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A ten year old boy picks up a distress call from what turns out to be an alien species called the Quotrons. He thereafter joins the Doctor on a journey to the Arizona Desert to rendezvous with the aliens, whose navigational circuits the Doctor intends to fix. This said, when the job is done, their leader refuses to let him and the boy go, and they soon find themselves on a collision course for the moon.
In the blackness of space, not far beyond Earth's atmosphere, distress signals crackle from an alien craft. In a basement below Crabshaw Manor, ten year old "Specs" Crabshaw picks up the message and heads directly over to the Ministry Of Defence, gaining access using his father's card. Tuning in the ministry's receiver, their operator determines that no transmitter on Earth could send out a signal like that. An hour later, the Doctor is disturbed by his bedside phone ringing. It is the Minister Of Defence, who tells the Doctor that he would deem it a personal favor if he'd pop over to his office as soon as possible. At the ministry they listen to a recording of the signal, which the Doctor recognizes as an SOS from a Quotron space craft. Electing to keep this information to himself, he asks the Minister, who put him onto it in the first place, and he tells the Doctor, that it was the young son of Colonel Crabshaw. The Doctor makes his way over to see the boy, whose parents are on a short vacation, and tells him that what he heard was an alien space craft appealing for help.
The Doctor tells "Specs" that from what he can gather from their transmissions, the Quotrons have a damaged navigational system that he may be able to assist them with. If he doesn't assist them, they may never be able to return to their home planet. "Specs" says that the only thing to do is contact them on his powerful transmitter, adding that he knows the alien frequency. The Doctor replies that he was hoping "Specs" would want to help, informing the boy that the lives of many Quotrons may be in the balance. The Quotron code is a variation of Morse Code, and the two soon make contact with the aliens. The Quotrons reply saying that if the Doctor can repair their navigational equipment, they would be deeply indebted. They offer a rendezvous in space, but the Doctor has no transport to get there, and says that they'll have to meet him on Earth.
The Doctor suggests they rendezvous in the Arizona Desert, as UFO's are always being reported there, so one more wont cause alarm. The Quotrons consult their maps and suggest an area known as Three Pillars, Wednesday at 1am. The Doctor and Specs leave on the first available flight for Tucson Arizona. The Doctor tells "Specs" that he's not sure he should be accompanying him on his trip, as his parents would have a fit if they found out, but "Specs" reassures him that they wont be back from holiday for a week and need never know a thing about it. Two night's later, a strange shape flits over farm buildings on the outskirts of Tuscon, with Jess and his fellow farmer, believing it to be a space ship. The Midnight News on Tucson Local Radio then report that there had been a spate of UFO sightings but the police say such rumors are usually started by cranks. This said, deep in the desert wastes of Arizona, monstrous alien beings emerge from their craft. Black in color, the Quotrons are crustaceans, with frog like heads, and crab like arms and pincers, who stand using a plated tail that forms their body, and two skeletal legs emanating from just beneath the head.
Driving a jeep across the desert, the Doctor and "Specs" listen to the radio broadcast, with "Specs" commenting that it was a good job everyone thinks the farmers were cranks, as they didn't want people snooping around out here. The Doctor tells the child that there had been hundreds of reports in the last few centuries but they had all been laughed at. He wonders if the world would laugh if they could watch their meeting in a couple of hours with the Quotrons. The aliens themselves are beginning to move and in doing so emit a strange rattle, which awakes a camping prospector by the name of Sam McLintock, who after declaring that the creatures were not from Earth, makes his escape on his horse Moonshine. A few miles away, Sam meets the Doctor and "Specs" warning them of the scary creatures he's just seen.
At the foot of the famous Three Pillars, the meeting takes place, with the Quotron's reprogramming themselves to speak English, and the Doctor telling them that he will do his best to put right their navigational equipment. The Doctor works for an hour, with only thirty minutes of darkness remaining before dawn. Eventually the fault is discovered and repaired with the Quotrons telling the Doctor that they will forever be in his debt. However, when the Doctor and "Specs" try to leave, the Quotron Leader tells them they cannot, because if Earth people were to hear from them that aliens actually exist, a disastrous panic would follow, something the Quotrons could not be responsible for.
The Doctor is outraged, stating that never in any of his travels has he been treated like this by so called friends, that he and "Specs" had gone to a lot of trouble to help them and that this is how they were rewarded. The Quotrons are moved by the Doctor's outburst saying that he should be returned to Earth as Quotron justice demands. Their leader however is adamant, silencing them and telling them his decision is final and that the Doctor must stay. At that moment though, the navigational computers jam and put the craft on a collision course with the moon, with the Quotron Leader stating that it would appear the adjustments to their equipment have proved fatal and that there was no need to discuss the Doctor's future any more, as in a few moments, he and his companion would die with the rest of them.
The Quotron leader gives the Doctor his pledge that if he saves them, he will return him to Earth, but the craft's throttle has been preset and the craft cannot reduce speed. It will collide with the moon in two minutes. Fortunately with seconds to go, the Doctor discovers the problem is caused by two unattached wires, and gets the navigational computers functioning again, pulling the craft away from the moon. The Quotron Leader tells the Doctor his race will be permanently in his debt, and acknowledges his swift action had saved them all. The leader goes onto assure Dr Who that he and his young friend, will be returned to the Arizona Desert that night.
That evening as the Quotron craft descends, a group of oilmen witness its landing, and their story is again reported on Tucson local Radio, but this time with the announcer confirming that at the beginning of the week space expert the Doctor was seen heading for the Three Pillars and maybe investigating the earlier sightings. The Doctor and "Specs" say farewell to the parting Quotron Leader saying that their secret will be safe with them. When Dr Who and "Specs" thereafter emerge from the desert dozens of reporters are waiting for them, but the Doctor assures them that these UFO sightings are pure fantasy.
On the flight back to England, the Doctor tells "Specs" Crabshaw that they had sworn to keep their secret, but that one day the world would have to face up to the fact, that people from outer space are a reality.
- Second Doctor
- "Specs" Crabshaw
- The Minister Of Defence
- Colonel Crabshaw
- The Quotron Leader
- The Quotrons
- Unnamed Farmer
- Tucson Local Radio Newsreader
- Sam McLintock
- A group of oilmen
Black in color, the Quotrons are crustaceans.