Early morning on a weekday proved to be a good time to visit the museum. The pair were alone as they walked through the halls of the facility. He was dressed in a dark grey military uniform, his hat held in one hand and the other arm linked with his guest. She was in a pale cream sundress, her skin pale and her hair platinum blue. While there was a youthfulness to her, his face was wrinkled, his cropped short hair and beard grey.
“Have you had any thought as to what you’ll do now?” He asked quietly. It would be unseemly to talk too loud, even if they were the only ones in the agriculture exhibit.
“I am unsure, General.” The sombre reply came. “I would continue my military service but-”
“While we would love to keep you on, and will happily welcome you back in two years time, the law is the law. It is considered best practice that you spend some time away from your previous duties.” He smiled sadly, patting her hand. They continued through the museum, not paying too much attention to the displays on crop rotation, irrigation and hydroponics.
“I would like to help people. I know that much for certain… it is one of the few things that I do know about myself.”
“There are lots of opportunities in that area, and training you could pick up rather quickly. Just know this: What happened was not your fault.” He squeezed her bare arm with his in the link, patting her hand again. “You did your best in a bad situation.”
“So others have said, General.” A polite smile with the statement did little to mask the doubt in her statement.
They slowed to a stop in the industrial section, where the displays started with the Jacquard Loom and ended with a functioning nanofabricator designed for consumer electronics. “We can get Careers to draw you up a list of sponsored placements, Sapphire. You’ll be discharged honorably, and with full service benefits. You have a few days to think on your next steps in life.”
“I apologize for putting you all to this trouble, General. Perhaps it would have been better if-” A fingertip pressed to Sapphire’s lips shushed her.
“Service benefits include counseling, even for… -especially- for people in your situation. I’m going to be worrying about you enough as is, without… well.” The General gave her a fond smile.
“Do you think that they got service benefits, General?” Sapphire asked, her bright blue eyes focused on the contents of the ‘Automation in the Workplace’ display.
His face was grave as he spoke. “There’s many centuries of difference between you and these things, Ensign. Never forget that.”