THE WEB PLANET
CRATER OF NEEDLES
1: EXT. VORTIS
(IAN is pulled into the cleft as the roof collapses….)
2: INT. CHAMBER
(IAN and VESTRIN lie at the base of the chasm that they have fallen into. Their landing place is a rock chamber whose walls are covered with primitive
decorations. IAN coughs in the dust.)
VRESTIN: It seemed as if we fell a long, long way.
IAN: Yeah, (He shakes his head.) oh, ah…
(He sees the wall decorations.)
IAN: Oh look. Where are we?
(Before they can move, they find themselves surrounded by several small beings who carry sharp crystalline spears...)
3: EXT. CRATER OF NEEDLES
(The Crater of Needles is, as its name implies, a huge depression in the surface of Vortis. Its floor is covered with tall thin rock formations. Around the
base of these needles grows a dark vegetation, rather like seaweed, that is being collected by wingless Menoptra slaves under the guard of the ZARBI and their
larvae guns. BARBARA, struggling in the thin atmosphere, is here with HROSTAR. Exhausted, she sits down.)
HROSTAR: You are breathing too fast, Harbara?
BARBARA: (Rubbing her eyes.) Oh, my eyes are so sore. Everything seems to...to flare when I look at it.
HROSTAR: It is...the atmosphere of this planet. Rest, I will watch for Zarbi.
(BARBARA gets her breath, then looks at HROSTAR with concern and sympathy.)
BARBARA: Are your wings healed?
HROSTAR: (With sadness.) I...shall never fly again.
(HROSTAR, upset, turns away. BARBARA tries to change the subject.)
BARBARA: Er, why...why do they make us do...
(A ZARBI scuttles up and interrupts her question. She and HROSTAR quickly return to work. The ZARBI moves away.)
BARBARA: Why do they make us heap this vegetation into the acid streams?
HROSTAR: It is...the raw material for the Carsenome, where the Zarbi live. Fed into these pools, it is drawn to the centre, through underground streams
and as...we pour it in, the Carsenome grows...and reaches out across Vortis.
BARBARA: Well, what lies at the centre?
HROSTAR: None of us...have ever seen it...and lived. But we call it the Animus.
(The ZARBI guard returns and starts harrying HROSTAR. He and BARBARA walk off to continue their work.)
BARBARA: Do you understand them?
HROSTAR: No. They...are just cattle. They do not have...any speech nor motive of their own. Just controlled sentries.
(They watch as a ZARBI pushes another of the Menoptra slaves to the ground.)
HROSTAR: We came here...to liberate them. It was disaster. Vrestin, the others. We arrived...in advance of the spearhead, our weapons proved useless.
They were taken by the Zarbi who were everywhere. The three of us...you met...in the cave, got away with the communicator...but we could not contact our
BARBARA: Well, when is it due to arrive?
(HROSTAR stops and picks up more vegetation.)
BARBARA: And how will you overcome the Animus?
HROSTAR: With...a new invention...of our scientists. It has not been tested but we have placed our faith in the...Isop-tope.
(BARBARA picks up some vegetation as a ZARBI comes up and starts pushing her along.)
4: INT. CARSENOME. CONTROL ROOM
(A ZARBI scuttles along a passage and into the control room, carrying one of the Menoptra guns in its mouth. It walks past the DOCTOR who is busy examining
their surroundings. VICKI impatiently walks up to him.)
VICKI: Why don’t we use the spider now as a weapon to get out of here?
DOCTOR: Because I think we might find it more valuable later on, child, when Ian and Barbara have returned. Hmm!
VICKI: Do you think it’ll be safe where we put it?
DOCTOR: Oh, a hundred percent! A hundred percent! Mmm!
(The DOCTOR examines the wall of the Carsenome which lights up when the ANIMUS wants to relay instructions. As he does so, A ZARBI approaches them with one
of the gold wishbone necklaces in its mouth. It bears down on VICKI.)
VICKI: Oh no!
DOCTOR: Use the spider, child!
(One of the larvae guns stops VICKI in her tracks and the ZARBI manages to place the necklace over her shoulders. He eyes cloud over as her face becomes
blank. The tube descends from the ceiling and the DOCTOR is placed under it.)
ANIMUS VOICE: You delay. Now the child will die. Thus you will learn total obedience.
DOCTOR: If the child dies, there’ll be no reason left for me to obey. I have located your enemy. My calculations are complete.
ANIMUS VOICE: You lie!
DOCTOR: The Menoptra are massing on the planet Pictos.
ANIMUS VOICE: Pictos!?
DOCTOR: It appears they’re heading straight for Vortis. If you waste time in idle vengeance, in face of such an invasion, you will all be annihilated.
ANIMUS VOICE: Where will the Menoptra land?
DOCTOR: If I am given peace of mind for a while, I can find that out. That is if it’s not too late.
ANIMUS VOICE: Go.
DOCTOR: Not before the child is released.
ANIMUS VOICE: (Pauses.) Go now...
DOCTOR: First, the child? Hmm?
(The tubes rises. A ZARBI scuttles over to the light wall then turns and nudges the larvae gun away from VICKI. Finally it takes the necklace off her
shoulders. The DOCTOR jumps forward and catches her before she falls to the floor.)
VICKI: Oh, Doctor, it makes you feel so dizzy.
DOCTOR: (Hugging her.) Yes, I know, my dear, I know.
DOCTOR: I know. It’ll be all right in a minute. Mmm?
VICKI: Did...did you tell that thing where the Menoptra are going to land?
DOCTOR: Just about enough for our survival. If I tell them everything, our usefulness will be ended. Now we’ve got to get out of here and I want to
find a place to hide this recorder. I don’t propose to make them a present...of the place of attack!
(The DOCTOR moves aside one of the star panels on the astral map and takes out the small recorder. The communications wall bursts into life as an alarm
sounds. The ZARBI scuttle around.)
VICKI: Another panic on by the looks of it.
DOCTOR: Yes, there’s no doubt, they’ve alerted their invasion forces. They’ve acted very quickly on the little information that I gave them. Now
while they’re busy, I want you to nip back into the ship, find my walking stick and bring it straight back here, hurry!
(VICKI runs off...)
5: EXT. CRATER OF NEEDLES
(The alarm also sounds in the Crater. Two larvae guns rise into readiness. A ZARBI pushes BARBARA to the floor and she falls with a scream. Nearby an elderly
Menoptra slave, PRAPILLUS listens to the alarm with HROSTAR.)
PRAPILLUS: Some kind of alarm.
HROSTAR: I hope they haven’t found the...
(HROSTAR says no more as he and the others are herded by the ZARBI into a small cage like hut, seemingly made out of jagged spars of rock.)
6: INT. CHAMBER
(IAN and VRESTIN are being tormented by their captors. They resemble caterpillars which are the height of a man but with composite eyes and withered arms.)
IAN: We were chased! We fell!
VRESTIN: They are too simple to understand, Heron.
(One of the creatures, speaking with a staccato feminine voice points at IAN, then at a small font-type object which contains a liquid.)
NEMINI: Hands! In there!
(IAN is pushed forward several times until his hands fall into the pool of liquid. He yells out in pain as the liquid binds his hands together. VRESTIN is
now thrust forward the same routine is carried out. VESTRIN’S alien cry of pain is high-pitched.)
VRESTIN: Primitives! What is it you want from us?
(The other creatures are bowing to the wall decorations. One of them turns and hops down on its stunted legs to IAN and VESTRIN. It speaks with a deep
guttural voice with drawn out speech patterns.)
HETRA: We know...that from the roof...comes hate! The liquiiiid...death! Creeeeping destroyer of...we Opetra. Yet you stand upright. We will consult
the...chasm of light and if you come from...above, you will die!
7: EXT. CRATER OF NEEDLES
(BARBARA, HROSTAR, PRAPPILUS and a young feminine Menoptra called HLYNIA are in the cage in the crater. HLYNIA hands out food as PRAPILLUS and HROSTAR look
through the spars to the guarding ZARBI and larvae gun outside.)
PRAPILLUS: Hrostar, is it the invasion?
HROSTAR: The spearhead? Yes! I think so!
PRAPILLUS: Then tell us what we must do?
HROSTAR: Nothing yet.
HLYNIA: Do nothing? But we’ve waited for generations for this moment.
HROSTAR: And it will come...but...a false move and all is lost. Success depended on surprise.
(HROSTAR suddenly realises something.)
HROSTAR: If this is an alert...how did they know?
(He thinks and then turns to BARBARA with a hiss.)
HROSTAR: Your Earth friends? This man of science you tell me of? Could he be helping them?
BARBARA: (Sounding uncertain.) No, erm, no. I’m sure he wouldn’t.
HROSTAR: How then...do they know?
BARBARA: Know what?
HROSTAR: Our spearhead plan to land on the Sayo Plateau, just above the crater here, to the north.
BARBARA: Well, that doesn’t mean to say that the Doctor told them. The Zarbi must be alerted everywhere, not just here.
HROSTAR: With the Zarbi weaponry, they will be massacred.
BARBARA: Are your forces armed?
HROSTAR: With useless weapons.
(HROSTAR turns round in a panic.)
HROSTAR: Our plan was for an attack on the Animus. We would have landed in secret, overcome the Zarbi and destroyed the force that rules them...by
sheer force of numbers.
BARBARA: A suicide army.
HROSTAR: It would have been suicide to stay where we were. The invasion had to come now. We did not choose the time...it...is...now and failure...will
mean failure for all time.
PRAPILLUS: Hrostar, the spearhead must be warned.
HROSTAR: But how? We smashed...the signalling...equipment.
BARBARA: Look, we must get to the top of the plateau, intercept them and warn them.
PRAPILLUS: Yes, we must.
HROSTAR: There...is a larvae gun...pointed straight at this door.
PRAPILLUS: We know.
HLYNIA: I saw thirty or more Zarbi leaving the Crater by the great web. I do not think there will be many more left to guard us.
BARBARA: Look, we must try. It only needs one of us to get through.
HROSTAR: If only...we could destroy...the larvae gun.
PRAPILLUS: I may do that.
HROSTAR: You? How?
PRAPILLUS: I know the Zarbi.
(PRAPILLUS goes to the back of their cage and knows a spar out in order to escape...)
8: INT. CARSENOME. CONTROL ROOM
(Using his walking stick, fetched by VICKI from the TARDIS, the DOCTOR hooks the wishbone necklace. VICKI, standing by ready, runs towards the ZARBI guard
with the preserved spider. The creature jumps back. VICKI whistles to the DOCTOR and he pulls the necklace across the floor to the base of the astral map.)
VICKI: Good! You’ve got it.
(They kneel down to examine it.)
DOCTOR: Now the question is how to make it safe, hmm?
VICKI: It’s gold, isn’t it?
DOCTOR: Yes, there’s no mistaking it, my dear. Gold and something more than gold. Gold is the symbol of power on this planet. Which brings me to an
incident with Ian and his pen.
VICKI: Ian and his pen?
DOCTOR: Yes, it flew out of his hand, just as he was about to give it to me, a gold pen. Now, we have got to find something to re-align...this power.
DOCTOR: Yes, that is the que.... (A thought strikes him.) question, isn’t it?
9: EXT. CRATER OF NEEDLES
(Through the spars of their cage, BARBARA and HROSTAR observe the ZARBI and the gun. BARBARA rushes to the back of the cage where HLYNIA keeps watch.)
BARBARA: Any sign of him?
(HLYNIA shakes her head. Outside the cage, the ZARBI moves away from the larvae gun and moves a short distance across the Crater. PRAPILLUS is hiding behind
one of the needle crags near where the ZARBI is headed. The old Menoptra slips silently away.)
HROSTAR: It’s left the larvae gun. It’s our chance to destroy it.
BARBARA: Destroy it? Well, can’t we use it ourselves?
HLYNIA: Only the Zarbi can control and fire them.
HROSTAR: Get ready.
(PRAPILLUS returns to hide behind the crag and throws a rock. The ZARBI spins round at the sound.)
(The run from the cage and PRAPILLUS joins HROSTAR in attacking the ZARBI whilst BARBARA and HLYNIA see to the larvae gun. The two Menoptra manages to
overturn the ZARBI. HROSTAR then runs over to take the leaderless larvae gun from BARBARA and HLYNIA. He picks it up and crushes it against the wall of the
Crater. With a squelching noise, the creature dies. BARBARA is sickened by the sound.)
PRAPILLUS: Is the gun dead?
HLYNIA: I can lead us to the plateau.
BARBARA: Well come on then, quickly.
(They all run off out of the Crater...)
10: INT. CARSENOME. CONTROL ROOM
(The necklace has been placed over, and connected to the astral map. VICKI observes the lash-up.)
VICKI: Have you finished now, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Yes, I think so, my dear. Well, now we know the TARDIS is the opponing, opposing force, the question is, which is the stronger? Hmm?
VICKI: What’ll happen if you’re wrong?
DOCTOR: What will happen? Well, the astral map will be ruined, of course, but, er, I’m afraid we have no choice. Now just stand back a bit, my dear.
(VICKI does so. The DOCTOR adjusts several controls and then flicks a switch. There is a small explosion.)
(The DOCTOR laughs and is about to take the necklace off the astral map when a ZARBI scuttles forward. It pushes the DOCTOR towards the descending tube
whilst VICKI struggles with the ZARBI to prevent it getting at the astral map and seeing the necklace.)
VICKI: It was nothing! Just a...fuse on one of our instruments! You...!
(The DOCTOR communicates with the ANIMUS...)
ANIMUS VOICE: The time to complete your findings. Report.
DOCTOR: It is still incomplete.
ANIMUS VOICE: Excuses!
DOCTOR: No doubt your “creatures” told you about the explosion.
(He takes the recorder out of his pocket.)
DOCTOR: This is what caused...the delay. You must wait.
ANIMUS VOICE: What is it you hold?
DOCTOR: Oh, nothing, nothing. Merely a piece of damaged equipment that happened...
(To the DOCTOR’S horror, the recorder bursts into life...)
MENOPTRA VOICE: ...Force on bearing two-six-five. Speed point O-one. Mean jettison craft at altitude five above Crater of Needles. Individual descent
to Sayo Plateau, north of the Crater...
(The recording stops...)
ANIMUS VOICE: You were in possession of the information all the time! You will be dealt with when the invasion has been repelled.
(The tube rises from a silent DOCTOR. The ZARBI has managed to take the necklace from the astral map and put it onto VICKI’S shoulders. It edges her to the
back of the room. She stands possessed next to the DOCTOR who has another necklace placed on him by a second ZARBI. He too is possessed...)
11: EXT. VORTIS
(HLYNIA and HROSTAR arrive on a ledge at the base of a cliff.)
HLYNIA: The plateau is just above us.
HROSTAR: We...will...remain here until the spearhead arrives.
(He turns and helps BARBARA onto the ledge.)
BARBARA: Well, at least we got here in time.
HROSTAR: You stay on guard here, Hlynia.
(They are about to move off when they hear the unmistakable sound of a ZARBI chirruping. They stop dead in their tracks. PRAPILLUS arrives on the ledge.)
PRAPILLUS: The Zarbi...are moving in! Surrounding the plateau!
HLYNIA: We must wait for the spearhead!
(HROSTAR turns on BARBARA.)
HROSTAR: Then this Doctor must have betrayed us!
12: INT. CHAMBER
(The Optera hop back into the chamber where IAN and VRESTIN remain captive and give them their verdict.)
HETRA: Every creature...who invades our domain...comes only to prey on us. You are guilty.
NEMINI: Throw them...in the...fire...kill them!
(IAN is thrust forward.)
IAN: Will you kill your own kind?
HETRA: This stranger. You are...both...from...that wilderness above ground...where the light blinds the air, chokes, where only destroyer races
live...and from where none of us who has gone forth has ever returned! You come foraging into our world...only for new victims. Take them!
(IAN is forced to his knees. VESTRIN runs forward.)
VRESTIN: Listen! This wilderness you speak of, belongs to you. We are coming in our legions to destroy the dark power and its Zarbi slaves.
HETRA: (Recognising the name.) The...Zarbi...
VRESTIN: They seized this planet long ago, enslaved your forebears and mine who remained. They are spreading the poisonous web of the Animus to every
corner of Vortis.
NEMINI: (To HETRA.) As long...as we kill intruders...we are safe.
IAN: Don’t you understand? You are Menoptra, like this.
HETRA: (Aghast.) The...Men...op...tra!
NEMINI: You speak...of our Gods!
(The Optera turn and bow to the wall decorations.)
VRESTIN: Your Gods?! The Menoptra are your kinsmen. Your wings withered on your bodies while you crawled blindly underground, like slugs. You were
born to the greatest freedom of all creatures - to peace, beauty and light!
HETRA: It is death...for us...up there.
VRESTIN: This is not your element.
IAN: If you throw us into the fire, you destroy your own future.
NEMINI: Prove...what you say.
VRESTIN: I am Vrestin - a leader of the Menoptra. We come to destroy the dark power who rules this planet.
IAN: We need your help.
(VRESTIN’S wings open in a magnificent display. The Optera, awed, bow down to their “god”.)
13: EXT. SAYO PLATEAU
(The Sayo Plateau is a high triangular edifice, overlooking the surface of Vortis. BARBARA and the Menoptra cautiously make their way among the
BARBARA: They’re not here yet.
PRAPILLUS: I feel the Zarbi are watching.
(A flapping sound disturbs the silence. Out of the sky, several Menoptra fly down and land on the Plateau. They carry guns in their hands. HROSTAR addresses
one of them...)
HILIO: Where is your pilot party?
HROSTAR: Destroyed. Your force...get it off the Plateau.
HROSTAR: Our weapons...are useless. The Zarbi have a rendezvous. Disperse the spearhead. They will be massacred!
(The haughty captain looks round. More Menoptra fly down out of the dark sky.)
HILIO: It is too late. We are already committed...to attack.
(BARBARA hears a noise behind her and turns round.)
(Several ZARBI are on top of the Plateau. Their arms twitch and they chirrup instructions to the larvae guns. As one Menoptra after another lands, the deadly
weapons fire and fire, hitting the descending creatures. Several Menoptra land safely and fire their weapons at the ZARBI but as the pilot party previously
found out, they prove useless. The larvae guns fire again and the Menoptra are blasted to the ground. One of them twitches on the floor, taking a long time to
die. One Menoptra attacks a ZARBI with a rock but this proves as ineffective as its abandoned gun. Another larvae gun fires and its victim falls with a cry.
BARBARA and the wingless Menoptra flee from the massacre, followed by ZARBI.)
BARBARA: They’re still following us.
HROSTAR: We’ll try the Crater’s edge.
BARBARA: Well come on, hurry!
(They run off. HILIO gives out an order but he has lost his arrogant tone. His cry is now plaintive...)
HILIO: Spearhead - retreat!
(The surviving warriors need no further bidding. They fly off the Plateau as the larvae guns fire after them. BARBARA and PRAPILLUS flee. BARBARA stops,
turns and watches as HROSTAR jumps off a rock and clubs a ZARBI to the ground. HILIO lands near HLYNIA.)
HILIO: We are surrounded.
HLYNIA: No - follow me.
(But her friends do find themselves surrounded as HROSTAR catches up with BARBARA and PRAPILLUS. Their backs are to a rockface as a ZARBI rears up before
them and others join it ready to deal with the fugitives...)
ROSLYN DE WINTER
JOHN SCOTT MARTIN
Insect movement by
ROSLYN DE WINTER
Title music by
and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop
(c) BBC tv