Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. I simply borrowed them for entertainment value, mine if not the readers though I hope my readers are entertained by the story as well.

Dylan focused on Andromeda's signal as he steered the Maru away from the planet. It hadn't been the victory he had wanted, but the time bridge was gone, Stark was dead, and the entire crew was leaving the planet. The futuristic Magog would be a problem they would have to face eventually, but not today.


Rommie's call took his focus away from the computer and back to the situation onboard the Maru. Looking over his shoulder, in the direction of Andromeda's android avatar, Dylan spotted her kneeling on the deck next to Rhade. With her arm around Rhade's shoulders, and Rhade's eyes closed, Dylan assumed she had just broken the Nietzschean's fall.

In their mad dash to leave before Stark's hideout had blown up, Dylan had let Rhade's condition slip his mind. Andromeda's Weapons Officer had been through quite an ordeal down on the planet in their attempt to gather information. Rhade had definitely taken one for the team and apparently everything was catching up to him.

Engaging the autopilot, Dylan hurriedly climbed from the pilot's seat. "Harper, take the controls," he instructed as he headed toward Rommie and Rhade. His mind automatically registered Harper's acknowledgment of the order even as he focused on the task ahead of him.

"What happened?" Dylan asked as he knelt behind Rhade, taking the Nietzschean's weight from Rommie, even as Rhade slowly opened his eyes. Given that his Weapons Officer's complexion was as white as snow, Andromeda's Captain was relieved to see him conscious. Dylan took note that the handcuffs Stark had applied down on the planet still had not been removed.

"I was about to offer to remove the handcuffs when he just collapsed," Rommie replied

"Telemachus, can you hear me?" Dylan asked, looking down at the other man. Though he had gotten use to see the visage of his former first officer often, right then Dylan recalled looking down at Gaheris face as his best friend had taken his last breath. The idea of history repeating itself sent a chill up his spine even as he held his breath waiting for an answer.

"Yeah," Rhade replied, taking in his surroundings. Dylan could see the embarrassment in the Nietszchen's features as he realized his current position. "I'm fine," he added, as he made an attempt to sit up, the process hindered by his bound hands.

"Just stay down for now," Dylan instructed, using one hand to restrain Rhade. The fact that he was able to do so was a telltale sign of just how exhausted his weapons officer was. "You went through quite a bit down there." In hindsight, he wished he'd had Harper take the pilot's seat from the start and had focused his attention on Rhade immediately.

Feeling Rhade relax back against him, Dylan looked toward Rommie. "Get me the Maru's medical kit," he instructed.

"Of course," Rommie said, getting to her feet.

Telemachus closed his eyes even as he said, "I just felt light-headed all of the sudden. I guess the adrenaline from the fight started to wear off."

"That, along with Stark's men electrocuting you, being exposed to Argon gas and radiation, the sleep deprivation device, and me hitting you. You might be genetically engineered but that doesn't make you indestructible."

Rhade chuckled as he opened his eyes and replied to Dylan's words. "You hitting me was one of the brighter parts of my stay on that planet."

"Well, at least your sense of humor is still in place," Dylan replied as Rommie handed him the medical kit

Placing the kit on the deck beside him, Dylan wasted no time removing the portable oxygen and mask from the kit. He only knew very basic first aid, but remembering how he felt after his own stay in the scrubber, Andromeda's captain figured he couldn't go wrong with the oxygen, especially giving Rhade's fainting spell. He'd leave the more thorough diagnoses to Trance back on Andromeda.

"I don't need that," Rhade said, reaching up with his bound hands to push Dylan's hand away as he tried to place the mask over Rhade's face.

Dylan smiled, glad to see the protest from Rhade. "Yeah, because getting lightheaded and passing out is perfectly normal," Dylan replied dryly, as Rommie reached out to push Rhade's hands back down.

With a sigh of resignation, Rhade allowed the oxygen mask to be placed over his nose and mouth.

"Rommie, get those cuffs off of him," Dylan said. Despite the cuffs having helped them with dealing with Rhade's protest, Dylan wasn't about to leave his officer restrained. Rhade had been through enough already. He also knew that it wasn't just the physical toll on Rhade that he needed to worry about but emotional as well. "Also, make sure we have a secure route to Med Deck when we get to Andromeda. There's no need for an audience."

"Of course, Captain," Rommie replied, making a connection with the ship even as she started to remove the cuffs.

As Rommie worked on the cuffs, Dylan looked through the med kit to find something to help him remove the sleep deprivation device that Stark hadn't bothered to remove with the others.

"We're on final approach of Andromeda," Harper called back.

"Acknowledged," Dylan replied as he found what he was looking for. Without bothering to look toward the engineer, he tried to remove the device from Rhade's forehead. Dylan stopped a moment later when Rhade yelled and his body went rigid.

"Is he okay?" Harper asked from the pilot's seat.

"Just concentrate on where you're going, Mr. Harper," Dylan replied, hoping to keep Harper focused on his task. Docking the Maru was the last thing Dylan wanted to worry out right then. "What's going on?" Dylan asked, glancing over at Rommie who had picked up a scanner.

The android remained silent as she analyzed the information the device was providing her. Knowing Rommie would provide the information she had when she was ready. While she did that, Dylan turned his attention back to Rhade.

His Weapons Officer was breathing heavily, the pain still evident on his face. However, Rhade still had his eyes open.

"I thought the torture was over," Rhade quipped, the joke falling flat, just like the tone of his voice.

"I'm sorry," Dylan told him, even though he recognized the Nietzschean's dry humor. His guilt over what Rhade had gone through was right at the surface. It may have been Rhade's choice to step out of hiding so Harper hadn't faced things alone, but it was because of him that Rhade had stuck things out. Had endured more physical punishment at the hands of Stark and his men so that Dylan could try and gather more information. In some ways, Dylan wondered if it wouldn't have been better just to rescue his two men and get out of there. No, they wouldn't have figured out Stark's plan but Rhade also wouldn't have suffered as much and Stark wouldn't have had Harper to finish the time bridge. The future Magog would not be in their time now and perhaps the time bridge never would have been realized.

"This isn't your fault," Rhade told him, reaching up and placing his hand over top of Dylan's hand which was resting on Rhade's shoulder.

Dylan didn't try to argue the point, though he wasn't about to let himself off the hook as easily as Rhade was.

"The sleep deprivation device seems to have been modified with nanobots," Rommie announced looking from the scanner to meet Dylan's gaze. The nanobots have integrated with Rhade's nervous system. From what I can tell, the device cannot be removed without a significant disruption to the nervous system, perhaps even resulting in death," Andromeda's avatar informed her captain as a soft thud indicated that Harper had landed the Maru safely in her bay aboard the Andromeda.

"I guess Stark's going to get his slow death after all," Rhade commented. "At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that he isn't alive to see it."

"Is pessimism a trait that runs in the family, Mr. Rhade?" Dylan asked, the bleak outlook one that reminded him of his former first officer, Gaheris.

"I'm a realist, Captain," Rhade responded without missing a beat.

"Yeah, right. In any case, I'm an optimist and the way I see it, as long as your still breathing we still have an opportunity to figure out how to remove that device safely," Dylan told him. "In the meantime, lets get you to Med Deck," he added. Looking from Rhade to Rommie, he continued. "Can you get the stretcher?"

Before Rommie could acknowledge the order, Rhade spoke up.

"I'll go to Med Deck, Captain, but I'm walking," Rhade said sitting up and removing the oxygen masked.

Dylan noted that a little color had seemed to return to Rhade's visage, although he still looked worse for wear.

"Fine," Dylan said, deciding that it wasn't worth an argument. Instead, he reached out to help Rhade to his feet.

Picking up on her Captain's actions, Rommie too reached out to help Rhade to his feet. The Nietszchean didn't protest the assistance, even reaching out to place a hand on Rommie's shoulder to help steady himself. As the wave of dizziness, passed Rhade found himself looking into Harper's concerned face. He saw the guilt in the engineer's expression and knew like Dylan, Harper was blaming himself for the current situation.

"Let's get you to Med Deck," Dylan instructed as he draped one of Rhade's arms across his shoulders and looped his other arm around the Nietzschean's waist.

As his legs felt weak, Rhade accepted the help without comment. As he and Dylan started off of the Maru, he was aware of Rommie falling into step behind them.

The group's footfalls echoed in the empty corridors of Andromeda. As instructed, Rommie had used her link with the ship to clear their path to Med Deck. Rhade was thankful for the lack of an audience, not wanting more of his crew mates to see him in his weakened condition.

Standing off to the side, Dylan leaned against the wall, feeling useless. Twelve hours had past since they had gotten Rhade back to the Andromeda and not much had changed, except that Rhade had gotten weaker, the lack of sleep taking its toll on his injured body. Rhade needed to rest to heal and Stark's sleep deprivation device wasn't allowing for that to happen.

Trance was still monitoring Rhade's condition, though from a distance. A few hours ago, Rhade's increased agitation had caused him to lash out at both Dylan and Trance. The Nietszchean had seized Trance's wrist when she had gone to use a handheld scanner to get a more recent scan of the device's nanobots for Harper to work with, after returning from a rest period. Dylan's insistence that Rhade let go of Trance's wrist had resulted in Rhade taking a swing at Dylan. Dylan had blocked the swing. Using Rhade's divided attention to her advantage, Trance had managed to slip her wrist free. When Dylan had suggested restraining Rhade, worried about Trance's safely, his Environmental Officer had shook her head saying that restraints would only add to Rhade's agitation and perhaps the best thing to do was just give him space.

Trance's suggestion appeared to work, as she now was able to get the scan she had attempted hours ago. Dylan hoped the information would help Harper who was still working on the problem in another part of Med Deck. The engineer had even resisted the suggestion of a nap, insisting that the problem was more urgent than sleep and instead was using a seemingly endless string of Sparky Cola's to keep himself going.

As, Trance headed off to give the results of the latest scan to Harper, Dylan pushed away from the wall. Slowly, he approached the bed upon which Rhade lay. Still aware of his surroundings, Rhade immediately, though slowly, turned his head in Dylan's direction.

"I'm sorry about earlier," Rhade said.

Dylan waved a hand as he replied. "It's fine. I get grouchy without sleep and I have a more pleasant disposition than you to begin with."

The comment got him a smile out of Rhade.

"How are you holding up?" Dylan asked as he came to a stop at the bedside.

"Honesty, I feel worse than I did when we left. I'm exhausted and I've got a headache that I'm not sure if it's just from lack of sleep or from whatever the nanobots are doing."

"I can give you something for the headache," Trance said, her reappearance startling both men who hadn't heard her return.

Rhade nodded his consent.

"And you should probably go get some sleep yourself, Captain," Trance said, looking across the supine figure of Rhade to Dylan. "I don't need another patient."

Dylan thought momentarily of protesting and then changed his mind. Trance made a valid point. He wasn't doing much good here anyway and pushing himself too far wouldn't accomplish anything.

"Fine, but I want to be notified of any changes," Dylan told her.

"Of course."

As Trance turned to get medication for Rhade's headache, Dylan looked down at the Nietszchean. "Hang in there," he told him, resting his hand briefly on Rhade's shoulder.

Rhade simply nodded as Dylan turned and headed out of the Med Deck. As the captain left the room, Rhade looked back in Trance's direction as she approached him, a needle in hand.

"An injection should work faster than oral medication," Trance said, sensing the unspoken question.

"If anything works."

The small smile on Trance's face had a sad tone to it. "I wish I could do more for you."

"I know," Rhade replied as he watched her wipe an alcohol swab over his arm before injecting the medication.

As he watched Trance administer the medication, Rhade noticed the bruises encircling her wrist - the one he had grabbed earlier.

"I'm sorry I hurt you," Rhade told her.

Finishing the injection, Trance glanced briefly down at her wrist before looking back at Rhade. "The bruises will fade," she told him. "Besides, I know you would never hurt me under normal circumstances," she added, reaching out a hand to place it gently against Rhade's cheek, hoping to prove to him that she wasn't afraid of him because of the earlier outburst.

A yell of both pain and frustration caused Trance to turn from her computer screen to find Rhade sitting up on the side of the bed. He had his elbows on his knees and face buried in his hands. With her wrist still slightly sore from her early encounter, Trance resisted the urge to rush to his side not sure how he would react.

"Rhade," Trance called out keeping her voice soft and gentle as she took a few steps forward. "Did the medicine not help?"

Rhade gave a short, sarcastic laugh. "You could say that," he told her bitterly. "In fact, you could say I'm beyond help. Although, I'm sure Harper is getting some satisfaction out of my suffering. Hell, you probably all are. None of you ever really wanted me onboard anyway."

"Don't say that," Trance implored, wanting to rush forward and envelope her crew mate in a hug. She hung back though, not knowing what Rhade might do in his condition. "Dylan rescued you from the Collector's ship. Would he have done that if he didn't want you on his ship? And Harper's been working nonstop to help you now and have I ever been anything but welcoming to you?"

Rhade sighed. "No Trance, you haven't," he admitted quietly."It's this damn device. I'm so tired I can't think straight," he said, finally raising his head.

Trance watched him closely, debating on whether it was safe to approach him or not.

"Andromeda," Trance said, addressing the ship.

"Yes, Trance," came the immediate response.

"Can you have Dylan come back to medical, please?" she requested quietly, an uneasy feeling coming over her. Something was going to happen she just wasn't sure what.


"Telemachus," Trance said, taking a few more steps toward him. She was hoping the use of his first name might help calm him some more. "Just try to relax."

If he heard her words, Rhade gave no indication of it. Instead, Trance noticed that he had focused on something. Following his line of sight, Trance saw a tray of medical instruments, a scalpel among them.

"There's no need to do anything drastic," she continued, moving slowly but trying to move so that she was between him and the instruments. Not that she thought she had a chance to stop him if he went for them but hoping that he might reconsider the action if she was in the way.

Before she could take more than a few steps though, Rhade stood from the bed and moved toward the medical instruments. A moment later, he had the scalpel in his hands and had turned to face her.

"Just stay back, Trance," Rhade told her turning to face her.

Trance stopped in her tracks, wishing Dylan would show up. She thought about calling for Harper but wasn't sure exactly how he could help in this situation. Given Rhade's earlier comments, she was worried the engineer's presence might agitate the Nietszchean more than help.

"What are you going to do?" Trance asked, hoping only to stall for time. Dylan would be here. "Kill yourself in front of me?"

"You don't have to stay," Rhade replied, the scalpel hovering over his wrist. "Just leave."

"I'm not going to do that," Trance told him. "I may not be able to stop you but I will try to save you if you do try something so stupid."

"So you'd rather watch me die the slow death Stark had in mind. You're as bad as he was."

"I'm not," Trance countered, staying calm. "I know you're suffering and it hurts me to see that, but until we find a way to help you there isn't much more I can do. I will do whatever I can do though, and that includes doing whatever I can to keep you from hurting yourself. Just drop the scalpel, Telemachus," she implored, as she saw Dylan appear in the doorway, quickly stopping in his tracks as he took in the situation. "Please!"

"Is everything okay out here?" Harper asked, entering the room from a doorway behind Trance. He too came up short as he took in the scene.

Taking advantage of the distraction Harper created, Dylan rushed forward and grabbed Rhade's wrists. Normally, Dylan knew he wouldn't have been able to overpower Rhade in a straight out confrontation like this but these weren't normal circumstances. After the torture at the hands of Stark and the lack of sleep caused by the sleep depravation device, Rhade's strength was fading. It didn't take Dylan long at all to force Rhade to drop the scalpel. Once he had, Dylan moved behind Rhade, still grasping the Nietzschean's wrists, still afraid he might try something else desperate if he let go of him.

Darting forward, Trance grabbed the dropped scalpel from the floor, wanting it out of Rhade's reach if he should break away from Dylan's hold.

"I just want it to end," Rhade said, his voice breaking and tears came. It was a reaction that took all of his crew mates by surprise.

"Not this way, Telemachus," Dylan said quietly into his friend's ear. As Rhade sank to his knees, Dylan went down with him. A little while later, Rhade finally relaxed against him and Dylan let go of Rhade's wrists but kept him in an embrace.

Looking up, Dylan found both Trance and Harper watching them. "Harper, please tell me you're onto something."

"I think I am," the engineer replied. "I'll just get back to it," he added, coming out of his shock and heading back to the temporary workstation he had set up.

Trance moved as well. First she put the scalpel away in a drawer and locked it. Then she moved to fill a syringe with a medicine. With the needle filled, she grabbed an alcohol swab and heading toward Dylan and Rhade. Kneeling next to the pair, Trance started explaining what she was doing, though she wasn't sure if the words were registering with Rhade.

"I'm giving you a sedative," Trance said, as she wiped the alcohol swab over Rhade's upper arm. "I don't know how well it'll work with the sleep deprivation device but it should help with your anxiety and calm your emotions."

Rhade gave no indication that he even heard her words. Looking up at Dylan, Trance got a nod from the captain to proceed.

Unsure of what reaction, if any, the needle would cause, Dylan tightened his hold on Rhade once again. Trance injected the medicine without further incident.

"Captain, would you like help moving him?" Rommie, who had been alerted by the ships systems of what was going on and had come down from the command deck, asked.

"No, Rommie. Not just yet," Dylan replied, not wanting to risk even that small change to cause another outburst. "Just give him some time for right now."

"Maybe you had the right idea about putting him in restraints," Trance said quietly, still kneeling on the deck next to the other two. "I could see he was agitated but I didn't expect him to try hurting himself. I thought Nietzscheans were supposed to put self-survival above all else."

"No, you were right on the first count Trance. Restraining him will only add to his stress," Dylan responded, not sure if Rhade was aware of the conversation going on near him or not. Nor did he care if he was. Everything that was being said, Rhade had a right to hear. His Weapons Officer might be stressed out and desperate but he was sure he wasn't past reason yet.

"As for your second comment, if you haven't noticed yet Trance, Rhade doesn't exactly adhere to that particular Nietszchean philosophy," Dylan responded. "If he did, he would have let Harper face Stark alone in the first place. I think the issue here is he's facing an enemy that he can't fight."

"Just remove the device," Rhade said, interjecting himself into the conversation, and letting Dylan know that he was indeed following it. "I'll take my chances."

"I don't think we're there, just yet," Dylan replied. "Give Harper a little more time to work out his current theory," he added looking down at Rhade, who seemed to have his emotions more under control now. "Are you ready to stand up?"


"Rommie," Dylan said, looking up at the ship's avatar.

Knowing what her captain wanted, Rommie reached down and took a hold of Rhade's hand, helping the Nietszchean to his feet. Still behind Rhade, Dylan stood up as well, keeping a close eye on his friend.

Once he felt steady on his feet, Rhade waved off the help of his two crew mates. Under his own power, he headed back to the bed. Lying down on it, Rhade closed his eyes trying to feel like he was escaping things even if sleep wouldn't come.

An hour later, Rommie was the only one in the room with Rhade. Dylan had gone to check on Harper's progress. Trance had gone to another area of the Med Deck to lie down for a bit, though she had told Rommie to call her if she was needed for anything. Bekka had stopped by briefly to check on Rhade's condition and then headed back for the command deck. She claimed it was because she felt one of them should be on the command deck during the current situation, but Rommie suspected it was because she wasn't sure how to handle the current situation.

"So, you've been elected my baby-sitter?" having opened his eyes and spotted Rommie standing nearby. He had been hoping, giving the quiet, that he was alone but he guessed after his little stunt Dylan didn't trust him to be left alone.

"If by baby-sitter you mean Dylan has asked me to watch over one of my crew giving the current conditions, then yes I am."

Tired of lying down, Rhade sat up on the side of the bed. He realized too late that he should have done so slower, giving the wave of dizziness that washed over him.

"Should I call, Trance?" Rommie asked, not missing the elevated heartbeat or the fact that Rhade had quickly closed his eyes while gripping the side of the bed.

"That's not necessary," Rhade answered, knowing that a verbal answer would be better than shaking his head no. When he opened his eyes, he found that Rommie had moved so that she was right at his side. "I just sat up too fast. I'm fine."

"You are hardly fine," Rommie replied.

"Point taken," Rhade conceded. "However, as this as far as I intend to move, you don't' need to go running for Trance or Dylan."

"Very well," Rommie replied, however she didn't change her proximity to Rhade.

"How long has it been since we got back to the Andromeda?"

"Almost twenty hours," Rommie replied, having learned that unless asked for an exact countdown, humanoids were just fine with an approximation of time.

Rhade groaned. "It seems much longer than that."

"Giving that you were held by Stark's men for almost seventy-two hours before that, that feeling isn't surprising," Rommie replied. "And as you were navigating the slipstream before that, your mind, as well as your body, you are well past the limits of what the Commonwealth would consider acceptable standards for pushing their soldiers, even Nietszchean ones."

"And I'm happy to say I can bring it to an end," Harper piped up as he entered the room, followed closely by Dylan.

"Rommie, get Trance," Dylan instructed. "I want her monitoring Rhade while we do this as well as give him pain medication before we start."

"Forget the pain med," Rhade protested. "My senses are dull enough as it is. I don't want anything else that will affect that."

"You're on the Andromeda not behind enemy lines," Dylan said letting some of his frustration show in his voice.

"Sometimes I wonder," Rhade muttered, casting a glance at Harper.

Dylan shot the engineer a warning look, so instead of the jibe that was at the tip of his tongue, Harper instead focused on the task at hand.

"Look, I found a way to remove the device using some of Rommie's nanobots that I modified, however, given the time restraint, I can't promise it won't be painless though if you wanted to wait-"

"No!" Rhade interjected.

"Okay. So suffice it to say you're going to have nanobots, which are integrated into your nervous system already, fighting in your head."

"Trance is giving you the pain medication," Dylan stated again in his 'I refuse not to be listened to' tone. "I've seen you suffer enough lately."

"Yes, sir," Rhade replied, giving Dylan a quick sloppy, salute as Rommie and Trance joined the trio.

As Harper brought Trance up to speed on what he intended to do, Rhade laid back down. He knew Dylan was right. He should feel safe. He was with his crew mates. Crew mates who were trying to look out for him.

How many times had he put his life in the hands of others while serving with Tarazed's Homeguard? This shouldn't be any difference.

But it was.

Feeling a hand slip into his right hand, Rhade looked to his right to find Dylan standing at his bedside.

"I'm not going anywhere," Dylan said when he saw that he had Rhade's attention. "If you can't trust anyone else, then trust me, Telemachus."

"I do," Rhade admitted, feeling a lot of the anxiety he was feeling melt away.

A pinprick on his left arm made Rhade look that way, to find Trance withdrawing a needle.

"Step one, complete," Trance said cheerfully when she saw she had her patient's attention. "Now, we just give the medication about ten minutes to take effect, and Harper will work his magic."

Opening his eyes, Telemachus saw the now all too familiar ceiling of the Med Deck. As he became more aware of things, he realized that his head felt clearer and most of the aches and pains from before had disappeared. Apparently, Harper had come through although that part of his memory seemed a bit fuzzy. Perhaps that was for the best though.

"Look who's awake."

Dylan's comment drew Rhade's attention away from the ceiling and off to the left, where Andromeda's captain was getting to his feet.

"How long was I out?" Rhade asked as Dylan.

"A little over twenty-four hours," Dylan told him.

"You haven't been here the whole time, have you?"

"Me personally? No. Although someone's been here at all times. Harper insisted on being the first. I think he was afraid to actually be around when you woke up, honestly. I think the guilt of what happened down there, both to you and the time bridge, is getting to him. Now that you're on the mend, I probably should find time to address it."

"Don't be too hard on him. He meant well, but the pull of doing something that no one else had been able to accomplish was too much for him. Maybe it would have been for any engineer."

"Maybe so, but he did disobey an order from me. I can't just let that go. Some people might think that there is absolutely no discipline on this ship."

"Hmm, I wonder who that could be," Rhade replied.

"It's bad enough that I've got a Weapons Officer whose been doing a lot of lying around lately."

"Sounds like a slacker. You should do something about that."

"I would, except that I think he more than earned the time," Dylan replied. "All kidding aside though, Mr. Rhade, you went above and beyond down there. Not only with trying to protect Harper, but with sticking it out to gather information. I should've pulled you out as soon . . ."

"It was my choice, Dylan. You didn't force me to do anything."

"Maybe so, but just the same, I want you to know I appreciate the loyalty and dedication you've shown. I made note of a commendation in the logs, though with what's going on in the Commonwealth right now I'm not sure it means much."

"It means something to me. Thank-you, Captain."

"And just so you know, if I see you on my Command Deck before the next forty-eight hours are up, I will have Rommie help me sedate you and drag you right back down here."

Rhade smiled as he raised his hand to salute his captain. "Yes, sir," he said, starting to feel sleep creep in again.

Seeing that Rhade was fading again, Dylan knew he needed to say what was on his mind quickly.

"Telemachus, Trance told me what you said about none of us wanting you onboard."

"I wasn't thinking when I said that," Rhade said, trying to dismiss the subject.

"Perhaps not, and maybe that's the reason I think it's truly been on your mind. I know Bekka and Harper have been less than welcoming, and I'm not going to assume to speak for them, but I asked you to be a member of my crew because I refuse to let anyone try to railroad an innocent man, for political or any other reasons. A friend taught me that betraying an innocent man, no matter what the benefits seem to be, can have unforseen and terrible consequences."


"Yes. I found out during that first trip to Tarazed how tempting that could be. I could have just gone along with triumvir Ben-Zion with framing you for the Magog attack and gotten what I wanted quicker but it wouldn't have been right and who knows what could have changed these last few years. What I'm trying to say is, I'm proud to have you serve on this ship, and I hope that counts for something."

"It counts for a lot, Dylan. It's an honor to serve with you."

As Rhade drifted back off to sleep, Dylan recalled hearing those words from another Rhade. Things hadn't turned out so well back then but Dylan had confidence that it would be different this time around.