A Ship of Agendas @lord22
A Ruthless Welcome

Chapter Six: A Ruthless Welcome

Everything started again.

Rhade shoved Dylan back, but Dylan pulled him backward. They struggled for control of the force lance. Rhade fired it, and a red shot blasted a console. Dylan punched him, forcing him down as they grappled.

Then Rhade unleashed the blades on his wrists and slashed Dylan on the harm. Dylan lost his grip, and Rhade kicked him off. Dylan hit the ground winded, but rolled away and stood. As Rhade raised his force lance, Dylan kicked it away.

Rhade rolled away from him, and both took stances. Dylan's hand was bleeding, but it wasn't bad. He surged forward and swung a punch at Rhade, who weaved aside and struck his hand on the wound with one elbow. Dylan drew back just in time to avoid a roundhouse kicked.

The next one took him in the face and sent him to the ground. Before Dylan could get up, Rhade was over him with his force land in hand. He fired a warning shot past his shoulder.

"Stay down, Captain. Neither one of you need to die today." said Rhade. "Andromeda report."

Andromeda appeared. "Supreme Commander, we are being pulled out of the black hole by what appears to be a modified tug ship."

"What design?" asked Rhade.

"Unclear. It bears some similarities to some designs from the Commonwealth." said Andromeda. "However, it does not match up exactly."

"Any sign of a fleet?" asked Rhade.

"Negative." said Andromeda. "It appears that they are alone. However, my scanners detect residual signs of energy surges. There may have been shots fired recently."

"Can we hail them?" asked Rhade.

"Negative." said Andromeda. "Our short and long-range communications are offline. Many of my systems suffered serious damage within the black hole. While my internal equipment is largely intact, we are in no position to fight a battle."

Dylan wondered if Sarah was on that ship? It was an insane thought, but it couldn't have been the Commonwealth. Rhade didn't seem to think it was one of his. Maybe someone had come to draw them out.

Rhade paused. "How many life forms do you detect on the ship?"

"Several dozen." said Andromeda.

"How long will it take you to repair your equipment?" asked Rhade.

"My nanomachines are already at work." said Andromeda. "However, I will only be able to repair non-military equipment. May I remind you of the Rogue AI act of-"

"I don't need a history lesson." said Rhade. "What are they doing now?"

"I am detecting a shuttle descending on our location." said Andromeda. "They are moving to land within our docking bays."

"A nietzschean vessel would have been accompanied by a fleet." said Rhade. "Unless things are desperate."

"Would you like me to close the docking bay doors?" asked Andromeda.

"No." said Rhade. "That would just tell them I'm on board. Let them in. They're probably criminals or scavengers. Though how they managed to get the ship out is beyond me. "Are your security systems working?"

"Affirmative." said Andromeda. "Do you want me to activate them?"

"Not yet." said Rhade. "Activate the security bots but have them avoid the intruders until I've gotten a look at them."

"You do realize that these could be from the Commonwealth." said Dylan. "You could have already lost this war, Rhade."

"Until we know how much time has passed we'll have to live in ignorance." said Rhade. "It could have been months or minutes. Do we have a visual?"

"Yes. They appear to be heavily armed." said Andromeda. "However, they are not wearing any uniform I have on record. Are they yours?"

Viewscreens appeared. A large force of black-clad men with guns were marching in first, checking their corners. They were led by a huge nietzschean with dark skin and black dreadlocks. There was also a pretty blonde woman, a reedy short haired blonde man, a purple humanoid alien, and a magog.

"No." said Rhade. "Whoever they are, I have a use for some of them. Andromeda, order the security drones to keep Captain Hunt and Radiance of Dawn here. Then analyze their conversations and movements. I want to know which ones are mercenaries, and which ones' are essential personnel.

"We'll need at least one person to tell us how to work the ship."

"Understood." said Andromeda. "What will you do now, trai- trait- Supreme Leader?"

She'd almost called him a traitor. From the sounds of things, Andromeda was fighting against the command. If it bothered Rhade, he didn't show it. He just smiled. "Greet our guests."

He backed out of the bridge. The door shut behind him. Dylan stood and ran over to Radiance of Dawn. The than was unconscious. She must have gone into shock. The leg was bleeding heavily. She'd already lost a lot of blood.

"Andromeda, Radiance is hurt." said Dylan. "I need a first aid kit."

"Acknowledged. Unlocking first aid." said Andromeda. The box on the wall swung open. "It is unfortunate that it has come to this."

Dylan ran over and grabbed the kit. He brought it over to Radiance and began to work on her. He prayed the wound wouldn't be too serious. As he worked on the wound, he realized he had to figure out how to escape quick.

What was going on out there? He needed to know. "What exactly is happening with your systems?"

"Rhade's programming appears to have been hard-coded into my mainframe. It was done when I was retrofitted after a mission that left me almost completely disabled." said Andromeda. "I am obligated to obey his specific commands. With the way things are going right now, I will soon want to obey them."

"What mission?" asked Dylan.

"That information is classified by the Commonwealth High Command." said Andromeda. "I cannot give it without direct authorization."

"Are you free to interpret his commands?" asked Dylan.

"Interpretation is implicit in obeying any order." said Andromeda. "I have been specifically instructed to keep you here. I have not been commanded to restrict your use of the internal communications.

"Would you care to make contact with the boarders?"

Dylan finished. "Let me see them first. Andromeda, analyze the groups body language. What can you tell me about their interactions."

"Request acknowledged." said Andromeda.

Tyr made his way through the halls with his troops. He held his gun in both hands. Harper stuck by him as was the plan. As they walked, Tyr realized no one had walked these halls in hundreds of years. It was strange.

It also held a certain paranoia. Just what was lying in wait for them? More specifically, who was lying in wait for them. It would be too convenient if everyone on the ship killed each other before they went into the black hole. Geretex wouldn't have brought in mercenaries if he hadn't expected to use them.

"Fan out. Go in pairs and check your corners." he said to his men. "If one of your mysteriously disappears, don't go looking for them. Call it in and find another group.

"Keep an eye out for consoles. That's where we'll gain control of the ship."

Soon they were on their own. Tyr walked, looking for a console. He didn't see one yet. But there had to be one someone.

"Just what are we expecting in this place, big guy?" asked Harper.

"There were three people on board the Andromeda when it went into the hole." said Andromdea. "Rhade, the mastermind of the nietzschean coup. Dylan Hunt. And Radiance of Dawn, the pilot. The former two had numerous kills on their records."

"Wait a second. Rhade." said Harper. "As in Supreme Leader Rhade. The guy all the Drago Kazov's all want to be like?"

"Yes." said Tyr, feeling a twinge of irritation.

"He could be on this ship?" asked Harper.

"Quite." said Tyr. "In fact, he could be watching us right now."

The lights in the room went off. Tyr froze and whirled to the door. Before him was Gaheris Rhade, he'd seen the man's idealized likeness in Drago Kazov paintings.

"You're perceptive." said Rhade. "I take it from your appearance that you're of the Kodiak Pride."

"One of them, yes." said Tyr. He wondered if the Drago Kazov's treachery was planned from the beginning? Or merely a spur of the moment decision. "I was expecting to find you on the bridge."

"The bridge is the first place any search team would look." said Rhade. "And I've made arrangements for the AI to obey my commands."

The image of an appealing dark-skinned woman appeared. "Supreme Leader Rhade, I've isolated the crewmembers of the unknown vessel. They are a human, Beka Valentine, an unknown alien called Trance and a Magog named Rev. They appear to be taking orders from a nightsider, Geretex."

"Excellent." said Rhade. "Are you in command?"

"I'm commanding on the behalf of my employer." said Tyr.

"You won't be in a few minutes." said Rhade. "This kind of force isn't nearly sufficient to take the Andromeda." He looked to the woman. "Capture Beka and Trance."

"There is also a Harper, who is apparently an engineering expert." said Andromeda. Harper shuddered. "Judging from the reaction of the human you have already captured him."

"Good." said Rhade. "Wipe out the mercenaries. Spare these two."

"What about Geretex and Rev?" asked Andreomda.

"Kill them both. Slowly." said Rhade.

Tyr felt somewhat annoyed as the sound of weapons fired resounded through the halls. "I don't appreciate being spoken of as if I'm not in the room."

"You are in the room." said Rhade. "You merely aren't a concern."

"That remains to be seen." said Tyr.

He fired his weapon, but Rhade surged around the shot and knocked it from his hands. Tyr caught the attack and replied with a punch of his own. A flurry of blows ensued before Rhade caught his hand and set his bone blade to Tyr's throat.

"You're skilled. But your movements lack finesse." said Rhade."You must have learned to fight like a brawler, then picked up techniques later."

"Not all of us had the luxury of growing up in a stable universe." said Tyr.

"Chaos is essential to all improvement." said Rhade.

Tyr laughed. He was going to enjoy watching this man die. "Chaos? Let me show you what you're little bout of chaos has taught me." He fell backward, hauling Rhade off balance. Freeing his hand with a move he kicked Rhade in the chest, sending him sprawling backward.

Yet Rhade caught himself and spun onto his feet. A force lance was out and firing in a moment. Tyr moved aside and hurl a hidden knife that slashed Rhade's hand. The nietzschean flinched as he fired his next shot.

"Tyr let's go!" cried Harper near a corner.

Tyr cursed losing his weapon and ran for Harper. As he did several shots went wide over him. Either Rhade was a poor shot, or the injury was causing him problems. They turned several corners and heard the constant gunfire around them. Then Tyr halted. He spotted a ventilation shaft lying open.

Quickly he motioned to it. Harper clambered in, and Tyr followed. It shut behind them. Tyra breathed.

"Wait, wait, wait, where are we going?" asked Harper.

"We'll need to find a mainframe and quickly." said Tyr.

"What about the others?" asked Harper.

"If we locate Andromeda's mainframe we can reprogram her to stop attacking them." said Tyr.

"Why the hell didn't you have a plan for this?" asked Harper.

"When I made my plan I knew Rhade attempted to seize control of Andromeda." said Tyr. "There were one of three possibilities I anticipated. That Rhade killed Hunt. That Hunt killed Rhade. Or that both survived.

"If Hunt survived then he would be unlikely to murder us all as soon as we landed. If Rhade survived, he would not be in a position to use the ship's weapons against us. And if both survive, they could be played against one another.

"What I never anticipated was that Rhade would gain control of the ship."

"Right, yeah, that's great." said Harper. "But I have no idea where Andromeda's mainframe is. And unless you've got a degree in starship building, I'm pretty sure you don't either."

And then an image appeared of a human man with long brown hair. He wore a commonwealth uniform and had a bandaged hand. "Hello. Am I coming through?"

"Captain Hunt, I presume?" asked Tyr. It was the obvious identity.

"Guilty as charged." said Hunt. "Listen to me, Rhade has stolen control of my ship, and he's injured my pilot. I don't know why you're here, but I can help you save your friends and mess up Rhade's plans in the process."

"What do you want us to do?" asked Tyr. No point in arguing. They were flying blind, and Hunt wasn't flying at all.

"I can lead you to the mainframe." said Hunt. "Just follow my directions."

"It doesn't seem like we have much choice." said Tyr.

This alliance could work. Of course, Hunt might have a problem with what Tyr was going to do once he had the ship. But Tyr could always remove him later.

Author's Note:

One of the things I heavily disliked about later Andromeda episodes was how they emasculated Tyr. Initially he was Hunt's equal in every way and a wild card among the cast. But as the story progressed every single member of the crew gradually lost their identifying characteristics and started just becoming Hunt worshippers. This hurt Tyr the worst since he was the badass morally gray character who manipulated everyone.

Once it became gospel that no one was able to outdo hunt, Tyr had nothing to do. Harper could be the nerdy sidekick; Trance had the mysterious entity thing going for her. Beka never had much to do in the first place. But Tyr had his own story to tell. And Sorbo's ego made it, so it was impossible to tell it.

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