28: New Beginnings

“Shakira! Heyyyy!” the voice on the other end of Shakira’s phone rang out, as she tried to remember when she had given the woman her number.

“Salaam Joan, what is it?” It had been a few weeks since Joan was almost murdered, and she had made a full recovery. Shakira, on the other hand, was just relaxing at home on one of her days off, and Lawrence was back on Earth. In several Muslim countries on Thera, the answer to gender equality without ‘ruining’ their culture was to build massive women-only cities (Saudi Arabia’s idea, who else?), and since she had moved into one of these five years ago, she had to sneak him in to her house. A TARDIS, however, made this very easy.

“I’m starting pre-meds next week!” she yelled into Shakira’s ear. Already? That was fast, Shakira thought. She was close to Farrah and all of the versions of her under her care, but their universal habits of being loud and hyperactive sometimes got annoying.

“That’s wonderful! How are you feeling?”

“Much better! But my maid won’t stop fussing over me…um, I was gonna ask, can you help me study today? I have to read some things before I start but I can’t understand them all”, Joan continued, unable to stop yelling.

“That is alright with me, I don’t have anything to do today…what is it you are having trouble with?”

“Mostly the endocrine system. We have readings on anatomy and physiology.”

Shakira paused, and then sat up. “Joan I know of the perfect place that we can go! Get your notebook and camera, I will come right over.” They both hung up, Joan to find her camera and her college notebook, Shakira to put something hijab-appropriate on and fly her TARDIS to Joan’s house. Soon enough, she and her TARDIS, which resembled a mahogany Victorian closet, materialised in Joan’s living room.

“That was fast!” Joan sprung up from the couch as Shakira stepped out, with a satchel over her shoulder, but wearing her camera around her neck.

Shakira laughed. “I told you that TARDIS travel is fast!”

Joan’s maid entered, with a suspicious look on her face. “Don’t you get her in any trouble, alright?”

“Joan will be fine, I am her doctor, and the doctor of around two dozen other women who are almost identical to her! Besides I am helping her study, we are not fighting the Daleks on Skaro!”

Her maid stopped folding her arms, and put them on her hips instead. “Fine…..I still don’t trust you aliens…but I suppose you are some kind of different.”

Joan giggled. “I told you, she saved me! I’ll be okay”, she said, and kissed her on the cheek. As she walked towards the TARDIS console, looking around, Shakira closed the doors behind her. “Where exactly are we going?”

“A strange planet that seems to defy the laws of nature, as it resembles a human body. Sometimes I consider it to be enemy territory.”

“Why? You told my maid we were gonna be safe.”

“The five people I am speaking of are not dangerous, however they have stalked some of my friends and filmed inappropriate videos of them.”

“That’s disgusting!” Joan replied, still looking around the TARDIS as Shakira flew them to their destination. The last, and only, time that Joan was in the TARDIS was when she almost died from being poisoned, which didn’t give her any real opportunity to see it.

“And we are here”, Shakira said, interrupting Joan’s exploration of the console room.

Joan immediately closed a drawer that she was rummaging around in, and asked, “Do we need diving stuff?”

“No, not here…but my only warning is that if it looks electrically charged, don’t touch it!” Shakira locked her TARDIS as they both left; Joan snapped two polaroids: one of whatever was above them, the other mostly featuring her surroundings but also including part of her face. “Do you know where we are?”

She looked up. “We’re in the diencephalon…and that’s the thalamus, right? And over there is the hypothalamus?”

“Yes you are right…what do they do?”

“The thalamus controls things like consciousness and relays signals to the cerebrum…the hypothalamus isn’t just in control of temperature and thirst and stuff, but it produces hormones….like dopamine and ones that control the pituitary gland.”

“That’s correct.” Shakira smiled, and ran to catch up with Joan, who suddenly took off to get a picture of the pituitary gland’s entrance. It was surprising to see how much she had changed, when she still lived with her husband, she was quite mopey and only happy when with her horse. Now, there was a sparkle in her eyes, of new life and opportunity – a life where she wasn’t just wanted for her family’s money but for who *she* was and what she could do. Even during that rotten first night, which reminded Shakira of Farrah’s first night out of the hospital, Joan still had that sense of moving forward from her old life as a trophy. She peered down into the pituitary gland’s entrance, which didn’t look too unusual until some weird ‘local’ stuck his head out, while Joan finished writing something and stuck her now developed pictures into her book.

“And the pituitary gland produces these hormones, right?” Joan asked, pointing to something she had written.

“Yes…you’re doing really well actually, why did you think you needed help?”

“I don’t know…just reading stuff doesn’t help, I have to see it right in front of me, you can’t learn to ride a horse just by reading.”

“No, I wouldn’t try that! But you will have many practical classes when you become more advanced.” She paused, thinking she could hear someone. “Is there anywhere else you want to go, after you’re finished with your notes?”

“The thyroid and reproductive system are easy, but I can’t remember much on the adrenal glands.” Joan put her book back into her satchel and tightened her ponytail.

“Well there is a hovercraft over there”, Shakira suggested, pointing, “they leave things lying around a lot here; I don’t think they have much sense of personal property.”

Joan looked over at the hovercraft, a two-seated convertible that was similar in shape and colour to an over-the-counter painkiller. “Sure, if we won’t get in trouble”, she agreed and headed over to it. Shakira had to turn it on with her sonic screwdriver, which didn’t take long, and soon enough they had left the brain and were on their way to the adrenals. “Hey the thyroid gland! And those are the parathyroid glands! They make a hormone that increases the level of calcium in the blood, right?” asked Joan, as she pulled out her camera to take another picture.

“That’s right!” Shakira stopped hovering and continued to fly them to their destination. After Joan had asked again to stop so she could take a photo of the pancreas, they reached the planet-human-body-thing’s left adrenal gland.

“What’s that?” Shakira laughed, pointing at something Joan had written and circled in her notebook.

Joan giggled. “That’s just something I was told to help me remember the functions of the adrenal glands….’salt, sugar, sex, the deeper it goes, the sweeter it gets’! Mineralcorticoids, glucocorticoids and the sexual hormones such as DHEA!” She took out her camera to get a picture of the adrenal gland they had parked near.

“You know you could ask one of the local people to explain that in further detail”, Shakira said, and then paused. “Wait…maybe not…” She could hear the voices of a certain group of ‘superheroes’ with a history of stalking, including making a sex tape of one of her friends.

“What is it? Hey who are those guys?” Joan pointed to a group of five people making their way towards them, all dressed in red and white.

“They are my enemies, less dangerous than some, but they are stalkers who made a sex tape of one of my friends, and they only approve of pharmaceutical and surgical medicine so they have interfered with my own work several times.”

“HEY IT’S THE ONE WITH THE STICK UP HER BUTT!” shouted one of them, an obese imbecile obsessed with both food and its eventual fate in the human body.

Shakira facepalmed. “And they have noticed me.”

“Should we get out of here?”

“I was just about to ask the-“

“Let’s show her how effective chemo can really be! This is for letting out that kid taken by CPS and flying their family to Mexico! We don’t care if the kid went into remission by the way!” The asshole ‘heroes’ summoned a horde of tiny police officers intent on attacking Shakira; whether they intended on killing her, jailing her or just ruining her day was unknown.

“What child? I have never – not in the time you would be – that hasn’t happened yet! Anyway, you can never catch me!” She started the engines once more, propelling them to safety. Unfortunately, the tiny police were able to follow the hovercraft, as they had their own cars hidden somewhere.

“Joan can you take over?” Shakira asked, letting Joan take the wheel, and screamed, “How is THIS for being metabolised?” as she disabled their hovercars with her sonic screwdriver.

“No I want to fly us back, this is fun!” said Joan as she resisted Shakira’s attempt at taking back the steering wheel.

“Fine but I am giving directions….veer to the right….be careful!”

“Sorry!” Joan narrowly missed crashing, and began to steer more gently.

“Don’t hit that…just slightly turn left….follow that thing…now slowly…drive through there!….be very careful…almost…and we are here!” They had arrived back at the TARDIS, just in time, for the voices of the assholes and tiny police-things were once again audible, even to Shakira. The asshole horde had spotted them, but it was too late, as Shakira had unlocked her ship and slipped inside with Joan just before the leader(?) of the assholes directed the police-things to charge.

“Is there anywhere else you want to go?” Shakira asked.

“Let’s go home, I think we can study there…a big house with a maid beats being chased…OW!” The police and assholes were now shaking the TARDIS, thinking they’d just fall out or something stupid.

“I cannot disagree”, she replied, entering the co-ordinates to Joan’s asshole-free family home. Who thinks people will just fall out of TARDISes when you shake them anyway?

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