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The Great and The Good (A_Great Captain_Roberts Tale!!)

Chapter 1 - The Great and The Good

"I'm happy with the ship…

…I have, Mister President." Director-Captain Amanda Roberts, Privateer for the Outworlds Alliance and recently public figure, insisted. "The Evanescent is my ship, reclaimed from obscurity by my hand, crewed by people I recruited. It's my home."

"Ahm, 'it' not 'she'?"

"Erin's got the personality." Amanda said, gesturing out the glassed window-screens of Quatre Belle yards and the imposing bulk of a Newgrange class Yardship that is probably the most infamous single ship in history. "It would be too weird, giving her orders-she's got Centuries of life on me, and she's not really right for a Privateer. Too big."

"Too…big…" President Avellar frowned, "I can see that…have you thought about the offer from the Khans?"

"Erin has to make the choice, I was serious about releasing her from slavery, sir. If they approach her with a good offer? She'll join their fleet. If not?" the girl shrugged, "I don't know. Part of being free is making those decisions and living with the consequences. Have YOU considered offering her Citizenship?"

"We're debating it." he admitted, "There is a lot of pushback from a lot of people over that-you dumped a mess in my lap…and have you considered my other offer?"

"I'm not ready to face a family that remembers me while I don't remember them." she denied flatly. "It can't be fair to them-they remember Amanda Roberts, age thirteen, who loved romance novels and wasn't…what I've become."

"We all change as we grow, Amanda." he told her, "They're hurting…and you're here, it's one jump away."

Everyone comes from somewhere. Jeremiah Sword Roberts had been a FAC with the Outworlds Military Corps fifty years ago, before the Snow Ravens showed up, when the Outworlds were barely hanging on. His son, Jonah, didn't have to serve in the militia, never had to attend a single drill, never had to watch bandits fly away with anything…at all.

But Jeremiah had. The old man had spent a career balancing between home and duty, so his boy could grow up in peace.

That son had married a Loudly pacifist woman whom Jeremiah never quite got on with, and they'd given the old man a grand-daughter who took after the old man, and two sons who took after their mother.

Well, that was until not terribly long ago. At least, when the kind of chaos that Jeremiah had served to prevent, tore its way into the life he'd hoped he'd built with a raid that stole twelve children from the Community School.

It damn near broke him, seeing every hope he'd believed in smashed like that in what was supposed to be his golden years.

The Peace he'd fought for until he couldn't hardly walk anymore shattered and losing the youngest one, the one who loved adventure stories and shocked her parents with wanting to go outward instead of being a farmer, like her grandfather had once dreamed of (but for very different reasons).

A man in his nineties is teetering on the edge of death anyway. Jeremiah held on because unlike his son, he'd learned to assimilate tragedy in ways he'd prayed once that his boy would never have to.

Then they came looking for clues, and gave the old man hope.

Which led here to the base over Quatre Belle, a base he'd last seen when he mustered out back in '85.

Thirty some odd years ago.

"We all change as we grow, Amanda. They're hurting…and you're here, it's one jump away." The President was even older than Jeremiah, but hale in a way that only a truly good Calderon could be, they came around the corner, where the corridor opens into a small cafe'-shopette, where Jeremiah was resting his injured legs.

"There's someone I'd like you to meet." President Avellar continued, gesturing at Jeremiah.

She hesitated, there was a flicker of…something there.

"Amanda Roberts, this is Jeremiah 'Sword' Roberts, Your Grandfather." Mitchell continued.

'You look like hell." she blurted, "Sir! I mean-"

"So do you." Jeremiah kept control of his voice. "My god they chewed you up good. Mister President, a little time, please?"

"Of course…you two just…get acquainted?" The President said, and diverted to another area.

"So, you don't remember me."

"No, Sir." she said, "You heard?"

"Amazingly despite twenty five years of gunfire and explosions, My hearing is fine, it's the legs and spine that got screwed up." Jeremiah told her, "You should know, we didn't stop hoping, didn't stop looking for you after they took you…and it's not the first time for me, seeing someone who's lost their memories of home and family."

"You're a veteran." she said.

"Yes, I am, I was a Forward Air controller-a ground spotter, for the aviation. Drop into an area, scout it, find the bastards and angle the airstrikes in, or find the spot to land ours so they could go in and try to save people, or stop the raiders before they can get away…but that was a long time before you were born, Amanda. By the time you knew me, I was an agronomist with the local Grange association and ran for Alderman a few times-never won it, mind you, but ran for it a lot. Your Mother actually won when you were eight, after I'd stopped trying to convince the neighbors I could be a good representative."

"Where are they?"

"Your parents?? They're back home. As a Retiree, I have a certain amount of leeway in my time. I don't have to run the farm, I don't have an office to run, or board meetings to attend, or church meetings to organize." he gave her a lopsided smile, showing grayish ceramic teeth and rough reconstructive surgeries and old grafts. "Not that I'd do that last bit. I was never much for the Faith, too stubborn and too prideful, too many sins in my past that I won't repent."

"I don't remember them, I…barely felt something familiar looking at you, sir." she said.

"That's what I was told." Jeremiah answered, "But you remembered your hallows-eve costume."

"Pardon?", she asked

"Your jacket." he said, nodding to her, "Long pirate-coat, cutlass on one side, and a ridiculously sized handgun on the other, bandana made out of cloth, only yours has some seepage from an unhealed wound…but you're dressed just like you were that October when you were ten, staying at your Grandfather's place because I would let you go out tricking and treating for Samhain eve, while your parents objected to the whole thing." and then, he sighed, "The eye? That's new, and you're older of course…and you've been out swashing and buckling."
"It…it wasn't what I thought." she said.

"But you want to keep doing it?"

"I do." she asserted, "They need us, Sir."

"You didn't call me 'sir', you called me 'Gran'ther', or 'Grandfather'...but then, that was then." He mourned. "You're doing your best?"

"Yes si-Grandfather." she told him.

"THAT is what matters most." he told her. "I'm proud of you, Amanda, proud that you survived, proud you're making your life. I'm only sorry about how it happened to you-I worked my ass off to try and prevent what happened…and failed."

"It's not your fault!": she took his hand in both of hers.

"Isn't it?" he asked, "I shouldn't have stopped fighting them about security, Amanda, I worried that something like what happened-the school being raided? I worried about it, argued we needed to keep the measures up…and when I argued too much I let them tell me to shut up because I'm an old man…and they took you, and then they took your family from you. I'm so sorry…"

"I got them." she said, "I got them all. And I'm going to stop the next ones." she told him, "I'll get them, and if I can't stop them from attacking, I'll bring the vengeance."

"Your mother would be appalled…but I know that oath. I swore it once a long time ago…" He regarded her, "I'm proud of who you are, Amanda, even if who you are is only a stranger now. Be your best self. I love you, punkin."

The light went out in his eyes on the next breath.

There was no further breath.

Medtechs with the best technology available, were unable to resuscitate Supervisor Jeremiah "Sword" Roberts, age 95, cause of death? 'He died'.

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