Title: 5 Things That Never Happened To Gaheris Rhade
Author: Juliette Torres firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 28 Nov. 2003
Rating: PG-13 (violence)
Notes: You *cough* may have noticed that Rhade is pretty much my favorite character on Andromeda. So it made sense to me to devote not just one (grateful as I am for "The Unconquerable Man") but five alternate universes to him.
A big thank you to my betas: Dru, JCalanthe, Kyrre, Unovis, and McJude.
Ferrin was dead: Rhade held his fingers to the man's jugular and his gun to the man's head until he was certain of it. Then he trained his weapon on Mr. May and said, "You're going to get us out of here."
"I--" gasped Mr. May like a gutted fish, pushing his glasses up his nose as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"And if you try to trick us into walking into one of the traps," Rhade warned him, rising, "I'll kill you."
"Mr. March," said Mr. April, in a tone of reprimand.
"The mission's gone to hell and you're in no condition to give orders, sir," Rhade spat. He held out his hand to Mr. April, and, since he was keeping his aim on Mr. May, did not look down to see what response Mr. April had to his insubordination.
Mr. April took Rhade's hand, and Rhade pulled him upright, then put his arm around Mr. April's waist, holding him close. "Put as much of your weight on me as you need to," Rhade instructed, "but keep walking. Mr. May!"
"This--this way," Mr. May stuttered, and led them out.
When they were clear of the President's Mansion, Rhade shot Mr. May in the chest, and then in the head.
"What the hell are you doing?" demanded Mr. April.
"It doesn't do to leave witnesses to an assassination," Rhade replied.
"So I suppose you're going to kill me next," Mr. April said sarcastically, his hand still pressed to his side rather than reaching for his weapon, as it should have been if he believed his words.
Rhade weighed this suggestion. In its favor, not having to carry an injured man would certainly aid Rhade's escape. Furthermore, it was conceivable that this was what their sponsor wanted, the removal of her niece's unwelcome suitor. The man was a fool, unquestionably, far too idealistic to live; Rhade wouldn't want him marrying into his own family either.
There was also the possibility that the admiral did favor Mr. April's bid for her niece's hand, and pairing him with Rhade for this mission had been Stark's way of making certain that the mission was successful and that Mr. April could advance. Humans did occasionally have odd ideas of good mates.
This was, however, not a reason not to take Mr. April's suggestion, merely a reason to take certain precautions.
"As a matter of fact, I am," Rhade informed Mr. April.
Rhade killed Mr. April with the knife he kept in his left boot; Argosy could have traced the signature of his energy weapon back to him. He wiped his fingerprints off the hilt with the hem of his shirt and left the knife in Mr. May's slack hand.
Gaheris Rhade was stripped of his lineage, shorn of his bone blades, and divorced from his wives by ruling of the Matriarch Athene, for the anti-Nietzschean crimes of taking a lover who was both of the wrong sex for producing offspring and of insufficient genetic quality. While neither offense was particularly uncommon, their combination resulted in a reflexive harshness from the Matriarch that was not entirely logical.
In his exile, Rhade discussed the ruling, and various ways around it, with his human lover. Rhade settled upon what he felt was an adequate solution to the Matriarch's objections (the ones she had voiced, anyway; Rhade could hardly explain to Captain Dylan Hunt of the High Guard that "substandard genes" had become code for Nietzschean xenophobia toward other members of the Commonwealth in the aftermath of Brandenberg Tor). His lover refused adamantly to play his role in Rhade's proposed solution.
Eventually Rhade offered to play that role himself and let Hunt take the other part, and thus managed to secure Hunt's cooperation. The technology to combine two men's carefully screened genetic material in a borrowed cell membrane and implant the resulting embryo in one partner's abdomen for Caesarian birth at a later date had been around for centuries. However, Julius Rhade, out of Gaheris by Dylan, was the first Nietzschean child to come into existence by this method.
Matriarch Athene was startled, to say the least, but when Julius was born with ten fingers on his hands, ten toes on his feet, and six bone blades bulging under the skin of his forearms, she had little choice but to reverse her ruling. Rhade's lineage was reluctantly reinstated; his bone blades had regrown nearly to full length during his exile; and most of his wives remarried him.
Gaheris stood, clinking his champagne flute with his shrimp fork, feeling mildly ridiculous. There had to be a better way to get peoples' attention, but this was traditional. When even Dylan and Sara had quit feeding each other cake to listen to him, Gaheris began.
"As the best man, I've been asked to say a few words." If this were a Nietzschean wedding, Gaheris would have gone straight to the offering of wishes for many, healthy children, but Dylan had told him to try to be funny. Gaheris was perfectly capable of being wry, but his Nietzschean humor didn't always "translate" with humans. Taking a deep breath, Gaheris launched into his rehearsed speech. "I suppose I could tell you how I met the groom--well, as he would say, 'I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.'"
Gaheris paused, and no one seemed to find this funny. Except Stark, who, a moment later, called out, "And what would you do with all the bodies!"
There was a startled chuckle at that from several corners of the gathering, and Gaheris gave Stark a nod of acknowledgement and gratitude. "The admiral," he went on, raising his glass to her, "has given me permission to declassify a small segment of the circumstances of our acquaintance."
In the periphery of his vision, Gaheris saw Sara let go of Dylan's arm and sit up straight at this. Gaheris glanced down the table at the couple and smiled at the contrast between Sara's interest and Dylan's nervous, anticipatory mortification.
"On our first mission together," Gaheris said, "Dylan managed to get himself very nearly killed. I assure you, he did this with the most noble of purposes, about which I am not permitted to speak at all--" Stark cackled at that, and a few other people grinned. Sara sat back, looking a bit disappointed. "However, good intentions are no match for pulse weapons. We had no back-up and entirely inadequate emergency medical supplies, and the only course of action I could think of was to dose him with some of the nanobots in my blood.
"Now, you must understand," Gaheris told his audience over the murmur from some of its Nietzschean members, "that Nietzschean nanobots not only serve to keep us in good health, but also contain clan markers. By giving Dylan some of my nanobots, I effectively made him my brother. If any Nietzscheans should scan you," Gaheris told Dylan, turning to speak to him directly, "their first words of greeting will be, 'Hail, Clan Rhade, of Pride Solada.' Their second, of course, will be, 'What the hell have you done with your bone blades--'"
To Gaheris's surprise, most of the guests laughed at that. Encouraged, he continued, "To which you'll have to explain that you're adopted kin. And hopefully contrive to mention my numerous and exemplary offspring, that no one should think you were adopted out of any necessity."
Only the Nietzscheans chuckled aloud at that. Captain Khalid was so pleased by the joke that he raised his glass and drank to it. Dylan, after a puzzled moment, grinned and shook his head at Gaheris, in amusement.
Gaheris turned back to address the guests again. "Dylan is family," he said, more serious. He turned to face the happy couple once more, although he addressed the bride rather than the groom. "As I call Dylan Hunt my brother, so do I call you, Sara Riley, my sister. I will protect you as I would blood kin, as I would my own daughter." This was the highest offer of protection a Nietzschean could give: children were precious. Gaheris wasn't sure Sara understood that, because she looked vaguely miffed at the word "daughter." He'd have to explain later. Stark, on the other hand, was grinning like a shark; this might conceivably make the woman his aunt, which could only lead to horror, Gaheris thought ruefully.
Gaheris shook this off and told Sara, "If there is ever a thing you cannot ask of me, or a time when I cannot provide, you may ask my mother, my father, my brothers, my sisters, my wives, and my children for their aid, and it will be freely given. You're family now."
Gaheris addressed the guests again, raising the champagne glass in toast. "To Dylan and Sara: may their marriage be long, their troubles few, and their children many."
Various people echoed, "To Dylan and Sara," and Gaheris drank his champagne and sat down, relieved.
"How was that?" he asked Dylan quietly.
"Not exactly what I was expecting," Dylan replied, "but thank you."
"The first attack will be at Hephaistos," said Gaheris. Dylan glanced down at his hand. Gaheris was still fingering a go pebble--one of Dylan's--though they had abandoned the game half an hour earlier.
"Hephaistos?" Dylan asked sharply. "What's at Hephaistos?"
"Nothing," Gaheris replied. "The rogue Nietzscheans intend to lure High Guard ships to the system with reports of a natural disaster and requests for aid, and then destroy them when they arrive."
"An ambush," Dylan realized. It was a very Nietzschean tactic: why give an enemy time to prepare?
"Many, many ambushes," Gaheris corrected him. For once, the calm, flat tone he'd been using to cajole Dylan into believing he was deadly serious lifted; he sounded pained, perhaps even regretful. "If it's not prevented, hundreds of thousands will be killed before the Commonwealth even knows it's under attack."
"Why?" Dylan burst out. "Why would the Nietzshceans want to bring down the Commonwealth?"
"Because they believe that the Commonwealth refuses to see the true threat of the Magog," Gaheris answered, his voice even again. "The Commonwealth made peace with them, and many of my race believe that the treaty will only give the Magog the opportunity to surprise us when they attack again."
"And you don't believe that?" Dylan demanded.
"I know something my kinsmen don't," Gaheris answered, smiling slightly. "The Commonwealth has no intention of keeping that treaty either." Dylan stared. Taking pity on him, Gaheris added, "Ask Admiral Stark. All of the Commonwealth's anti-Magog operations are currently under Argosy."
Dylan ran his hand through his hair. "Stark--" he groaned. "I'll have to tell her about this, this Nietzschean rebellion. Immediately."
"Of course," Gaheris said, as if startled Dylan had only just come to this conclusion. "You should probably confine your Nietzschean crew to quarters as well."
"Excepting you," Dylan said, not quite a question.
"Hardly," Gaheris answered. "Your investigation into this will uncover matters which... implicate me. I couldn't gain this information without committing certain acts against the Commonwealth to convince the rogue Nietzschean faction of my loyalty and trustworthiness. So you may as well imprison me now."
Dylan stared at his friend. "Are you trying to tell me you're a traitor?"
"If I were a traitor," Gaheris replied, returning Dylan's white go pebble to the board, "I wouldn't have told you."
"The possibility was statistically insignificant," Andromeda said loftily.
"Define 'statistically insignificant,'" Telemachus suggested.
"Given his Nietzschean constitution and nanobots, the location of his wound, the speed with which Dylan put him into cryostasis--" The hologram shrugged. "In the hands of a skilled surgeon, he had a ninety percent chance of revivification."
"Has," Dylan corrected. "We're going to bring him back."
"Why?" Andromeda asked.
"Why?!" Dylan demanded. "Why didn't you tell me we could have saved him in the first place?"
"He sabotaged me," Andromeda petulantly replied.
Captain and warship faced off with matching stubborn glares. Telemachus said sardonically, "Better late than never. What's three years after three hundred, anyway?"