It was raining and cold and dark and Amanda was feeling anything put charitable towards her fellow man. The over arching hypocrisy of her entire species was gnawing at her, irritating what little sanity she had left. How dare they go around saying they didn't have money anymore? They were beyond that. Hah.

She stared down at the payment book, oh excuse me, credit/deduction schedule, with complete disgust. Four years of university, 7 more studying for her PhD and this, one universal truth staring in her in the face- no matter how lofty the society, teachers got paid jack shit.

It really didn't help that off worlders were in such demand for university positions. She's always wanted to be a professor, like her uncle and her mother. But no, all that education, all those student loans – no wait, educational vouchers, and she couldn't get hired anywhere. Didn't matter that she was fluent in 13 different non-human based language forms. Didn't matter that she'd spent two years studying at the Vulcan Science Academy as well as her time at Oxford. Nope. None of it mattered because she didn't have blue skin or pointed ears, or a third sex or feathers so no one would touch her. How could a human linguist compare to an alien, even if the human knew the same things? Wouldn't you rather learn the language from a native speaker? She really couldn't blame anyone for that, but when it expanded to learning any language from any alien, native speaker or not, she'd started to get a little pissed.

So she ended up teaching Spanish, French, and German to a bunch of pimply faced, snot nosed, ungrateful high school students. It wouldn't be half so bad if she could teach something a little fun, maybe Klingon? But noooo, extraterrestrial languages can't begin until university! Damn pro-earth nut cases getting legislation through for that but not to guarantee her a job. Of course, it would also help if they allowed corporal punishment. No wait, capital punishment. Earth would progress so much faster if they could remove certain students from the genetic pool. Permanently. If a disproportionate number that fell to the culling happened to be students in Amanda's classes, students that annoyed her to the point of a chocolate addiction and the beginnings of a migraine disorder then so be it.

Amanda bunched the schedule in her hand into a small tight ball and hissed her frustration out between her teeth. Didn't matter, none of it did. She still had to make her payments on time. If she didn't they'd start garnishing credits from her allocation. She needed her PAYCHECK God damnit! Call it what you will, but people still needed money to survive. Basic living requirements might be free but if you wanted something larger than a small cell you had to pay for it. To keep the family's home theirs they had to pay the taxes on it, large taxes designed to make people give up their land rights to the government. Amanda would sell her soul to the devil before she let the government take her family's house away from them. It had been in the family for 7 generations. It wasn't much, just a few aches on a lake in the middle of nowhere, but it was theirs! No one had allocated it to them; it wasn't handed out like so much cheap produce. They'd earned it and kept it up and improved it…and Amanda had to pay her share so they could keep it.

Summer break was one month off. One month of credits and then she'd have to go three months without a paycheck, or allocation, or stipend, or whatever fancy wording you wanted to use for the credits she needed to pay her loan and her part of the taxes. She'd have to find a summer job. There was nothing for it. Only, jobs don't grow on trees, she'd learned. With the change from loans to vouchers, paychecks to allocations, there was a also a switch from "jobs" to "societal engagements".

Everyone was guaranteed an "engagement" that suited their talents and their abilities. For their time they were granted an "allocation" of credits to buy "luxuries" and to use towards repaying "vouchers" that had to be taken out to ensure that their "abilities" matched the "engagement" they wanted. All in all it wouldn't be that bad if everyone's allocation was the same, or if it was based on the amount of vouchers required to get one's engagement. That would be logical. Oh no. Somebody had invented some kind of an equation to measure the amount of societal benefit derived from an engagement and that was used to calculate allocation. In Amanda's opinion teachers should have topped the list. As usual, her opinion didn't matter and instead teachers were paid, or allocated, somewhere towards the top of the second from the bottom tier. There were five tiers.

So now she had to find an "engagement" off the books. She could only have one real job, so whatever she found had to be something not paid through the Earth's allocation system. That meant she'd have to either find work off planet or for someone not Earth based, possibly not Federation. She was a linguist, and a damn good one, but the sort of people that would need her talents and not be part of the allocation system tended to be shady. Dangerously shady.

It wasn't something that bothered her too much, but how in the hell does one find them to get an interview? It's not like they advertised in the paper.

Amanda had confidence that in a few years the kinks would work themselves out in the new monetary system they'd put in place, but for now it sucked. It had sucked for the last three years and it was going to continue to suck for the foreseeable future. For now she was going to have to try and find a smuggler, or pirate, or gambler, or something else she didn't want to think about, that needed a good translator. And fast. She punched up a search page on her computer and started looking, careful to not set off any governmental spyware.

Two weeks later she still didn't have gainful employment for the summer and two warning letters for surfing questionable content on the Federation's open access systems. And she still wanted to kill off a good portion of her student body.

Amanda wasn't generally a cynic, but she'd starting to get bitter and frustrated somewhere around her second year teaching. She'd worked so hard to get what she wanted in life. She'd studied and trained and gone so far as to leave Earth for two years to study languages on Vulcan of all places. She'd done all that and she wasn't wanted. Her talents weren't needed or appreciated. She might as well not have bothered. It…it was infuriating. And now she couldn't even find a job for an illegal shipping corporation or something, anything, that would give her enough credits to make it through the summer. If she could just pay off those damn educational vouchers she'd be okay. Her cousin was living in the house and paying most of the taxes. Her share was pretty small. She'd be able to hack it.

Amanda sighed and marked another "D" into the grade book. She really couldn't blame them, her unruly students. They wanted to learn off world languages, like she had. They didn't want to learn things that wouldn't help them outside of Earth. They needed to know Vulcan or Andorian or Tellarite or one of a hundred other alien languages. Interesting and culturally important Spanish and French might be, but it was only useful if you stayed on Earth. So many of the kids in her classes dreamed of the stars. Maybe if they all left there wouldn't be such a crush for space, Amanda thought harshly, and the property taxes would fall.

She'd just about given up hope and was preparing to go to her cousin with her tail between her legs when the impossible happened. Her old friend from the Academy, T-Lar, sent her a message. They'd kept in touch and T-Lar was as critical of the new allocation system on Earth as Amanda herself. Luck for once seemed to smile on the young woman. T-Lar's husband's brother worked for the Vulcan Consulate. They needed a translator that was fluent in Vulcan, Andorian, and Earth Standard for a shipping rights conference that was coming up. The new "universal translator" worked well, but it missed nuances and implied meaning. Vulcan translators had a tendency to do the same thing when it came to Andorian. They'd discovered that human translators were more adept at the 'highly emotional language'. And neutral in the politics. So the Earth was hosting and they needed a human translator. T-Lar had advised her brother of the current situation with "allocations" and he'd advised the new ambassador, his boss. It seemed that Ambassador Sarek thought the situation illogical and after reviewing Amanda's credentials had agreed to follow T-Lar's advice and offer the temporary position to the lowly high school teacher – sight unseen.

Amanda almost danced she was so thrilled. Finally, some real work to do. Thank God she'd made friends with T-Lar all those years ago. That woman was an incredible linguist in her own right, although she was far better at code breaking than Amanda. T-Lar had realized instantly the raw talent Amanda possessed and had helped her through the transition to life at the Vulcan Science Academy. As both their skills developed T-Lar started work as a code designer for the Vulcan military and Amanda had continued to study language broadly hoping to teach at University when she returned to Earth. At least one of them had prospered and was now in a position to help the other. T-Lar's skills had rapidly become renowned on Vulcan and her endorsement was as good as gold.

Amanda finished the last week of classes in something of a better mood, the shock of her students, and turned in her final grades with a flourish. The relief she felt knowing there was not only a job but free room and board waiting for her in San Francisco was incredible. The Vulcan Consulate had guaranteed her employment for the next two months at double her annual teachers salary. Off books. As an employee of the Vulcan government there weren't even taxes. She'd be able to pay off almost all her vouchers and her share of the taxes after only two months work! Maybe, if she was really really lucky, the Ambassador would require a more permanent linguist on staff…