The Martian expedition had ended in disaster when the landing craft crashed to the surface and disintegrated. The grief over the loss of the five astronauts was replaced by shock when automated television pictures showed the Zoltans, a bipedal race in space suits, sifting through the wreckage in an attempt to help. When the aliens produced one of the astronauts, Adrian Fairley, alive and well, the speculation that the aliens had caused the crash was replaced by a wave of celebration. A second mission returned Fairley and a tape of greeting from the aliens. The only disquieting aspect to the aliens appeared to be that they were all uniformly identical.
Fairley reported that the Zoltans had cured his massive injuries with a machine which, unfortunately, could only care for one of the crew. He said that the Zoltans were a dispassionate and methodical race with no signs of emotion. They seemed amicable. The tape they sent showed their planet to be reddish in colour with two small moons. The Zoltans lived in large buildings in a landscape showing no other animal life. There was no way of distinguishing different genders and the young lived communally. The food they gave to Fairley and the party of American rescue astronauts was tasteless and nutritious.
Watching the film, the Doctor says that he has never encountered the Zoltans before. He and the Brigadier wonder why none of the film shows any Zoltan soldiers which exasperates Liz. She says that a peaceful race would not need soldiers. The other two are also worried that the pro-Zoltan campaign led by Argus Possiter will succeed in bringing the Zoltansd to Earth before the world is ready for them. The trio ride down to Hyde Park where the demonstrators have arrived. Possiter addresses them, accompanied by Fairley, preaching unity. Suddenly he throws his arms wide in terror and pleads to be saved before dropping dead.
His death is followed shortly by that of an American anti-Zoltan lobbyist and then ten Russians (allegedly pro-Zoltasn but really not) in a plane crash. The Doctor points out that the American died in terror and that the pilot of the Russian plane sounded terrified before the crash. He adds that the link between the deaths is Fairley: he was beside Possiter when he died as well as having had dinner with the American shortly before his death. Further, he was in Moscow to see off the Russian delegation from the airport. He adds that this does not mean Fairley was aware of his involvement in the deaths. The point is raised again two days later when Fairley ids discovered dead in his bungalow. The Doctor immediately sets off to investigate. He drives down to Sarunbury and parks in front of the neat little house. A policeman on duty allows the Doctor access to the study where the astronaut died. The Doctor finds a fairly ordinary room, only occupied by a cat. He looks around, ruminating on the fact that Fairley did not die in terror but smiling defiantly. He pays close attention to a map of the world circled in blue.
As he prepares to leave he glances in the mirror. Behind him he sees a monstrous winged creature with startlingly beautiful eyes in a hideous face. He stumbles from the house in horror. Liz and the Brigadier are standing on the pavement watching in astonishment. When the Doctor turns round the creature has gone. He starts to scrabble about on the lawn and rises in triumph, holding a tiny insect. He tells the Brigadier that the insect is the Zoltan's weapon. Its sting induces paralysis and terror in its victims. Fortunately, the Doctor's non-human blood made him relatively impervious to the effects. He guesses that the insects were being bred by Fairley who had destroyed (almost) all of them the previous night.
- Landings on the Moon are described as being routine.
- Contact with aliens is made public in this story, but is ignored in every story published after.
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