Flesh and Blood

BY : LeComtesse
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 1104
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.

For weeks the Andromeda felt dead. It was so quiet with Beka and Rev gone, Tyr dead, Rhade was even sure that Harper and Trance were avoiding him, he had never thought it possible before to feel this alone. He had been alone before and it had never bothered him, but now he knew that he should have never got close to the Maru crew, especially their captain – this was the result. He knew deep down that Harper and Trance weren’t avoiding him but working on Harper’s Magog situation, and if anything he felt all the worse for not being able to contribute. But more than anything, he missed Beka. He missed her being around, he missed her on command, he missed her smell and her smile, her witticisms and her scolding, he even missed her slipstream piloting.
Trying to push the thoughts from his mind, Gaheris resumed his game, holo-Dylan watching him intently as he made his move.
“You can't win every game.” Dylan mused.
“Maybe not. That doesn't mean you simply admit defeat.” He said the words but wasn’t sure what he felt in his heart. Hadn’t he admitted defeat with Beka, he hadn’t argued with her or even tried to convince her to stay, he had just let her leave.
“Well, there's admitting defeat and then there's accepting the inevitable. You've been losing a lot in the last month. If I didn't know better...”
“Nothing's changed.” Rhade tried to keep his voice level but he didn’t feel the calm he was trying to convey, if anything he was realising for the nth time that sometimes he could easily delete the holo just to get rid of his words of wisdom that were never sought. But the thought would leave his head as soon as it entered and he knew that he couldn’t lose yet one more friend, even if he wasn’t wholly real. Maybe that said more about his life than he was willing to entertain.
“Things have changed. Tyr, Beka, Rev Bem? And now you've started to lose worlds.” Dylan persisted.
“I've got all the crew I need.” Rhade insisted as he studied to Go board once more, looking for an opportunity.
As Rhade looked to his next move Andromeda’s holo-image phased into the room.
“That may not be true for very long, Captain. Harper's Magog eggs are hatching. He's calm right now, but he has one request. He's convinced the Perseids have something that can help him.” Her tone was calm but urgent, her words cutting through Gaheris. As strange as it seemed he had become close to Harper, possibly even more so since Beka had left, he would sit there and try to cheer Rhade up despite his own pain and discomfort.
“We're going to Sintii.” Rhade instructed almost angrily. He would do anything it took, that was unquestionable.

***

Beka nodded, she understood Rev’s decision even if she thought he was overreacting, but then who was she to judge, she had left the Andromeda when things got too much.
“Ever since my time on the Magog Worldship I've felt lost, confused. I don't have answers but it's time I started asking the questions wherever they might lead.” Rev continued softly. She knew he was telling the truth, but there was part of her that wondered whether or not the last few weeks had contributed to his decision. She had been on the Maru on her own so many times, but it was hard even for her – she had grown used to having Harper and Trance around over the years, she loved them and missed them. She was glad that she had only ever known Gaheris on the Andromeda, at least she didn’t have so many old Maru memories haunting her like with Harper and Trance, and soon Rev. He was becoming more withdrawn, she knew he had been having problems but hadn’t realised it was as bad as this, but she had to accept his decision and let him go as much as she didn’t want to lose another friend.
“Its ok Rev, I understand. You know you always have a home here but I wont stop you, you have to do what’s right for you, I get that.”
“I know you do Beka. But I am sorry… know this, wherever my path may lead even in the darkest places I will carry you, and the others in my heart and you will light my way always.” Beka smiled at his words and leaned forward to embrace him.
“Your one of my best friends Rev… I will miss you.” Rev held her tight as she spoke the words, pain stabbing at him as it had when he had bid farewell to Trance and Harper, but he had to go. The Worldship had been playing on his mind increasingly and more aggressively with every passing day. He thought things would be better once they left the Andromeda – there he had to face Harper everyday, with those eggs in him, but now he had left, being on the Maru was almost like being in limbo. If anything things had got worse, knowing that he had betrayed his promise to help Harper – there was just nothing he could do, and that feeling of helplessness would forever haunt him. He had to get away and try and find the answers he sought.
Rev pulled from their embrace, he had to leave before it got anymore difficult. Squeezing Beka’s shoulders one last time he turned and picked up his bag and headed through the airlock onto the space port. Beka stood and watched him go, part of her wanted to go after him but she knew this was the best thing for him right now, maybe sometime later things would change and he would find her again, or the others. More than anything it felt so odd that they weren’t all together anymore. They had been for so long, so now with Rev leaving, Harper and Trance on the Andromeda she felt more alone than she had ever before, even more than after her dad died.
As soon as he was out of sight Beka closed the doors and headed back to the cockpit, there was no point sticking around she was better off getting on with the haulage she had just acquired. Like old times, only not.

***

The Maru floated aimlessly. Beka watched out the window as meteors floated around her, occasionally feeling the bump as one or more collided gently with her ship. It felt like she had been doing this for days now but it had only been 7 or 8 hours she knew. Long enough. Her eyes were just starting to droop when the vessel re-emerged from amongst the rocks. She frowned, she knew she hadn’t imagined it. Once it left the asteroid belt she could breath easy again, but even so she was still a little unsure why a Nietzschean ship was in this system at all, much less heading to the same planet that her own delivery was bound for. Now that it was moving back off she could make the markings out a lot better, it was definitely a Drago-Kasov ship which if anything made it even stranger for this neck of the woods.
As the Nietzschean vessel moved further from the rocks and away from the planet it opened a slipstream and was gone. Beka sat for a few moments watching space. She only got paid the remaining 75% of her fee once she delivered the goods to their destination, but she was on her own and not too hot on finding herself in the middle of a Nietzschean colony. She had never been popular with the Nietzscheans as a whole, though some had made the exception, but now she had a reputation as part of the Andromeda crew, part of the great Gaheris Rhade’s inner circle and that wasn’t going to be easy to live down around them.
Flicking switches and heating the engines once more she headed the ship to the planet, she needed the money more than she needed to avoid the Nietzscheans, besides she had seen only one ship, she was probably just overreacting.

***

“So you want to remove the larvae by folding space?” Andromeda’s holo-image nodded as Harper and their Persied friend Hohne started explaining it to her. She was more than capable of understanding the science of what they were suggesting but she wasn’t convinced and they were taking it all too lightly. It just felt like things were going from bad to worse and a very large part of her reasoned that things wouldn’t be like this if Dylan were still alive. But she wasn’t built to think that way, it wasn’t productive for her to dwell on it more than the odd passing thought, but those thoughts were becoming more regular.
Leaving Harper and Hohne to their project Andromeda rematerialised next to Gaheris who sat on the catwalk above the slipdrive.
“I have no alternative to Harper’s plan, as risky as it is it would appear to be his only chance at this point.”
Gaheris sighed heavily but didn’t look up, continuing to stare ahead of him.
“We have to let them do it then.” He told her. He couldn’t not let Harper do this – it was the only thing left that might save him. Why had they been able to remove Tyr’s eggs and not Harpers! Medically he knew why, but it seemed unfair that Tyr had been saved and Harper left to suffer, all the medicine had done was draw out the inevitable as they searched for a cure that would never happen.
“And what if it doesn't work? What if we have to...” Andromeda ventured.
“I will take care of it.” It wouldn’t be the first time that he had killed a friend.
“When you recruited the Maru crew I thought they were unreliable, unprofessional. Harper’s closer to me than any engineer I've ever had. Practically closer than any crewmember that's ever served on me. We should have maintained military detachment.” Andromeda was stating the obvious to a certain extent but only realised how deeply her words might cut as she saw Gaheris’ grip on the bar in front of him tightened, turning his knuckles white.
“They needed us, we needed them.” He said, forcing calmness into his tone. He cleared his throat for a moment, before finally voicing something that had told himself as soon as she left he would have to do once it go to this stage. “Andromeda, I need to send a message to Beka… she would want to know about Harper…”

***

Beka brought the Maru into orbit and answered the planetary hail immediately.
“You’re late Valentine. We were advised you would be here hours ago.”
“Um, yeah, sorry I got held up.” Beka smiled pleasantly. The man on the other end of the screen didn’t smile back, if anything he grumbled a little under his breath. She wasn’t stupid, they obviously needed the supplies so he wasn’t really in a position to turn her away for a little tardiness.
“Your cleared, bring her in.” He told her, transmitting the landing coordinates and ending the connection.
“Yeah sure.” Beka mumbled at the blank screen as she brought the Maru into position and hit the thrusters. She may need the money but she couldn’t help but worry, she was pretty sure she recognized the man from a previous venture and if memory served he was from the Orca Pride.
Within seconds of touching down she was surrounded. Deciding the best thing to do was to play dumb and see where that got her, Beka released the airlock and let the cargo bay open for them. Minutes later and they were in her bay unloading the supplies. Beka sat for a moment, waiting. She was sure it wouldn’t be too long before some of them wandered through to get her, any chance of getting paid felt slim. When no-one was forth coming Beka undid her straps and got out of her chair, watching the door for a short time before heading through it.
By the time she got to the cargo bay almost all the supplies were unloaded, the others being overseen by the Orca from the screen. As soon as he saw her he made his way over and Beka prepared herself, for what she wasn’t sure but there was no way this was going to go well. She took a furtive glance around the landing area, there were the few men unloading supplies and a few more tinkering with small ships, all of which appeared to be Nietzschean, both men and ships.
“eh… hi.” Beka’s lips tweaked a little as the man stood in front of her.
“Come with me Valentine, you can collect your fee.” He spoke with a little disdain, he was obviously one of those many many Nietzscheans who, for some reason, considered even small communications with the inferior humans too much trouble. Beka nodded and followed him through to the hangars, there seemed little else she could do.

***

Beka played with a little nook in the wall, looked like a force-lance shot that had gone wide. There was little else to do, stuck in a room with a few chairs and tables but mostly full of empty crates, two doors and neon bright lighting. The Orca had left her in the room and exited through the other door leaving her to her own devices for over half an hour now and she was running out of things to do. There was only so many times you could look in empty crates in the hopes of finding something interesting you had previously missed.
The door opened once more admitting the Orca. Beka turned to greet him with a frown.
“How much longer am I going to have to wait here?” She asked.
“I am sorry to have kept you Captain Valentine.” The voice wasn’t the Jaguar’s Beka realised as a man stepped through the door behind and the Jaguar continued back through to the landing area. “It is good to see you again captain.”
Beka was a little surprised. Of course at first there had been the obvious double-take reaction, but the last person she had thought to see again was another Rhade. Telemachus greeted her with a smile. Instinctively she smiled back, a little caught off guard to do anything else. When she had first seen him her heart had a missed a beat, but quickly her brain kicked in and she knew it couldn’t be Gaheris, she wasn’t even sure she would want it to be. But even so Telemachus Rhade was enough of a surprise, in the months since she had seen him he had grown a goatee and shed the Terazed uniform.
“Admiral Rhade, I… I’m surprised to see you again.”
“Yes.” Rhade nodded with a smile. “I should imagine you are, though it is just Rhade these days, I am sure you can recall that I am no longer part of Terazed’s peace keeping force.”
“Look, I’m sorry about that… if it’s any consolation the Commonwealth is stronger with Terazed than without it…”
“There is no need for you to apologise captain, as I recall you were the one who helped me escape, you did all you could.” He looked at her, studying her features and wondering how much he could trust her. “And the Commonwealth would be a consolation if I thought Gaheris Rhade was doing some good with it. It took me a while to get used to what had happened and that there was nothing I could do to change it, and the truth is I decided that if that was the case then I might as well not stand in the way. So I have waited and I have watched and granted it has only been a few months but from where I stand the Commonwealth is stagnating. Captain Rhade is failing.” He looked at her earnestly before asking the question. “Is that why you left the Andromeda? Or was it more to do with Gaheris himself.”
Beka frowned. He may look like Gaheris but he certainly didn’t know her well enough for him to ask a question like that. She decided it was time for a few of her own.
“Did you know it was me bringing the shipment?”
“Yes, but I assure you it was a coincidence, my operatives were looking for a hauler and you happened by, I thought it interesting that we might meet again.” Beka raised an eyebrow and spoke slowly, not totally convinced.
“And yet you knew that I left the Andromeda…”
“Forgive me Captain, you don’t trust me and I am not explaining everything. Yes I knew that you and Rev Bem left the Andromeda crew, I have been keeping an eye on my ancestor. It is always best to know what ones enemies are up to.”
“Gaheris isn’t your enemy.” Beka frowned again. “He was doing what he had to and you were caught in the crossfire.”
Telemachus nodded and began to pace around the room a little before turning back to her. “He isn’t my enemy because of what he did to me, I may be Nietzschean Valentine, but I am not always self involved… this is bigger than some sort of grudge against Gaheris. He is my enemy because ultimately the Commonwealth he is building will fail and leave affairs in a worse state than they already are but with the Magog worldship even closer than before. There is only one thing that can remedy the situation and I happen to be in the position to deliver it.” Telemachus spoke calmly, knowing that what he was saying was a matter of fact. Beka’s frown lightened a little as she listened, genuinely intrigued by his ideas.
“So you want to oppose the Commonwealth? How exactly are you going to do that?” She wasn’t just intrigued she was a little bewildered as to how he would go about it.
“Indeed. I know more about the Andromeda than who it is crewed by. In fact I found out something interesting last time I was there and it has changed a lot of things… The Andromeda is housing the bones of the progenitor Drago Museveni and I intend to take them back.”
“I didn’t figure you for the superstitious type.”
“Don’t get me wrong captain, I don’t believe myself to be the reincarnation of Museveni returned to unite the Nietzschean Prides, but the fact still remains that I have managed to unite more of the Prides with just the mention of the bones than even the old Commonwealth managed.” His tone raised a little as his voice filled with passion. “Gaheris Rhade has left himself defenceless by snubbing alliances with the Nietzscheans when he had the chance, with or without the bones, now we are in the better position. First we will take back the bones and then we will unite the remaining Prides and destroy the Magog threat once and for all – something my ancestor has been unable to do twice now!” He wasn’t smiling but smugness still managed to surface.
“I have to ask why you are telling me this… I could go and let Gaheris know all about it.” She spoke with something akin to annoyance.
“But you wont.” Beka huffed at his belief in that but let him continue. “You wont tell him for the same reason that you helped me escape, you want to do what’s right, and you know I’m right.”
“Nietzscheans, always so convinced they are right! Look Rhade, I don’t care what you are planning, it has nothing to do with me. I just intend to continue hauling and whatever else I need to do to get by, assuming I am free to go.” She looked at the man who tilted his head with a nod.
“I will have payment sent to your ship, you may leave anytime you like.” As soon as the words left his mouth he stepped across the room, standing between Beka and the door. “Though, I was hoping you would stay. When I heard you were bringing the supplies I thought it might be the chance we have been waiting for. I will not force you to stay, but think about this… you know the Andromeda better than anyone here, which means when we confront them you could give invaluable advice – advice that would limit the loss of life, including that of your friends on board.”
Angrily she moved forward, taking up an aggressive position in front of him. “That sounds like a threat, and I don’t like threats… telling Gaheris what you are up to would also help ‘limit the loss of life’, think about that.” She spat the words before pushing past him and heading for the door.
As Beka got inside the Maru, Rhade caught up with her.
“I’m sorry you took it that way Valentine, it wasn’t supposed to be a threat, that’s not really how I operate. Remember I wasn’t the corrupt one back on Terazed.”
With her back to him Beka sighed and let her shoulders drop. She was more than prepared to hate this man, not just because of what he was planning, but because in her mind Terazed marked for her the beginning of the end with Gaheris, something she still wished might have been different.
“I cant be part of this. It’s not my life anymore.”
“Of course it is… you cant just blank it all out, leaving the Andromeda must have proved that to you…” He spoke gently and took a tentative step forward, laying a light hand on her shoulder. “If you change your mind we would greatly appreciate your help… you know uniting the Prides is the only solution at this point… it’s a shame Gaheris didn’t realise it.”
Beka hated the way he referred to Gaheris as if he knew him. Sure they looked the same, they were related but they were so different in many ways and he certainly hadn’t spent enough time with the man to make sweeping statements and judgements regardless of what Gaheris had done. Shaking her head she turned and looked at Telemachus.
“It doesn’t matter what I know, I just want to live out the rest of my life nice and happy and pretend I never heard of the Andromeda.” She spoke firmly.
“Then even more reason for me to succeed, for people like you who will sit back and wait for the Magog to come.”
“That’s rich! That was exactly what you were willing to do, remember, keep Terazed out of it all.” She shook her head with a sneer.
“Yes, well, people change… Nietzscheans adapt. I have only ever worked in the best interest of my people, when I was on Terazed that meant keeping us hidden from the Magog, but now, Gaheris Rhade would be proud. He has forced me to look at the bigger picture and ultimately construct his ruination along with the Magog. I can only imagine that a small part of you would like to be involved.” He knew he shouldn’t have said it and to a certain degree didn’t really mean it, but he wanted to get some sort of reaction out of her, try and make her see sense. He knew a fellow warrior when he saw one and in this fight all the warriors had to be up the front taking out the Magog not sitting things out quietly waiting to be eaten.
“How dare you presume to know my motivations!” Beka grit her teeth and balled a fist as she spoke, lashing out quickly and smashing her fist into his face. He only gave the barest flinch before looking back at her. For a moment they looked coldly into each others eyes as she waited for him to react.
“I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I just want you to realise that you need to be somewhere in this fight, and when you do realise that I hope you will be on this side.”
“Look, I may have a *history* with your kind but I am far from Nietzschean, I don’t think I fit in this fight.” Beka said despondently as she pushed passed Rhade once more this time to head to the cockpit and prepare for takeoff, but he took hold of her arm. She looked back at him. His features softened.
“Please, just keep it in mind. And if you want to tell Gaheris then go ahead… you have to do what you feel right, I am sure you already know it wont really make a difference whether he knows or not. But Valentine, for your own sake, don’t stay out of it. You need to be part of this.”
“Don’t tell me what I need!” She tried to sound angry but her blood was cooling now, his words made sense as much as she didn’t want to admit it. She pulled her arm from his grasp but didn’t move.
Telemachus looked at her, for the first time really, only now was he noticing how different she was from last time they had met. So much of that fire inside her had gone, what had it been? Hope? He wasn’t sure. But he knew somewhere beneath it all she was still strong, she had to be otherwise she wouldn’t have survived so long on her own.
“You are always welcome here Beka.” He told her gently.
It was strange for her, a voice so like Gaheris’ speaking her name and saying kind words. She shook her head for a moment, trying to push down her memories and emotions. After a second she looked back to him and nodded with a small smile.
“Thanks… but I should leave now.” As she said the words she realised she was studying his face, was she looking for the similarities or the differences? She wasn’t sure anymore.
Her scent caught in Telemachus nostrils in the enclosed air of the Maru. It was familiar from last time they had met, the same smell, sweet but hard, like many Nietzschean women in some respects but in others so exotically different. He couldn’t help a small smile springing to his lips. He knew in an instant that Gaheris loved her scent, probably as much as anything else about her, it was likely imprinted on his brain and he could understand why. If there was one thing he could not fault about Gaheris it was his choice in mate, of course the only draw back being that she was a human which made her genetically and socially unacceptable in many ways, but then a man like Gaheris might over look that.
Beka stopped for a second in her thoughts, realising, though just as subtly as Gaheris used to, that Rhade was breathing in her scent. She was about to protest this when she looked up at him.
As she looked up at him Telemachus found himself doing something he would never have imagined, leaning in towards her he moved a hand up behind her neck and pressed his lips to hers, a soft probing kiss as he sought to taste what it was that had Gaheris so enraptured.
For a moment Beka was shocked, not that she hadn’t seen it coming, that look in his eyes, but that she had never imagined this might happen, never even wanted it as much as he looked like Gaheris that’s all it was, he wasn’t him. But even as those thoughts passed through her she found herself responding to the kiss, slowly at first but then with more passion as she moved her hands up into his hair. For the briefest of moments she forgot it was him, imagining instead that it was Gaheris’ arms closing around her. Part of her wanted to continue to believe it though something was tugging her brain back to reality. But it was a system alert that forced her quickly out of it, backing away from the bewildered looking former Admiral as the computer announced –
“Incoming message.”

***


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