Day 14. 60 pages, 26,464 words.
Tippy wasn’t a prodigy. He wasn’t naturally gifted in any of the subjects or activities normally associated with an up-and-comer in the field of starship piloting. He scraped through with passes, the occasional Exceeds Expectations to balance out the zeroes, and a lot of re-tests. And when he finally learned to fly, he wasn’t instantly and remarkably talented. He didn’t take to it with an unnatural proclivity, earning the respect, nay, borderline superstitious awe, of his trainers, mentors and Academy classmates.
He wasn’t a great pilot. He was passable, perhaps in the upper fortieth percentile … but that made him one of millions. There were lots of okay pilots out there.
Tippy wandered from job to job, vessel to vessel. There were lots of different types of ships in the galaxy, and Tippy flew them all with a blazing, inoffensive mediocrity. He banged a lot of them around. He crashed two. The official count was three but he was deemed to not have been responsible for the one where the synth took over and tore a wing off because the structural damage hadn’t registered on the log due to a faulty relay. But that wasn’t important. A lot of pilots crashed ships. Tippy did something none of them did, and nobody noticed him doing it.
Tippy flew his ships, mostly adequately, and he was happy the entire time.
He was good enough to fly. And that was good enough for him.
Tippy Ghee didn’t have any accolades to his name. No commendations, no medals of honour. He had performed some spectacular stunts in his time, and saved a lot of bacon. But what did it mean, to save bacon? Just flying from one place to another, and not stranding your entire crew ten thousand years from anywhere was saving their bacon.
He’d also accidentally rammed a Chrysanthemum, tried to land a modular, caused a Worldship to perform an emergency course-change to keep from hitting him the one time he flew a warship, and he’d taken more starships to relative speed while close enough to a planet to peel the drive toruses off like orange rinds than he or any bureaucracy in the Six Species could count. But above all else, he’d flown from point A to point B, acceptably well, and had then turned around and flown from point B to point A.
And he’d been happy. Every time.
Captain Çrom Skelliglyph had once said that the career of Tippy Ghee was like a stream medley by Lars Larouchel. You had to listen to the notes he wasn’t playing, as much as you listened to the ones he was. Only then did you realise that you were in the presence of a very special kind of genius. One you could ask to fly into Hell. You’d wind up with pieces of good intentions lodged in your airlocks and a very pissed-off Devil plastered across your primary bridge viewscreen, but Tippy Ghee would get you there with a smile.
It never ceased to amaze Skell just how few strings he’d needed to pull to get him.