Title: The Conquered Destiny

Author: Jade Hunter

A.N.: Saw The Unconquerable Man, couldn't help myself from being inspired. Gaheris Rhade is truly an amazing character.

Disclaimer: Andromeda and all its characters do not belong to me.

"talking"

thoughts

emphasis

flashback

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He materialized on one of the decks of the Andromeda Ascendant, no longer in the machine shop with Beka. Trance – the new one – was still by his side, however, her gaze serious and quite unlike the purple sparkly creature she used to be.

For some strange reason, Gaheris almost missed the cheerful purple creature she had replaced. To think, I actually grew fond of them.

That had not been the plan. To grow emotionally attached to Beka was also not part of the plan. All he had wanted was to undo the mistake he'd made in betraying the Commonwealth, to restore order to the chaos of the world.

He was vaguely aware of Trance leaning up to him – had he been so fond of them, he, Gaheris Rhade, that he allowed their touch without thinking twice? Yes, he knew it was so, and it did not shame him as it would have 300 years ago – to plant a chaste kiss on his cheek.

She disappeared, and he was alone to face his past.

To face his mistake.

"We thought you were the one," the pale creature – Trance, she claimed to be, and indeed, she bore a resemblance – told him, her face solemn. "…you are not the one."

"If I'm not the one, then who is?" he demanded, unwilling to admit defeat. But he already knew.

And she knew. "You already know whom," she said.

It was Dylan. It had always been Dylan.

Even when he first realized the consequences of his actions in betraying his best friend, Gaheris had known, deep inside, that no matter how much he attempted to correct things, nothing would ever be right again. The Nietzschean-ruled empire he had dreamed of had not come to pass – not because of the Commonwealth, but because the Nietzscheans had been too stubborn, inferior, to truly unite as one army. Instead, he learned exactly how inferior they were, how Nietzscheans had fought in wars against fellow Nietzscheans, how they battled between prides, killing each other off.

For this, he had betrayed Dylan.

For this, he had killed his best friend.

And Gaheris Rhade had felt an overwhelming wave of self-disgust and regret, the two emotions a Nietzschean almost never felt, especially for their actions against a human.

It hadn't taken him long to go to Harper and ask him to build that Dylan hologram. It wasn't the real thing, but it was better than nothing.

So he had survived, struggling to forge a new Commonwealth, to repent and rectify the mistakes he had made three centuries ago. Despite all that, despite his sincerity and well meaning, everything had gone wrong – everything would continue to go wrong, if he believed Trance.

Gaheris was given a chance to redeem himself – truly redeem himself, not the feeble attempts he had been making – and so he would take it.

I wonder, he thought as he stalked towards the bridge. What will happen to the crew? Would Beka and Rev Bem still leave? Tyr would be alive, of this I am sure. Dylan was never the one to kill anyone without more than justifiable reasons. Ten times what a Nietzschean would need.

Captain Gaheris Rhade caught sight of his quarry.

"Commander!" he barked, knowing his younger self would be confused by the similarity in their appearance and voice.

He was counting on it.

As if taken straight from the plan in his mind, Commander Gaheris Rhade paused in mid step, turning towards the familiar voice that had called him by rank. He peered into the shadows the dim lights of the deck cast, seeing fleeting images of…his face?

He had no more time to wonder, for it was at that moment Captain Gaheris Rhade fired.

It is strange, Captain Gaheris reflected, to see myself dead.

A Nietzschean's worst nightmare. Well, after being permanently handicapped or sterile.

His lips curled into a slightly scornful smile as he knelt down next to his younger body. Emotionlessly, he began to strip the Commander - it was easier to think of him like that – of his uniform. If he was really going to go through with this, and he was, he would do it properly.

Gaheris stood, quickly changing from his Captain's grieving uniform, which had become his everyday clothes, into the painfully familiar red and beige uniform. Then, he disposed of the body into the nearest escape pod, launching it into space, knowing full well that it would be sucked into the black hole.

It was done.

There was nothing he could do about the only physical difference between himself and his younger double – the permanent black scar from Tyr's throwing star. Gaheris hoped that Dylan wouldn't get a chance to look at him that closely.

With his superior Nietzschean senses, he heard a noise that ordinary humans couldn't possibly hear. It was a sort of hissing, and he realized that it was the atmosphere being vented. He reached into the fold of cloth in which the breathing apparatus had been stored, then put it into his mouth.

On his way to the bridge, he heard Andromeda's familiar voice, calling out not his rank, but his name, which hinted at how close the ship was to its officers. "Rhade?"

Almost two years of being the ship's Captain made him wish to still his hand, but he knew what had to be done, and so shot the screen with a blast from his force lance.

He reached the doors leading to the bridge, which opened with a compliant hiss.

Refractions of Dawn turned the seat to look at who entered the bridge. "Commander?"

As he had before, Gaheris aimed and fired straight into the Than pilot's chest. Unlike before, he paused a moment, to give Dylan time to prepare, and then began to fire at his best friend.

It was hard to do, because at least he had killed him with one blow the last time. Killed him before the implications could fully sink in. This Dylan would have time to realize that his best friend was a traitor; this Dylan would have time to know why.

"Rhade!" Dylan shouted as they exchanged fire.

His face remained a mask of stone; "I tried to warn you."

Dylan didn't understand, "What are you doing?"

"Ensuring the survival of my people!" Gaheris shouted, knowing that it was not what would happen, knowing the disturbing future of the Nietzschean race. But it had been the reason why he had gone through with the betrayal, so long ago. Now. "The Commonwealth is weak. It bargains with its enemies, it compromises. My people are engineered to be perfect! And the Commonwealth is no place for the strong."

"So the Nietzscheans decided to destroy it."

"We spent years preparing, waiting, arguing," Gaheris told him. "For a long time, I opposed the destruction of the Systems Commonwealth. So did many others." Not enough. "The Treaty of Antares changed all that."

All the words were so familiar, though never said before, because they were his old ideals; he felt the old passion, but did not make the mistake of embracing it once more.

"The Magog," realized the Captain before sliding behind a console.

"Yes! The Magog. Savages. Predators. They eat sentient beings. They reproduce by rape. They killed over a billion people on Brandenburg Tor. They destroyed the Nietzschean colony on Hawking." He felt the old hatred stir in him, fueled by the near death encounter that he and his crew had experienced some time ago – 300 and some years in a different future. But he also remembered Rev Bem, the first gentle Magog he had ever seen, and pushed down the hatred and the anger. "And what did the Commonwealth do?"

"We made peace with them," Dylan protested.

"You compromised with monsters! The blood of over a billion people cried out for vengeance, and you made peace," Gaheris spit out, the memory and emotions clear. He used them. "You have sown the wind. You shall reap the whirlwind."

Then, Dylan responded again, but with more than just words. "You know what your problem is, Rhade? You talk too much."

A force lance slid across the floor in his direction. Gaheris recognized the beeping noise it emitted, and leaped away as quickly as he could. It almost wasn't enough, and he felt the heat and force of the explosion propel him forward. Dylan rushed him, trying to take advantage, but Gaheris was already recovered from the momentary shock, and met him head on.

They traded blows, not getting anywhere, but Gaheris knew what would happen if he stalled long enough. What was meant to happen.

Time slowed.

Although Gaheris had experienced the time distortion before, he was still caught off guard. He hadn't realized that much time had passed.

It was enough for Dylan to knock him to the ground.

"What was that?" Dylan demanded of Andromeda.

"A temporal distortion. Our artificial gravity must be amplifying the time dilation effects of the black hole," came the prompt reply.

By this time, Gaheris had recovered, and leapt to attack once more. "Give up, you can't win," he told Dylan, knowing that the true Captain of the Andromeda would never give up, and that in the end Dylan would be the victor. Gaheris would make it so.

But Dylan didn't know this. "I told you before," the man said, spying a force lance. Gaheris noted the movement, saw his own force lance, and they both leapt away at the same time. "Pessimism is not a survival trait!" Dylan shouted as they both reached their respective force lances.

Time slowed again.

"Time dilation is increasing," Andromeda reported.

They leapt into the air again, firing at each other. Gaheris made sure to look as if he were truly aiming for the other man, and suppressed a wince when a shot grazed his side. If he had leapt into the air a few seconds earlier, that might have hit him full on.

It should have, he realized. If I don't die soon, we'll both be frozen in time.

Gaheris landed, ignoring the slight stinging from his side, and watched as Dylan landed as well. He saw the other man preparing to fire again, and waited, his decision already made.

Dylan's brow furrowed in confusion, and he hesitated.

Time stopped.

The Andromeda Ascendant had reached the event horizon of the black hole.

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~Jade Hunter~