Memoir: The Fallacy of Granite

Emily meets her grandfather, Rance Hood.

The Fallacy of Granite
Summary: Emily meets her grandfather, Rance Hood.
Date: 25/10/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: If there are no related logs, put 'None' — please, don't leave blank!)
Emily Rance 
Offices
MD #201

Emily had been told the night before by Samtara and Lleufer. Breaking the news did not go explosively or dramatically, but Emily was very quiet. She left the office of the Master at Arms intending to go find Rance, her grandfather, but realized that she was definitely not ready. Her MP followed her back to her berth in the Enlisted section and she shut the screen for the rest of the night while people scowled at the presence of the MP. Within her confined area, it took her awhile to consider the ramifications. Not only did she have family, but she was descended from someone who was a Cleric. A Line. Cleric. What had gone wrong? With the pressure and decision from the Admiral, everything crumbled in her world and she spent a lot of that night awake and wiping silent tears. Joy and sadness and anger. It all had to come out before she went to go see him. When she got up the following morning, she resolved it. After her shift in the Galley.

And the idea haunted her for eight full hours.

What would she say to him? What would he say to her? What if she hated him? In the end she decided to just go see him and not say a word until he did.

Getting back to her bunk, someone lent a bit of eyeliner and such to help her clean up for the meeting, an unexpected kindness. But word had started to get around about what she had done during the fire in the Galley and a couple people helped her out. Nervous all over again but the support meant the world when she left to go find him, datapad in hand. She started with Lleufer, who instructed her MP to take her up to the offices on Deck One and the details of how to give them privacy – since both are technically civilians. The MP escorts her up there and leads her to a quiet end of the offices so they have a place to talk while the two are still in plain sight.

Rance was notified by another MP to meet them outside the offices as the roving fireteam he joined was to pass. Spotting it, he is in his full patrol gear and the MP has him surrender his rifle and kit before the fireteam moves off. Rance looked dubious but handed it off anyway before the MP lead him inside. In khaki cargo pants and a black t-shirt, he is coming inside and about to ask when he see’s Emily’s escort there. His gaze goes right past the woman and to the distant girl sitting at a table with her back to them. He’s about to start that direction when Emily’s escorting MP stops him, whispering, “Mister Hood? Be gentle. She didn’t know anything about you or the Sevens until last night. Its taken her a lot to come her.” Hearing that, Rance was about to tell her to leave it be when that really settles in. Cleric. Oh. The eagerness drifts from him and he nods his thanks before walking up slowly and to the side of Emily. “Hey there. Mind if I sit?”

Emily can’t hear what is being said, but she’s aware more people have joined. The tension is the worst part. The datapad is on the table in front of her and she isn’t looking at it, mostly just trying to focus and stare at the wall ten feet in front of her. Sensing Rance approach, she turns her head up to look at him. It’s the moment she was terrified of. Meeting his eyes, she then looks over his face and there’s a sigh of relief. The tension bleeds out of her, her mind not immediately associating him with a Cleric. This is the first Seven she’s ever met and a smile begins to form, along with the need to reach out. Rising from her seat, she bows her head gently to him and looks back. “Please, Mister Hood.” Plans had been to have him sit in the chair across from her but her arm moves all on its own, then the other, almost begging him to sit in the chair beside closest to her at the head of the table. A small laugh escapes her with the gesture and surprise at herself, moving to sit.

Oh my Gods. Rance just stares at her face and gets lost for a moment. The emotional welling deep inside was not what he was expecting. He takes off his helmet and sets it on the table, lost in staring at her for a moment. If she can feel the need to reach out, then he certainly does. The need to reach out and take her into his arms is overwhelming. But he reminds himself, be gentle. Even if he wants to be bold. Taking the seat, he’s still staring at her. “Oh my Gods. I never realized it until I really looked at you up close.” He takes his gloves off and puts them next to his helmet on the table. He offers his hand over, “Rance Hood. I am definitely your relation.”

Emily smiles at the remark about getting a good look, curious. She finds herself able to take his hand a little easier. Why was it not like this with Diaz? Probably because she was prepared. Her regal fallback does her well and she takes a firm grip to his hand. “I’m going by Emily Benning. Or Lady Emily of House Benning. Or Emily Romo, daughter to Kelly. You’ve no idea the hope my mother and I held on to about you and this ship for so long. Right until the end, she would pray that Orion would return.” Her eyes refuse to look away from him, studying this man she had heard about.

“Emily Benning. Good to meet you. That handshake will do you well.” Rance lets it go and he tucks in closer to the table, facing her in the chair. A bit of that is painful to hear but he seems to understand it. “To be honest, Emily, I was never sure I’d see my girl again. And I was even more unsure of what she thought of me. Things didn’t work out with her mom and I and I got cold feet just after she was born. Admitted cowardice, but I wasn’t in a real good place either. I wasn’t fit to be a father. I realized way too late that maybe I was, but that I’d made that decision for your mom before she had a chance to decide.” He shake his head. “Truth be told, I always hoped I’d have this conversation with her. Clear the air. Given what you’re saying, it sounds like she died. I was given to get that Kelly’s still alive?” Rance has his own tension, but its more with him trying to rein in all of his own emotions. Emily had the night to deal with her joy and sadness. His is different and it is hitting all at once, all over again.

“Mm, yes. My mother had conflicting thoughts on you, Mister Hood. But I know she wished you had been around. Her mother had explained that you’d battled with alcohol and depression for many years, though. I think that my mother understood why you did what you did, for the most part. She may not have liked it, but she accepted it. She spoke of you often when we were in private. I was very young when she would relate stories about her father and who you were.” Emily smiles a little more, buoyed by the memory of who her mother used to be. “She was at a military academy on Picon, in her first year, when the Orion disappeared from our skies. My mother wished to be a Marine. She wanted to serve, like her father, and she wanted to help use that service to bridge your gap and connect with you. She was very proud of you, Mister Hood, and I think you would have been very proud of her. What happened after the disappearance was a dark time for her and I am a product of that difficulty, but she insists that I saved her. My father was never known to me.” It’s a relief that this is coming out so easily. “I speak of her in passing because to me, Kelly Romo died nine years ago. I watched her die. The Clerics came and waited for her in our home. They made her into someone awful.” This is not so easy to relate, especially to Rance, judging by his reaction. “I am sorry, Mister Hood, but Kelly has passed. Your daughter is no longer with us.” The smile is gone and she never expected to have to explain this to a father, let alone her mother’s father.

Rance listens and ends up putting his hand over his mouth while he stares at this girl. This isn’t heartbreaking, its just ripping his heart apart to hear this. His own demons battled. And Kelly wanted to be a Marine. He had no idea. Rance can feel the tears in his eyes while she talks about the dark period and Emily never having a father, either. But Kelly was still proud of him. An adult so young. Hearing about why Emily thinks of her as being dead is the last stop for him, though. He can feels the tears on his hand and the way his frown is overpowering the fight on his face. The mighty Seven pinches the bridge of his nose and bends forward, crying quietly. “Those motherfrakkers,” he whispers to nobody. “Kelly didn’t hurt anyone.” His hands are shaking when he turns over his helmet and reaches inside. A picture is removed and held out in front of him, a small photo, and then crushed to his face. “My little girl. I’m so sorry I couldn’t get there.” Leaned forward at the table, he takes a few seconds to get that finality out of himself before he looks to the photo again and shows it to Emily, “Hon, this was your momma. This was her tenth birthday. Last photo her mom ever sent me.” And Emily can see the girl that looks quite a bit like her with a huge smile on her face, holding balloons and eating a big piece of cake.

Emily watches those tears begin and she can feel some of her own return, but not as strong. She brings her chair around while he is trying to get himself together. The woman puts an arm around him and leans her head to his shoulder and just hugs him. There’s nothing she can really say to that. Where does a person go from there? There is no attempt to quiet him, only hold and comfort him. When he offers the photo, she looks at it and any doubts she had about Rance being a relation are dashed away in an instant. It looks too much like her mother to not be her. And this sort of reaction? There’s just only so much a person can fake. “We did the best we could,” the woman whispers. “Her last thoughts were to protect me.” Her head doesn’t leave his shoulder, though. “Doctor Stone said that even though we have lost much, we should take care and solemnity that we have family. Even if we do not know each other yet, we can start. I mourned my mother’s loss many years ago and have had to again recently with all of this revelation. I know that she would want me to get to know you, and that she would want you to know her, as best I can tell you. Whenever you are ready.” Clearly not right now. “Keep that photo. She would want you to have it and carry it. She would be so proud to see you now, Mister Hood.”

Rance ends up putting his arm around her shoulders and hugging her close, leaning his head onto hers. Mutual support. For the first time, in a long time, it feels like there’s someone beyond a friend he can lean with. To mourn with. In the end, he wipes his face and beard dry and sniffs, nodding. He comes off the lean and hug, but stays close to her. The photo is tucked back into the padding of his helmet, a finger gently cleaning the laminated cover. “Please, darlin, you can’t call me Mister Hood. Maybe Uncle or Rance or something,” he says, finally giving a short laugh and final rub to his eyes. He’s still looking at the photo, though. “Let’s save Kelly for another time. You want me to go first or you want to go first?” The guy looks over at her finally.

She keeps her arm there, wanting to hold that connection, to let him know that she is still there. She never wanted to have to say that, but it ended up tumbling out. There’s an adult responsibility to all of this that is just now really starting to come home to her. This is no longer dress-up at supper, this is a land of the living and the dead. There is a visceral quality that’s hitting her with watching him recover. It takes the breath away for a moment, scattering her own mind. The fire and the dead didn’t do this. Emily realizes very suddenly that she cares about this man as family, even before she had a chance to decide for herself. It hits like a thunderclap, resonating deep in her chest and heart. “How about I just call you Rance until something feels more natural. I don’t really want to call you grandfather. You’re not old. You’re the age my father would be.” There’s a low smile there. “I’ve heard some great things about you, but I don’t know who you are. How about you go first, okay?” the young woman suggests, squeezing him once more before her arm trails across his back, then resting her hands in her lap.

“Yeah, please don’t call me grandfather,” Rance tells her with a weary sigh and laugh, trying to move on. He’ll probably be thinking about Kelly a lot more later. But right now he has immediately present family to tend to. “Yeah, suppose I am closer to a father’s age. Pretty sure I failed that test, though.” He shakes his head and finally sits back in the chair and looks over to the girl, taking her in again. That small measure of pride cannot be helped. “There’s plenty of people out there that will tell you what I’ve done, I guess. I mean I’m not some superhero. I’m just one guy, like a few others, who made decisions to act. My line represents the human quality of being bold. I’ve heard that sometimes that carries over into our children, but I don’t know how headstrong you are. If you’ve got a bold streak in you, its probably genetic. Love me or hate me for it, I guess. It doesn’t control me, but you’ll see it sometimes when it comes to people and things I care about. Especially the people on board this ship. I honestly don’t really care what history says about me or what I’ve done. That shit doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t to you, either.” Rance runs his hand through his long hair and looks over at her.

“What matters to me is what people do now, right now. Not what they plan to do. People scheme and plan all day. If something needs to be done, then you do it. I guess that’s how I sorta saw protecting Kelly from myself. I needed to put distance because I didn’t want her to be raised around some alcoholic with super strength. So I left.” Rance ends up rubbing his beard as he looks away. “If I’m not in a combat environment, then I like to be alone, to be honest. I like the solitude. Out in a cabin, off the grid. I like the aggression and lack of apology in nature. I think it reminds me that there is an order to things, a hierarchy. You, the other people on this ship, we’re all products of natural progress and then our environments. People can’t help bein’ people and that’s okay. That’s part of what bein’ human is all about, I think. I guess I just want to believe that clinical and cold is mechanical. A long, long time ago I used to think I could understand humanity if I stood in the middle of it and looked around.” Rance shakes his head, still looking off. “Looking back, that’s like a rock trying to understand water by rolling into a river. Rocks don’t move, but the water eats away at it. If you want to understand water, you need to give up on being a rock and just let the river take you. So I guess that’s who I am. Just another drop in the river.” He looks to the table, “I don’t think I’m special, but I think the people I’m allowed to fight with are special. If that elevates me to their level by association, then that’s okay.” His aged eyes find hers again, “I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: If you want to know me, then you gotta know the people here. The culture. Our people. Whatever you’re hanging onto? In your own time, let it go. But whatever happens, live or die, we do it together.”

Emily finally loses some of her posture and begins to relax back into the chair. There’s no realization that she does this, but it feels more natural with the longer he talks. There’s no sense that she’s listening to a Marine, or an officer, or an Admiral. This is someone she wants to know and is giving her an unfiltered view into their life. ‘I remember this feeling. I miss you, mom,’ she thinks to herself. Her hand ends up propping her chin, elbow on the arm of the chair. “Yes, I certainly recognize the bold streak. I’ve had to suppress is for so long, but it warms the heart to hear it emboldened in me. Thank you.” The words are quiet, but heartfelt. While he continues, there’s the sense of a lesson there. A viewpoint to the world that he is offering to her. Part of that does sit well with her and she already knows this is a discussion that will sit with her for a long time to come. “You think that I’m hanging on to something? Or was that a generic observation?” she asks, looking up to him with real question.

“I don’t think it. I know it.” Rance slouches a little, stretching his legs under the table and crossing them at the ankle as he looks at her. “Hon, you’ve been sleepin’ Gods know where. You ain’t integrating. You’re trying to be the rock in the river. I’m guessin’ that you think that if you observe enough of them, learn enough, that you can act like them. Maybe fool them long enough until you can figure it out. How old are you?”

Emily knows Rance is hitting a little too close to home. “Eighteen.” His accuracy is showing in her eyes and by her reservation with words.

Rance reaches out to put a hand on her shoulder, “Its alright. I’m guessing I’m right. The worst part of integrating with humanity, in this sort of culture, is dealing with yourself. Nobody can make you move any faster. If you join the Marines and start training while you are still trying to cling to what you know from that life you left? You’re going to rip yourself to pieces. I’m not saying that as a warning, I’m saying that as family and as someone who has been there. Lemme tell you the secret, kid,” Rance smiles just so subtly, “you don’t have to change. You’ve got some new things to get used to, but you don’t have to be anyone else except who you are right now. Being apart of this culture isn’t about being a particular way, its about being yourself. Next time you go into those berthings or you go to work in the Galley, look around. Nobody is here because they changed who they were. They didn’t suddenly need to start lookin’ a certain way. They’re all here because this fight is personal for them, to who they were before all this happened.” He taps a thumb on her shoulder once before pulling his arm back. “Why do you want to be a Marine? Don’t bullshit me, kid. Tell me why.”

There’s a comfort at feeling the touch. Emily knows she can’t look at him like a Cleric. She’ll never be able to. There are Clerics and Lines, but he’s neither. The words are for her, hoping to reach her on a different level. The sum total of his investment in her is the man’s love for his daughter and its becoming more clear with each passing word. Some of this hurts because of how right he is, too, and some of it definitely helps. The question to her has her almost reply right away, but no. No, she doesn’t want to just give him the same thing she’s told everyone. Taking long seconds to distill it, Emily comes up with an answer. “Because I’m angry.” Those eyes look down. “Because I hate what they did to mom. I hate what they did to us. I hate everything about them and what they’ve done to our men, and especially our women. I want to hurt them the way they’ve hurt me. I don’t know how to do that, so I will settle for trying to kill some of them and try to rescue more people.”

Rance holds his gaze on the girl and nods slowly, almost decisively. “Good answer. I like that.” He looks over to the table. “Let the hate keep you warm, Emily. When that fire rages, don’t let it consume you. Let it power the engine inside of you. Manage it. Be bold, but be bold intelligently.” The guy looks back, “When things are at their worst, I want you to think about that. When you’re in training and things suck, dump wood on that fire. Get angry at yourself. Get pissed off. Your heart is in the fight already. Don’t let your body hold your heart back. Don’t let your fear put a net around that drive and drag you down. In training, if you refuse to quit, then you will do amazing things you never thought you could do. Push yourself farther than you ever thought you could go. And when the bullets start flying? Or you need to jump out of a Raptor? You can do it. And it won’t be because Rance told you that you could or because some dumb shit spewed a bunch of flowery sunshine into your ear. You will be able to do it because you know you can, and because the people you will live and die beside can do it too.” Rance smiles a little, but it’s a knowing look. “You never have to lose who you are, Emily. To run with this pack of dogs, on this ship, you need to be yourself in order to make it personal. Get angry, but be intelligently angry.”

More to think about. Emily listens, letting it all echo around her mind. This is deeply personal and something she’s not gone into any detail with anyone about. “How can you know this? I don’t understand. How can you know how I feel? About the ideas that I fear? The.. everything?” It does come out a bit incredulous, but also full of wonderment. She’s never met anyone who has spoken to her like this.

“Em, the people on this ship? Its always been personal for them. They’ve always known they were on the right side of the fight. They never had to question it. There’s a safety in that security of thought. They’re righteous because they’re allowed to be. You? Me? A few others? We know what its like to be on the other side. To be on the outside.” Rance rests his clasped hands on his chest. “To then come here and arrive and try to fit in. It sucks. I ain’t gonna sugarcoat it, either. You anger is probably a little closer to indignity, but you’re still feeling it out. I was there too when I realized how the Lines had been screwed with during the last war. But you carve out what it means to you, why you fight, and you let it ride.” A hand lifts and slowly moves away from his chest like a blade before coming back to rest. “Accept who you are. Be that person. Don’t fear that anger. These people will love you, if you let them. But you gotta let them and they’ve gotta know you have a personal stake in this fight.”

Emily looks on, just staring at this man. She has more in common with him than most people she’s run into. She is starting to see what her mother saw, and the woman knows it. Its almost too much to think about, but ideas and decisions are already being made. There’s no turning back from some of what has already been said and felt from this. Suddenly sitting forward, Emily grabs the tablet from the table and scoots her chair closer so the two are arm to arm. Legs tuck up while she brings up the screen, leaning closer to him. “I want to show you who I was. And am.” There’s some surprising enthusiasm for it. For once, she’s let her guard down and it feels like sacks of brick have been dropped to the floor. “Here. These are photos of me when I was brought to this ship. The very same night. I had only been on Picon maybe an hour or so before.” She flips through the screens to display photos of her from Medical. Facial profiles and the girl has poise and looks clam, but there’s the underlying fear if Rance looks deep enough into those eyes. And then when she goes to the third and final photo, it is here standing in Medical. The photo almost looks posed. Emily is wearing an elegant dress beneath the royal cloak which is over her shoulders. She is standing very straight, looking right at the photo-taker, hands folded in front of her. Like a royal portrait, though there’s a bit more evident fear there. “This is me. Lady Emily of House Benning. I was staring at the person who took this, wondering what sort of insanity they were doing with aiming such an item at me.” She is smiling when she looks over and up to Rance.

“I feel like this was already a lifetime ago. I have learned so much, seen so much.” Emily’s voice gets softer as she looks more at the picture, Rance looking at it over her shoulder probably. “This is so much of me, right here. The dress, the perfect curve of my back, hands folded as royals must. The fear, the anxiety. Waiting for the next shoe to drop. The weight of everything on me and the knowledge that I retain no control over what is happening, but must appear as though I am in command and control at all times.” Emily is almost whispering. “I do not believe I was old enough to really know who I was as Emily Romo. This is who I am now. It is why I’m going to keep the name Benning. I mean no slant to you, Rance, but it feels more honest. And you said I must be honest with myself. Hearing you speak has given me more insight into you than I believe a thousand tales told round the hearth. I want to live up to your advice.” She zooms in on the face staring at the camera. “And when I look at this person here, this Lady, I see that fear. I see someone who has been kicked down to the ground and held there under boot. I see someone who has supported holding others under their boot. This does make me angry. This may provide my motivation, my reason.”

Rance is happy to have her lean close like that. It feels more like family. He never expected to feel the threads weaving together like this, but they are undeniable. The profile shots are nothing surprising, but the photo of her in the dress has his brow loft. “Godsdamn, Emily. You look like a mean streak of beautiful in that. You’re bout a thousand times more elegant than your dear old relations next to you. I haven’t seen a dress that fancy in my whole life.” Listening to her talk, he grows quiet. There’s a lot for him to think on there, as well. In the end, he reaches over and zooms out. “If that’s what does it for you, then bully to you. But think about that. That’s you. Be yourself, but don’t hate yourself. You did the best you could with what you could have known. Hell, I’d like a printed photo of that, if you don’t mind.” He glances to her, then back, speaking slowly. “No decisions right now, Em. Find the thing that makes you angry and motivates you. Show your true colors and don’t be the rock. Everything else like the Marines? The things you want? They depend in you. Just don’t be afraid to be proud of who you are. You’ve got family here to back you up. All of us, but especially me. And if you have trouble finding that one thing that you need to focus your rage on, then work the problem. One foot in front of the other.”

Emily’s smile creeps across her face with him talking to her like that. Lleufer and Adeliza and Palermo and Miri and everyone has given her so much, but this is unfiltered advice that somehow feels different. Deeper. From a different place, one she understands more. There’s an undefinable comfort there. “Thank you, Dad,” she says quietly, no humor intended.

Rance is glad she isn’t looking. There’s his own fear, his own insecurities. That title was one he ran from a long time ago. But bold has been tempered by regret and his own life lessons, and seeing Cooper and Lleu with their families. “Anytime, darlin.” Its all he can say before kissing the back of her head. There's no shortage of complexity from this evening, but nor can he help the sad smile on his face.

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