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The Great and The Good (Chapter Cover Art)

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

Chapter 3 - Preparations
[]


"My father in law…


…should never have been permitted on that transport!" Natalie Roberts is in her forties, she'd raised two sons, and most of a daughter in a strict, pacifist household. "He was ninety Five years old!!"

She had to interrupt a successful re-election campaign to the District Seat, to travel to Quatre Bell.

Not that she wouldn't have done it anyway, if she'd known who he was there to see. She still doesn't.

"Mrs. Roberts, if you wish, we can see to a proper funeral-"

"With your circus of shooting blanks and flags!" she scowled, "NO! I will not have-"

There was a step on the deck behind her, and a girl's voice, "I think you're wrong."

Natalie's eyes went wide and she spun, "Amanda?"

"Supervisor Jeremiah 'Sword' Roberts was a great man, who saved hundreds, even thousands of lives." Amanda stated, "He served his nation, his people, his community with honor and distinction."

Up close, Natalie could see the scarring, the stitches, the skinseal. Her daughter, scarred from the conflicts she'd tried so hard to shelter her children from. "It is you, Amanda?" the young woman was both her daughter, and not, right down to wearing a 'realistic' duplicate of that absurd Samhain Festival costume's long coat and under-suit. But the cutlass was a vibroblade instead of pasteboard and wood, and the pistol was not cobbled from plumbing fixtures and copper piping.

"So they tell me. Back on topic, Mrs. Roberts." Amanda said, "Supervisor Jeremiah Roberts was a man who risked his life so that normal, good people could live normal, good lives. It's not 'theater' it's not 'a circus' to honor that."

"Amanda! I'm your mother!!"

"I'm sorry, I don't have all those memories." the stranger in her daughter's body stated. "I know I should know you, but…they cut me and…it's gone. Whoever your daughter was, I'm not her anymore-she was cut out by butchers trying to create a terrorist."

"We can bring you back!" frantic hope in her eyes, Natalie had forgotten about her anger at the transport department official who approved Jeremiah's journey to Quatre Bell. "You can remember, you can come back! Come HOME!!"

"This meeting is by presidential order, Ma'am." Amanda said calmly, "It's part of my mandated therapy, to keep my Letter of Marque…I don't know you, and my home is my ship now."

"Mandated Therapy?"

Amanda sighed, "Because in thirty-one-fourteen, I carved up four members of Clan Snow Raven's Touman while hijacking rations from a military transport vessel in orbit-it was only a few months after I escaped from the men who did this to me, I was starving and isolated. I'm sure the person I was before I was abducted would have thought of contacting family first…but I'm not her."

"We can put you back together!" Natalie insisted, "God brought you back, Amanda!!"

"No, that was President Avellar." Amanda said stiffly, "He made it a condition for a favor I asked-and a condition for keeping my letter of marque as an Outworlds Privateer."

"A PIRATE!!"

"The greatest pirate you'll ever see." Amanda said, "Only maybe not so much a pirate, as an agent of the Court and State with wide discretion, and my area of responsibility is the whole of the Unincorporated areas of the Outworlds…because that's who I am now-hunting bad guys, freeing people."

"You…became a warrior!" , more horror in Natalie's expression.

"No, warriors fight wars, Ma'am." Amanda said, "I don't fight wars, I kill bad guys and save good people."

"They turned you into a killer."

"I'm good at it." Amanda said dully, "Parsing Supervisor Jeremiah's OMC records, I've got more kills in three years than he managed in a forty year career, I am single-handedly responsible for breaking a reinforced Battalion of slavers, and was instrumental in breaking nearly a brigade of their cohorts with my crew. Warriors fight who they're told, I chose to take on the Sons of Plunder, and I executed my captors after breaking out of their restraints. I don't know if the Amanda you knew, your daughter, could have done that without becoming someone like me...but I don't remember much about her-it was cut out of my head ma'am. I know your face because you're on file, but I can't imagine more than is in the domestic files on you and the family."

"We can bring you back!!" Natalie insisted, "Please!!"

"I have a few weeks off-my executive officer is getting a re-stock and crew leaves. I can stay until November." Amanda told her, "but no later, we ship back for the Unincorporated systems in November on a tour."

"Tour?"

"To hunt Bandits and Slavers and the kind of people who cut my head open and took my memories." Amanda clarified. "To stop them from doing it to someone else, and because that's what you do, when you're THE GREAT CAPTAIN ROBERTS!!..." Natalie could hear the emphasis, the theatricality and the exclamation points implied more than spoken.

"Then come home with me, to see your family in more than file images and…and…Questions!!" Natalie insisted.

"Condition." Amanda stated, "You will honor Jeremiah's will regarding funeral arrangements, and let him have a burial with all honors-he deserves at least that much."


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