“Vanishing Point”


Cauchemar was, originally, an aspiring geneticist in the far future, but things went wrong for him through his own desires. In seeking the key to immortality, he caused the deaths of several innocents while trying to perfect his immortality process, the fact that he managed to make his cells capable of dividing to infinity didn’t really make any difference to the officials who sentenced him to prison for murder. He was put on a prison ship, but the ship then hit a disturbance and at least half the crew were killed, forcing some of the more intelligent prisoners to take the place of crewmembers just to keep the ship going. In the process, Cauchemar fell in love with one of his wardens – a woman called Jasmine – but she could never love him in return, knowing what she knew about him, and he was left heartbroken.

Things went from bad to worse when the ship passed through a spatial anomaly that severely damaged the cells of the crew, but they were then contacted by beings of pure energy, who had elevated themselves onto this level of existence after discovering the gene for the soul. Striking a deal with the humans to dispose of their criminal element, Cauchemar engineered the humans into carriers, living prison cells for the alien race’s criminal souls, but created a symbiotic relationship so the human souls would also share in the testing process and have the chance to achieve communedition with the Universe. The principle was, in its way, rather like a scientifically-constructed Heaven, if a person lived a worthy life, the soul passed on, if not, then the Creator – the controlling ‘program’ – re-engineered the same soul into a newborn body, giving it a chance to try again, and again, until it got it right. Vanishing Point would be reached when all souls are saved. In order to maintain the experiment and prevent the colonists discovering the truth, the aliens created the Holiest, genetic constructs made from the dead, and outlawed genetics. The Holiest knew the true nature of the planet’s society and were responsible for passing the Creators’ judgement on the colonists at the point of death.

However, Cauchemar’s experiments upon himself had rendered him unsuitable as a host, and the aliens’ offer of freedom was no longer enough for him without Jasmine. Because of this, Cauchemar was expelled from the world, but eventually found his way back and became involved with the ‘reincarnation’ of Jasmine, even though he knew that his intervention – and, indeed, his eventual offspring – would taint the gene pool, creating humans who went around with nothing but their own baggage, rather than a recreated soul getting another shot at life. Even worse, Cauchemar’s transition through space had left him fatally ill, causing his immortal DNA to gradually collapse in various piles of sludge, and when he tried to save himself by taking genetic samples from “Jasmine”, she was badly injured in the process. He tried to take her to the water mountains where the Creator existed for help, hoping that the Creator would aid him for making this world possible, but the Creator could not perceive Cauchemar, and its defences unmade Jasmine’s DNA. The Creator could not perceive Cauchemar, but his close proximity to Jasmine allowed Cauchemar to share a moment of bliss as her entire life was made known to her, as the Creator always did when someone died on his world. Cauchemar built several devices using stolen genetic equipment to try and save himself, but all they did was put off his own inevitable death, and injuries such as being shot only hastened matters, but he refused to let the world he created go on without him, without being given the chance to know himself.

Taking advantage of the fact that the Creator could only detect, alive or dead, the colonists containing the godswitch on chromosome 13, Cauchemar lobotomised colonists to remove the aliens’ essence and make them invisible to the Creator, served by these, he searched for years for the colonist containing the reincarnation of Jasmine. After prolonged searching, Cauchemar – now calling himself Derran Sherat – believed he had tracked Jasmine’s soul down to a woman called Treena Grace, with whom he had a child, although he had another son at the same time with Treena’s sister Ettiane. To force the Creator to accept him, Cauchemar genetically engineered a baby containing the fingers taken from colonists he murdered, as their flesh still lived in the baby, their godswitches – the DNA that let them know the meaning of their lives – were never thrown. He intended to kill the baby in close proximity to the Creator, releasing the built-up potential energy of all the separate experiential tracts within it, thus confusing the Creator, and further overwhelming it by mass-murdering the inhabitants of the planet’s sole city with a network of bombs. The resultant self-defensive frenzy of the Creator would cause a feedback of energy into the remaining colonists, killing everyone carrying the godswitch, and thus preventing any more of the alien souls from being released, while Cauchemar killed Jasmine’s current host and rode into Heaven with her.

When Treena discovered his plan and was disgusted by it, Cauchemar believed that she couldn’t be Jasmine, and allowed her to die during a botched bank robbery where she tried to kill him. Turning his attention to Ettianne – who guarded the ‘mooncalves’, individuals lacking a godswitch and born deformed due to Cauchemar’s past interference in the planet’s development – Cauchemar sent his agents to collect her, but the plan was interrupted when The Doctor and Anji Kapoor interrupted the abduction, seeking help for Fitz Kreiner after he nearly fell over a cliff. Fitz was subsequently ‘captured’ by Cauchemar’s forces after he killed one of their number (By accident) and took his coat, their conditioning was such that they only recognised each other by ‘colour coding’ about the jacket, meaning that they thought Fitz was their colleague despite the fact that he looked nothing like the man. Aided by Nathaniel Dark, one of the Diviners – people who worked out the meaning of peoples’ lives when they didn’t die natural deaths – The Doctor worked out that Derran Sherat was the key to the puzzle, but it was too late to stop Cauchemar’s agents capturing Ettianne’s son Braga in an attempt to blackmail her into coming to him. Taking Ettianne’s place, The Doctor confronted Cauchemar and managed to recover Braga, but Ettianne was captured by Cauchemar during their escape and taken to the Creator’s mountains.

Realising that Cauchemar had ‘named’ his followers – Seven Two C One, Two Two E Two – according to grids and locations on the map of the city, The Doctor and his remaining allies were able to deduce that the people were named according to the places where they would set off their bombs in the final attack on the Creator. As one of the men had been killed during Ettianne’s capture, the group concluded that Cauchemar’s right-hand-man, Hox, would take his place, and the Doctor dispatched Fitz, Anji and Dark to stop Hox while he and the mooncalves went to save Etty. In the subsequent confrontation, Hox was killed, destroying Cauchemar’s plan – his followers would never be able to set the bombs off themselves – and the infant was killed while some of the mooncalves got Etty to safety. As Cauchemar’s body finally fell apart, he tried to kill The Doctor by dragging him into the water with him, but, even as Cauchemar died, The Doctor simply put himself into a healing coma, allowing his body to drift until Fitz and Anji could recover him. Years later, as Dark began to die, he learned the reason for his existence, thanks to his actions, the Creator had learned of the mooncalves and Cauchemar’s zombies, and has incorporated them into its Design. Once again, all life on that world had meaning, and all souls would go the planet’s ‘Heaven’ when they finally died.

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