Colonel Jayne stopped and he stared at the sight in front of him, placing his hands on his hips and cocking his head slightly to one side.
Chief Sinclair standing next to the one of the new Thunders just shaking his head at a pair of legs wearing a flight suit and boots sticking out of one of the access panels.
“Ah, help,” a muffled voice said. “I’m a bit stuck,” the person attached to those legs said. Tom couldn’t help himself, he barked out a short laugh. Partly because of the sight of those legs having no purchase and partly because those legs were attached to what had to be the largest buttocks of any pilot on Scorpia
—probably the entire Fleet! All sticking out of a narrow, tight, constricted access panel, and kicking wildly.
Two of Sinclair’s deck hands were standing on a portable ladder next to the fighter and they were pulling and tugging and sounds of pain came out echoing through the interior of the fighter. “Watch it, my head, OW, don’t grab me there!”
He walked over and as he was doing so, the man popped out, found his feet, stumbled backwards, and fell three feet onto the deck landing flat on his back. He was holding a burnt-out capacitor in one greasy hand. “OW,” he said. “Told you I could get it.”
The man—the pilot—groaned and he sat up, and then he stood up. He was taller than Jayne by at least six inches—and Jayne was not a small man. He was also far . . . rounder
. . . than any pilot Tom had ever before laid eyes upon.
The pilot ignored Tom and walked up to the fighter and he patted the smooth metal fuselage. “There, there. It’s okay—just like pulling a bad tooth, baby, it only hurts for a moment, and then everything is all better. The nice Chief is going to give you a new one—and this time he isn’t going to pound on your delicate circuitry, is he? No. No, he’s not.”
He turned around as Tom cleared his throat, and then he snapped to attention. “I-I didn’t see you there, Colonel, Sir,” he stammered in an Aquarian accent.
“Chief Sinclair,” Tom said quietly, “what the devil is going on here?”
“He has a problem with how I do maintenance on Thunder 011, Sir.”
“I told you not to call her that, she’s sensitive. She’s not just a number, she’s real—aren’t you Candice? Yes. You are good girl, aren’t you Candice.”
“DID I GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO START TALKING?” Jayne thundered, and the pilot snapped to attention again. “What asylum did you escape from and how did you get on this ship?”
“W-Well, S-Sir, I-I, ya kn-know,” the pilot stammered, and Tom began feel his face burn.
“At ease, Jolly,” came an amused voice. “He’s one of my best pilots, Colonel,” said Captain Simon ‘Hunter’ Tarkin. “A bit . . . eccentric, but one hell of a test pilot.”
Tom turned around to glare at the captain and then he pointed to the big man. “He actually fits
inside a cockpit? I didn’t think they made
flight suits in Quad-X Twice-Tall.”
“Be nice, Colonel, he’s sensitive about his weight—people from Aquaria come in two phenotypes. One is tall and willowy, like your Captain Danis, and other is well, he carries a good deal of blubber on his frame. Over the muscles. Like a Sea Hound. Lieutenant Rojer Gann, here, is one of those Aquarians.”
“It’s a genetic thing,” said Jolly with a shrug of his shoulders, “I’m not fat, it’s in my genes.”
“It’s spilling out
of your jeans,” Tom snorted. Shaking his head at the light brown, almost blonde, haired man with a grease covered checks, forehead, and mustache—an extensively waxed
mustache, no less—who desperately needed a haircut. “But okay, you say you aren’t fat—give me fifty and prove it.”
Jolly smiled and he dropped down and cranked out fifty fast pushups, then he climbed back up to his feet. “Passed all my physicals, Colonel.”
of them, Jolly,” Hunter said with a laugh. “He’s stronger than he looks, Colonel, and if he is a bit . . . off . . . he is also one of the best pilots in my squadron.”
Tom just shook his head. “I hope you don’t rip that flight suit—I know we don’t have anything in your size,” he said.
“Expected that,” Jolly answered as he caressed the metal skin of his fighter. “That’s why I bought three extra out of my own pay—just in case.”
“Do we even have a rack big enough for him to sleep in?”
“I like to sleep curled up,” he said. “I’m used to cramped spaces.”
“Do you box, Jolly?” Tom asked in a suddenly optimistic voice.
And the Aquarian smiled. “I do, Colonel, sir.”
“He’s slow, but when he hits folks, they don’t normally get back up for an hour or two,” said Hunter with a chuckle of his own.
Tom laughed. “When we meet up with Galactica
then, you are going to be my secret weapon, Rojer Jolly Gann,” and Tom suddenly groaned. “Jolly Rojer? You named him Jolly Rojer
“What else?” laughed Hunter. “Besides, he is a jolly old soul. Eat you out of house and home though, so don’t take him to a buffet.”
“Carry on,” the XO said and rapidly left the hanger deck behind him, shaking his head. “And GET A FRACKING HAIR-CUT!”