Sophie tells Rosalind and Petra to get rid of their embroidered crosses, as this is a dangerous symbol within the Fringe. She also explains that they must stay in her cave for several days. When the town discovers that someone is dead, they will search everywhere for David, but will never think to look in her cave. When Rosalind asks Sophie why she is helping them, Sophie turns to her and snarls, “Damn you… Go on, laugh at me… Laugh at me because I do want him.” Everyone is shocked and no one responds. After a period of silence, Petra goes to Sophie, now hiding in the corner, and comforts her.
Sophie, once curious and kind, has changed during her time in the Fringes. She does not trust others and is embarrassed that she loves Gordon, who disgusts Rosalind. While Sophie thinks that Rosalind is mocking her, Rosalind and David are actually completely dependent on the skills Sophie has developed in the Fringes for survival. She knows that symbols considered to be protective within Wanuk are dangerous outside of it.
The next morning, Michael tells David that the Wanukians are getting ready to attack, and the woman from Zealand promises she will arrive within nine hours. She tells the group that she has never seen Badlands so wretched before and suspects that “an entire race” must have gone “insane” to deserve such a punishment.
The Zealander woman continues to expose herself as someone harboring racist thoughts. In some ways, David and Rosalind are escaping one intolerant society only to be saved by another one.
Michael tells David, Rosalind, and Petra that the troops are about three hours away, and without warning, Petra asks if her father is with them. Michael, unable to lie through his thoughts, reports that he is. Petra is not bothered by this news, but it it is deeply upsetting to David. He does not know whether to try to kill or forgive his father, but the woman from Zealand interrupts and tells him that keeping Petra safe should be his utmost priority. Echoing the sentiments of the man who brought David to Gordon, she says that “life is change” and anyone who fights that change will be destroyed. The only stability in life comes with death. Realizing that this is not a comfort to David, she tells him that, no matter what, one day he was going to have to break free from his father. “Fear,” she says, is the “enemy of life,” and David must cut himself off from those that act in fear.
David is deeply conflicted about his father’s role in the conflict. Unlike his Uncle Gordon or his father, he does not feel comfortable turning on his own family. The woman from Zealand tries to comfort him by telling David that they would have needed to separate anyway. His father, she says, is fighting out of fear of change, but life is change, and he will only find the stability he seeks in death.
Sophie leaves the cave to find out Gordon’s plan of attack, which she relays to David, who in turn passes it on to Michael so that he can protect himself. Michael then tells David the Wanukian army’s plan, and suggests that he pass the knowledge on to Sophie, so that the people of the Fringes can better protect themselves. Before David is able to do so, shots are fired and the battle begins. David watches Gordon shoot his brother (David’s father) in the chest. The spidery man then flees, taking Sophie with him, but Sophie is shot with multiple arrows as they run.
Because David cannot think-together with Sophie, he cannot warn her of the Wanukian’s plans, and she is killed by their arrows. In the heat of battle, it becomes clear that Gordon only cares about killing his brother, and after he does this, he flees the battle scene. His actions are motivated by hatred rather than by a desire to right the wrongs being committed in Wanuk.
A strange noise fills the cave and the woman from Zealand announces that they are almost there. A “fish-shaped craft” like those in David’s dreams appears in the sky. As it approaches, it begins to drop thin strings, “like cobwebs,” onto the ground below it. The battle stops as people stare at the machine in awe. Michael tries to run to the group, but finds it more difficult to move each time a thread touches him. The woman from Zealand tells him not to struggle and to lie down so the threads can’t surround him. The threads encircle the men from both armies and they struggle to break free. This only intensifies the threads’ grip, and soon even horses are brought to the ground. A piece of thread touches David in the face, gluing his eyes shut.
Throughout the novel, machines are points of connections with other times and societies. The arrival of this machine represents what David hopes will be a move to a new and much freer place. However, the web the machine casts traps people and freezes them in place. Wyndham suggests that the arrival of this new society is not an entirely positive thing.