Keep Them Burning

BY : LeComtesse
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 1317
Disclaimer: I do not own Andromeda, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

“Gaheris please, just…” She had wanted to say calm down, but in many ways he actually was calm, maybe it was just that she knew him so well she could see it all bubbling below the surface. It had been ten minutes since the results were announced and he had just spent the last eight barking orders at Rommie to get the ship prepped to leave. Now that the ship’s holo-image had disappeared Beka placed a hand on Gaheris’ shoulder.
“I know it’s a set back… Terazed would have been…” She could tell he was only half listening to her and she couldn’t blame him, there was nothing she could say that would change what happened. The one planet that already had what it was they were all striving to achieve would not be part of their efforts, though she suspected that what hurt most of all was that the person who held a lot of the responsibility for that in his eyes was Telemachus Rhade. Gaheris wheeled on her, looking her sharply in the eyes.
“He betrayed me Beka.” He let his shoulders drop a little as he sighed and walked into Beka, resting his forehead down onto her shoulder. “I’m just starting to get sick of trying… And now Nietzscheans… always Nietzscheans.” He spoke the words in a low, whispered growl. He knew it was only a matter of time before things came to blows between him and Tyr, who was obviously moving his plans on a pace now that the casket was aboard, though Gaheris was sure the man had no idea that he knew what was in there. Tyr wasn’t a match for him, none of these *new* Nietzscheans were… but then he had hoped…. If in this whole universe Nietzscheans would live up to his expectations they would be on Terazed, a place still holding true to the Commonwealth ideals. But he knew better as soon as he saw a Rhade amongst them, and now it would seem he was playing true to new Nietzschean form.
Beka ran a hand up Gaheris’ back, finishing up massaging the hair at the back of his neck, pulling her other arm around him. She didn’t have anything to say that could possibly make the situation better.
“So we’re just going to leave?” She asked, not as a criticism but to make sure it was really what he wanted to do. Gaheris straightened up and stepped back, setting his jaw and recovering his composure, leaning forward to place a gentle kiss on Beka’s forehead, he took her hands in his as they dropped away from his shoulders.
“If they will not join us there is no point in staying, they are doomed, we are best not to go down with them.” He stated it calmly, little energy left to show emotion. Beka frowned at him, such a Nietzschean statement, and even if she didn’t totally agree, he was right. They would do no good in staying, they were better off seeking out new worlds to join the Commonwealth, build up something substantial against the Magog threat that Terazed was choosing to ignore. She gave a slight reassuring smile and nodded.
“Whatever you think best Captain.”

***

Rakel exasperated him. She was a powerful woman but that didn’t mean she could keep control. Right now all he wanted was her off the ship and the Andromeda under way. She was still trying to convince him to stay, even to talk to Rhade, but the situation was beyond saving – even so the pointlessly circular conversations had continued, her political colours shining through as she tried to persuade him that she could call for another election. But he had already decided, as soon as they were ready and all the Terazed technicians were off-ship, they would be underway.
Gaheris bounced the ball, slamming it as hard as he could into the deck each time. He had never really understood Dylan’s love of the game, it wasn’t as mentally challenging as Go, and he would rather spar than exert physical energy in such a game as basketball. Even so he found himself increasingly coming to the basketball court, such as it was, to work off his frustrations, many of which were tied to his past, his betrayal of his best friend. Maybe this was something he needed to work through, this and the hours he spent sitting at his Go table, thinking. Remembering during those quiet times what he had done.
He bounced the ball a couple more times, gritting his teeth as he remembered the times he had watched Dylan in here, the time he had come to talk about being his best-man…. With a grunt Gaheris jumped up with the ball as he had seen Dylan do many a time, but he misjudged the jump and the ball struck the rim, sending a flash of pain down into his wrist. Yelling angrily he found his feet again as the ball dropped to the floor and rolled away.
“I didn’t realise this “basketball” was so violent. Perhaps there is a more productive way to express your disappointment.” Rev said as he entered almost unnoticed. Gaheris turned and looked at the Magog before retrieving the ball and rolling it over in his hands.
“You think I should talk to Admiral Rhade.” It wasn’t a question, and Gaheris found it almost too difficult to acknowledge. He looked back to Rev again. “I came here to think, not to be counselled…. I’m not going to talk to him!” He added the last as he caught Rev’s look, wanting to cut him off before he began to reason with him, though he was sure that no matter what he said he would hear Rev’s opinion anyway. Rev nodded thoughtfully, steepling his fingers as he considered Gaheris with an unwavering look.
“Why? ... Because you betrayed your captain?” Rev looked candidly at Gaheris. He wanted to draw a reaction from the man instead of allowing him to internalise things as he always seemed to. He wasn’t stupid, in fact it seemed obvious to the entire crew that much of Gaheris’ reaction to the Terazed situation was tied up in his encounter with his descendant. Perhaps, Rev reasoned, it was a reaction to the Terazed Nietzscheans as well, given Gaheris’ past behaviour. Gaheris seemed to have convinced himself that these *new* Nietzscheans like Tyr had squandered the opportunity given them. On Terazed the Nietzscheans weren’t part of this, they were remnants of the old Commonwealth in many ways and Rev thought Gaheris might even be intimidated by it. By being judged by them perhaps, and if there was anyway past this, not just Gaheris’ personal issues but the issue of Terazed and the Commonwealth, it was through talking to Telemachus Rhade.
Gaheris starred coldly at Rev, his words biting at him. He had betrayed Dylan, and he knew, had even told Beka, that he didn’t trust Telemachus because of their similarities, because of what he might do in the man’s place. He frowned, the muscle in his jaw flexing.
“No Rev… I won’t talk to him because he betrayed me. He’s campaigning against the restored Commonwealth….” He knew Rev already had command of that fact, but he had to give his reasons, maybe Rev would see that he was taking it personally whether it was meant that way or not. The Magog nodded thoughtfully again, patiently looking at Gaheris.
“Perhaps… but maybe you should try to see things through his eyes.” Rev ventured. Gaheris stifled a growl as his jaw clenched again, shooting Rev an angry look, sometimes the man’s persistence annoyed him. That and his righteousness… his incessant babbling about The Way, he knew he meant well but sometimes it was too much for Gaheris to bear. Rev ignored Gaheris’ reaction and continued.
“Telemachus Rhade was wounded twice defending Terazed against Kalderan raiders… one of those raids resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. The isolationists are not evil Gaheris, they are merely afraid.”
Gaheris slammed the ball once more into the floor, allowing it to ricochet violently away from them and further across the room as he let the growl to surface this time, the skin around his boneblades tightened as his anger rose.
“They should be afraid, they don’t stand a chance against the Magog…” Gaheris was interrupted by the blaring of sirens, as the warning alarms sounded. Andromeda’s voice cut clearly through the tense air.
“Code blue, all hands report to Command. Magog swarm ships have been sighted in the outer system.”
“Fuck!” Gaheris spat the word out, almost wishing the ball was still in his hands so he could hurl it into the wall or smash it into a window. Instead he settled for pounding down the decks to Command.

***

Things moved fast in Command, with Beka, Harper and Tyr already prepping the ship, anticipating the Magog’s next move based on previous encounters. The data was already old so they were expecting incoming any moment.
“Trance, get the Home Guard commander on-screen!” Gaheris ordered gruffly. Telemachus Rhade appeared, his angry expression mirroring Gaheris’s.
“There are four Magog swarm ships in the outer system.” Gaheris told the Admiral, his tone flat and emotionless as he tried to stay business like.
“I know! You lead them right to us.” Telemachus ground his teeth as he tried to stay professional, his anger was close to brimming… this *hero* having lead the threat right to them. Gaheris roughly rubbed his cheek before looking sternly back at the screen. “Not that it matters right now but that is not the case!” Telemachus narrowed his eyes on the Captain before looking away and punching commands into his consoles.
“I’m launching everything we’ve got, and it’s not going to be enough…” He looked back at Gaheris, forcing the words out. “I need your help.” It was the last thing Telemachus had wanted to admit but there was more at stake than his pride, he had to protect Terazed, no matter what.
Now wasn’t the time for gloating, the Magog were out there, but part of him was satisfied by the defencelessness of his descendant, the vulnerability he now had to save him from nicely proving his point about the Magog threat.
“Lucky we’re still here then!” Gaheris commented, keeping the smugness back as much but letting his anger through.
Telemachus could see the slight glee in the man’s eyes. Exhaling angrily he narrowed his eyes, knowing if their roles were reversed, his reaction would be much the same.
“I’m transferring Triumvir’s Honour Guard to your command – ships and lancers…” He said grudgingly as he released the guard with commands to his console. He considered wishing them luck… he wanted them to succeed for the sake of Terazed, but there was something that stopped him and he ended the transmission instead, surprised at how tense the conversation had made him.
As the screen went blank Gaheris resumed giving orders now with the honour guard under his command, the Magog would not succeed this day.

***

Beka stood in the corridor outside Gaheris’ quarters, she wasn’t sure whether to bother going in or not, there was nothing she could do. If anything she was more concerned by the increasing amount of time Gaheris spent avoiding the rest of the crew since they got to Terazed. He had never been the great joiner with them, friendly towards them, even Tyr in some ways on occasion, but never really close except with her, and now she felt it was falling to her to make sure that he wasn’t losing it all together. She had great faith in his strength but she had never seen him like this before, he seemed almost insecure. Part of her desperately wanted to make him feel secure again, but she knew it would be wrong to do anything that might mislead him, she cared for him a lot, but she was very aware that at some point his lust for her, their mutual convenience, had turned into love or at least the Nietzschean version thereof.
She sighed and went to turn away, thinking that maybe it was best to leave him for now, but the door opened. He stood and looked at her with a small smile.
“How long have you known I was standing there?” She asked, returning his smile and stepping forward to press a gently kiss to the corner of his lips.
“Only a few moments… you weren’t going to come in.” It wasn’t a question, he knew, and in many ways understood her choice. It had always been fun between them, a sharing of desires, and he had no doubt that he was more attached to her than she was to him, and now it was maybe more than she wanted, but he needed her… now more than ever. He couldn’t let her walk away, it wasn’t fair on either of them. Forcing a smile he pulled her into his arms in the doorway.
“Let’s go somewhere Beka, like we used to… take the Maru and have an adventure.” The smile became more genuine as he remembered the good times they had shared, when they had first started sleeping together. Taking the Maru off for days, sometimes not even telling the others, they would go to planets that took their fancy, to bars, even to restaurants when the mood took them, but sometimes just drifting in space making the most of the peace and quiet on Beka’s ship. Beka grinned and raised an eyebrow.
“Like that time we ran into the Dragans…” Ran into was an exaggeration, they had spotted a few ships, probably a raiding party on the sensors and proceeded to let the Maru go dead behind a moon to avoid detection… of course that had been little more than an excuse to spend the next day and a half in a bunk, and a shower, and the floor, and pretty much anywhere else they felt like. Gaheris’ smile really was genuine now as he recalled it as the time Beka tied him up, her lithe body working against his own, her thighs squeezing him. Just the memory was making him hard. He pulled Beka even tighter to him and smoothed a hand down her back and over the curve of her buttocks. Beka frowned a little and stepped back, loosening his grasp on her. Now wasn’t the time for them to run away from the situation, no matter how tempting it seemed.
“We should talk about what happened earlier.” Beka dropped her smile and gave him a serious look, within seconds Gaheris’ look was even darker as he recalled the day. The death of Jamahl had affected everyone, not just that but the not so Magog threat and Rhade’s further betrayal, his conversation with Rakel… the day just seemed never ending and the more he thought about it the angrier he got. Gaheris didn’t resist as Beka gently pushed him through the door and into his quarters for some more privacy.
“Please Gaheris… you really can’t ignore this, not even for a few hours… someone has to do…” She was exasperated but not at all annoyed when he interrupted her.
“Troops in the street, the triumvirate held incommunicado. I destroyed the Commonwealth once. I'm not going to stand by and watch another Rhade destroy it all over again.” The anger was barely concealed and it was obvious to Beka that he may not have been talking about it but this was obviously something he had been thinking all day. With a small sigh Beka reached over and took one of his hands in hers, entwining their fingers and pulling it to her lips, resting the back of his hand against her cheek, she hated to see him in pain. Suddenly taking off with him in the Maru and forgetting all about it didn’t seem like such a bad idea to her.
“What can we do about it?” Beka asked. Gaheris smiled gently, and moved his other hand up to the woman’s face running it down her other cheek. “At the moment nothing… this situation can go either way and we…,I, need to make sure it goes our way… the right way for the Commonwealth.”
“You need to talk to Telemachus…” It wasn’t even a suggestion anymore, it was the realisation of the inevitable, and he knew it too. Gaheris nodded before leaning into press a soft kiss to Beka’s lips.
“I know...” He told her as he pulled back. “Thank you Beka… for being here...” He wasn’t quite sure if that was even the end of his statement but before he could find more words Rommie’s holo fizzled into the room.
“Captain, incoming message from Admiral Rhade.” Gaheris nodded at the hologram, and turned back to Beka.
“Too late to get on the Maru…” He gave a small smile not even sure himself whether it was a statement or a question.

***

Standing in Command Gaheris took a moment to mentally prepare himself for what was to come.
“Andromeda, on-screen.” He ordered and took a deep breath, ready to respond anyway he had to, to ensure that this went his way from now on. Terazed, the remnants of the Commonwealth and Telemachus Rhade had thrown him off balance, but now he had to regain his composure and guarantee the upper hand would be his. As soon as his image appeared on the screen the Admiral was straight to the point.
“We have to talk!” His expression was firm and reflected the determination in Gaheris’ features.
“That much is obvious!” Gaheris almost scoffed before frowning, almost like a disapproving parent. “What the hell's going on down there? You've got troops in the conclave…”
“I can explain everything. Let me come on board.” He spoke firmly, determined to resolve this matter any way possible, and maybe in part to prove that he wasn’t the same sort of man as Gaheris. As Nietzscheans their drives were similar but as far as he was concerned the similarities ended at the name Rhade – he would not let this man destroy what they had on Terazed by involving them with the Magog and any other adversary they led to them. Tyr raised an eyebrow and sneered at the Admiral’s words.
“You and the Third Lancer Regiment? Not likely.”
Gaheris found himself clenching his teeth together as Tyr spoke, that smug arrogant tone always present in his voice. Even if he hated to admit it the Kodiak was right.
“I have to agree with Mr. Anasazi.” Gaheris cocked his head a little waiting for the Admiral’s response.
“No lancers, just the two of us.” Telemachus assured him. Gaheris raised an eyebrow and ordered Andromeda to hold the transmission before turning to the others.
“If we can manage to bring him up...” Tyr began but Gaheris cut him off.
“Get off Command… now.” He told them all, trying to ignore the concern in Beka’s face, knowing the concern wasn’t for him but what she perceived as his lack of sound judgement.
“Gaheris…”
“Now!” Gaheris repeated with a firmer tone. “I know what I'm doing.” With another sneer Tyr couldn’t help a comment.
“I strongly doubt that.” Gaheris ignored the comment and continued to glare at them – Beka, Tyr, Rakel, the guards. Hesitantly they all began to move as they realised there was no arguing, after all this was what everyone had wanted, him to meet with the Admiral, they couldn’t start laying down conditions now. As she got to the door Beka turned to give Gaheris one last look. She wasn’t sure what he might interpret from it, she wasn’t even sure herself. She wanted him to be careful, not to let things get out of hand, but there was more to it than that, she found herself not quite sure what his next move was going to be. He wanted to restore the Commonwealth, but how badly? What was he prepared to do to ensure Terazed’s participation, with Telemachus Rhade the main obstacle standing solidly in his way.

***

“He's outside the door, Captain. And he's alone.” Gaheris nodded, pulling his arms behind his back and standing ready to receive the man.
“Armed?” He asked Andromeda. When she confirmed he was carrying a force lance Gaheris nodded again, he had expected nothing less, he may not be coming with a lancer guard but the man was far from stupid no matter what his feelings over Terazed joining the Commonwealth. Gaheris finally looked up at the hologram and nodded to her to let Rhade in.
“Initiate privacy mode.” He ordered, shooting her a stern look before she could start to argue. The hologram fizzled out as the doors opened and Telemachus Rhade entered. Telemachus spoke as he walked in before Gaheris was able to say anything.
“I understand why you did it. Believe me, I do.” He said, a hint of appreciative annoyance in his tone.
“You have no idea what you are talking about.” Gaheris returned calmly. He had no expectations over how easy or difficult this might be.
“I don’t?... I know how important that election was to you.” Telemachus refused to believe for one minute that was the only issue here, but he had to concentrate on what was happening right now and how it would be resolved, but Gaheris interrupted his thoughts before he could say anything more.
“They aren’t my troops in the streets.” Gaheris almost spat the words. He was sure that the anger beneath his calm raised eyebrow could not be hidden from the young Rhade, but Gaheris was beyond caring.
“Is that how you want to play this?” Telemachus asked, preparing himself for what was to come, it was only a matter of time before Gaheris made his move and in all likelihood that move would be to take Telemachus out of the equation.
“It’s the way it has to be!” Gaheris confirmed.

At Gaheris’ words Telemachus quickly drew his force lance and fired, hoping his first shot would be lucky and end his problem, but it wasn’t to be. Gaheris moved quickly as soon as he saw the weapon raised and ducked behind a console before pulling his own weapon and returning fire. He had been stupid and slow, he should have known that the Admiral would fire as soon as the opportunity presented itself, he should have got in first, shot before they even opened this pointless dialogue – the end would still have to be the same.
Gaheris raised his weapon again, firing just as Telemachus was about to make a move, he missed the man but the shot impacted on a console causing an overload explosion that blasted Telemachus across command. As his body landed heavily on the ground Gaheris lost no time in moving across to the man – if he was injured this was a chance he couldn’t miss, but he doubted for one moment he was as prone as he seemed. And Gaheris was right, but he was already on top of Telemachus before he had the chance to react and jump into action. Instead Gaheris pinned Telemachus’ rising body back to the ground and pressed his boneblades against his doppelganger’s throat.
“I will end this!” Gaheris spoke menacingly as he pushed his blades further to the man’s throat to the point of marking the skin. With a growl from the back of his throat Telemachus pushed upwards, shoving Gaheris off. As they both regained their balance they took hold once more of their force lances, turning quickly, finishing eye to eye, weapons poised and ready to end the other’s efforts.
Gaheris stared hard into the other mans eyes. He had been ignoring for so long what was blatant to the both of them, that the situation had really been orchestrated that they had been manipulated by Rakel… but his feelings towards Telemachus had made him deny those thoughts, and now as he stood ready to kill this man he knew that he couldn’t. Not now like this, the situation was wrong and in his heart he couldn’t justify it no matter how much passion he had to fight down that was driving him on. Gaheris lowered his lance.
Telemachus stared coldly at him, his heart was still racing and he knew at this moment it would be so easy to fire his weapon. Gaheris was increasingly trying his patience, not the least with how personally he was taking Telemachus’ whole existence but also his belief in the importance of the Commonwealth – his Commonwealth, the one he brought with him along with the Magog.
“You could have killed me. You didn't… Why not?” Telemachus genuinely wondered. Gaheris gritted his teeth, he was still asking that question himself. He hesitated before finally giving an answer, the truth even if it wasn’t his real motivation, he struggled to get the words out.
“Because we both know who the real criminal is.” In response Telemachus lowered his force lance giving a slight appreciative grin and a nod.

***

As Gaheris and Telemachus walked the corridor the Andromeda’s captain began to relay how it was that Rakel had managed to manipulate this situation, just waiting for the day she could put her plans into action.
“… she’s been planning this for months.” Telemachus acknowledged. As Gaheris continued to explain her intentions Telemachus nodded approvingly. “She’s a bright woman, I admire her.”
Gaheris couldn’t help but nod a little himself, she really had thought this through, and she would have likely succeeded if she hadn’t underestimated the both of them.
“Can your people verify this evidence independently?” Gaheris asked. Telemachus nodded, remarking about the quality of Terazed’s free press and how hard it was to hide things or fake them. As they continued to walk, Telemachus’ words resounded within Gaheris. He stopped short, taking a tight grip on Telemachus’ arm, stopping him in his tracks.
“Andromeda could easily falsify this data… If I wanted to, I could make it look like you were behind the whole thing, give Rakel what she wants.” Gaheris raised an eyebrow at his descendent, a small smile tweaking at his lips. Telemachus returned the look, both the smile and the raised eyebrow as he considered Gaheris’ position appreciatively.
“And then you'd get everything you wanted, wouldn't you? The isolationists would be disgraced. There'd be a new election. Terazed would join the new Commonwealth.”
“You would go to prison.” Gaheris commented, his smile not growing but becoming less hidden at the prospect as he began walking again with Telemachus falling into step beside him. Telemachus’ smile widened as he nodded.
“As cost-benefit ratios go, it's got a lot to recommend it.” It was an interesting idea and inside, Telemachus realised, were their roles reversed it was not only likely what he would do, but he almost regretted that he still wasn’t exactly on the same side as this man – someone who would be a great ally if they actually believed in the same things. With his smile finally growing, Gaheris cocked his head.
“Betray an innocent man, gain the world, and lose... lose what, Admiral?”
Telemachus nodded. “It's what I would do.”
“Perhaps we are alike then.” Gaheris noted, his smile fading considerably as the bitter note crept into his voice. Telemachus’ smile faded as well as he nodded.
“Which I think is why you don’t like me.” He knew as he said it that, though the truth, it was a little stupid – goading perhaps, opening wounds that Gaheris for some reason bore. Gaheris stopped once more and looked at the man, his face full of emotion and the muscles in his jaw visibly flexing.
“I… believe you are right.” It seemed pointless to disagree with the obvious. He began walking again, looking ahead of them down the corridor rather than at Telemachus.
“You do not trust me because you do not trust yourself!” Telemachus noted, continuing when Gaheris remained silent. “Well, Gaheris Rhade, I am not you.” Gaheris sneered.
“No you are a fool… you still don’t see the threat that the Magog poses… If those swarm ships had been real, if we hadn’t been here… what do you think would have been left of Terazed!” It was statement rather than a question, possibly even the main issue if it hadn’t been lost beneath all of Gaheris’ anger, misplaced or not.
“Are the Magog the real issue here?” Telemachus pulled up short and turned to face Gaheris, his own anger beginning to rise to the surface as this encounter continued to become more personal. “Your actions here have nothing to do with you wanting to rebuild the Commonwealth for your own ends? To the Nietzscheans you acted acceptably, a hero… but scratch beneath the surface… we both know you are just trying to right the wrong you did. You destroyed the Commonwealth, stole it from all of us, and now you come here to do the same to Terazed by giving us the Magog and I cant allow you to do that!” This wasn’t how Telemachus had intended to play it, but the choice seemed upon him now, if he killed Gaheris there would be no new Commonwealth to argue with, no-one to lead the Magog to them. He reached once more for his force lance.
Gaheris could see it coming, hear it in the tone of the man’s voice, before he had time to reach for his weapon Gaheris slammed him against the wall, his rage apparent and boneblades pressed once more to Telemachus’ throat.
“My motives are to protect the known worlds against the Magog threat.” He found himself almost shouting it.
“Are you trying to convince me or yourself?” Telemachus spat back with no small amount of anger in his voice as Gaheris’ boneblades dug deeper, marking his skin once more nearly to the point of drawing blood. Gaheris stepped back half a pace, lowering his blades from Telemachus before moving his arm around, swinging a fist quickly to Telemachus’ jaw before the other man had the chance to move. Turning, Gaheris started away, his head hung a little as he tried to reign in his anger – now wasn’t the time and place, not now that the opportunity had so nicely prevented itself to end all this to his benefit, thanks to Rakel’s hard work.
Telemachus rubbed his jaw, smiling appreciatively once more at the man who seemed to have become his greatest enemy on so many levels in such a short measure of time.
“You are going to set me up then. Get back what it was you destroyed.” Telemachus taunted, it wouldn’t just give Gaheris the world he wanted but he anticipated that somewhere deep inside it would help vanquish some of those personal demons – going some way to rectify the mistakes of his past by imprinting them onto someone else. In some ways Telemachus was actually flattered.
Gaheris turned back to Telemachus as the Admiral straightened himself up. He knew he would get a great sense of satisfaction in seeing Telemachus Rhade incarcerated. He set his jaw and looked the man in those eyes that were almost the mirror reflection of his own.
“We shall see.” He growled as he left Telemachus standing, stalking off through the corridors in the direction of the Eureka Maru, he would deal with Telemachus in the morning.

***


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