Part one Edit
Silas Ruckford plans on destroying Buckingham Palace with the help of dynamite. However, Madame Vastra catches up with his carriage and pushes the man out of the vehicle, not bothering to see whether he survives. Instead of jumping off the dynamite-filled carriage as Jenny suggests, Vastra steers it away from the people nearby, just barely escaping the carriage as it explodes.
Ruckford is not dead, but before he can do anything else, Strax punches him. Before Vastra can question him, however, Ruckford consumes a poisonous pill, before muttering that Queen Victoria will fall. Vastra believes that Ruckford, who suffered severe mental difficulties, was not simply acting on his own will; someone manipulated him into acting as a weapon.
After measuring its oxide levels, Vastra realises that the soil on Ruckford's boot appears to be from the Equatorial region — odd, considering Ruckford had been in England for months. Jenny points out a newspaper article focusing on a Brazilian rainforest exhibit at the Central Palace, which could explain the apparently Equatorial soil.
The Paternoster Gang decides to investigate the Palace, which Vastra enjoys due to its similarities to the world she grew up in. Lady Cornelia Basildon-Stone, the woman who came up with the exhibit idea, speaks of her fascination with nature, including her theory that only the strongest beings could and should survive in the world; however, she makes no comment on Vastra's nonhuman appearance. Vastra is convinced that Lady Cornelia was behind Ruckford's acts.
Meanwhile, Strax meets Lady Cornelia's Sikh servant Ajeeth, while Jenny meets the young Tommy Corrigan who works at the greenhouse. The latter boy notes the oddity of Lady Cornelia's personality; she recently removed and replaced the glass on the greenhouse's ceiling for no apparent reason. This cements Vastra's suspicions about the Lady, though Inspector Stringer believes Vastra's thoughts to be false.
Along with Tommy, the Paternoster Gang returns to the Palace that night, pondering Lady Cornelia's intentions. Jenny, Strax and Tommy break into the Palace for additional information, while Vastra investigates its exterior.
Jenny, Strax and Tommy spot Ajeeth ordering the policemen present to assemble. He unleashes some sort of gas, turning them into insectoids loyal to their Queen...
Part two Edit
Ajeeth spots the intruders, and orders the insectoids to kill them. As the army is too large to be defeated, Jenny, Strax and Tommy must run from it.
Vastra ponders over the purpose of making the palace into a greenhouse whilst sitting on its roof. To her surprise, Lady Cornelia approaches her, complimenting Vastra and calling her "a challenge". The Lady explains that she had earlier met another Silurian, this one a scientist living in a South African diamond mine. After the scientist told her of the species' history, Cornelia learned that the chamber held a genetic splicer — a powerful machine capable of extracting genes from one creature and putting them into another. Lady Cornelia used this device to mix wasp and human genes, creating the "ideal worker": industrious, ferocious, and unquestionably loyal. Ruckford had lured hundreds of policemen, now wasp hybrids, to the Palace.
Vastra and Cornelia engage in a sword fight, and both of them display great skill. Meanwhile, Strax, Jenny and Tommy attempt to escape (not killing the wasp hybrids, much to Strax's disappointment). However, Strax is met once again by Ajeeth, and they begin a fight of their own.
Vastra appears to have won the sword fight. However, Lady Cornelia transforms herself into an insectoid hybrid - England's new queen, according to herself. Her eggs are located within the greenhouse, and protected by the wasp hybrid "drones", they will hatch and grow strong, eventually forging the New British Empire. While fighting Strax, Ajeeth too transforms himself into an insectoid, now stronger than Strax. Before he can kill the Sontaran, however, Jenny uses Strax's gun to shoot Ajeeth down. Jenny notices the same gas that turned the policemen into insectoids, and Tommy recognises it's coming from the boiler room.
Vastra, meanwhile, is nearly defeated. However, she manages to utilise "a gift from a friend" — a red sonic screwdriver — to break the glass of the Palace. Falling from the now-broken roof, Vastra uses a grappling hook to catch herself on the still-built roof foundation. However, before she can reach the ground, the insectoid Lady Cornelia grabs Vastra.
In the boiler room, Strax throws a grenade at the genetic splicer, destroying it. This weakens Lady Cornelia, making her fall to her death before she can dispose of Vastra. The Silurian manages to use her grappling hook again, this time successfully lowering herself to the ground. The wasp hybrids, meanwhile, transform back into their human selves, their wasp genes dormant now that the splicer has been destroyed.
At their home, the Paternoster Gang as well as Tommy (the latter drinking milk which Strax apparently made) converse. Vastra is sad to see a healing device like the genetic splicer used as a weapon and eventually lost forever, but Jenny points out that it will not be lost as long as Vastra remembers it. And while her people may be gone, Vastra still has family in the Paternoster Gang...
- Silas Ruckford
- Madame Vastra
- Jenny Flint
- Inspector George Duncan Stringer
- Lady Cornelia Basildon-Stone
- Tommy Corrigan
- Silurian scientist
- A genetic splicer is a device capable of creating new lifeforms by extracting the essence of one creature and merging it with another.
- Strax mentions neutrino badgers.
- This story served as a two-month filler to bridge the gap in the changeover between Doctors.
- This was the first appearance of the Paternoster Gang in comic strip form. They later appeared in The Daft Dimension and The Adventures of Strax & the Time Shark, while Strax appeared in Sonic Sleuth, Time Gentlemen, Please! and Love Thy Neighbor but without Vastra and Jenny. Vastra and Jenny also appeared in The Lost Dimension, which was set before they first met Strax.
- Certain references made by Strax towards the Sikh Ajeeth's turban led to a reader's letter of complaint being published in DWM 478, followed by an apology by editor Tom Spilsbury. When the story was reprinted in the graphic novel The Eye of Torment, the dialogue for the scenes between Strax and Ajeeth was changed.
Original print details Edit
- (Publication with page count and closing captions)
- Vastra uses the red setting on the Doctor's sonic screwdriver to make the ceiling of the greenhouse explode. River Song previously told the Tenth Doctor that his future screwdriver would have a red setting in TV: Forest of the Dead and the Eleventh Doctor's screwdriver had a red setting by the time of TV: Cold War.
- Tommy thanks Strax for a glass of milk, to which Strax proudly replies he made it himself. Strax previously stated he had gene-spliced himself for all types of nursing duties and could produce magnificent amounts of lactic fluid. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War)