DISCLAIMER: I own nothing, not even the words - only the order in which they were placed.

That said, the idea is all mine, to the best of my knowledge. However, those names, places, and details representing the Andromeda universe belong to Tribune et al., I make no money off this. You can try suing me if you want, but due to my status as a poor University student who, aside from some archaeology texts, has less than nothing, you could very well end up owing me money! …Hmm, on second thought….

RATING: PG-13/T for some mild violence. I don't believe it needs to be any higher (then again, I've devoted over half my life to martial arts, so my opinion might be biased), but if it becomes a concern I will change it accordingly.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: First off, this is my first attempt at Andromeda fic - hopefully it'll turn out alright, but in case some of the characterizations are off, you've been warned. I actually started this thing way back in October and have gradually been working on it since then, as my hectic schedule has permitted. This is by far the longest story I've written, and I'm almost done - I've vowed never to post a WIP again, but since I know for a fact it's almost done, I figured I'd cheat a little. That said, I still have to type up most of it and then tweak it a little, so hopefully I haven't just jinxed myself.

For the record, this takes place sometime late in Season 4 and diverges into AU-land after that - no "Dissonant Interval" here. I actually enjoyed most of the episode, but it doesn't work for what I have in mind.

Hope you enjoy this first little bit. Let me know what you think - whatever helps me to improve! Any and all mistakes are mine alone.

The Conquerable Man

PROLOGUE - Summon the Darkness

The sound of rusted metal upon rusted metal permeated the ship. The prisoner was unceremoniously tossed to the floor of the makeshift cell, the only home he had known for the last five weeks. The first guard delivered a vicious kick to his stomach to ensure the prisoner would stay down while the second guard prepared to fasten him to the wall, not that he could have conceivably tried anything on his own had his life depended on it, not right now.

The third guard had his weapon trained on the fetal form, just in case.

From the depths

I challenge thee

Up and up

Through the sea

The first guard grabbed the two-foot length of chain that ran from one imprisoned hand to the other at the center and pulled with all his strength, dragging the dead weight to the back wall. He kept a careful watch, ready to spring, while the second guard quickly and efficiently applied the other set of chains at the midsection of the first, allowing the prisoner movement of no more than two feet from the dull, dirty metal. Provided, of course, that he could command his broken body to move at all.

With the final clang of the clasp, the second guard moved away and out the door without so much as a glance back. The first guard started to follow, but suddenly stopped and tuned back. Without a single expression crossing his face, he reared back and swung his foot once again, barely missing the prisoner's jaw as the kick landed on his upper chest. The sound of cracking ribs followed, all that could be heard - the prisoner had lost the will to cry out a week ago.

Behind the blanket

Of despair

The poem from his childhood. The poem he had recited so many times since his imprisonment that the words no longer held meaning.

For nought a maiden

Ever fair

The poem whose consistency allowed him to hold on to the last vestiges of his sanity, if anything did indeed remain. This, he focused on.

Than death

Just 'round the corner

His work done, the first guard resumed his exit. The third guard followed suit, but paused before he reached the doorway. He trained his eyes on the crumpled form trying to catch his breath and holstered his weapon rather loudly, intentionally drawing the proverbial dagger - the pathetic prisoner wasn't even worth the security measure. The dagger could very nearly be seen slitting the throat of his prisoner's will as the guard shook his head and muttered, "Pitiful," before slamming the thick door shut behind him.

Pitiful. For a Nietzschean, there were few insults more cutting.

For Telemachus Rhade, it was perhaps the worst of them all.