Name: Harlan “Hutch” Hutchinson
POB: Alpha Centauri
Rank: Petty Officer Second Class
Hutch scowled at the replicator in the Engineering Bay. Damn modern technology, he thought to himself. Replicators were good for food, especially when his supplies of Oreos and salsa were running low, but for work they were ruining things. Engineering used to be a calling. It used to be a line of work that someone could be proud of. You fixed a problem by listening that what was wrong with your equipment and fixing it with just the right amount of knowledge and skill. Now it was just punching in numbers to “replicate” the part you wanted and slam-bam-jam you were done. Anyone could be an engineer now. Even an American.
Hutch yearned for the days when engineers had a stock of parts and either had to use what he had or find what he needed by “talking” with other engineers. A little horse trading here and there and then you were the proud recipient of anything from a left-handed sonic screwdriver to a fully operational Klingon D-7 Cruiser, crew optional. It was the second best thing about being an engineer. You got to swap some parts and well as a sophisticated series of lies and half-truths to see who was naïve enough to accept that the (slightly) leaking container of duotronic chips was only just 3 days this side of the current usage date and that the refrigerant would last until after the end date.
- * * * *
New orders arrived. And things began looking up. A new colony. Three new colonies! And new colonies meant second rate equipment and serious lack of everything (except irate colonists!). Hutch spent his last week on board the U.S.S. Pulaski (Purgatory!)
He was going to be an engineer again. Overworked equipment, sub-standard parts, limited power (no replicators!). He would be working with his hands again. And he would be on the engineers’ com-links working on getting whatever he needed. And if a colonist needed something not on Star Fleet’s B.E.L. (like an incubator) he could arrange that as well.
Of course, these places never started out with a heated pool. He new where to get the ceramic tiles for the pool, but what about the heater…