The story starts out in the city of Baane-gan, where ashkathi vacationers are playing on the beach. As the camera slowly pans away from a surfer, many of the people in the water and on the sound begin shouting. As the camera pans back towards the surfer, the wave activity begins to increase. By the time the camera returns to where the surfer was, they are nowhere to be found. Instead there is an enormous tail slinking back into the ocean.
It is revealed that over the past few days, there have been reports of missing persons in the city, but with no clue as to their whereabouts. The gaaka-den sighting is coupled with the discovery of the bodies of the missing citizens (left unseen in the film for discretion) by a great-bell band playing at a remote ceremony. Their bodies have apparently been partially digested, and metallic fragments are everywhere. This news causes a panic and many people are afraid to leave their homes. Raluuos-met-Talake-Etala (played by Gane-met-Analu-Tainu), a local shaman and a fierce supporter of the Brotherhood of Larine, allows the organization to begin patrolling the area. The Brothers begin to equip their heatstaves and march out into the night.
The following morning, a squad of patrolmen fail to check in, and it is determined that they have been eaten by the trench-best. Around that time, Baanti-met-Lusalan-Loren (Sakas-met-Ratane-Tainu), a local biologist whose theories about gaaka-den are normally considered "crackpot" and "insane" shows up at the police station. She claims that they are not dealing with any ordinary gaaka-den, as from the limited footage and photos recovered from the beach attack, she estimates it to be at least thirty meters long. Citing various theories that go over the heads of the Brothers, she states that an upper limit of fifty to sixty meters is well within possibility. Due to its extraordinary size, she believes it to be a gaaka-den from a long-ignored local legend known as the Maw of the Star Chain. Citing further myths that explain that it is a beast that uses the violence of others against them, she explains that by threatening it they are only making the situation worse. Her pleas and explanations are only laughed away by the brothers, who are now pressuring the shaman into more extreme measures. Defeated, she leaves and heads out to find something to eat.
A little bit outside of town, she finds a school of dantiiki, and starts to sing the Song of the Kull Among the Fronds (Kull-met-Shuulua-ana-Luuta). As she begins to chase them, a dark shadow appears behind her, visible only to the audience. A daka-kanda is slowly catching up to Baanti, and opens its mouth to swallow her. At the last moment, she turns around but it is too late. Looking to the sky for a moment as she prepares to re-enter the Songstream, she waits several seconds before realizing she is still alive. Looking down again, a strange animal she's never seen before is swimming away from the daka-kanda, which now has a large bite in its side.
Scared of the creature, she begins to swim away. However, it calls out to her in Gaale asking for a moment of her time. He reveals that he is a Norb shark named Hake, who is in town for a business trip. He explains that he had been filming footage of wildlife for a documentary with a few other frames. They had recently visited Saka-bora and Mura-bora, and were on their way through the Great Garden Sea when they arrived in Baane-gan only a few days ago. His co-workers, a tiger and a dolphin, had been eaten by the Gaaka-den along with the other missing persons, and the metallic sludge of their nanites was the source of the metals that had been found with the bodies. Their transponders were still sending a signal, and he was planning on going after them to study the gaaka-den. However, he sought her out to ask her professional opinion on gaaka-den behavior. During the course of their conversation, Baanti volunteers to go with him, claiming it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The following morning, the pair head out for the Star Chain. As they venture deeper, they encounter criminals who had been cast into the deeps, and established their own society. After several close encounters and closer escapes, they reach a poacher's camp, where a large egg is being held in a cage. However, just as they surround Baanti and Hake, an enormous shadow appears, covering the group in darkness. As they all look up, they see a gaaka-den easily a hundred meters in length. A moment after it first appears, the gaaka-den's tail smashes into the sand, killing a pair of poachers and sending the others fleeing.
When the poachers are being attacked, Hake orders Baanti-met-Lusalan-Loren to hold onto his fin, stay still, and sing the song again with him. She complies, and for several minutes the sounds of the scene go quiet, replaced by her singing. Numerous structures and rock formations are destroyed by the gaaka-den, with it slowing down towards the end of the song. As Baanti finishes, it approaches the pair, its head hanging over them with both eyes staring directly at them.
Baanti slowly approaches the cage and opens it using tools that the poachers had left scattered. With care, she and Hake push it out onto the ground. After a long moment of silence, the gaaka-den moves to pick up the egg in its mouth, and then begins to turn. As it leaves in silence, it turns its head once to look back at Hake and Baanti, then continues on its way.
The next scene takes place six months later. Baanti and Hake have used the video and audio recordings of their adventure to make an extremely successful documentary film, and she is now an esteemed professor at the University of Baane-gan, as well a minor celebrity. As she prepares to leave and meet Hake for dinner, a strange old man approaches her. He pulls a small box out of his pack, and explains that he has been all over Tehlana with is discovery, but has been unable to get any serious scientists or historians willing to believe. It is an ancient metal figurine depicting a kull in fronds, which he claims dates back to thousands of years before the Day of Ascension. Baanti remarks "But that's impossible", before catching herself and laughing at her statement. She takes out her phone, and calls Hake, simply saying "I have our sequel".
Despite critical acclaim in the Norb Network and in various other nations, Maws was critically panned in the Ashkathi Union. In particular, the Haana-Gani Film Board complained about the excessive amount of violence in the film.
The film had limited success in the Verandi Empire, being released shortly after several films with a similar premise which led to audience's dismissing it as a copycat. The film subsequently gained some notoriety after vacationers mistook the Tehlana depicted in Maws as an accurate representation of the real planet only to be disappointed by the world's severe lack of vacation spots.
Maws enjoyed cult film status in the Sirian Union, being watched to this day by a devoted group of fans. A common practical joke played on the gullible is to show an edited version of the film to them, and then claim it's based on "real events" and that Tehlana is an aquatic hell that only the toughest and strongest survive in.