A Fistful Of Lollipops…
“Ok, let me see if I’ve got this straight. In order to be grounded, I’ve got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I’m not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying” – Capt. John Yossarian.
“Well, bless my blueberry muffins, what’s going on?!”
Revlon – one of the last remaining Federation Planets to resist being assimilated into the mighty bad Zandokan Empire – has called on the Galactic Defence Militia to bolster its defences. But with Zandokan Zkorpion Zquadrons wreaking havoc on what’s left of the Federated supply lines, vital munitions [AND FOOD!] can’t get through.
Secretly, Brad Company have flown in to help out, but Major Baumer – Revlon’s notorious Commander-in-Chief – has found out and is preparing to arrest that irreverant cake-scoffer: Brad Fartlighter, who – on the other hand – has encountered a far more pressing problem in the canteen…
“Whaddya mean, ya don’t ‘ave any quesadillas left?!”
“I mean we’ve completely run outta Mex grub, Commander…” Sandy the Grubserver moaned.
“Jeez, that’s a bummer, man!” Brad huffed.
“No, that’s Baumer – Major Ritegard Baumer – he’s the Head Honcho you need to take this up with around here.
“Wha-?! NO quesadillas, an’ THAT jackass in charge?! BLAZES! This war’s becomin’ even more intolerable…” Brad grumbled.
Suddenly, Harris Wrench – his Chief Engineer – staggered disconsolately through the door.
“Whoa, fella – you’re dischuffed about the quesadillas situation as well?” Brad sniffed.
“Nah, worse than that, mate… Y’know the squadron they sent ta intercept those incomin’ Zandokan figh’ers? Control just confirmed: they’ve bin wiped aht… ALL a’ them…
“An’ this base is on alert fer imminent attack…!”
“What the hell were you thinking?” – Master Sergeant Farell.
“I’m tellin’ ya, fellas, ’twas a scandal on a grand scale,” Brad grumbled to Harris and Barb Degoya: their huge Rontavahrian handyman as they strolled across the Main Precinct.
“Once upon a time, ya could get a bag a’ ‘pops an’ be guaranteed ta get those lovely red ones: the Strawb’ Supremes, but since Zan Doka shuffled onta the scene, ya can ‘ardly get ’em! Instead, “they” just put in these lousy orange ones that nahbody likes, ev’ry bloomin’ time – gah! Bloody Zandokans…”
“Don’t you fret, Commander,” Barb consoled in his deep baritone drawl. “Oi’m quite partial to the orange ones meself. Oi can help you wiv dem if you loike.”
“Uff, typical – asleep fer the danger, awake fer the cake as per frickin’ usual,” Brad muttered, but with a wry smile so as not to upset his gargantuan alien buddy.
“Cake?! No cake here, Commander. It’s bad enough trying to get any quesadillas around this base…”
“Ya can say THAT again, fella…”
Suddenly, the three amigos froze in horror.
“LANDO’S TEETH!” Brad hollered. “They’re ‘ERE already!”
On the horizon, darting about like dark gnats, but soaring ever nearer: twenty Zandokan Zkorpions – supersleek and as deadly as fudge – infested the mauve sky. The trio raced towards the hangar, just reaching shelter as the initial Imperial laserfire began strafing the Precinct.
“We gotta get up there!” Brad shouted boldly. “Come wiv me, Barb… Let’s BOTH grab a fighter an’ sock it to ’em! Whaddaya say, big fella? Ain’tcha gonna risk it fer a biscuit?”
“Mmm, Oi loike biscuits…”
“Yay! Attaboy – c’mon Barby, let’s go party…!”
Barb heaved the hangar doors open; they both rushed in.
“What the blazes-?!” the Commander cried, mortified to learn that NO fighters remained. “This is nuts; there’s gotta be-”
And then he perceived the familiar sight of a standard BrtFtr-X2 fighter lurking in the shadows over at the far wall: “-ONE!”
As he dashed over, Barb cried: “Don’t bovva, Brad! It’s probly a dud! Don’t-!”
But the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger didn’t listen. With one effortless bound, he jumped up into the cockpit; he’d already got the fighter moving before closing the canopy. While the Zkorpion-driven carnage raged outside, Brad charged the BrtFtr’s boosters and catapulted it skywards.
“Groovy, baby…” he mouthed gleefully.
“…’Ey, m’man, I’m in the Control Tower – I’ll be lookin’ out for ya,” Gaz drawled into Brad’s ear-piece. “Besta’ luck, Commander…”
“Cheers, fella… Right, let’s see what we can see- aow, donner und blitzen!” Brad cursed as he fumbled with the onboard Stereo soundsystem.
“Where ist der Holzplatten?! Ya know I can’t engage in a dogfight wivaht it… AHA, ausgezeichnet!!
“There’s the bunny…”
“This is it, fellas – locked on Intercept Course. Dozen raiders @ 2:10 – three of ’em peelin’ off in me direction. Gonna engage. Lasers locked on…”
Like countless times before, Brad opened up the Attack-Scanner but in that mo, the weirdest sensation came over him; flashbacks reeled across his feverish mind – Jeez, what a time to get Aviation Sickness!
Panic and confusion swept through the Control Tower.
“BRAD!” Harris cried. “Ya switched off yer targetin’ computer! What’s wrong?”
“Huh, did I? Ulp, Blimey Charley! Musta flicked the wrong switch…”
“Never let me catch you doing a victory roll over my airfield again. Understood?” – Squadron Leader Colin Harvey.
“Okey dokey, fellas, this is where the fun begins!”
The first Zkorpion fighter veered into Brad’s sights; he opened up his laser console to click the raider into smithereens.
Brad clicked. And clicked again. Nuthin’ happened!
His cannons would NOT fire.
“Whut in the name a’ Edrio Two-Tubes is goin’ on?!” he barked, but then chilled out. “Never mind… Y’know me – I got some tricks up me sleeve! ‘Ow about the Affleck-Hartnett Manoeuvre?”
“Ah nah, mate – ya wouldn’t!” Harris – who had raced up to the Tower to observe his Commander’s progress – cried in dismay. “…Would ya?!”
“Sure, why not? Works ev’ry time…”
Brad sent the BrtFtr into a wide arc – making sure that a gaggle a’ Zkorpions were latched onto his tail – and hurtled straight twards other incoming fighters.
As he veered stunningly close to them, Nacho squealed: “YEEE! El grande testicolos! Commandante, DON’T!”
The collision culminated in a colossal fireball that billowed across the sky.
“Yo, works EV’RY time…”
But still too many gnats hounded the hero.
In mid-swoop, the BrtFtr shunted violently, Brad rocked in his seat; his cake sprawled into smithereens across the console.
“AOW, bloomin’ ‘ECK!”
“Brad! Ya’ve bin hit!” Harris yelled out.
“Madre de Dios! BAIL OUT!” Nacho screamed.
“Aow, cobblers…” Brad muttered, jamming the controls aside.
The fighter banked sharply to starboard and slammed into the nearest Zkorpion raider; two fireballs erupted instantaneously. The onlookers in the Control Tower gasped in silent disbelief.
“BRAD!” Lexi yelled…
“Oh, let’s just wing it, shall we, Mrs. Bell?” – James Bond.
Gaz beamed a wide grin, as he scanned his console: “Be cool, y’all – he hit Eject just before impact…”
“Phew! Jammy beggar…” Harris sighed. “So where the ‘eck is ‘e nah…?!”
One Imperial raider cruised past the point of the collision. The pilot failed to detect a small device being attached to his sidescreen; a short burst, and the canopy slid open. The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger lunged in: “‘Ere… gerrahtavit!”
He yanked the startled occupant out; as the Zandokan hurtled groundwards, his Wilhelm scream gradually muted in the mauve air…
Brad hurriedly clambered in, closing the canopy and relevelled the craft’s wild and wavering course.
“Hiya, fellas!” he chirped. “I’m back-! ‘Ey, ‘Arris! Jeez, man, ya gotta take a butcher’s inside this ‘un! Blimey, when the Emperor said ‘e wuz gonna increase ‘is Offence Budget a gazillionfold, ‘e wuzn’t gassin’! Whoa, this is one helluva cool crate…“
Excitedly, the Ace opened up the throttle: “Let’s see ‘ow fast this baby can g-WWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAA-HA-HA-HA-HEYYYYYY!!”
Beware! Brad in a top-a’-the-range Imperial Fighter = the crafty ol’ Terran found himself in his element. Swiftly, and surely, he ducked, dipped, dived and dodged through the aerial battlezone, picking off each raider with lethal – if a tad cocky – precision. Within minutes, the once-formidable Zquadron had been depleted to only three fighters; two of those lost their nerve and fled back across the wastelands…
Your hero’s final laser-salvo of the day turned out to be his weakest – with one wing merely scraped, the last fighter glided gently into the city outskirts.
“‘Ey, Gaz, this ‘un’s goin’ daan in the vicini’y o’ the Ponda Baba Charm School; despatch a Fuzzwagon ta pick ‘im up, will ya? See ya on the graand.
“Cheers! Brad, out…”
“You’re over-revving…” – Mrs. Bell.
A group of Benjhazi refugee boys had been playing Pookball outside; obviously, they’d scattered when the Zkorpions attacked, but one bright-eyed lad: Trey-Va Zinc – who harboured dreams of joining General Rajendra’s Free Fighters Rebellion when he grew up – had stayed to gawp at the unfolding dogfight; Trey-Va thought he recognised the maverick style of that lone fighter ace…
Watching the spluttering craft limp to the edge of the airfield, he sprinted over. In one effortless bound, the pilot leapt out of the cockpit onto the ground. Before the fighter had slid to a halt. Both now-setting suns glinted behind the hunky figure, casting him in a snazzy silhouette; but the boy realised that it was HIM. When he popped another ‘pop in his gob, there was no doubt.
“THAT’S how ya save the galaxy, kid…”
“Boyoboy, I KNEW it!” the lil fuschia-skinned alien chirped. “It’s YOU, innit?!”
“Betcha Pookball trainers, kid! It’s me, awright…”
“The Cakecharmer! I recognised ya from yer Military Fuzz mugshots!”
“Ha, didya now? Clever fella, Trevva! ‘Ere, ‘elp yerself…” Brad enthused, offering his bag of candy; Trey-Va eagerly delved in.
“Cor! It’sa real ‘onour ta meetcha, Mr. Fart! I’ve got all yer- HEY! Haven’tcha got any red ones?!”
Altaira Morbius: “Where have you been? I’ve beamed and beamed.”
Robby The Robot: “Sorry, miss. I was giving myself an oil-job.”
Harris moseyed on over to Brad and Zinc, guffawing hysterically.
“HA! ‘Ere comes the ‘Ero of the ‘Our! Yet again, ‘e expects cheerin’ masses ta come aht an’ celebrate ‘im, but whut is there? Ha ha ha! Just – heh heh! – some lil Benjhazi boy, ha ha ha!”
“Uff, laugh it up, fuzzball – I didn’ see YOU in- uh-oh…”
“BRAD!! Brad Burrito Fartlighter! STOP right there, smartass…!” Major Baumer boomed as he marched across the airfield to berate the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger. “YOU… have tried my patience for the VERY LAST TIME… Just what the blazes do you think you’re doing, idiot?!”
“Er, savin’ the city from Imperial attack – y’know, the sorta objective anyone would-”
“Stow it! You acted without orders – you could have put the whole base in danger-!”
“‘Ey, Dumbo! Flap yer ears an’ ventilate yer brains! Yer whole base WUZ in danger! That’s why I-“
“Stole a fighter, which you subsequently destroyed! You attacked without getting proper authoriz-”
“Well, technically, I did NUT attack – couldn’t! The figh’er’s bloomin’ laser-toobs were EMPTY!”
“Hmm… DAMMIT anyway! That was a really expensive piece of hardware you wrecked – you’re-!”
“Jeez, man, ‘twuz a wreck awright! I’m lucky I got orf the graand in that obsolete hunk a’ junk-”
“YOU, Mr. Flash, are the obsolete hunk. Just had a vid-conf with Major Spoiler, and you know what he said to me?”
“Don’t break wind in the elevator?”
“What?! NO! Goddammit! Why does everything have to be one big joke to you?! No, he said you’re for it now! And I concur! We’re going to put you on a charge… and- and for goodness sake, DO your jacket up, man! This is NOT the time or place for flashing your abs…”
“Heh, wha’ever ya say, Bummer-“
“DAMN you, Brad! For the umpteenth time, it’s Baumer! BAU-mer!!”
“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room” – President Merkin Muffley.
“DAMN your eyes, Brad…” Baumer boomed, as both men marched across to the Major’s office. “NOBODY’S impressed with what you just pulled! You’re finished-“
At that moment, Brad Company and assorted members of the gound crew hangin’ around outside the hangar let out a huge, resounding cheer; Brad acknowledged them by pumping a triumphant fist in the air.
All of a sudden, Taz De Maria – one of the new, young rookies – raced across the airfield to meet the beaming hero.
“We all think it’s like really cool what you just did, Commander, so I like got you this…” she cried, handing over a foil-wrapped package.
Brad gleefully opened it to reveal a whoppin’ great piece of nutty chocolate fudge cake.
“Aww, bless yer ‘eart, Taz…” the hero spoke softly, fondling his prize with the utmost care.
“You like deserve it, Brad,” she continued. “An’ it was like, really great how you- WHOA! Nice abs…”
She gave him a quick, nervous hug before rejoining the crowd; Brad turned back, in smug-mode, to the enraged Commander-in-Chief:
“Hmm, well…” the Major growled furiously, clearing his throat. “This doesn’t change the fact that you are, quite simply… the most unreliable, recalcitrant waste of space I have ever had the misfortune to manage… You are an utter disgrace to the Militia! And our Resistance! There is nothing remotely heroic in your brash idiocy! Heck, you wouldn’t know Discipline if it slapped you across the kisser! I will make sure that you are stripped of your rank, thrown out of the service and shipped back to that godawful English estate from which you crawled out! Also, I will see to it personally, Commander, that there will be no one to stop us from deleting your miserable little blog! You’re finished, Fartlighter – you’re NOTHING! The bums ALWAYS lose!
“You got that, Brad…? [AHEM!] Brad…?”
“Huh… whassat…? Did ya say some’t, fella? Only I’ve jus’ bin tryin’ ta get these nut’y-crumbs outta me beard…”
The officer face-palmed in despair.
“Ugh! Just take your accursed Company an’ get the hell off my base… Do I make myself clear?”
“Crystal, baby… Jeez, any gaff that does NOT serve quesadillas deserves to be reprimanded in my book-”
“You are NOT qualified to have your own book, Fartlighter,” Baumer sighed. “But I’ll gladly throw mine at you ANY DAY…!”
Brad stepped forward, defiantly licking chocolate cream off his luscious lips.
“Ya know some’t, Bummer? I always thought of ya as a cold, unfeelin’ twitface, but… yer really a rootin’-tootin’ emotional bundle a’ fun…
And with that, the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger trudged nonchalantly back to the Calista.
The Major just stood there, speechless, but seething…