The Terran Survey Vessel Excelsior, commanded by Louis B Frederick, lands on planet UX-4732. They find the TARDIS nearby. The Doctor steps out to greet them. He introduces them to a primitive but rather idyllic village populated by deaf, mute humanoids.
They witness a procession in which the villagers carry animal carcasses onto an altar, standing on a structure that looks like a giant spiderweb. It turns out to be just that. An enormous spider emerges from a nearby cave and begins encasing the villagers in cocoons.
Frederick assumes the spider intends to eat the villagers and the survey team destroy it. The villagers pelt them with rocks, driving them back to the Excelsior. The next morning, the village is deserted. The survey team locates another village, with another spiderweb and numerous villagers spun into cocoons. They witness a humanoid infant hatching from an egg. As they destroy the giant spiders there, the Doctor realises that the spiders and villagers are symbiotic.
In exchange for the animal carcasses (which the spiders eat), the spiders encase the villagers (actually larvae) in the cocoons they require to hatch into giant butterfly creatures. That symbiotic relationship, and what the Doctor describes as "the most beautiful life form in the galaxy," is now doomed. He tells the captain, "Now do you see what you've done!" The captain drops his gun.
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- This story was reprinted in:
- The Doctor is still wearing his JNT era clothes.