Dr. Tachyon

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Dr. Tachyon
WildCardsVol1.jpg
Dr. Tachyon on the cover of Wild Cards.
Publication information
Publisher George R. R. Martin
First appearance Wild Cards (1987)
Created by Melinda M. Snodgrass
In-story information
Alter ego Prince Tisianne brant Ts'ara sek Halima sek Ragnar sek Omian of House Ilkazam (and that's just his first name; his full name would list his genealogy for the last thousand generations.)
Team affiliations Takis (House Ilkazam), Captain Trips, Popinjay, The Great and Powerful Turtle, Blaise Jeannot Andrieux (grandson), Illyana (daughter/great-granddaughter)
Abilities Mind control, telepathy, long lifespan

Dr. Tachyon (Takisian given name Tisianne brant T'sara sek Halima sek Ragnar sek Omian) is a character from the Wild Cards series of books. He was created for the books by Melinda M. Snodgrass. Tachyon is a geneticist from the planet Takis, whose people naturally developed various telepathic powers. Interbreeding among these psionic peoples created a royal caste system and various specified powers. Tachyon's royal house of Ilkazam created what human doctors called "Xenovirus Takis-A"—the Wild Card virus. The virus (known to the Takisians as "the Enhancer"), was intended to boost their own natural psionic powers, allowing his House to conquer their rivals. To avoid the side-effects, it was decided to test the virus on an isolated population with the same DNA as Takisians - the humans of Earth. Tisianne protested this decision. He then tried to stop his partners from testing the virus on Earth, without success, since he had personally been responsible for achieving enough success in getting the virus to its present testable stage. When the virus was released, he worked among the "jokers", physically deformed and mutated victims of the virus, guilt-stricken over his responsibility for their suffering. Of course, Tachyon was not so anguished that he refrained from hobnobbing with celebrities, politicians, and many "aces", those rare humans successfully granted paranormal abilities by the Enhancer. His nickname came from the scientists who worked with him and is a reference to the tachyon particles used by his ship's faster than light drive - his own name was prohibitively long, and hard to pronounce. His normal telepathic powers include skilled mind reading, thought projection, and the ability to physically control up to three human bodies, in totality, while simultaneously reading their minds and projecting his own thoughts to them. These powers can be reduced by extreme physical, emotional, or psychological stress.

Deported[edit]

Soon after his arrival, Tachyon later became romantically involved with Blythe Van Renssaeler, the estranged wife of an anti-Wild Card senator. Under the codename Brain Trust, Blythe was a member of the short-lived Wild Card "team", the Four Aces. Rounded up during the Red Ace scare of the 1950s (analogue of the real-life Red Scare of the time period in American history), Tachyon, the Four Aces and their government sponsor were brought before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). When Brain Trust was put on the stand Tachyon telepathically mind-controlled his lover and accidentally drove Blythe insane in order to prevent her from revealing information she had absorbed from him with her ace power - information such as the names and powers of many aces he had treated over the years. Blythe was committed to an insane asylum where she eventually died. Due to his own failure to comply with HUAC, Tachyon was deported from the United States, winding up a drunken derelict wandering through Europe, psychologically unable to use his mind control abilities due to his shame over what he had done to Brain Trust. It was during his time in France that he fathered Giselle Baucort, the mother of Blaise Andrieux. It is unknown if Giselle inherited any of Tachyon's telepathic abilities, but his grandson Blaise possessed prodigious, though one-sided, mind control abilities, which would later be used against Tachyon to devastating effect.

Return to the U.S.[edit]

Years later, after a pardon from President John F. Kennedy, Tachyon returned to America, sobered up (somewhat), regained his powers, and started a clinic in Jokertown, all with the help of The Great and Powerful Turtle. He even applied for and was granted American citizenship. Closely tied to the joker/ace community, Tachyon has been at the center of many important events in Wild Card history. He developed the Trump virus, a potential, but unstable cure for the Wild Card that works only part of the time, and sometimes kills. He participated in the raid on the Egyptian Freemason headquarters and survived an attack on the Aces High restaurant by the Freemasons' leader, a deranged ace called the Astronomer. With the help of Capt. Trips, Tachyon deflected an asteroid sent hurtling toward Earth by rogue Takisians led by his cousin Zabb. Assisted by the human vigilante Yeoman and the ace "sorcerer" Fortunato, Tachyon helped drive off a race of sentient parasites known as the Swarm. While in France as part of a World Health Organization world tour to assess the condition of Wild Card survivors in various countries Tachyon discovered the existence of his grandson, Blaise. Smuggling Blaise back into America with the help of forged documents, Tachyon became a single parent. Unfortunately, some of the Takisian attitudes he sought to instill in his new heir would have disastrous repercussions. His right hand was cut off by the psychotic ace Mackie Messer at the disastrous 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta. Tachyon orchestrated the capture of Typhoid Croyd (an ace whose power created a brief, but wildly contagious outbreak of communicable Wild Card virus), which resulted in his being infected with a latent form of the virus. He patrolled the streets of Jokertown with a small private army of jokers during a protracted war between the Mafia and an alliance of Asian mobs and joker street gangs called the Shadow Fists. Finally, during the subsequent raids carried out on New York by the Shadow Fists' "jumpers", vicious teenagers with body-snatching powers, an unlikely series of events led to Tachyon's departure from Earth and ultimate return to Takis.

Lovers[edit]

Considered effeminate and thought by some, such as Fortunato, to be gay because of his flamboyant ways, Tachyon was actually a notorious womanizer with a long string of notches in his belt. Aside from numerous unnamed groupies and other one night stands Tachyon's list of conquests includes Brain Trust, Danelle Darcy, Roulette, and Fleur van Rensselaer (Brain Trust's daughter). Perhaps more significant is the list of women Tachyon has not bedded, either due to a brief bout with sexual impotence (Fantasy and Mistral) or bad timing (Water Lily and Peregrine). Two unrequited loves in particular were Angelface and Dr. Cody Havero. Angelface was a beautiful joker whose manifestation of the wild card made her bruise or bleed at the slightest touch. Tachyon pined for her during the booze-soaked period between his return to America and the establishment of the Jokertown Clinic. Cody Havero is a more recent love interest. Coming into Tachyon's life around the time of the jumper scare, Cody refuses to sleep with the Takisian until he devotes himself to her exclusively. Later, following a jumper attack, Tachyon's new body and condition would prevent him from consummating his relationship with Cody before leaving the planet. While on Takis, Tachyon in his female body took as his lover his flamboyant cousin Zabb (Wild Cards). Though both of them did care for one another, their personal agendas kept them from commitment. During the fight to apprehend Blaise and recapture Tachyon's male body, Zabb was killed in a fight with Blaise. Tachyon mourned his loss. The infant they created between them was named Zabb in honor of the man who'd given his life trying to follow Tachyon's wishes.

Motherhood[edit]

It was during the jumpers' reign of terror in the early 90s that the sociopathic nature of Tachyon's grandson became fully evident. After trying to rape Dr. Havero, and a failed murder attempt on Tachyon himself, Blaise ran away from home. The boy was only fifteen at the time. Recruited by the jumpers and initiated into their gang, Blaise quickly became their leader. Using his newfound body-swapping powers Blaise performed a bizarre triple-jump that left Tachyon trapped in the body of Kelly Jenkins, a sixteen-year-old girl, and vice versa. Now female, Tachyon was kept as her grandson's prisoner and virtual slave for several months. Worse, trapped in a nat body, Tachyon lacked any defense against Blaise's powerful mind control. After multiple rapes and beatings, Tachyon becomes impregnated with her own great-granddaughter - much to the amusement of Blaise and those jokers who resented Tachyon as the author of their misery. Using her psi-lord training to access the telepathic powers her unborn child inherited from Blaise, Tachyon achieves low level telepathy. Captured while attempting to escape she employs crude mental shields (similar to those she constructed for Brain Trust years ago) to rebuff Blaise's psychic attack. Her grandson retaliates by assaulting her one last time. Somewhere in her second trimester, Tachyon escapes captivity, but not her current body or condition, with the help of ace vigilante Black Shadow and the joker revolutionary called Bloat.

Shortly after the first Battle of the Rox, Tachyon returned to the contested island with the help of the Great and Powerful Turtle. Bloat was unable to grant her request to have Blaise and her original body returned to her. Amid the chaos of the National Guard attack Blaise escaped the Rox, taking Kelly with him. Bloat could only offer the mental image of a seashell (glimpsed when Blaise's mind shields slipped during the attack) as a clue to her grandson's location. Bloat had interpreted a vision of Tachyon's organic spaceship as a seashell. Realizing Blaise meant to steal her ship in order to escape Earth, Tachyon and the Turtle immediately set off to stop him. Bloat would never see Tachyon again.

Decades before, Dr. Tachyon had traveled from Takis to Earth in a living starship with its own mind... the mind of a child. He even named it "Baby", and its personality had grown somewhat addled after years of imprisonment in a government facility. Still absolutely dedicated to its master, Baby was eventually released back to Tachyon. By having Kelly Jenkins pose as Tachyon, Blaise used that loyalty to hijack Baby. Though possessed of prodigious telekinetic powers, Turtle was unable to halt Tachyon's stolen ship from engaging its "ghost-drive." Fleeing to Takis, Blaise left Tachyon without any apparent means of pursuing him. It seemed Tachyon was permanently trapped not only upon Earth, but in the body of a pregnant teenage girl.

Suicide attempt[edit]

This period between Tachyon's escape from the Rox and her return to Takis is arguably the lowest point in the alien's life. No triumphant welcome awaited her return to New York. With Tachyon presumed dead, Dr. Bradley Finn was made acting director of the Jokertown Clinic and her apartment had been rented out to new tenants. Given the run of Finn's apartment until more permanent arrangements could be made, Tachyon becomes highly agitated when the joker suggests her jump might now be permanent and that she should come to terms with it. Worse, Tachyon's love interest, Dr. Cody Havero, is somewhat unsypathetic to the alien's plight, reminding the former womanizer of his rather insensitive treatment of other women. Suffering from a panic attack, Tachyon is administered a light sedative by Dr. Havero despite the older woman's concerns about the advanced state of Tachyon's pregnancy. Expressing a desire to be alone, Finn and Cody leave Tachyon by herself, ostensibly to get some sleep.

Awakened by a nightmare, Tachyon succumbs to the psychological part of her addiction to alcohol (Kelly having already inherited and given in to the physical half that went with Tachyon's male body). Drinking a substantial amount of Finn's brandy, the combined sedative and alcohol further unbalances the already depressed alien. While using the bathroom she is confronted by her new reflection. "After relieving herself she stood and stared at her thickening body. I've become a joker. A stranger in a deformed body. Lifting the hem of the long T-shirt, Tach ran an experimental hand across her swollen belly." [1]

A lifetime of Takisian abhorrence for the ugly and deformed reinforces Tachyon's distorted perception of her pregnant form. Having long ago stated an inability to ever live as a joker, Tachyon slits her wrists while taking a bath. In the past, Tachyon often threatened to kill himself with more melodrama than seriousness. His abuse of alcohol could also be seen as a manifestation of an urge toward self-destruction. However, this is the only time Tachyon has attempted outright suicide, likely prompted by the radical alteration of his/her self-image caused by the jump, Blaise's sexual assault, her subsequent pregnancy, and the reactions of others to her upon returning to public life. Tachyon would later remark to Mark Meadows that she needed psychological therapy in order to regain her sense of self.[2]

Return to Takis[edit]

Awakened from unconsciousness by another disturbing dream, this one possibly inspired by her unborn child's psychic distress calls, Tachyon manages to crawl from the bathtub and telephone Cody. Weak from blood loss, she collapses on Finn's bed. Cody arrives and administers an emergency blood transfusion. They talk and Cody encourages Tachyon to seek rape crisis counseling. Also the question of Tachyon's attraction to Cody comes up and the body-swapped alien replies that, aside from pregnancy reducing her famous sex-drive, "those troublesome hormones" generated by her new body (estrogen and progesterone specifically) have failed to elicit any sexual response. Cody spends the night, but cannot resist commenting, "It's not quite how I envisioned my first time in your bed." Tachyon recovers both physically and mentally, now ready to pursue Blaise and reclaim her true form at any cost.

Contacting a representative of the Network (a spacefaring culture reviled by the Takisians), Tachyon booked passage on a Network ship and returned to her homeworld, where Blaise was busily fomenting a catastrophic war between Houses. Accompanied by the aces Captain Trips and Popinjay, Tachyon's bid to reclaim the throne to which she is heir (a position traditionally reserved for the male members of her House) ends in disaster. Representing the genetic wealth of the Great Houses, Takisian women of childbearing years are relegated to Raranna, (the traditional Takisian harem in which women are kept secluded from the public eye and enemy assassins). Though the telepathic Takisians knew her mind was male, it was determined that Tachyon's thoughts would naturally be more focused upon the looming birth of her child. Military strategy and poltiical machinations were better left in the hands of her avaricious cousin, Zabb.

Placed in protective custody with House Ilkazam's other breeding females, including the biological sisters of her male form, Tachyon refused to continue research on the Enhancer (as Takisians called the Wild Card), but readily employed Kelly's two good hands to practice surgery once more. Nearly delivered back into Blaise's hands by a quirk of Takisian law classifying a pregnant woman as property of her child's father, Tachyon earns the enmity of many influential nobles by trying to stab Blaise while under a flag of truce. Eventually, Tachyon escapes Raranna, defeats Blaise and recovers her male body, though not before enduring childbirth, seeing the very foundations of Takisian society ripped apart in a bloody civil war, and fending off an attack by Network "carpetbaggers."

Current status[edit]

Tachyon currently remains on Takis, raising his physical daughter/genetic granddaughter, serving as leader of his House, and trying to rebuild a Takisian society that has already been shaken to its foundations. Many of the old style Takisian nobles were slain during Blaise's World War, replaced by avaricious young cadets. In one of his speeches Blaise promised the mindblind Tarhiji life-extending serums that do not exist. Only a handful of noblewomen were left alive following the massacre of House Rodaleh at Blaise's hands, resulting in the near total loss of a line of powerful psi-healers. Raiyis Hazzal of House Jeban remarked that this would lead to more widespread cases of insanity.[3] Among Tachyon's plans for the future are the dissolution of Raranna, where he was confined while carrying Kelly's child, and a program to interbreed the psychic and "mind-blind" segments of the populace, thus creating a truly telepathic race better capable of fending off the Network. What effect these plans will have on the already unstable state of Takisian world affairs remains to be seen.

Tachyon is very emotional, self-centered, prone to openly weeping, and a spoiled, womanizing aristocrat who indulges himself in every way. However, during the course of the Wild Cards series, he matures a great deal. Tachyon always dresses flamboyantly, in what are by Earthly standards, antiquated clothes of glaringly clashing colors (by Takisian standards, he's considered quite suave). After Messer's attack, his right hand is a prosthetic replacement, though he has considered having a new hand regrown while staying on Takis. Due to Blaise's political machinations while Kelly was occupying Tachyon's body he is technically married to Mona'ella, the royal princess of a rival House, though the legality/permanence of this arrangement is currently unknown.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Melinda Snodgrass, Double Solitaire, Bantam Books (1992), pp. 11
  2. ^ Melinda Snodgrass, Double Solitaire, Bantam Books (1992), pp. 347
  3. ^ Melinda Snodgrass, Double Solitaire, Bantam Books (1992), pp. 246