The whining stopped. “I can sense them all around us now.” Carol’s voice was shaky. Maitland shushed her.
Lilith looked around the ship, her eyes landing on one of the windows. “Father,” she whispered. A bulbous-headed humanoid was gazing at them from the outside of the ship. “That can’t be good.”
The Sensorite was bald, had a salmon-colored skin, and two completely black eyes. Its ears were long and pointed and its mouth was similar to the Ood, but with whiskers instead of tentacles.
“Doctor? Doctor!” Ian hissed.
“Calm down, Ian,” Lilith said. “The calmer you are, the stronger your defenses against them.”
“But the Doctor.”
The Doctor, Maitland, and Carol seemed to be transfixed by the Sensorite, as if it had some kind of mesmeric influence over then. Lilith put her hand on the Doctor’s shoulder. “Father?”
“Mm?” The Doctor was torn from his reverie and got up to examine the Maitland and Carol. “Maitland? Maitland! Can you hear me?” It appeared to have no effect. “Fear, my boy. It’s loosened his mind. It gives the Sensorites the chance to control it.”
“Doctor, that thing’s still out there,” Ian reminded him.
“Oh, ignore it. Maitland!” The Doctor gave Maitland a gentle shake.
The man blinked a few times, becoming a little more lucid. “Yes… I hear you.”
“I really hope he’s talking to us,” Lilith muttered.
Ian frowned. “Whom else would he be talking to?”
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe Whiskers out there?”
The Doctor glared at them, and then turned back to Maitland. “There’s work to be done, my boy! Work, understand?”
“Work…” Maitland responded.
“There’s a door to be opened, remember?”
“A… door, er, yes.”
“Danger on the other side.”
“John, yes…” Maitland shook himself. “We must get the two girls out!” He ran to the stuck door and tried to shift it, but it remained immobile. “I’ll have to use the cutter.”
“Oh, not again!” Ian complained. “How long will this take?”
“It’s the only way,” Maitland insisted, returning to using the sonic tool to cut through the metal to the lock mechanism.
Ian sighed. “Yes, I know. Just that I’m so worried about Barbara and Susan.”
The Doctor chuckled. “Now, now, try and contain your emotions. Use self-control. Otherwise it confuses the brain and leaves it wide open to an attack by the Sensorites. Look at Maitland here. Fear and inertia has left him vulnerable.”
Carol came over. “The Sensorites are in the ship now.”
“What? How did they get in?” Lilith demanded.
“Through the loading bay.”
“But that can’t be where Barbara and Susan are now,” the Doctor said.
Carol shook her head. “No, but we must get to them as soon as possible."
“Oh, nobody’s arguing about that!” Ian snipped.
“The Sensorites have control over that man John’s mind,” Lilith remembered. “Could they use the control to force him to obey orders?”
Ian went back to Maitland. “How’s it coming?”
“Slowly,” he said, “but it’s working.”
“If only I knew what was happening on the other side of this door!” Ian banged on the metal door and shouted. “Barbara! Susan!”
“Ian, calm down!” Lilith chided. The man proceeded to pace back and forth like a caged tiger. The others waited, just as patiently, for Maitland’s painfully slow work to be completed. Lilith had been reduced to rocking onto her heels.
When he finished the lock, Maitland attempted to open the door. It slid up, but got stuck after leaving just a six-inch gap. “Oh, it’s jammed. We’ll have to cut the whole section out!”
“For the love of Rassilon!” Lilith groaned and pulled out her blaster. “Out of my way.”
“What is that, Lilithanadir?” the Doctor questioned, sternly.
She sighed. “It’s a squareness gun, Father. Watch.” She flicked the setting switch and disintegrated a large, square hole in the door. On the other side, a man in uniform was crumpled on the ground, clutching his head. The two women knelt next to him, trying to comfort the man.
“Barbara! Susan!” Ian exclaimed.
After quick reunion hugs and greetings, Lilith, Ian, and Maitland brought John into a different room and laid him on a cot. Lilith returned to find the Doctor having a conversation with Carol.
“So we really can resist them?” Carol was asking.
“Yes, and there’s that friend of your, John. We must look after him, they have a hold on his mind, you know.”
“Oh, he’s sleeping peacefully now.”
“Ah, yes. I wonder; did Susan relieve the pressure?” The Doctor turned to his granddaughter, who was sitting in the corner.
“I-I heard hundreds of voices in my mind, Grandfather,” she admitted.
He fixed her with a stern expression. “Oh yes, and that was a dangerous thing to do, Susan! Because you were strong-willed and without fear, they didn’t harm you.”
Susan avoided his gaze as Maitland came back. “He’s resting now,” he reported. “Did you know his hair was almost white?”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” the Doctor sniffed.
“In a man of thirty, Doctor?” Maitland countered. “And he looked so old! Why have the Sensorites done this? What do they want from us?”
Ian appeared in the doorway. “Doctor?”
“John muttered something before he passed out. ‘The dreams of avarice.’ Now, on Earth we have a saying, ‘Rich beyond the dreams of avarice.’ I think he’s discovered something.”
“That would explained why he got the worst of it from the Sensorites,” Lilith mused.
“Yes, what were John’s duties?” the Doctor asked the two astronauts.
“Well, he’s out mineralogist,” Maitland answered.
“Makes sense,” Lilith said. “If John is mumbling something about riches, he may have discovered something that the Sensorites wanted so keep secret. So they silenced him and kept the ship prisoner near their planet.”
“I see.” The Doctor nodded. “And now they’re trying to do the same thing to us. We must get the lock of the TARDIS back.” He turned to Maitland. “Have you tried talking to them?”
“Talking to them?”
“Yes, we must try. We must!”
Maitland handed the Doctor a large cylindrical device. “One spectroscope, Doctor.”
“I do remember that he was beginning to take a reading of the minerals in the vicinity,” Carol said.
“And then what happened?” Barbara asked.
“Well, that was the first time that the Sensorites attacked us.”
The Doctor handed Ian a strip of card with a series of colored lines on it. “Would you like to look at that graph for a moment?”
Lilith looked at the graph over Ian’s shoulder. “There’s nothing much there. It’s just an ordinary collection of elements. Oxygen, hydrogen, sodium…”
Susan glanced at the strip of car. “Oh, what’s that?”
“It’s a spectrograph, Susan,” Ian explained. “You see those lines, they represent the emission wavelengths that—”
“Oh yes, of course,” Susan cut him off.
“No, there certainly isn’t anything special indicated on this.”
“You’re very strange people,” Carol commented.
Susan looked at her, surprised. “Are we?”
“Well you come from nowhere and you seem to be going nowhere.”
“Oh, we’re very dependent on the Doctor,” Barbara said. “He leads and we follow.”
Carol frowned. “Travel without a purpose?”
“Oh no, there’s a purpose in it,” she assured her. “He’s trying to get us back to our own time on Earth.”
“Isn’t it better to travel hopefully than arrive?” Susan added.
“Oh, anything’s better than circling around a planet forever and being kept alive,” Carol sighed. “Alive. It’s been more like a living-death.”
The Doctor looked away from the spectroscope. “I don’t understand, there must be a clue here somewhere. There must be.”
“Well, I don’t know, Doctor,” shrugged Ian. “There certainly isn’t much here.”
“I studied it whenever I could, but it didn’t look like anything that would cause much excitement,” said Maitland. “The Sense Sphere is just an ordinary planet with a slightly bigger land mass than usual, but, er, that’s all.”
“Yes, that’s very interesting. May I?” the Doctor inquired.
“Certainly.” Maitland handed his findings to the Doctor.
“Excuse me.” He sat in a corner and studied the pattern.
“Right,” Lilith said. “Information pooling. What do we know?”
“We know that the Sensorites have discovered thought transference,” Susan offered.
Barbara nodded. “And when John discovered something, he became so excited that his mid opened up and he broadcast it to the Sensorites. And it was something they wanted kept a secret.”
“I know what he found!” the Doctor exclaimed, suddenly. He showed the graph to Ian. “Molybdenum! It’s all here in the graph, but it’s all mixed up with the lines so it doesn’t make obvious reading.”
“Molybdenum?” Ian repeated.
“It’s an alloy in steel that resists really high temperatures,” Lilith explained. “Things like this spaceship would be utterly useless without it.”
“Now let me see.” The Doctor thought for a moment. “Iron melts at 1,539 degrees centigrade, and molybdenum melts at 2,622 degrees centigrade. So that will give you some idea. I see now just what John found, no wonder he was so excited. That planet must be full of it! Yes, a veritable gold mine!”
Maitland and Carol clutched their heads in agony. “Sensorites!” Maitland cried.
“They’re here,” Carol wailed, “on the ship!”
Ian and Barbara headed off to find the aliens. Lilith placed her fingers on Carol’s temples, trying to block whatever the Sensorites were doing that was causing the two astronauts pain. “It’s like they’re blasting a signal to all susceptible humans on a wavelength that I can’t block.”
When Ian and Barbara came back, Maitland and Carol were less tense and able to take their hands off of their heads. The Doctor’s frown seemed etched into his face. “This is all very well, but I think that one of us should try to contact them.”
“Are you feeling better now?” Barbara asked Carol and Maitland.
“I don’t know what happened, but I’m certainly feeling better now.” Carol nodded.
“Much better,” Maitland agreed.
Ian looked at the Doctor. “I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the Sensorites attacked as soon as you discovered the molybdenum.”
Susan’s head jerked up. “Yes, but they won’t agree to that.”
The Doctor frowned at her. “Agree? To what? What are you talking about, child?”
“I-I’m sure they’ll talk to you about it…” she said.
“Susan?” Lilith gently touched the younger Time Lady’s shoulder. “Who are you talking to?”
“Alright, I’ll ask them.” Susan turned to her grandfather. “The Sensorites want to know if it’s alright for them to talk to you.”
“Do you mean to say that you’ve made contact with them?”
“Well, of course we shall see them, but they must agree not to harm us. If they try, then I shall fight them.”
“If I don’t get to them first,” Lilith added under her breath.
Susan nodded. “Right.” After a moment, she walked across the room and unlocked and lifted the shutter. The Sensorites entered.
“Which one is the Doctor?” asked the first Sensorite.
“The one with the white hair,” the second told the other.
“What is it you want of us?” the Doctor questioned. “Why won’t you let these space people go back to their Earth, mm?”
“None of you can ever again leave the area of the Sense Sphere,” the first said, firmly.
“You know the answer to that!” the second hissed.
“Because of the molybdenum,” Lilith guessed. “But we are not interested in it.”
“So you say, but once before we trusted Earthmen, to our cost!”
The Doctor raised an eyebrow. “So Earthmen have visited the Sense Sphere?”
“Yes,” the first confirmed. “And they cause us a fearful affliction. We shall not allow it to happen again.”
“What do you expect us to do, drift around forever?” Maitland demanded.
“No, you will all come back with us. A special area had been prepared for you on the Sense Sphere. There you will live and there you will be looked after.”
“These people cannot possibly accede to your request, it’s out of the question!” the Doctor snapped.
“You will do exactly as we tell you because you have no choice. None of you!”
“My party does have a choice, and I assure we have no intention of spending the rest of our lives with you!”
Lilith stepped forward. “You have our answer. What do you propose to do about it?”
“We intend taking you down to the Sense Sphere,” the second Sensorite replied, “but we do not wish to harm you in any way.”
“Since we’ve met you, we’ve not wanted to hurt you either. But you must get off this ship.”
“What is we refuse?” the first Sensorite asked.
“I will attack you.”
“The other Earth people will not be able to help you.”
“I don’t need their help,” Lilith said, dangerously.
Barbara intervened. “Surely we’ve proved as such.”
“You have only proved that you can lock doors,” the second Sensorite snipped. “We can unlock them!”
“Now listen to me, both of you,” the Doctor said. “You’ve taken the lock of my ship and I want it returned immediately.”
“You are in no position to threaten us.”
“I don’t make threats, but I do keep promises. And I promise you I shall cause more trouble than you bargained for if you don’t return my property!” he shouted.
The Sensorites cowered with hands over their ears at the loudness of the Doctor’s tone. “We must decide what we shall do.” They returned to the port corridor.
“What did they mean, decide?” Barbara wondered.
Ian shrugged. “I dunno, sounds as though there’s something else they can do to us.”
“Could they have been referring to Susan? They’ve only spoken to her,” Lilith pointed out.
The Doctor looked down at Susan. “Next time, if there is a next time, they might try and control you mind, child.”
“Doctor, is there no way you can get into your ship?” Maitland questioned.
The Doctor shook his head. “No, not unless they return what they stole.”
Carol deflated. “But they will never give it back to you.”
He smiled. “Oh, my dear, they’re not invincible. No, no. Did any of you notice the peculiarity in their eyes?”
Lilith nodded. “Their pupils were dilated.”
“It’s a fallacy, of course, that cats can see in the dark, they can’t; but they can see better than humans because the iris of their eyes dilates at night.”
“What are you driving at Doctor?” Ian asked.
“It’s obvious,” Lilith said. “The Sensorites’ eyes were completely dilated in the light, so they would contract in the darkness. Cut the lights, and they might as well be blind.”
The Doctor nodded. “Exactly. And that is our best weapon. The Sensorites will be frightened in the dark.”
Susan shook her head. “But you can’t be sure of that. You’re only sure that they can’t see in the dark.”
“Doctor, assuming you’re right—” Barbara began.
“Which he is, of course,” Ian put in.
The Doctor nodded. “Naturally. (Lilith snorted) My dear Barbara, wouldn’t you be afraid if you couldn’t see your enemies?”
Susan tensed. “I don’t want to go.”
“Are the Sensorites talking to you again?” Ian inquired. “What are they saying?”
She shushed him. “I can’t hear them very well… Oh, that’s better. There- there’s just one voice a long way away.
“What’s the message, child?” the Doctor asked.
“Oh… Oh all right. But none of the others must be harmed.” Susan glanced at the others. “Don’t move, any of you. Grandfather, it was the only way. They knew I’d agree.” She walked to the open doorway.
“Agree? To what?”
“To go down with them to their planet. Otherwise we’ll all be killed.” Susan walked through the doorway and joined the Sensorites. The shuttered closed behind her.