May 6th 2015
HYPERION, FORA: Sophia Ruiz has not eaten in five days. At 108, she has lived her entire life on Hyperion in the Fora system. She has watched the HyperClay storms slowly reclaim the city for the desert. She has seen outlaws and outcasts gain control over a system the UEE swore to protect. She has survived where few others could, and she has never seen her world worse off than it is today.
Over the past six months, a severe food shortage has hit Hyperion yet few outside of the Fora system even know about it. People, like Sophia Ruiz, spend more of their day patiently waiting in ration lines, but end up receiving less food in return. “Every day the line’s getting longer,” said Sophia. “Everybody seems to be hurting but nobody’s doing nothing about it.”
While the official food supply lines have slowed, Hyperion’s black-market is booming. A recent visit to one such market revealed food that could be filling local shelves being sold for up to ten times the market price. At those rates, the average Hyperion worker’s monthly salary could only buy about a week’s worth of food for a family of four.
For some, like Curtis Deacon, the choice of where to get food went from being hard to impossible, “I don’t know what to do. My kids need to eat. Waiting in those lines don’t guarantee you food, but going elsewhere ain’t no answer either.” Deacon admits to buying food off the black-market, in the past, but doing so wiped out the little saving he had. Leaving Deacon unsure of what to do next. Hungry, exhausted, and with tears filling his eyes, Deacon pleads directly to the UEE. “Please, we need your help. I can’t fix whatever’s wrong ‘round here. If I don’t get no help, it’s not me that’ll suffer the most. It’s my kids.”
Until recently, pleas from the people of Hyperion have fallen on deaf ears. Stories of the famine have grown more common on the Spectrum. Yet, Senate spending has ground to a halt over proposed budget cuts. With the military’s bottom line on the chopping block, Senators are reluctant to spend credits on new initiatives.
While the UEE has been slow to address the issues in the Fora system, concerned citizens and civilians are coming to the aide. Xavier Yu works for the Terra-based non-profit the Empire’s Overlooked, which advocates for unrepresented systems. Yu claims that ignoring Fora’s famine is just the latest stain on the UEE’s record when dealing with the system. “The UEE has failed the people of Fora,” said Yu. “The Senate has talked about instigating emergency rations, but nothing. Talk and more talk.”
Recently, Yu championed a bill that would both aid the people of Hyperion while also investigating the issue. Yet, Senator Glasi from Vosca has blocked the bill from being voted on. Senator Glasi declined to be interviewed for this article, though her office did release a statement that said, in part, “Before Congress commits credits to any cause, it must first finish debate on the budget before us. It would be irresponsible of us to spend money we may not have.”
Sick and tired of waiting for action to be taken, Yu raised private funds so that the Empire’s Overlooked could send direct aid. Earlier this week, Yu personally loaded food onto a Merchantman destined for Hyperion. “From the reports I’ve seen, the amount of UEE food aid entering the system has stayed the same,” said Yu. “It’s just not making it to store shelves.” Yu believes that creating their own supply line into Hyperion will guarantee that the food helps the likes of Sophia Ruiz and Curtis Deacon.
Silva Sanderson is one of several Terra-based mercs hired by Yu to make sure the food finds its way onto store shelves and not the black market. “I try to do, at least, one humanitarian run per year,” said Sanderson. “The people on Hyperion are as much a part of the UEE as anyone on Terra. I want them to know that the strength of our Empire comes from our people. Not our government.”
Moments later, the Merchantman was fully loaded and lifting off. The food filling the hold might not make a dent on the famine but it could change the hearts and minds of the UEE people. Just before boarding the ship, Yu said, “I know what I’ve done is not enough, but every little bit helps. Every credit, every image and every word, paints a more complete picture. Once the people see exactly what’s going on, how could they not stand up and help?”