|The Planet That Cried "Wolf!"|
|Main character(s):||Joel Shaw|
|Main enemy:||Zarg, Professor Verlaine|
|Main setting:||Penal Planet X26|
|Printed in:||Terry Nation's Dalek Annual 1979|
|Island of Horror||none|
After answering a fake distress signal from Penal Planet X26, ADF agents Joel Shaw and Reb Shavron soon find themselves under attack from the prisoners. Unbeknownst to anyone, however, one of the prisoner's scientific research has attracted the Daleks' attention, opening up a second front for the beleaguered ADF.
Prisoners Zarg and Professor Verlaine hatch an escape plan on Penal Planet X26. They send up a fake distress signal, claiming that the planet is being overrun by Daleks. Although emergency messages from X26 routinely ignored by the United Planets' internal security organisations, the Anti-Dalek Force feels an obligation to investigate potential Dalek incursions on any UP world.
Soon Joel Shaw and Reb Shavron are entering X26's atmosphere. As they enter the atmosphere, their minds are filled with powerful images. They can land the ship only very badly, coming to rest on the precipice of a ravine. As their minds clear, they recognise their danger, and carefully edge their way out of the teetering ship.
Almost immediately, they're greeted by a murderer named Zarg. He claims they were brought down by "the Professor's weapon". He also says that it's time for them to die. Just as he's about to kill the two agents, the ship's radio crackles to life. The ADF are looking for their two leaders.
Joel quickly says that if the radio isn't answered, the planet will be crawling with security men. Zarg is unconcerned by this. Rather, he sees another opportunity that the unexpectedly functioning radio provides. If they were to call for ADF reinforcement, he and Verlaine would get more ships, with which to effect a wider evacuation of the whole penal colony. The problem is that the radio is in th front of the ship. Accessing it might make the ship tip over the ravine.
At gunpoint, he orders Reb to make the call. She complies, thinking she might be able to reach the weapons store and reverse Zarg's advantage. It's a thought she doesn't really have time to explore, however. The ship almost instantly falls down the cliff and explodes.
At Reb's apparent death, Joel explodes with anger. He has no time to focus it, though — in the sky, four ships are quickly approaching. Zarg believes it's ADF ships who've come looking for their leader. Joel quickly dispels this notion, though. Daleks have instead arrived on X26.
The unexpected arrival immediately forces Joel into an uneasy alliance with Zarg and the few prisoners with him. Using Zarg's knowledge of the local terrain, the uneasy allies devise a plan to trick one of the Dalek ships into exploding. Although successful, three ships still remain. They are saved from certain death only by the Daleks' greater interest in Verlaine's laboratory.
The party has little opportunity to celebrate the Daleks' departure toward the lab, however. Zarg has died, having been hit by Dalek fire. Shaw himself has had his scalp set alight. Still, those that remain understand they must lay aside their differences and oppose the Daleks. They set off for Verlaine's laboratory.
Once there, the prisoners in his party explain the genius of the Professor's machine. It can instantly affect even a thousand ships simultaneously, in exactly the same way it did Shaw's. If it falls to the Daleks, they will have a weapon more powerful than anything they currently possess. The group grow even more determined to defeat the Daleks.
Still, the odds are very long that they'll be able to do much more than simply die. Especially since they notice a Dalek ship training its guns on their position at the laboratory. Shaw is about to pop up from his hiding spot to go to his certain death with guns blazing when he notices something odd about the Dalek ship. Its guns continue rotating, clearly losing the laboratory in its field of fire. Instead, they are now trained on a wooded area near the laboratory. The guns go off, incinerating the area.
At almost the same time, two surprises pass before Shaw's eyes. Professor Verlaine emerges from the blazing woods, while Reb Shavron pops out of the Dalek ship. Not only did she escape her apparent death, but she's just destroyed the professor's weapon. She explains her amazing escape — and how she came to be in a Dalek ship — while the professor notes that both the machine and its blueprints have been utterly destroyed. The professor thinks, therefore, that the Dalek threat has passed.
Shaw has to contradict him, however. What the criminal professor has failed to calculate is that the Daleks can still find out how to make the machine. All they have to do is extract the information from the professor's mind. Thus, all the small band of humans can do is wait. Both the Dalek and ADF fleets are zeroing in on their position. Their fate depends entirely upon which fleet reaches them first.
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- The title of this story was typeset The Planet that cried 'Wolf'! in the book. However, for consistency with other titles on this wiki, all words in this title have been capitalised. Also, the single quotation marks present certain problems with wiki markup code.
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