33: Pieces of the Puzzle

The breeze from the Caspian Sea gently stirred the leaves above, as Shakira, her twin Saghira and Strawberry had their heads literally together, reading a map. Farrah removed her camcorder from her bag.

“Farrah should you even be doing that?” Saghira gasped. The beauty school student wanted to come along, but wasn’t exactly the type for anything that could be called espionage or participating in conspiracies. Both twins travelled through time and space but Saghira’s life almost completely revolved around her home and family until last week, her first day of her diploma.

“If we save the world, I wanna show everyone how we did it”, Farrah answered, sticking her tongue out.

Strawberry pointed to the vague directions’ starting point, stolen by Ursula several days ago. “What is the blue moon?”

“Something blue and involving moons”, Shakira replied flatly.

Saghira jumped. “The mosque!”

“Which one?” She stopped pointing and looked more closely at the map, searching for this mosque.

“The Imangali Mosque on Satpaev Street”, Saghira explained. “It is blue with crescent moons.”

“Are me and Farrah allowed inside?”

“Yes but the directions say behind it, so we don’t need to go inside.”

The four women then took the nearest bus, stopping not so far away from the mosque and complete with passengers noting their peculiarities: abayas (must be tourists?), no arms (how does she do anything?) and very short hair (butch or ex-chemo patient? Why no wig? Women need long hair!). Both Farrah and Shakira paused to take a few pictures of it, then they made their way around the corner, past the benches and minarets, to the back wall that was facing a river bank.

“And…now what?” Shakira asked no one in particular. There was mud, and trees, not much that could really conceal anything, or any obvious signs of manmade structures.

“There’s trees….” Farrah trailed off. “And they have giant roots…”

“With something to hide?” Strawberry added.

The water lapping against the river bank provided background sound to their minimalist conversation. Along with several birds. “Such as a safe maybe…trapped by the tree roots? So it won’t wash away?” These last two questions were shared by Shakira and Saghira. They headed over to the largest tree, specifically to the most prominent roots that were facing the mosque. Taking out her sonic screwdriver, Shakira scanned for any signs of metal or plastic.

“Something is there!” she suddenly exclaimed. “It is being held by the roots, we were right.”

Saghira reached into her bag. “I thought there would be digging involved”, she said, pulling out a tiny gardening shovel.

“Can you see what it is with that thing?” Farrah lent in. Strawberry shrugged her shoulders, as her short arm-stumps weren’t capable of digging and she hadn’t learnt how to garden with her feet either.

“No I can’t…keep going Saghira! You are almost there.” Shortly afterwards, Saghira struck metal on metal, and with Farrah’s help she revealed: a sweet tin.

“That’s all?” Strawberry asked.

“Or maybe there is something inside…” Shakira opened the tin, which contained…..a piece of paper that was obviously torn from something else, detailing part of the schematics for some type of machine, and an RF oscillator.

“So we only found part of whatever it is we’re looking for…..” Farrah sighed.

“I would have liked a full schematic and where to find the other parts”, Shakira said, pocketing the torn off paper and oscillator. “We must see if there is anything else in the newspaper clippings.”

Previously, Shakira had left her sonic screwdriver on the ground. This was now held by Strawberry, who was crawling along the sand on her knees with it in her mouth. She circled the other tree, paying close attention to its root system.

“Mmmghmghhhmmm!” She pointed with her arm stump to whatever it was that the sonic screwdriver had picked up, now getting the attention of the others. They rushed over and began digging around the oversized roots…to unearth a case panel for some variety of machine. It was large, black and had a semi-irregular arrangement of holes meant for various meters and controls.

“And we have…” Saghira began.

“Something we could need, but is no help at all right now!” Shakira finished.

“Maybe we should go home…and read the newspaper clippings…” Farrah sighed. Shakira straightened, her protective instincts awakening. “I think I have another healing reaction coming on.”

“Aww honey!” Strawberry hugged Farrah with her face and shoulders, after dropping the sonic back into Shakira’s hand. “You want me to carry you?”

She smiled, answering with “Sure”, and climbed onto Strawberry.

“I’m all legs, I know”, she said as they both giggled. Shakira and Saghira carried their findings for the day, carefully watching for any danger – vans, people, helicopters – in every possible hiding place. One they made it back to the TARDIS, excusing the panel as something needing recycling when asked by the bus driver, the doors were quickly locked to ensure a safe return  trip back to Kos III, and later Thera. Locking the doors was warranted, however, as they were being watched.

32: Hidden Plans

“Where do we have to go again?” The Italian pretty-boy whispered into the ear of his co-conspirator.

“The head office, any others we think are important.” The light from the cafeteria ceiling reflected off of Dex’s glasses. Shakira was out that night, so she gave him and Lawrence instructions on obtaining more information of whatever was going on. Assassination plans, propaganda agendas, the numbers she found, anything was helpful at this point. Farrah was too terrified of capture to assist her doctors, which was reasonable because this was mostly about her. Suddenly thinking of her, Lawrence suggested, “The oncology department? I don’t look out of place there.”

“And it’s safer…..they probably have the head office booby-trapped now…hehe boobies.”

“You have to be childish when we’re doing something dangerous”, Lawrence said, rolling his eyes.

“You don’t think I’m scared? I overheard their plans to finish off Michael Jackson; they don’t leave any opportunities for failure, not anymore at least.”

“Come on, we’re going to oncology and there’s a mastectomy patient who’s making you fit right in.” The two men quietly proceeded to the oncology department, first needing to take the elevator.

“Farrah’s file?” Dex half-whispered.

“Yeah, seeing as I don’t ‘need’ it anymore”, Lawrence answered. Once they arrived, they kept a low profile, not looking anyone in the eye. “It’s in my office”, he added. Opening the door, he paused to look around for assassins, traps and so on, before sliding up to the filing cabinet and shoving his hand into the section labelled “F”. Eventually, his fingers walked themselves to ‘Fawcett, Farrah’, and he pulled this folder out from among the others it was sandwiched between.

“Anything different?” Dex whispered, his eyes darting around to check for any intruders.

“Her records haven’t been changed, except for…..Oh GREAT! They added the original scan to the altered ones from her false diagnosis!” Pissed off, Lawrence held up the originals so Dex could see them.

His eyes jumped out of his head, then he asked, “Were the sticky notes there before?”, pointing to a couple of notes with their yellow corners poking out of the file. Lawrence opened to the page that one was stuck to, and read out “5821435. Huh? What does that even mean? Wait, Shakira told me about a similar number that fell out of assassination plans!”

“Phone numbers? No, they are only seven numbers, could they be a code?”

“I have no idea…what’s this?” He pulled off another note, adhered directly behind the note with the number. “Atyrau. Find and destroy all information? This just keeps getting worse!”

“So….the numbers are connected to a place called Atyrau?” Dex was equally confused. It *was* getting worse, first Farrah was diagnosed with cancer, then her latest diagnosis turned out to be faked, then her doctors, including him to a lesser extent, became assassination targets so she would lose all protection and actual care. And now wherever the fuck Atyrau is has become the latest potential target of the pharmaceutical industry’s goons because of information that didn’t even make sense to doctors!

“Snap out of it”, Lawrence hissed, clicking his fingers in front of Dex’s face, as thinking about these things caused him to space out completely. “There’s another note with what the room number of a storage closet would be.”

The two men then cautiously took the elevator down to the hospital’s lowest level where Farrah had her last MRI. Next to that room was the storage closet mentioned on the note. Lawrence opened the door by a crack to check for more traps, and when he was satisfied with what safety he had, fully opened the closet door. Inside were a mop, extra spill kits and various cleaning products. They split the containers between themselves, searching for any more files; Dex even searched the mop and the insides of the spill kits. It was also Dex who rummaged through the last container, but the only writings of any kind was something scrawled onto the bottom in black marker. It read “SURPRISE!” with a cheeky smiley face next to it.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHH!” Both men screamed, fearing that this meant ‘Surprise! There’s a bomb in here, or possibly assassins waiting for you, since we knew you’d find this, now you’re going to die!’ They bolted for the fire stairs, as usual, and raced for the exit of the hospital. Their hearts stopped as they noticed a car parked on the grass………and realised that it was Ursula’s time-spaceship, which took the form of a blue Chevrolet, and unlike Shakira’s TARDIS, was not bigger on the inside. Now, they ran towards her car, as they could see Ursula sitting inside it, reading something.

“Guten abend!” she cheerfully called out. “What are you doing here?”

“We were looking for more information but all we found were these”, Lawrence said, producing the sticky notes he stashed away.

“That’s more than what I found”, she admitted. “All I have in here are newspaper clippings and a very unclear set of directions. What is Atyrau? Do you know? It sounds like somewhere Shakira said she went on a trip to in her sponsored student days.”

“I don’t remember that from any of her stories, but one of the notes we found mentions it too….something about destroying information there?”

“What are the newspaper clippings?” Dex asked.

“Some are of Farrah from these last few years, some are of alternative doctors in South America and the Central Asia, a few are of Michael Jackson in East Europe”, she answered. “I don’t know if they mean anything or are trying to waste our time…but who knows then?”

25: A Very Special Episode, Or Something

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!” a loud scream emanated from the console room in Shakira’s TARDIS.

“Farrah, what’s wrong?” Saghira, Shakira’s twin, asked as she ran out from the TARDIS’ bathroom. She had just bought everything she needed to start her beauty therapy diploma, despite it being a month away.

“They’re saying I’m dead! The news on my Earth in my time says I died this morning!”

“Farrah sweetheart what’s wrong?” Shakira asked as she entered the console room, then looked at the computer screen. “Oh no…” It was not only trashy tabloids that were saying Farrah was dead, there were also reports on legitimate news sites! Shakira and Saghira hugged her, because your homeworld thinking you’re dead can’t be anything other than horrible.

“I have to go see daddy”, she said, “I don’t want my family to believe this.”

The sisters looked at each other. “We have time”, Saghira told her, then they left the room to put on their hijabs. When they returned, Shakira began to fly her TARDIS to Corpus Christi, Farrah’s hometown, specifically to her father’s house. Things were going smoothly, until a face appeared on one of the console’s computer screens.

“Shakira Seddiqi, you are under arrest for wilfully altering the timeline.”

Saghira and Farrah gasped, and Shakira looked up. “Oh it is YOU again. Who do you think you are?”

“Constable King of the Gallifreyan Federal Police.”

“Are you picking on me specifically because I broke up with you? There are thousands of police and dozens of alterations to the timeline coming from Thera and Kos III, why me and why you?”

“Come on Shakira, if you just accepted the loss of Farrah, married me and had my children then none of this would be happening. Euthanasia isn’t that bad, and if you allow her to die like she should then you will be released without charge.”

“I don’t want any of that! I do not want to let Farrah die, give up my career, be submissive to you and have babies, and you are not entitled to MY agreement!” Her argument was the perfect distraction, as she reached over to a control panel and sent an SOS message to Strawberry and Ursula, providing her location in the Vortex.

“Yes I am, you are not a Time Lord and therefore an inferior being, so none of this is about your opinion you stupid flatworm!”

The speciesist slur of ‘flatworm’, a reference to the agelessness of Therans and their supposed lack of intelligence (Time Lords considered their much more egalitarian/non-hierarchial society, stealing of TARDISes and casual history changing to be signs of stupidity), annoyed Saghira, who usually stayed out of lover’s and ex-lover’s arguments. “You have no right to speak to my sister like that! After three months of dating you didn’t learn anything about her!” she yelled at the redheaded police officer.

“YEAH!” Farrah agreed. “And you have no right to talk to my friend like that! Especially when she’s also my doctor and she saved my life!”

“GREAT, everyone else has to put their two cents in too! This is getting nowhere! Open fire!” King said, and disconnected the video call. The police fired at Shakira’s TARDIS, missing twice and hitting once, but her shields prevented it from causing any damage. Shakira’s weapons were different, which did not intend to kill but instead meant to disable the offending craft, thereby knocking it out of the Vortex, and this meant they could also bypass any shields.

“Farrah, remember what I showed you?”

“The guns?”

“Yes, you take this one”, she said, gesturing to the weapons control panel on her left, while she stood in front of the other.

“I will steer your TARDIS”, Saghira offered, and then brought an image of the police’s TARDIS on the screen, so she could avoid it and the others could aim properly. Shakira fired several shots, each beginning to create a field of energy around the other TARDIS. When it was developed enough to completely envelope the TARDIS, it would penetrate the offending craft, fry the engines and disable it for several days.

Another shot was successfully fired at Shakira’s TARDIS. “They are weakening the shields! Do you think we could disable them before they destroy us?” Saghira asked.

“I have called-Wait! There they are!” Shakira replied, as a flying red Mustang and an equally capable blue Chevrolet burst into the Vortex.

“Shakira!” Ursula, the driver of the blue car/space and timeship, called the TARDIS videophone. “Are you alright? And are your shields still strong?” Thomas and Lawrence were in the car with her, and Lawrence was especially worried.

“Yes and they are at 85%, but we still need you.”

“Are you using real guns or the disabling ones?”

“The disabling ones, Ursula. I don’t want to kill them.”

“Alright then.” Ursula charged her own weapons and then proceeded to fire them at the police’s TARDIS together with Shakira, while Thomas used a hand-held version.

“Shakira! Hey sorry if I’m late are you okay?” Strawberry had just entered the Vortex along with Dex, saving Shakira even more time and effort.

“That is alright Strawberry, and yes we are all okay.”

“Dex, can you get the gun out of the glove compartment?”

“Si amiga, I just pull this trigger here, no?” Dex asked, pointing to the trigger on what appeared to be a much upgraded, adult nerf gun.

“Yeah it’s that one, I really need to get one built in”, she said, and then they joined in the fight against the Time Lord police.

Lawrence decided to distract the police. “Hey you, whoever you are!” he yelled after calling them.

“What the fuck do you want? You’re under arrest too!”

“How about leaving my wife alone?”

King rolled his eyes. “You can stand living with that? She never did what she was told!”

“Shakira can do what she wants, and because of her I know that I don’t have to basically poison people or watch someone die every week.  She opened up a whole new world to me and you don’t know how grateful I am.”

His distraction worked, as they managed to create an energy field almost strong enough to disable the TARDIS without further damage to their own ships.

“Everyone we just need one more shot each and they won’t be policing anyone in that TARDIS for a week. Maybe we can do it together?” Shakira suggested.

“Of course we can! It is more fun that way!” Ursula agreed, her Sontaran side definitely showing today.

“Ja I have mine still fully charged!” Thomas aimed his gun out of the window, protected by Ursula’s shields.

“Okay we’re ready when you are”, added Strawberry, glancing over at Dex, who was in the same position as Tom.

“Alright then….three, two, one, NOW!”

They fired their weapons simultaneously, with all of the beams coming together to form one burst of energy, and then penetrating the Time Lord police’s TARDIS along with the energy field from previous shots, frying every electronic system within. It disappeared from the Vortex in a burst of light, not before getting hit by lightning too.

“YAY WE DID IT!” both Strawberry and Dex cheered, unfamiliar with fighting oppressive ‘law enforcement’ but definitely excited about saving their friends.

“Thankyou so much for helping me escape, I am honoured to have you all as my friends…not everyone would do this”, Shakira said over the TARDIS phone.

“Hey anytime Kira!” replied Strawberry, and Dex gave a similar answer while trying not to drop his glasses.

“It is no problem my dear.”

“Ja it was kind of fun anyway.”

“You know I’d do anything for you, I’ll see you this afternoon?” answered Ursula, Tom and Lawrence respectively.

“Yes I am coming this afternoon my love, but for now I have to take Farrah to her father’s house because almost everyone from Earth thinks she’s dead.”

“What? That’s terrible! Farrah are you alright?”

“I’m okay Dr Piro-“

“Lawrence, just call me Lawrence now.”

“I just want to go home. I don’t know if he believes them or not, and I really hope he doesn’t.”

“And that is where we will go”, added Shakira and said, “I will see you all later!” to everyone as she flew the TARDIS out of the Vortex and into the backyard of a home in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Hey, what the-“ an old man left the kitchen and ran out into the yard as a slightly familiar mahogany Victorian closet materialised. He stood there staring, as two almost identical women, one wearing a black hijab with an aqua border and the other wearing a white one with gold embroidery on the edges, and his daughter, looking young and fresh but a little damaged and short haired, emerged.

“Daddy!” Farrah ran to her father, embracing him with more strength in her arms than what she’d had in a long time.

“Farrah honeypie I thought you were dead!” he said through happy tears – an improvement on the despair-driven crying of an earlier hour.

“No I’m not”, she turned to Shakira and Saghira, “can you pick me up tomorrow?”

“Of course we can!”

“Have a good time!”

“I was going to say that”, Shakira giggled, “We will be going now, bye and Salaam!” The last word was said by both twins in a very twin-like moment, as Farrah and her father held each other, and he kissed her forehead with a love strong enough to shake the very fabric of the universe itself.

21: E Is For

“Hey Shakira, can we go back to Earth this afternoon? To my timeline?” Farrah asked. Shakira had the afternoon off, well, once she rescued Farrah from a mild but inconvenient healing reaction, and so did Farrah.
“Okay…why do you want to go home?” She re-secured one of the hair pins that were keeping her enormous pink scarf wrapped around her head.
“I want to sneak into the head of the hospital’s office to do some investigating, because I want to know exactly what their plans are”, answered Farrah, partly because she had been quite shaken by the false allegations that she was dying and planning her own funeral.
“So do I, actually. Wouldn’t the truth about your life sell better? A false positive diagnosis that was made to protect the corporations is much more interesting than someone dying.”
“Even when you take out all the space and time travel and aliens!” Farrah agreed. She ran to get her camera, and once she returned, put it in her handbag.
“You are not going to film all of this are you?” asked Shakira as she unlocked her TARDIS.
“No, just put any pictures I take online.” This was a safe thing to do now, since Farrah was living with Ursula on the almost exactly Earth-like Kos III. Shakira opened the door so that Farrah could enter, and then closed the door once she had followed her.
“Alright your timeline is the 1st of June, 2009, location…Los Angeles…” Shakira trailed off, finishing the co-ordinates. She let her TARDIS fly on its own, but once they were almost there she took control to land it perfectly in the corner of the head’s office. “And we are here!” she announced.
“Are you gonna turn it off again?” Farrah asked.
“I think that would be the safest option”, she said, “and you don’t mind me speaking in sign language?”
“No, actually you’re really loud so I was gonna ask if we could just use sign language here.”
Shakira laughed. “I get that all the time”, she agreed, as she switched off her TARDIS and decided to keep her hearing aids on for safety purposes, as well as not locking her TARDIS in order to save time if they got caught.
Farrah was the first of the two to step into the head’s office, looking around and taking in everything. It was on the top floor, and had a massive window that almost took up the entire wall. There was a big, fancy desk near the window, and a near-matching bookcase up against another wall; both of these were the same colour of wood that Shakira’s TARDIS appeared to be. Farrah paused to enjoy the view before going straight for the desk drawers. Shakira guarded the door. After what seemed like forever, Farrah walked over to Shakira, and signed, “I found nothing in his desk, but I found this key for the filing cabinets…Can you look in the bookcase for anything he could be hiding in there?”
“Yes, I can use my sonic screwdriver to warn us about anyone who’s coming.”
It turned out that Shakira did not need to scour the bookcase for any documents detailing dastardly plans, for Farrah let out a tiny gasp after five minutes of searching.
“Shakira look! I was going through E, I don’t know, I was just thinking ‘E for Evil Plans’, and then I found this!” Shakira’s star patient/dear friend was holding up a thin cream folder, with a paperclip securing its contents.
“What does it say?” she signed back. The noises coming from the sonic screwdriver suddenly changed to something more urgent sounding. “Someone is coming! We can read them in the TARDIS!” she sign-yelled, and then the two ran a few steps back into the TARDIS.
Shakira locked the door from the inside. “I am taking us back to your house”, she spoke, as the head of the hospital scratched his head and exclaimed, “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS CLOSET DOING HERE?” He had another surprise, as the ‘closet’ dematerialised in front of him on its way back to somewhere safer. “FUCKING HELL! Cocaine is NOT in my plans again for tonight!”
“Now, tell me what you found”, Shakira requested as they were still in flight. Farrah removed some of the pages and placed them on the console for them to read.
“They’re going to reduce the world’s population by 90%, by poisoning everyone.”
“You mean eugenics? Like the Nazis?”
“Yeah, the strongest 10% survive to start a Master Race. They’re not like Nazis Shakira, they ARE Nazis!” Farrah explained as she pointed to a swastika in the corner of the page.