Once, a girl called Ace travelled the universe with the Doctor – until, in the wake of a terrible tragedy they parted company. Decades later, she is known as Dorothy McShane, the reclusive millionaire philanthropist who heads global organisation A Charitable Earth.
And Dorothy is haunted by terrible nightmares, vivid dreams that begin just as scores of young runaways are vanishing from the dark alleyways of London. Could the disappearances be linked to sightings of sinister creatures lurking in the city shadows? Why has an alien satellite entered a secret orbit around the Moon?
Investigating the satellite with Ryan, Graham and Yaz, the Doctor is thrown together with Ace once more. Together they must unravel a malevolent plot that will cost thousands of lives. But can the Doctor atone for her past incarnation’s behaviour – and how much must Ace sacrifice to win victory not only for herself, but for the Earth?
Dorothy McShane wakes in a cold sweat from a recurring nightmare that she's had every day of the week so far. She tries to remember it, but can't. Frustrated, she gets out of bed and flicks through channels on her television. She sees Kim Fortune hosting his own show. He's interviewing a girl and her parents, describing how their daughter was almost kidnapped by aliens. The girl describes experiencing a nightmare eerily similar to her own, but what shakes Dorothy is that she lives in Perivale, near where she lived when she was taken in a time storm to Iceworld.
Dorothy drives to Chantelle's flat in her Hypergreen, and tells her about what she discovered. Chantelle tells her that she wasn't the first to ask around, and that she has heard some strange noises at night, not to mention the large amount of rats that there suddenly is. Sanaul calls her and asks her to turn on the television, where every channel is showing footage of a UFO that has appeared around the moon. Calling Will Buckland on the way, she drives to her workshop, picking up the Squidget before arriving at the British Space Defence Centre in Devesham.
Will meets her at the Centre, and takes her to a hangar at the back which houses the Virgil. She lets the Squidget take control of the machine, but it told by Sam O'Connor, the Mission Controller, that she needs to take a full medical examination before she goes up into space with Wil.
- Dorothy McShane
- Thirteenth Doctor
- Graham O'Brien
- Yasmin Khan
- Ryan Sinclair
- Will Buckland
- Kim Fortune
- Sam O'Connor
- Kerry Eldon
- Andrew Eldon
- Tracey Eldon
- Seventh Doctor
Film and television
- Justine feels like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
- Ryan recognises Chantelle from Checkout Girls vs Sea Monsters and Alien Bike Riders.
- Graham recognises Chantelle from EastEnders.
- Graham compares Yaz to Gene Hunt.
- Dorothy compares Will's grin to a Cheshire Cat.
- Chantelle calls the Doctor's sonic screwdriver 'a magic wand'.
- Ace owns two Honda Fireblade motorcycles.
- Ace built the headquarters for A Charitable Earth next to the Tower of London so that she could keep an eye on UNIT.
- Ace was supposed to go to a meeting with the World Ecology Bureau.
- Various people recognise Ace from her charity, A Charitable Earth.
- Ace tells the Doctor she'd taken the money that would later be used to start her charity from her after an incident involving the Cybermen.
- The story indicates that Chantelle had appeared on the show EastEnders at some point. Incidentally, Chantelle's original actress in Survival, Adele Silva, acted in the show herself in 1991.
- Team TARDIS know that the Doctor used to be a man. (TV: Spyfall)
- Ace is concerned that the Torchwood Institute (TV: Army of Ghosts, Everything Changes), UNIT (TV: The Web of Fear) or the Intrusion Counter-Measures Group (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks) would be after her technology.
- The Tower of London used to be UNIT's UK headquarters (TV: The Christmas Invasion, The Power of Three, The Day of the Doctor, The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion) but has now been axed by the government. (TV: Resolution) A Charitable Earth's headquarters are established opposite the Tower.
- Ace refers to meeting the Cybermen during the Blitz. (PROSE: Illegal Alien)
- Devesham is home to the Space Defence Station. (TV: The Android Invasion)
- Ace recalls liberating Terra Alpha (TV: The Happiness Patrol) and Segonax. (TV: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy)
- Ace remembers being taken by a time-storm by Fenric. (TV: Dragonfire, The Curse of Fenric)
- To convince Ace that she is the Doctor, the Thirteenth Doctor mentions Daleks (TV: Remembrance of the Daleks) and how Ace hates clowns. (TV: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy)
- The Seventh Doctor had some everlasting matches (PROSE: Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks)
- Sarah Jane Smith had previously shown awareness of Ace's charity work. (TV: Death of the Doctor)
- Yaz recalls Ryan's father defeating a Dalek with a microwave. (TV: Resolution)
- Ace previously met someone called Justine. (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Warhead, Warlock)
- Chantelle eventually died in the early 21st century due to her weakened immune system being caused by severe pollution. (PROSE: Cat's Cradle: Warhead)
- Ace arrives on a planet/spaceship that happens to be made of flesh. (PROSE: Love and War)
- During her travels, Ace found one timeline where it showed her living on Gallifrey (AUDIO: Intervention Earth), a life where she and the Doctor travelled with a dark-haired woman (PROSE: Love and War, Deceit-Set Piece) and flirted with a young man (PROSE: Nightshade, Love and War, AUDIO: The Harvest), killing a Dalek while the explosion reflected in her black sunglasses (PROSE: Deceit, et. al), a life where she lived with an ancestor of Sorin (TV: The Curse of Fenric, PROSE: Set Piece) and got killed in a Nitro-Nine Explosion (COMIC: Ground Zero), and a life where she grew old travelling with the Doctor. (AUDIO: Signs and Wonders)
- The Doctor remembers battling Morbius. (TV: The Brain of Morbius)
- The Virgil is the successor of the ill-fated XK-5 Space Freighter. (TV: The Android Invasion)
- Official At Childhood's End page at Penguin Books
- Official At Childhood's End audiobook page at Penguin Books
- Penguin Books's official podcast Sophie Aldred with Katy Brand interview about the book