March 12th 2014
Cara Hoshji is a smart person. She scored so well on her Equivalency that she received a hefty scholarship from Terra University. Graduating with a degree in AstroEngineering, Cara transformed a summer apprenticeship with the Support & Supply Agency, a lesser-known department of the UEE responsible for procuring and transporting resources and supplies to sate the Empire’s massive infrastructure needs, into a full-time position shortly after graduation.
“You’ve probably seen those long snake-like hauling ships pulling trails of massive cargo containers. Those were my life,” Cara said, sitting in her small apartment in Odyssa. From the stacks of packing crates, it would seem that she just moved in, but she’s already been here for three months.
Cara looks over the cramped space wearily. She claims she keeps planning to finally unpack, but she’s either working or too exhausted to try and tackle it.
Her first full-time job with the SSA was in their maintenance department, working with the pit crews to keep the ships flying. Cara had other aspirations though.
“Growing up on Lo [in Corel], we would see haulers and shippers constantly passing through, either entering or leaving the Banu system. My family never really had the kind of credits to travel, so the lifestyle and the promise of visiting another culture was even more fascinating.”
Cara eventually got her wish. After two years with the SSA, she earned a promotion to an On-Board Engineering Specialist. Monitoring a ship’s critical systems to make sure that everything was working properly and being on-hand to resolve any issue if they weren’t, she began touring the UEE aboard the same transports she had been maintaining.
“I loved it. I really did.” Cara sat silently for a moment at her kitchen table, an outsized piece of furniture clearly intended for a larger space. “I used to bore my friends to death talking about it, but it had everything: great people, challenging work … everything.”
Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last.
After a tumultuous battle in the Senate, Article 416 passed. Derisively called the Hemorrhage Act by the opposition, A416 called for a line-by-line assessment of current operating fund allocations by a group of Senate subcommittees to see where cuts could be made.
SSA was one of the hardest hit divisions as the Senate subcommittee decided it was more cost effective to outsource hauling needs to private contractors rather than own and maintain an internal structure.
So, after seven years at the SSA, Cara was let go.
“The severance they offered was offensive. A standardized package across the board, it didn’t matter if you had been there a month or thirty years. We all got the same scraps before getting kicked out the door.”
As Cara would come to find out, there was more to A416 outside of the lack of financial compensation:
“I found out that A416 only applied to infrastructure; the military and the Synthworld program were exempt from having to make cuts. Look, my brother is in the Marines, I got a cousin in the Army, so I totally appreciate and understand how incredibly important our military is, but, honestly, I feel like everybody should have to make sacrifices.”
Cara was forced to move to her current apartment in an effort to save money. It’s been nearly impossible to find a job aboard a cargo ship of the same class that she was trained on, so Cara’s started salvaging to try and generate some credits. Cara took her small severance package and managed to purchase some second-hand gear to outfit her ship to make salvage jobs easier. Unfortunately, that means that she constantly needs to be out there.
“If I’m home, I’m possibly missing out on something of value. I’m learning you have to move fast. Even when the scrap hasn’t been picked up by another salvage op, the longer it’s on the drift, the less of a chance you can save anything but the base metal.”
Hence the stacks of still-packed boxes, the exhaustion and the moments where our conversation drifts into silence.
“It messes with your head, living like this. If I stop to think about what I’m going to do a month from now, it’s almost overwhelming. There’s this crushing weight on my chest. I don’t know.”
Despite her situation, Cara isn’t resentful.
“Something will turn up, I hope. I just need to keep busy, keep my head above water until it does,” she said, forcing a smile before drifting off into silence again.