can work out the controls. The Doctor works it out more quickly but Gordon soon gets the hang of it, too. The boy suggests they use the Doctor's walkie-talkie to see if they can locate the crew but, as soon as the Doctor switches it on, all of the Zarbi freeze. He realises that somebody is controlling all of the m and will get a fix on his location if he switches it back on. When the Zarbi start to move again, the pair of them begins to walk, using their metal casings. However, this time they notice that the giant ants are coming in their direction in one vast wave.
They are swept along in the wave towards a squat hill with a single entrance. Inside, it is hot and stifling. The Zarbi carry on with a single purpose. They pass furnaces and machinery as well as vast bloated queens and thousands of larvae. They arrive in an enormous amphitheatre where thousands of rows of Zarbi are looking at a stage. On this sits a giant Zarbi as well as a party of Menoptera and a group of humans. These groups are motionless and wear a collar around their necks. One of the Menoptera has had its collar removed and is speaking to the great Zarbi. The Doctor and Graham edge forward until they can hear the Menoptera. It is clear that he is refusing to follow the Supremo's plan: the Menoptera tell the people of Earth that they come in peace while the Zarbi invade and take over the planet. He points out that a
fraction of the energy used to get Vortis through space would have made the planet like Earth (but better suited to insects).
The Zarbi leader replies by manipulating a dial on a piece of equipment. The Menoptera clearly hears what is being said, though the Doctor cannot because brainwaves are being transmitted. The Menoptera replies that the Zarbi must kill the prisoners, then. He warns that the Menoptera have been building weapons and soon the Zarbi will find that their plans are defeated. The Zarbi's response is to raise a limb and use some sort of electricity to fry the Menoptera. This galvanizes the Doctor and Graham into action. They storm onto the stage and use their robot Zarbi mandibles to lift the hypnotic collars from the necks of the prisoners. The Doctor urges the men to use their weapons on the leader. They pump it full of bullets until it collapses dead.
While one of the Menoptera explains how the Zarbi have developed from a social species to one desiring to rule (under the leader's terrible thrall) the men are surprised to see hundreds of Menoptera emerging from Zarbi shells and shepherding the now leaderless ants. The men make their way through the tunnels to the planet's surface and back to their space ship. When they arrive they are pleased to see that Graham's father is looking better. The Doctor asks how the planet happens to be near Jupiter. The Menoptera that have accompanied them say that the Zarbi leader used great engines to power the planet in search of a damp, green world. They say they will fly the planet elsewhere and destroy the engines. One of the men says that cannot be allowed. The purpose of their explorations is to find planets rich in resources with weak inhabitants that can be exploited. He pulls his (empty) gun on the Menoptera but before a fight can begin other Menoptera lift the Doctor up and fly him back to his TARDIS. They tell him that they have heard legends of him and know he is no threat. He enters the ship, wondering what the future has in store for this strange planet.
Time-Placement: This is the second visit of the Doctor to Vortis.
The Sons of the Crab
The Doctor travels to the Crab Nebula, the first time he has made such a lengthy journey in one go. He finds himself in a strange city of squat buildings. He steps out onto the street and finds himself frozen in fear as he surveys the teeming inhabitants. They are of many, hideous shapes and, bizarrely, seem to change size and species as they move. One goes from a three-headed monster to a giant orchid to a spray of liquid as it approaches. Suddenly, a square opens in the wall beside him and he is pulled inside, still immobile. To his relief he sees that the people within are human in shape and behaviour. They all wear tunics. One of the men points what appears to be a gun at him but rather than hurting him it merely frees his limbs so that he can move again. It is obvious that the men are puzzled that the Doctor is able to maintain his shape for more than a few seconds. He steps into their laboratory and tells them that he has travelled millions of light years (sic) to be there but they seem unconcerned with greeting him and merely note that he has the ability to speak - unusual on this planet - before lifting him onto a dais where he is imprisoned behind white bars. He is bathed in a blue light. the men are delighted that they have found someone with a rigid form and think that this may be their salvation. Before they can report their findings, two of the men begin to hideously transform into writhing shapes. The others quickly eject them out onto the street. They are horrified that two of their number have been infected by the contamination and conclude that the Doctor brought it with him. They decide to put him back onto the street. One of them argues that the creature is not one of the Yend. They decide to send him to Formal where he can be dissected.
He is taken by a force field to meet Formal, the chief Yend. The TARDIS is in the room, too. The Formal concludes that it is some sort of robot servant of the Doctor's. when the Doctor contradicts him and tries to explain the ship Formal concludes that the Doctor's physical rigidity is balanced by a bizarre mental mutation. The Doctor learns he is on the planet Wengrol. He tries to prove that he is not a native but notices that the chief Yend briefly flickers into a bizarre shape. Formal tells him that no one has ever seen that before but his control is so great he can usually prevent it from happening. He explains that the unfortunate arrival of a star, Mortain, with its poisonous radiations, started this series of mutations several centuries earlier. He adds that this star unfortunately coincided with experiments being performed by the planet's scientists.
Time-Placement: The Doctor's trip to the Crab Nebula is the farthest the TARDIS has ever made to this point, making it one of the earliest adventures. Likely just after Time and Relative.