Demob Happy Part 2
After breakfast, Nishu decided to go out and deliver the baby (Taira told Nishu that the baby's name was Iseul , which cleared that up) and do her administration as she walked around the city. She put the baby in a carrier and did her university forms as she headed across town on the slide walk. Both forms were tick box and so fairly easy to do on AR while you walked, or at least, while you rode the slide walk. It was incredibly bright outside, not like cloudy New Mercia and Nishu was thankful for her sunglasses. She'd put on civilian clothes from before the war, and could almost feel her arms and legs, so long covered by sleeves tanning in the sun.
She did the university form first, imputing grades and military experience and the mesh agent informed her that processing would take up to a week, then did the civil-volunteer one. It was way easier and more streamlined. Nishu remembered her work with civ-vol before the war. It had been fun enough, but she hoped she wouldn't get lumbered with some construction job or munition clean up. Part of her, siren, suggested not volunteering at all. Maybe it was better to just float shamelessly for a while, after all hadn't she done enough for society? Weren't three years of her life spent fighting on the ice enough.
But another part of her called out against inactivity. If she stopped, if she didn't stay active she might never move again. She finished the civ-vol form and looked freshly at her surroundings. Her feet had led her to one of the city's earth parks. At this time of year, everything was green, with a few flowers beginning to come out.
The park was covered overhead by a huge tent of altered carbon twenty meters above the ground, diverting rain water away to be purified. Despite their name, earth parks were a triumph of bioengineering, not only the adapted plants, but the deployment of micro-organisms and flora that would leach heavy metal out of the soil and allow less hardy varieties to grow. Nishu walked into the park its self, looking around carefully then stopped, looking at the massive brown crater that had been torn in the heart of the park, penetrating the tent and leaving a sagging, ragged hole.
She wondered if the EU fleet above had seen a weapon go astray, or whether they'd simply mistaken the park's large thermal signature for something important. She couldn't imagine what might have been in that massive brown crater to draw their ire.
Iseul cooed slightly at the scents of the park, and Nishu decided to take her to her other grandparents before she got too hot in the heat. Their apartment wasn't too far from the park, and several of its windows had been damaged by debris. Nishu had wrung ahead and a woman of indeterminate age (meaning old) but great beauty waited to take the kid. She insisted that Nishu come in, and blowing off any objections with a "I'm sure I can spare some time for a returning hero" (Which made Nishu insanely uncomfortable) and then chatted to her amiably while serving her sweet tea for an hour (which Nishu actually found herself enjoying) before making her apologies but she had a business meeting and leaving with the Baby. Nishu left, sighed slightly and headed towards the beach.
As she turned to head towards the beach, her overlay alerted to her that a vote who's tags matched her interest was coming up. Voting across interstellar space had been difficult at best, limited to only the most vital issues, and Nishu was a bit worried she might have lost the knack. She'd read up on the votes up this week, and listened to several speeches and lictor presentations on the long ride down from orbit. This bill was the only one that was even a bit controversial, the rest being mostly provisions for various benefits for veterans and funding for reconstruction.
Nishu stepped onto a slide walk outside the park, walking around the moving pavement as she headed towards the beach, having decided to take a swim. As she walked, passing deliver people and shoppers on the busy street, she read the bill: The distressed spacers rescue act, which provided for Harawayan SAR to rescue and immediately repatriate spacers who got into difficulty on Haraway, even European Union ones. There was some major opposition to this, it had been advanced by the Peace and Development faction, and some saw it as a capitulation. Nishu wasn't sure, which was why she was reading the final arguments. On the one hand, the EU had its own SAR assets if a ship got into difficulty and Haraway had very few, but on the other, why encourage any more bad blood between them, especially with peace negotiations going on. By the beach, she'd decided and voted yes. Then she got changed in one of the beach front changing rooms and swam out into the sea.
She swum to one of the islands out in the bay, a small sand and grass place just before the line of sonic barriers that kept the larger and nastier local life out of the bay and climbed onto the beach, the sand loose under her feet. Several dactils, great reptilian bird creatures with emerald plumage flew over her to zoom down on the sea outside the sonics, scooping up prey. Nishu sat down to meditate when her overlay gave her an attention icon. civ-vol had already got back to her with an assignment.
Nishu opened it, tempted to refuse if it was too immediate and read: "Dear Ms. Val, please provide escort for a Londenium academic who will be investigating the affects of the war on Haraway's World's economy." There was a reward, extra benefits or university credits. Nishu hit the university credit option. Hopefully that'd help a bit more with her application. The Londenium woman, one Sarah Smith was a few years older than Nishu, and would be arriving in four hours. Nishu sunbathed for an hour then swam back and got changed again, before heading to a bar she knew near the bay where she had lunch. She learned an old friend of hers who'd been a waitress there before going to college had been killed aboard the landing when it had been destroyed in the space battle above.
This didn't leave her in the most cheerful mood to meet Sarah Smith.
Sarah Smith was very tall. Her hair done in a series of braids. She had a pleasant face, now set in an expression of discomfort, which Nishu assumed was the product of the heat. She exuded awkwardness, but wore no AR glasses. Given she was showing an AR banner, Nishu assumed she either had contacts or implants. She looked very grateful when Nishu appeared "Hi. You're Nishu right?"
"Yeah." Nishu extended a hand "Pleased to meet you Ms. Smith."
"Oh uh, call me Sarah." Sarah frowned "I'd like to go to my hotel and drop all this stuff off then start immediately, is that ok?"
"That's fine. I've got nothing to do really, I just demobbed." She looked Sarah over "are you officially here like, are you actual an official of the Londenium government?" Sarah Smith didn't have a doctor by her name, and Nishu wondered if she was a proper academic.
"Oh, yeah." Sarah smiled "I hope I don't seem under qualified. I just finished my Msc before the war and I thought I should do something for the war effort you know?"
"So you become a government statistician?" Nishu asked. She'd heard Londenium didn't have conscription which was a bit weird.
"Yeah. So what was the war like here?"
"Well I don't really know. I mean, I've been away for most of three years on New Mercia. I was in military intelligence." She looked over at Sarah, who was blinking at her slightly. "What?"
"Well according to your profile you're twenty and six months, so uh, wouldn't that mean you were only seventeen and a half three years ago?"
"Uh yeah. You know secondary education only runs till seventeen here. So I'd finished it before I joined up. I liked the sound of the oxymoron so I volunteered for that, it's not as if I was under qualified or anything, especially not after training."
"I uh... I didn't mean you were under qualified, I meant isn't seventeen too young to fight?" Sarah blinked.
Nishu looked at her oddly "Uh... not really." The entire conversation had taken an awkward turn now, and so Nishu fell back on her general citizenship classes "I mean, we have a really young population. Young people tend to be more dynamic and more willing to take on new ideas that older people, and there's still so much of the world left to explore and settle, so our population keeps expanding. So we don't really have much choice but to start young if we want to generate acceptable numbers of troops"
"I see." Sarah looked even more awkward "well, I'm glad you're ok."
Nishu smiled and changed the subject, telling herself the Londenium didn't mean any offense. It still hurt a bit though. She really didn't understand.