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Think of beginnings:
amusement parks at dawn,
pianos, bedrooms, gods.

From “Buffaloes” by Tishani Doshi

The Eighth Doctor was alone. He still had his TARDIS, but no one else lived in the vast, old ship anymore.

He had traveled alone before, of course, but this felt different. The Doctor long suspected the Time War had rewritten his past several times. With all of Space and Time an open wound, even he couldn’t detect all the changes, particularly those made to his own timeline. He could depend on remembering some of them, his former companions; others drifted in and out of existence on the tides of the war, leaving him nostalgic for people he only half-remembered. But he was the Doctor and he didn’t give up on anything without a fight, especially his own memories.

“Remember the beginnings,” he muttered to himself, trying to focus his mind. “I love beginnings - everything is so hopeful and new. How did you meet them? How did things start?” He had just begun to picture four of them - the Edwardian Adventuress, the girl from Blackpool, the MedTech, and the graduate student - when the alarms that had been sounding for awhile finally broke his concentration.

“What now?” Standing, he approached the console. “A distress call?” He flipped a few switches. “Let’s hear what they have to say for themselves, shall we Old Girl?”

The message was garbled by static, the Doctor could make out a frightened female voice repeating, “Help me! Please! Can anyone hear me?”