Publisher's summary Edit
When a sandstorm forces the TARDIS down in the Iraqi desert in 1930, Clara is overjoyed to meet the legendary Amy Johnson, currently engaged in her bid to become the first woman to fly across the world. But something else is hiding in desert sands. Something small and sinister...
Part 1: A Wing and a Prayer Edit
Amy Johnson is drowning. As she sinks, she remembers that this was how she always thought she would die...
Years earlier (presumably), Johnson is flying her plane through the Iraqi desert. A sandstorm is causing her to lose control of her plane, and she is forced to make an emergency landing on the sands. Securing her plane to ensure that it doesn't blow away, she waits for the storm to end.
Two hours later, the storm is fading. Johnson sees someone or something approaching her from the distance, and pulls out a gun. The figure is revealed to be Clara Oswald, who tells Johnson not to shoot. Upon introducing themselves, Clara is overjoyed to be meeting Johnson, who has long been one of her heroes.
The Doctor soon appears as well, and offers to help Johnson get her plane up and running again, so she can set off once more for Baghdad, where she needs to be by nightfall if she hopes to continue her journey from England to Australia. Meanwhile, Clara notices a mysterious buzzing noise...
The TARDIS materialises in Baghdad. The Doctor explains to Clara about some of the city's history and culture, but she isn't listening — she's incredibly excited about talking to Johnson and finding out more about Johnson's life. Suddenly, Clara stops talking, having just remembered that she knows how Johnson will die — drowning in the Thames Estuary while transporting supplies during World War II. She asks the Doctor if they can warn her, but the Doctor says no, explaining that "history is a delicate tapestry. Historical figures have to be left alone. If their paths are altered then the patterns they've woven will unravel." Clara is saddened by this, but the Doctor reminds her that Johnson is still alive and well at the moment.
The Doctor soon finds what he and Clara have come to Baghdad for — a fez store run by a man named Omar, who expresses anger at the fact that the Doctor's previous fez has been eaten by a slime-frog on the Third Moon of Puggo.
Johnson, meanwhile, lands her plane at the Harrington Aerodrome, and is introduced to the staff there — retired Royal Air Force commander Arnold Bradshaw and mechanics Ted and Kenny. Bradshaw, a stern man with only one arm, displays sexism towards Johnson, who promptly debunks Bradshaw's theories that she doesn't know how her plane works. Bradshaw, irritated, storms off into the distance. After a brief conversation with the mechanics, Johnson leaves as well.
The Doctor is seen at Omar's home, playing a game of backgammon. He is worried that Clara will not follow the advice he gave her about changing history.
Clara meets up with Johnson at the Crown Hotel, and the two of them head up to the hotel's roof for dinner.
Back at the aerodrome, Ted and Kenny prepare to conduct repairs on Johnson's plane, but both are swiftly killed by something emitting the same buzzing noise Clara noticed back in the desert. Kenny manages to call for help before he dies, and Bradshaw enters. Something speaks to him, telling him that he "rages." Bradshaw is unable to see the speaker at first, but upon closer inspection, he sees it — the alien insect Koragatta, who tells him that he seeks "a warrior prepared to face a terrible threat." Bradshaw is initially sceptical that something so small could be so powerful, but Koragatta swiftly proves his power by recreating Bradshaw's missing arm out of sand.
Clara and Johnson converse on the roof of the Crown, discussing the reasons Johnson decided to make her journey around the world. Suddenly, a sandstorm picks up. They watch in horror as the sand forms copies of the two of them. As the sand-people advance menacingly toward them, Clara repeats something the Doctor said earlier: "Sand: bad..."
Part 2: The Power Below Edit
Arnold Bradshaw, impressed with his new arm, decides to help Koragatta harness the power of the earth.
Meanwhile, Clara and Amy attempt to run from their sand duplicates, but discover their powers allow them to catch up. Clara manages to stall the duplicates by pushing a trolley cart at them, and the two women borrow a car to reach the Doctor and get help.
Back at Omar's residence, the Doctor is enjoying a meal when a sand copy of him materialises. Using his sonic screwdriver, the Doctor discovers a tiny organism is inside the sand; the creature then asks the Doctor where the "traitor" is. Not believing the Doctor's denial of knowing who this traitor is, it threatens to kill Omar; however, his wife Nadia attacks it with a bucket of water, dissolving the sand.
The Doctor uses his fez to trap the insectoid which previously occupied the sand. He jams the organism's telekinetic frequency, disallowing any further sand creatures from being created, and begins to question it. The creature introduces itself as Vessalak, who is looking for the traitor Koragatta; the Doctor supposedly aided this traitor in his escape earlier that day. The Doctor realises that the storm from earlier was actually a silicon probe used by Vessalak, and that it mapped the body patterns of anyone it encountered (explaining the sand duplicates). Vessalak also mentions that himself, Takkan and Kratus were close to finding Koragatta, and that the Doctor surely aided his escape; the Doctor, however, denies this.
Meanwhile, Clara and Amy, who appear to have escaped their sand duplicates, begin a conversation. Clara tells Amy of the TARDIS, but does not mention its ability to travel in time. At this point, the sand duplicates have found the two women; Amy and Clara drive over the not-yet-solid creatures. At this point, the creatures (Takkan and presumably Kratus) decide to merely follow rather than attack, in hopes of being led to Koragatta.
The Doctor, Omar and Nadia decide to locate Amy and Clara, only to find the two women already arriving at the residence. Clara recalls the buzzing sound she heard while meeting Amy, and the Doctor theorises it was Koragatta hitching a ride on Amy's plane. The trio decide to go to the plane and investigate, only to find the hangar apparently deserted at first glance. At further inspection, however, they find the cold, lifeless bodies of Ted and Kenny. Bradshaw arrives on the scene, explaining that he is in league with Koragatta and that they committed the two murders. Bradshaw introduces his ally - who, thanks to the energy he absorbed from the region's land, is gigantic. The Doctor realises that they are "going to need a bigger fez..."
Part 3: The Final Flight Edit
The Doctor suggests that Vessalak and his people retreat due to the opponent's power, but the small insectoid insists on doing his "duty." Koragatta responds by freezing Vessalak and his two allies in the air, and Bradshaw uses his sand arm to crush them. Koragatta suddenly senses "an intriguing mind" - the mind of the Doctor.
After Koragatta suggests that the Doctor assist him, the Doctor asks why Bradshaw is helping the creature; Bradshaw claims that Britain is run by the weak, and will not survive another war. He and Koragatta explain their plan to soar through space itself, and thanks to the Doctor's knowledge of hyper-dimensional travel, Koragatta wants the Doctor's help. To ensure the Doctor's cooperation, Koragatta kidnaps Omar as well.
Koragatta uses his regained strength to form a hole in space, opening up one of "the tunnels that bind this universe together." During their journey through this tunnel, Koragatta, at the Doctor's request, tells the story of how he came to be viewed as a traitor.
Koragatta was once a mere drone of the Prime Mother, whose side was at war with the other hives of the great web. Unusually for his species, however, he began to wonder why exactly he was risking his life simply to help another being. Koragatta chose to desert the swarm in favour of freedom, but the rest of the swarm pursued him for his betrayal.
Bradshaw is shocked by this story, realising that his ally is in fact a coward. As the Doctor and Omar escape, Bradshaw repeatedly attacks the insectoid, breaking its concentration; consequentially, both Bradshaw and Koragatta fall into a q-form, ending their lives.
The Doctor and Omar are now falling towards a q-form, when Amy and Clara arrive in Amy's plane. The former manages to steer the plane quickly enough to reach the Doctor and Omar, who grab onto the vehicle's top wing. Amy manages to steer the plane just as the hole closes, arriving back on Earth. The Doctor suggests that they tell the truth about Ted's and Kenny's deaths, albeit a simplified version: that they were killed by a poisonous insect, which was now squashed.
Just as their work appears to be finished, however, a huge creature - the Prime Mother - arrives with an army of insectoids. The Prime Mother is aware of and pleased by Koragatta's death, but has also seen that a man from Earth assisted him; for this man's crime, she threatens to destroy the entire planet.
To avert this proposed destruction, the Doctor tells the Prime Mother of "the world's dominant life form." He points out that this species has strong potential, explaining that it has endured wars, ice ages, plagues and famines, always surviving, rebuilding, and growing: "the ant deserves your mercy." The Prime Mother agrees with this, and departs from Earth.
As Amy leaves to finish her flight, Clara cries over the brief remainder of the pilot's life. However, she points out to the Doctor that Amy's body was never found...
Drowning in the cold water, Amy hears a wheezing, groaning sound. She finds herself lying on the TARDIS console room floor, where the Doctor asks whether she would like to soar beyond the sky; the pilot says yes. The story's final panel depicts Amy flying a futuristic plane on an alien planet.
- Amy passed through Allahabad and Bandar Abbas on her flight.
- Amy hoped to beat Bert Hinkler's record.
to be added
- The Doctor's fez merchant Omar knows about the destruction of one of the Doctor's fezzes by River Song. (TV: The Big Bang)
- The Doctor saves Amy from her fate and takes her to Cornucopia to start a new life. (COMIC: The Cornucopia Caper)
- Amy Johnson will meet the Doctor and Clara again in COMIC: The Blood of Azrael.
to be added