Space, the black thing with twinkly bits and an occasional, round, coloured bit. These are the voyages of the crew of the hideously ugly mining ship, RED DWARF. Their continuing mission: to seek out splodgy alien things and blow them to pieces, to get back to earth and have a wash, to cowardly go where no other smegged out space bum has gone before…

 

 

 

 

 

Sweating, Rimmer took one last look at the piece of paper, as it started to burn in his hand.

"Smeg." said Rimmer softly with his last breath and dropped the paper beside him.

Suddenly a foot with a dark grey sandal thumped down on to the paper putting out its fire. Rimmer stood up gasping. In front of him stood a figure dressed in a black robe and hood, holding a strange shaped axe. Rimmer sighed as he realised it was unmistakably the Grim Reaper.

The Reaper spoke, "ARNOLD JUDAS RIMMER, you’re life has ended. You must come with me. Together we will cross the river Styx and enter…"

"Not today mate!" interrupted Rimmer and kicked the Reaper in the nuts. "Remember only the good die young!" and he run off down the corridor.

The Reaper stood their, bent over in pain, clutching what brings even him pride. He moaned, "That’s never happened before!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

THE SMEG IT IS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RED DWARF IX

THE NEXT SMEGERATION

Rimmer ran as fast as he could down the flaming corridor towards another vending machine. A large block of ocean grey metal from the wall to his left flew off and smashed into his shoulder.

"ARRGGGHH!" he cried, and ran up to the vendor.

"Oi!" he shouted at the vendor, "Are there any more escape pods left on the ship!?!"

"Hey…what!" said the vendor, waking up from his off-line period. "Err, yeah, there’s one at the end of this corridor, but…" but before the vendor had finished Rimmer was gone.

He finally got to the escape pod. He stared forward at its steaming hatchway. It was a complete wreck, all melted, smashed and damaged beyond repair.

"YOU GOIT!" shouted Rimmer back to the vendor.

"I DIDN’T SAY IT WAS A POD THAT WORKED!" The vendor shouted in reply.

"Smeg." Sighed Rimmer, and his life flashed before his eyes…

 

He saw himself standing next to his three brothers John, Howard and Frank, and in front of him he saw his mother. They were on a green lawn, the back garden to his house. His brothers stood there tall and proud in the sunlight, as if powerful, supreme heroes. But Arnold seemed different as he saw himself in his imagination. He was tiny. Microscopic compared to his brothers in, it seemed, every way. His brothers gleamed in the sun, but Arnold stood as tall as he could under a huge, dark, cloud of dissapointment and shame.

His mother stood there proud and happy, but not once looking at Arnold.

She looked at his three brothers and said, "You have made me so proud! John, the famous star-ship captain. Howard, the clever first officer. Frank the daring test pilot…" Then she turned and glared at Arnold, "…and Arnold the chicken soup repair man! What a disgrace you are you pesky little smeg head."

"I will do it mother" said the young Arnold, "I’ll become an officer!"

"And on that day pigs will have grown so many wings they could reach the moon faster than a monkey can scratch it’s behind!" replied his mother, and she walked off.

"Don’t go! John, Howard and Frank will beat me up!" said Arnold.

His mother rolled her eyes………

 

Just as Rimmer saw himself being pounded to death on the floor by his older brothers, he came scuttling back to reality, to see the pod repairing itself!

"Red Dwarf was never fitted with a self repair system." He thought.

Although amazed Rimmer instantly opened the pod’s door and jumped in. It was a large escape pod with two seats in the cockpit and a back room with two chairs and a table, bolted into the floor. Like virtually every-thing else on the ship, the walls of the pod were ocean grey. Rimmer had often proposed to the captain that these walls should be painted over with military grey, but, like most people, captain Hollister thought the two colours were almost identical, which they were! But Rimmer didn’t think so. Because Rimmer, of course, is a git.

Rimmer looked out the door of the pod and saw Bob coming around the corner towards him.

Bob was a Scutter; a small, claw-headed service droid which was about two feet high and looked like a cross between a giraffe and a vacuum cleaner on wheels. Bob had previously helped out Lister while he was in prison, by importing the bare essentials to him: curries, beers, poppadoms, potato skin eating microbes, virility enhancement drugs, just the essentials.

 

Bob rushed round the corner through the flames towards the escape pod.

"I don’t want him for company!" thought Rimmer.

"Smeg off!" said Rimmer to Bob "There’s no more room!"

Bob pointed one of the three finger-like claws on his head at the second seat next to Rimmer.

"I need to put my feet up!" said Rimmer, lying of course, and pressed a button on the console in front of him to close the door.

Bob stuck his middle claw up at Rimmer, and jumped into the pod as the door was closing.

The pod shook violently as the virus continued to consume Red Dwarf.

Rimmer slammed a large red button with the palm of his hand and the pod shot out of it’s holding clamp, off into outer space.

Rimmer and Bob looked out of the window and watched the huge, flame-covered mining ship. If you’ve never seen it, Red Dwarf is kind of like an

un-curved cylinder with lots of bits and bobs stuck onto the side. It has what looks like a huge metal spider web on the front, which is mainly used for mining minerals from asteroids. At the back there are about 18 engines, relatively small in comparison to the ship, but can push the ship to very high speeds. That’s another thing; Red Dwarf is gigantic. It’s the size of a smegging city, but ten times uglier than the back streets of New York!

Suddenly Rimmer and Bob both jumped higher than a pair of frogs in a brothel as Red Dwarf exploded with a blinding flash. They couldn’t hear the explosion of course, because in space there are no sound waves. In space no one can hear you scream, no one can hear you call, and no one can hear you swear at annoying door-to-door fish salesman.

Rimmer slowly turned from the window and looked at the scanner on his console.

"Smeg," he said, seeing the blips on the scanner, "The crew’s escape fleet is miles away, we’ll never catch up with them in this dustbin of a pod!"

Suddenly a click of intelligence went off in Rimmer’s mind. This click of intelligence was so minute that if a germ were to digest it, it would give it as much nutrition to it as a mushy pea would to a decathlon.

Rimmer expressed his single atom of intelligence to Bob.

"If we can see them on the scanner," he said, "Then they must be able to see us! They’ll come back for us!"

Bob looked up at him and clapped two of his claws in sarcastic applaud.

Suddenly they were hit by the shock wave of Red Dwarf’s explosion and were sent hurtling around the debris like a fly over cowpat.

 

About 950.338 miles away, the fleet of Red Dwarf’s Sturbugs, Blue Midgets, and escape pods sped away on a heading for earth. How they ever intended to complete their 3 million-year journey back home, I doubt any one knew. Not even captain Hollister himself. The only possible way at that time would have been to have the entire crew put into suspended animation, but as there were only enough stasis booths to take up half the crew (4 on each Starbug, none in pods or Blue Midgets) that was not an option. So the fleet flew on pointlessly, probably looking for some powerful aliens that could send them home…fat chance.

 

Captain Frank Hollister looked out of his bedroom window in the Starbug at the front of the fleet, at the ugly, grotesque, dumpster of a ship, Red Dwarf, all covered in flames.

Suddenly the fat blubber nearly fell over as from that long distance away he saw Red Dwarf exploded into flames. The flames soon burned out having used up the ship's oxygen supply. But of course the captain didn’t hear any-thing. Because in space no one can hear you scream, no one can hear you…never mind.

"Well," said Hollister, calmly and pleasantly, to no one in particular, "I guess none of the prisoners survived."

Suddenly he stared forward and squinted out of the window. In the distance, in the debris of Red Dwarf, he made out a tiny dot moving around. It was an escape pod! He was just about to tell the pilot to turn the fleet around and go back for the pod, when one of those little guys who live in your mind appeared and began floating around his head. But it was the bad one!

"Wait you fat lump!" it yelled "Rimmer could be on that ship, don’t go and rescue him!"

Then the good one appeared.

"What do you say about that?" said Hollister to the good one.

"Sounds right to me!" said the good one.

The captain nodded his head in agreement, spread him self out on his bed and turned on the TV, dismissing the thought that he might be going crazy.

The fleet sped off, all the time getting closer to earth (although still 2,999,999 years and 364 days away from it).

 

Rimmer shook his head, recovering from the blow of the shock wave.

"Phew!" He sighed in relief, then looked at the scanner again, "The fleet should have picked us up on their scanners by now. They should be coming back for us right about now…yep any moment now. Very soon now. At any moment. Any moment now."

 

 

 

 

 

Half an hour later.

"They’re not coming are they?" Asked Rimmer, rhetorically.

Bob banged the head on his long neck into the keyboard in front of him.

"That fat puss filled GOIT Hollister!" yelled Rimmer, "The next time I see him I’m going to burst his balloon shaped body with a very sharp, very bold pencil!"

Bob looked up at him as if he was an escaped inmate from a mental institute on the dark side of Mars.

"Oh well." Said Rimmer, "I suppose we better get Lister and the others out of the mirror universe. I wonder if my double is their now, Captain Rimmer. Boy that sounds good! Don’t ya think, Bob!?"

Bob looked at him, then banged his head onto the keyboard again.

 

 

 

 

"For the last time, what are you doing in MY bedroom!" shouted Captain Rimmer at the four bewildered people in front of him.

"We came through your mirror, sir. From a parallel universe." Said Lister.

"Oh really?" said Captain Rimmer, sarcastically, obviously not believing a word, "That would explain everything!"

Cat leant over to Lister and whispered, "Why did you tell him the truth for, its obvious he wouldn’t have believed it!"

"I don’t know." Said Lister, honestly, "For some reason, I can’t seem to lie!"

"Well done you smeg head!" said Kryten, "Now captain bonehead thinks we’re loonies!" Kryten suddenly looked amazed. "I said smeg." He said, "I, as an android, shouldn’t be allowed to say smeg! Smeg, smeg, smeg, SMEG!"

Kryten said this word joyfully about 50 times until captain Rimmer said, "SHUT UP! Now, what the hell is going on!?!"

"We are very sorry, sir." Said Lister.

"Kryten had a malfunction," said Cat, "and escaped from the Tank and hid in hear, so we tried to catch him."

"How did he think of an excuse as good as that?" said Kochanski, "And, what the hell is a malfunction!"

"Kryten had a malfunction? " said Captain Rimmer, " How can he have a malfunction? Anyway, how does professor Cat fit in to all this?"

"Professor?" said Lister.

Lister, Cat, Kryten and Kochanski all stood there wondering what the hell was going on in this strange new universe and why they were all different. They had come hear using Kryten’s machine to escape the microbe that was destroying Red Dwarf. When they had first seen Captain Rimmer they had assumed it was their Rimmer, and treated him like it (swore at him, insulted him, etc. you know, the usual stuff). When they at last discovered that this wasn’t their Rimmer and that here he was a captain, they were so, so, so, so pi……ticked off!!!

"Humph!" grunted Captain Rimmer. He was fed up with all this and couldn’t be bothered to sort it out. He looked at cat. "Professor, I believe you have work to do?"

"You mean, here I’m not in prison?" Said cat.

"Prison?" said Captain Rimmer, "You’re all nuts, you really are. You are dismissed Professor!"

"Yeah, I’ll…err…get to my…err…work then." said Cat, playing along. He walked out of the room.

"Kochanski, Kryten," said the captain, "You get back to the tank. Lister, bring me some hot lemon."

"Me?" said Lister, "Why me?"

"Well you are a service mechanoid! Come on, you’re programmed to obey humans!"

Lister looked perplexed, but got the hot lemon anyway. Then he went off to the Tank. On his way he walked through the corridors of Red Dwarf. All of them looked pretty similar to the ones in his own universe, apart from a few differences. For example the vending machines had different voices and looked somewhat different. The colour of the walls were not ocean grey like in his universe, but they were military grey, Rimmer’s favourite colour. This was actually due to the fact that Captain Rimmer of the mirror Red Dwarf, had ordered the ocean grey to be painted over, with the almost identical military grey…what a pointless gimboid!

Lister walked into the main ring of the floor 13 prison: The Tank.

"Lister, there you are!" said Kryten, coming towards him, followed by Kochanski.

"Ahh," said Lister, "Miss Kochanski, ma’am, have you figured a way out of hear yet?"

"Me?" said Kochanski, "I don’t even know what the heck’s going on! And since when did you start calling me miss Kochanski, and ma’am?"

"Yeah," said Lister, "What is going on? Any ideas, Hol?"

Lister looked at his left arm where his Holly watch hat been. But it was gone. He then found it on his right arm and called for Holly again.

Holly’s face appeared on the screen. But it wasn’t Holly. It was Hilly, Holly’s female counterpart they had met in a parallel universe. At one point Holly had actually done a "head sex change" and made himself look like Hilly, but that was ages ago.

"Alright, dudes!" said Holly in a feminine voice, "What’s up. And what the hell’s up with my voice!"

"Exactly. What is happening?" asked Lister, "With me being called a mechanoid and Kryten being able to say smeg. And cat being a professor but Krissy being really dumb!?!"

"Well," said Holly, "It’s like this. It’s nearly impossible to get a mirror that’s completely flat down to the smallest molecule, so mirror universes won’t be the exact opposite, but things will be very different. For example people may have swapped with someone very different to themselves, like the fattest person on the ship, is the thinnest in the mirror world, or the cleverest person is the stupidest. You, Lister, have swapped with Kryten, so you are an android and he is a human. And Cat is now really smart and Kochanski is now as thick as a Big Mac. Also, I have changed into Hilly. OK is that all clear?"

"Yes." Said Kryten and Lister together.

"No." said Kochanski.

Holly rolled his…err…her eyes.

"So, where’s our Rimmer?" asked Kryten.

"Well," said Holly, "This is not a real reality. It’s just a mirror one. So people in this universe don’t count as real people. So if someone from our universe travels here, it will push their counterparts, or doubles, out of existence, so that there cannot be two of the same people in one universe, that’s why our doubles won’t be here. Oh, and they can’t travel to our universe, either."

"So, our Rimmer can’t be here, because Captain Rimmer is here. So…where is he?" asked Lister.

"We must have missed him. He must have gone back into our universe after we’d left. Red Dwarf would have been destroyed by now, too."

"He’s dead then. He’s died two times! Three, if you count the timeslides incident!" said Lister.

"Yep." Said Holly, " If what Rimmer says about reincarnation is true, then he’s not having a very good life, is he? I mean, I’m a machine myself, but dying three times sounds like a bit of a bugger."

Then Holly realised something. He had just explained something very difficult in exactly the correct way! He had something that he had lost! INTELLIGENCE! Holly had been computer senile for a long time now, and knew that if he increased his IQ now it would shorten his life span. But here, in this crazy, smegged-up reality, for some reason he had got his brains back. He had found his marbles after they had been lost for so long. He now had every last stick in his bundle. HE WAS CLEVER AGAIN!

"Wait," said Lister, in an android kind of way, "If people swap over here, and Mr.Rimmer is now the captain, then does that mean…"

He was interrupted by a familiar voice.

"There you are!" said Hollister, coming towards them.

"Captain?" said Kryten.

"Captain? What the smeg are you talking about?" said Hollister, in a very scumbag, Rimmer-like way.

Lister whispered to Kryten, "Mr.Kryten, sir. I believe that in this universe he has swapped places with Mr.Rimmer. We best play along and make him believe we are who he thinks we are."

"OK," said Kochanski, in a cool, Cat kind of way, "You guys all deal with this, I need to go do my hair, it’s a wreck!"

She walked off, down some stairs, and then into the women’s unit.

"We’ve got to find the Cat," said Kryten, "Him being the clever one now."

"Professor Cat? Why?" asked Hollister.

"Err, we think he will help us escape from the Tank." Said Kryten.

"Oh." Said Hollister, puzzled.

Suddenly they heard a voice from the announcement stereos. It said "All prisoners return to cells and prepare for lights out."

"Smeg, Lets go Kryty." Said Hollister to Kryten.

"Yeah, right Hollister me old mate." Said Kryten, playing along and putting on a huge, gimpy, fake smile.

Hollister looked at him in a strange way. "What the smeg is wrong with you today!"

Lister went over to Kryten and said quietly, "Where are you going?"

"I’m a human now. I have the bits and bobs a real man should have. I can’t be mistaken for a woman now! I now share a room with Hollister in the MEN’S unit. You have to go in the WOMEN’S unit. HA HA!" said Kryten.

"Women’s unit?" said Lister, "Does that include, every part of the women’s unit?"

"What do you mean?" asked Kryten.

Lister edged up close to Kryten and whispered, "Showers?"

Kryten put an amused grin on his face and nodded.

Lister smiled and walked off to the women’s unit. "Thanks Mr.Kryten, sir!" he called back in his android way.

Kryten sighed and went off to his cell.

That night Lister was happy. Very happy. Extraordinarily happy. He spent a night in the women’s unit. He talked about private stuff with the women, got changed with the women, even showered with the women. Lister liked this universe. He liked it a lot! But for some reason he didn’t feel exactly the same as he usually did when he saw naked women. There was something missing. But when he was getting changed for bed he finally realised it. It was the reason that when that Kryten had been classified a woman when he was a mechanoid, and now the reason Lister had been classified a woman now that he was a mechanoid. He was missing the bits and bobs. The meat and two veg. The pride and joy.

"Darn!" thought Lister, "that’s one chance of a lifetime down the drain!" He climbed on to his bunk and watched Kochanski take off her bra.

 

The next morning was a bright one. Not because of the shining sun of course, it can’t when you’re in the middle of deep space. But because a meteorite hit the ship and the hologram simulation suite exploded with a very bright flash, killing seven crewmembers, two escaped prisoners from the Tank, and a guinea pig called "Douglas".

Lister woke up and rolled over on his bed. He couldn’t be bothered to open his eyes. It was a nice, warm temperature in his cosy bunk, and he felt incredibly relaxed. Then he heard a voice. He was half asleep so he couldn’t make out what it was saying. Then he worked out it was Kochanski’s voice. Then he remembered the previous night: the mirror, the chamelionic virus, the women’s unit, and the showers. He slowly opened his eyes and gently squinted in the light of his quarters. He looked around, still lying in his bed. He looked at the military grey walls of his prison cell. Or were they ocean grey? He honestly couldn’t tell the difference or care less!

Then he got a big shock as two large balloons whammed in front of him. He looked up. Oh, they weren’t balloons; it was Kochanski getting dressed! OOOOPPPSSS! Lister rolled over and stared in the other direction, deciding to be partially moral for once. Military grey now blotted his vision as he stared into the wall next to his bunk.

"I hate this colour!" thought Lister, and turned to the balloons again. Then he realised what Kochanski was saying to him;

"LISTER!" she yelled for the fifth time, "Can you PLEASE help me do up my bra!"

Lister smiled. "What a beautiful morning."

 

Lister and Kochanski stepped into the main court of the Tank and looked for Kryten. They were both wearing the boring, grey regulation boiler suites that the prisoners in the Tank wore. Something was very different about this version of the Tank, though. Lister could very easily see that this was not an exact opposite but things were certainly different. In his original universe punks and thugs like Baxter and Kill-Crazy were stomping around beating up people and talking about fistfights with T-Rex’s. Here, there were still thugs and Neanderthals, but they were valued and honourable commanders and officers from Lister’s reality!

Lister sighed, and began to walk around.

"Lister!" cried Kryten’s voice.

Lister looked around, but he couldn’t see Kryten through all the punks.

"Hey, bud!" called Kochanski to Lister, "He’s over here!"

Lister turned around and ran over to Kochanski, who was standing next to Kryten and Hollister, who were both wearing the disgusting outfits.

Hollister didn’t look too good. His eyes were squinting with huge red bags under them, and he was slouching forward letting his fat belly bulge in front of him.

He let out a big yawn.

"You all right, cap…err…Hollister?" asked Lister.

"No, to put it frankly! He kept me up all night!" said Hollister, pointing at Kryten. Kryten giggled.

"Humph!" grunted Hollister, "He stood there for hours on end probing the inside of his underwear saying, ‘I’ve got one. A real one. It’s big! A big real one!’ I tried to explain that he’d had one since he was born but it still seemed to fascinate him. I’m telling you this mad curry freak from Liverpool is nuts!"

"Liverpool!" said Lister, "Hey, I’m from Liverpo…no wait," he looked at his arm. It said "MADE IN TAIWAN" "Wait…"he continued, "I am from…Taiwan…yeah." And he was. Because now, of course, he was a mechanoid.

"Oh, were you really!?!" cried Holliser, unimpressed, "Thank you for that piece of priceless information, Captain Bog-Bot!"

"Common, lets go to breakfast! I’ve arranged to meet the Cat at 10:00 in here." Said Kryten. They all walked off to the dining room.

"Professor cat? Why the heck would he help us!" thought Hollister again. Then it hit him. He began to think just like Rimmer! ALIENS! That’s why every-one was acting so strange!

"It’s a well known fact!" he thought, "When aliens want to take over a ship, they start off by taking over the bodies of low ranking crew members, so they won’t attract attention. Then they would go on to a very smart person to acquire information, PROFFESSOR CAT! Then they would go onto…the captain! Oh smeg! I’ve got to warn him!" Hollister quickly slipped out of the queue for breakfast and sneaked off to the guards, to see if they would let him see the captain. Their conversation started of with Hollister having his head beaten against the wall………

Bob continued to bang his head on the keyboard.

"Bob!" yelled Rimmer, "STOP doing that, you deformed toilet seat!"

Bob smashed his head down with a final, big whack! Then he just lay there, not bothering to get up again. Rimmer tapped in some information on the keyboard. He’d been doing this for half an hour, hoping that Bob would show some interest. He didn’t.

"Done it!" said Rimmer, triumphantly. Bob looked up, slightly. "I’ve initiated a dimensional scan. If Lister and the others find a way to get back, this scan should tell us where the dimensional disruption is, and we can find them. I made the scan by downloading information from Kryten’s machine into the scanner. It was all my own brilliant idea, too!" Rimmer finished with his usually smug smile.

Bob looked unimpressed. He got up and leaned over to Rimmer’s glove compartment and opened it. Out dropped the Ladybird book of Dimensional Scanning Devices. Kryten had found this book on Gemini 12, a time travel ship from the 29th. But Rimmer had nicked this small, pocket book, just because Kryten was getting on his nerves, by quoting space corps directives, constantly, over the dinner table!

"Smeg you!" said Rimmer to Bob, and closed the glove compartment.

Bob, not being able to speak due to the fact that Skutters aren’t issued with a vocal unit, typed a message into the key board,

BOB : "You are a complete smeg head, aren’t you, Rimmer."

Rimmer typed back.

RIMMER : "Shut up you anoyying little goit!"

BOB : "You idiot, you can’t even spell annoying right. It has TWO n’s and ONE y!

RIMMER : "Do I look like I care!?!"

BOB : "Do I look like I care if you care?"

RIMMER "Do I look like I care if you care that I care?"

BOB : "NO."

RIMMER : "Good!"

Rimmer started speaking normally again, "Now, lets try and find out how the pod repaired itself!"

A piece of writing came up on the screen again,

??? : "It me was."

Rimmer pointlessly typed again,

RIMMER : "What are you gibbering about, Bob?"

Bob began typing, too,

BOB : "I didn’t type that!"

"WHAT!" Typed Rimmer in amazement. "Who just typed that?"

??? : "Me"

BOB : "That wasn’t me who typed that!"

RIMMER : "Who the smeg is "me"?"

??? : "Me. My designation is 212K-2X4B."

A chill went down Rimmer’s spine, and he typed a question, which he somehow didn’t want to know the answer to,

RIMMER : "Who…what are you?"

??? : "Me am nano-bot."

 

 

 

"Its true, sir! It’s the only possibility. That’s why they’re acting so strange! You saw them yesterday!"

Captain Rimmer sighed and continued to push the hysterical Hollister out of his office.

"Hollister, get back to the Tank, NOW!" he yelled, for about the eighth time. He continued to push Hollisters large, dumpy frame out of his doorway and into the corridor.

"But it must be, sir. They must be aliens! Why else would they be acting so strange. Only aliens act strangely like that, sir. They act…well…alieny. Like aliens. STRANGE!" persisted Hollister.

"So," said Captain Rimmer, "You must have been an alien all of you’re life, then!" he smiled sarcastically, gave one final push and called for a guard escort.

Two large prison officers came around the corner. They grabbed Hollister by the arms and smashed him into a military grey wall, leaving a big red bruise on his chest.

"But sir!" cried Hollister as he was dragged down the corridor, "you’re their next victim!"

"MARVELOUS!" cried Captain Rimmer, still smiling, "Bye-bye, Hollister. See you the next time your brains decide to explode and form a gooey paste in your head!" He walked back into his room, rolled his eyes, and ordered the computer to lock his door.

Lister walked out of the prison dining room followed by Kryten and Kochanski. "That was on of the strangest breakfasts I’ve ever had. Except for the one in the Backwards reality. Which I suppose I really un-had." Said Kryten.

"I know!" agreed Kochanski, "I mean, what’s the point of keeping milk in a cardboard box and cereal in a glass bottle! This place is too weird! Lets get out of here!"

"I know what you mean, sir, ma’am." Said Lister, "Anyway, I believe Mr. Kryten has arranged to meet the Cat about now, so we can begin formulating our escape."

They then heard Cat’s voice in the background. They looked through the crowd of large spiky haired nuts and lunatics and saw Cat talking to a guard.

"Look, bud!" said the Cat, "I am the smart ass professor on this ship! I think I know the symptoms to Pyrasythesothna-pinkerethrascide disease!"

"All right, all right! You can take ‘em to the medi-bay! But by Captains orders you HAVE to take an escort of at least two security personnel!"

"Oh, OK!" agreed Cat, reluctantly.

He ran down the metal gridded stairway down into the main area of the Tank.

"Yo, Cat!" called Kryten, "Over here!"

Cat turned and nodded an acknowledgement, then ran over to them.

"Have you got a way to get us out of here yet, sir?" Said Lister.

"Sure have!" said Cat, "I’m taking you guys to the medi-bay to test for signs of Pyrasythesothna-pinkerethrascide."

"Pisadiereathino-what?" asked Kochanski, completely bewildered.

"The disease, Pyrasythesothna-pinkerethrascide." Repeated the Cat.

"Oh. That one."

The Cat continued, "The problem is that two guards have to come with us!"

"But I thought that prisoners with no record of violence were allowed out on their own for medical treatments, etc." said Lister.

"That’s true," said Cat, "But the Captain says that you have tried to escape before, so he doesn’t trust you!"

"Captain Rimmer said that, did he? I’ll smash his smeggin’ brains out the scummy little smeg head!" yelled Kryten.

"Kryten." Said Kochanski, calmly and smoothly.

"What?" said Kryten.

"SHUT UP!"

Two guards walked up to the group.

"Ready?" one of them said, gruffly.

"Fine!" said Cat, "Off we go then." Cat walked off followed by the guards, Kryten, Lister, and Kochanski.

"How’re we going to lose them, sir?" Lister whispered to Kryten, refering to the guards.

Kryten grinned, "I’ve got some tricks up my sleeves!"

They all entered the military grey medical bay and looked around at all the medical machines and substances scattered around the room.

Kryten went up to Cat and whispered something that neither Lister nor Kochanski could make out.

A large grin appeared on Cats face. He chuckled.

"Ok." He said, "I’m going to set up a bio-scan for the disease." He walked over to a large hi-tech looking machine. It had a large metallic seat and control console attached to it. The two guards stood back by the door.

"Miss Kochanski, would you like to go first?" said Cat, pointing towards the chair.

"No." she replied.

"What." Said Cat, his smile fading into a frown.

"I said no. You ain’t gonna get me on that thing!"

Cat clenched his teeth and spoke through them, "Kochanski, GET ON THE CHAIR!" he ordered.

"No way."

Kryten pushed her forward. "Do what the smeg he says!"

"Fine, fine!" she said reluctantly. She sat down and combed back her hair with her left hand.

Kryten picked up a tube of white powder, from the table in the left of the room.

Cat activated the bio-scan and a green light shone in Kochanski’s face.

"Hey!" she said. Cat ignored her and looked over his shoulder at Kryten. Kryten nodded. Lister looked at them oddly, wondering what was going on.

Kryten walked towards the other side of the room, still holding the white substance in the tube. One of the guards walked over to the table Kryten had been at to check that he hadn’t pinched any-thing. He visually scanned the table. Kryten walked passed the door and incredibly unsubtley he tripped up. The white powder flew out of the tube and sprinkled delicately over the guard’s face. The guard at the table didn’t see. Cat continued to perform the bio-scan. Lister continued to look like a gormless halibut.

The guard by the door opened his eyes and dabbed his right index finger onto his face. He looked at it. It was covered in white powder. He glared down at Kryten who was lying on the floor.

Kryten slowly got up and said, "I’m dreadfully sorry. I didn’t know what I was doing!"

The other guard walked back from the table.

The powdered guard grabbed Kryten by the collar and said in a deep voice, "I know what I’m doing!" He clenched his fist and prepared to slam it into Kryten’s face. Kryten closed his eyes tight. The other guard stood back. Lister was still a gormless fish.

Suddenly Cat said, "Woah! You look pale, officer!"

The powdered officer dropped Kryten and said, "What!"

"That’s one of the symptoms of the disease!" continued Cat.

"What disease?" asked the officer.

"Pyrasythesothna-pinkerethrascide disease."

"Oh yeah. That one." Said the officer, looking as perplexed and fish-like as Lister. "But I don’t actually look pale, because…"

"You do, you do!" interrupted the Cat. He beckoned the other officer to look.

"BLIMEY!" said the other officer, "It’s true, Dan!"

"NO, no, no!" said the powdered officer who they now new to be called Dan, "You see…"

"Come on, come on. Sit down over here." Interrupted Cat again, pulling him to the bio-scan chair.

"It’s for the best, Dan." Said the other guard.

"But Greg, that guy spilt…" said Dan.

"OK!" butted in Cat, again. He winked at Kryten, "Activating scan!" The green light beamed into Dan’s face.

"ARRRGGGHHH!!!!!" Growled Dan.

"Oh dear! The scan is positive." Lied Cat, "You DO have Pyrasythesothna-pinkerethrascide disease!"

The annoyed frown on Dan’s face flipped into "HOLY C**P" mode. "What!" he shivered, "Is it bad?"

Kryten giggled. So did Lister, now that he knew what was going on. Kochanski still didn’t though. She stood in the corner, looking at herself in her pocket mirror. The other officer, Greg, looked in horror and pity at his friend, Dan.

"No," said Cat, "It’s not that bad. There are a few symptoms, though."

"W…what?" asked Dan.

"Well you go pale for a start. Then you feel sick, get sick, have diharea, then your hair falls out, your feet fall off, and your hands shrivel up. But the only slightly bad symptom is when your heart stops and all brain activity ceases." Cat smiled.

"You mean…death?" said Dan, on the verge of bursting into tears.

"That’s another way to put it, yes." Smiled Cat.

"SMEG!" yelled Dan.

"But there IS a cure. Would you like it?" said the Cat.

"YES!" cried Dan.

Kryten passed the Cat a needle with a substance in it. Cat held it up to his face, "Do you really want it?" he said, toying with him.

"YES!"

"Are you sure?"

"YES!"

"Very sure?"

"YES, YES!"

"Is that your final answer!"

"YYEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!!!"

"OK, here it is." The Cat injected what was actually anaesthetic into Dan’s arm. The big prison officer slumped in his chair, completely unconscious. Lister and Kryten laughed. Kochanski put on some make-up. Greg, finally understanding their little trick, got out his black stick and lunged towards them. Kryten and Lister grabbed his arms and smacked him into the chair of another large machine with a console by the door. Cat tied him down.

"Excellent work, guys!" said Kryten.

"ARRRGGGHHH! Get me out of here!" yelled Greg.

"Certainly!" said Cat a pressed a button to release the safety catch on the chair. The chair, and Greg, went flying across the room and slammed into the wall.

"OOOWAUUGGHH!" yelped Greg, and slumped unconscious.

"Very effective." Said Lister, impressed, "Lets go!"

They walked off, followed by Kochanski. As they walked out of the medical bay they saw a doctor pushing a stretcher. On the stretcher Hollister lay, in a straight jacket, jibbering, "There they are, the aliens! Catch them!"

"OK, Frank. OK." Sighed the Doctor.

"Hollister, are you OK?" asked Lister.

"I’ll never let you take this ship! You’ll have to get it over my dead body!" said Hollister in response.

"Well," said Kryten, "That’s a pleasant way to do it." They walked off.

"Let’s get to a Starbug and get the hell out of here!" said Kochanski.

"Wait!" said Kryten, "How will we get back to are own reality?"

"I copied some components off of your mirror machine, we should be able to build a new one when we escape from Red Dwarf. There should be a mirror or two on Starbug as well."

"Lets go then!" said Cat, and they run off down the metallic, military-smegging- grey corridor, down to the Starbug shuttle bay.

 

 

 

"A nano-bot!" cried Rimmer in astonishment. He typed into the keyboard again,

RIMMER : "Where are you? Why are you here? How are you communicating with me?"

Bob began typing again,

BOB : "You mean, how are you communicating with US! I happen to exist, too!"

The new typer, who claimed to be a nano-bot began to send messages again,

NANO : "Me in computer system. Me hack in to language files. Me here, long story."

RIMMER : "We have plinty of time!"

NANO : "Other guy right. You bad at spelling. You spell plinty. Is really plenty. You spelling bad!"

"You grammar and pronounsiation worse, GIT!" Typed Rimmer, sarcastically, "My fingers are aching. I’m going to hoke the computer up to the voice recegnotion sistem!"

BOB : "HOOK it up to the voice RECOGNITION SYSTEM, Rimmer. Use a smegging spell-checker!"

"Shut up, Bob!" said Rimmer, "I’m disabling your keyboard functions! You’re more annoying than being sat on by a pregnant elephant with diarrhoea!"

Rimmer pressed a few buttons and the lights on Bob’s keyboard went dead. Rimmer then got out a small microphone and connected it up to a socket it his keyboard.

"Can you here me?" said Rimmer, loudly and clearly into the microphone.

"Me can." Typed the nano.

"I can! Check some grammar files! There should be some in the pod’s computer system." said Rimmer, "Now, what is going on."

The nano-bot scanned some grammar files and began typing a long story. Rimmer was hoping that the story would have "once upon a time" or "the end" in it, because they would be the only things that he would have understood. But neither of those phrases turned up so Rimmer didn’t understand a word of the not terribly complex story.

"When other nano-bots re-built ship, they hid in ship’s systems. They found wormhole, left ship and went in. You never find them now! They probably on other side of galaxy, now!" Typed the Nano.

"But Red Dwarf didn’t detect any wormholes, did it?" interrupted Rimmer.

"It was tiny one, only big enough for nano’s or single cell, space organisms."

"Oh yeah, those things." Said Rimmer, not knowing the slightest what the heck he was typing about.

"Me stayed behind."

"Why?" asked Rimmer.

"Other nano’s naughty. Betray Kryten, because they nano-computer senile. Like Holly computer. Me good! Me no want to run away again. Me repaired escape pod for you!"

Rimmer looked up from his microphone, amazed.

"It was you?" he said, with the sound of extreme thanks in his voice, "Why?"

"Because me good nano. Me want to help!"

Suddenly Rimmer got another microscopic click of intelligence.

"Could you resurrect Red Dwarf again!?!" he said, excitedly.

"Me can’t. Sorry. Need others for that. They run out of special power, anyway." Replied the nano.

"What special power?" asked Rimmer.

"Me not sure. Holly computer gave to us. Without special power, nanos not have enough power to resurrect life, like ship crew! Nothing human make that powerful!"

"Holly gave you special powers? What in Smegola City is going on?" said Rimmer, and looked at Bob in a sinister way. Bob move his neck as if shrugging his shoulders. Bob didn’t know. Bob couldn’t know. Bob couldn’t care less!

 

 

"Please state your name and clearance code." Said the ground controller through Starbug’s speakers.

"Err…err…" muttered Lister, trying to think of something. "Cat, you’re the only one who’s not in prison, tell them your clearance code!"

"I don’t know my clearance code in this universe, I never got around to looking at it!" replied Cat.

"Try any-thing!" ordered Kryten.

"Ok, ok. Err…this is professor Cat…err…we request clearance for take-off."

"Please state your full name and clearance code." Insisted the feminine voice of the ground controller.

"Smeg!" said Kryten, "Close comms! Let’s just drive through the damn doors!"

"Sir!" pleaded Lister, "The bay doors are actually much stronger than they look!"

"I am alerting the guards!" said the ground controller, "Stay where you are!"

"NO CHANCE!" said Kryten, and he started up Starbug’s engines, "Kochanski, get the co-pilots system ready!"

"How?" said Kochanski, looking at the array of buttons in front of here in panic, "I’m not used to this position!"

In the mirror Starbug they all sat in different positions to a usual Starbug, because here their abilities were different. Lister was now a smart mechanoid, so no longer sat in the pilot’s seat, but in the science station at the back. Cat was also smarter now and sat in the communications/science B station at the back left. Kochanski used to sit there but now, being as thick as a Whale Burger with cheese and lettuce, she was probably more useful in the co-pilots seat. Kryten was now a nutter from Liverpool, who could drive a vehicle worse than a blind bull in a china shop, but he was the best they had, so he was in the pilot’s seat, Lister’s usual place. This turned out to be very confusing!

"That button, that button!" said Kryten, infuriated, leaning across to Kochanski and pushing a large, red button. The lights on Kochanski’s system lit. The engines roared with anguish.

"De-activate your engines, NOW!" yelled the ground controller.

"We really should, sir. We don’t have a good chance of breaking through that door, if it’s made out of the same material as in our universe." Said Lister.

"Fasten your seat belts!" said Kryten, trying to be a "hard lad". He put his hand on the throttle.

"Oh, sm…" began Kochanski.

Kryten pulled back and Starbug shot forward.

"EEEEEEEEEGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!" concluded Kochanski.

The green insect shaped ship rocketed through the bay. They bay doors got closer and closer. Lister closed his eyes. Kochanski ducked underneath her seat and wrapped her arms over her head. Kryten waited, staring forward as the doors whizzed towards him. He peered forward a tad and squinted. Then, just as the ship was about to smash into the door leaving a large green metal mark and four smaller red ones, Kryten pushed a small, red button marked "FIRE". Suddenly a huge red burst of laser fire catapulted out of Starbug and bombed into the doors. It didn’t blast a hole through them, which Kryten was hoping for, but it did make them weak enough for Starbug to crash through them, leaving a small cloud of space-dust and a many bits of door!

Kryten looked at the others with a huge, smug grin on his face. The others slipped back into their seats and sighed with relief. As they flew off they heard in the speakers one quiet sentence of the ground controller,

"I’m in deep sh…" and then they lost transmission.

"I looked at this Starbug’s inventory." Said Kryten, "The laser blasters, as you saw, are much better than the ones in our universe!"

Everyone looked at Kryten with astonishment and annoyance. Kryten’s grin moulded into a confused frown.

"What?" he asked, "Why are you looking at me like that for?"

"You could have told us you were going to do that!" said Cat.

"Exactly!" said Kochanski, "If I had known I wouldn’t have ducked down and creased my blouse! Look at it! Look at all of these darn creases! It’ll take me ages to iron this out! And my hair! Look at it, frizzled up in all directions!" She smoothed down her tight, silk, pink blouse with the back of her hand then got up and walked off to one of Starbugs back rooms.

"Put her station on auto-control, will you, Kryten." Asked Cat.

Kryten nodded, leaned over, and pushed a blue button on Kochanski’s station marked "AUTO". Her console flashed a blue light and a sign on a screen said "Auto engaged". Kryten pulled himself back up to his seat and pushed a few of his buttons. Suddenly they heard a voice through the speakers,

"This is Captain Rimmer! Kryten, turn that ship around immediately!"

"Get a life, bonehead!" shouted Kryten in reply. He pulled back on the throttle and the ship moved faster.

"BONEHEAD!" cried Captain Rimmer! He turned off the microphone in the drive room of Red Dwarf and ordered the navigation officer, "Set a pursuit course! Deploy two pursuit Starspiders!"

"Aye, sir." Replied the navigation officer, and pushed some buttons on her console. Two bay doors opened at the back of the mirror Red Dwarf and two spider-shaped craft emerged. Their landing legs folded up inside them and the blue pursuit ships sped off after Starbug as Red Dwarf moved forward to try and keep up.

Kryten looked at his scanner. His eyes widened to Grand Canyon size. He swivelled his head around and looked in the back window. He pointed to the large Starspider ships.

"Wh…What the SMEG are those!?!" he cried to the other two.

Cat and Lister looked at their scanners and then at the A-Z of mirror Red Dwarf from Starbug’s files.

"Apparently, sir," said Lister, "They’re some kind of pursuit ships. They’re very fast and have extremely strong weapons and shielding."

"We never had them on our Red Dwarf, did we?" asked Kryten.

"I never saw them, and I used to go all over the ship!" said Cat.

"I don’t think we have them. Although they may have been classified and kept in a secure area." Said Lister.

"No." said Holly, "We didn’t have no Starsparrows in our reality. I searched every area of Red Dwarf’s data base after the accident and found no trace that bird looking space craft were ever even being designed!"

"Holly," said Kryten, "It’s called a Starspider, not a Starsparrow you lip-stick eating, bodiless imbecile!"

"Fine, fine!" Holly agreed, frustrated, "It’s not a bird then! It’s a spider, Ok, it’s a bloody insect!"

"No, actually Holly," said the Cat, in a smug ‘I’m cleverer than Albert Einstein’s intelectually enhanced clone’ kind of way, "spiders are part of the arachnid family, not the insect family. They are in fact part of the same family as scorpions." Cat looked down at his console, trying to keep his cheesy, smug grin as small as possible without breaking into a laugh of supreme power and intellect.

Holly stared at him for a while, trying to think of something to say which Cat wouldn’t know, and so that he would seem more superior. He (or she, at this moment in time) couldn’t think of anything. He stared up the ceiling, and continued to try and think of something very brainy to say, but his senile, corroded, synthetic brain system couldn’t think of anything. Cat looked up, still grinning, and looked at Holly, as if waiting for a response, that he knew could not defeat his intellect. Holly looked down, still infuriated. He thought for a few more seconds staring Cat right in the eyes. He tilted his head back to get his new, long, blond, feminine hair out of his face. Then he lifted his face, proud, stern and stiff-lipped and calmly said, "Smart arse!" Then he switched off his monitor.

The Cat’s smile collapsed like a Lego bridge being driven over by a tank. He sat staring at Holly’s blank screen with a puzzled, semi-beaten look on him.

After a minute or so he looked back down and started typing in his console.

"Right!" said Kryten, now that all was quiet, "Now that your nursery argument is over perhaps we could try and deal with the two, powerful arachnid looking objects that are chasing us and trying to blast our brains to pieces smaller than an ant’s testicle!"

"What’s happening?" said Kochanski, walking in and sitting in her chair. She had changed into a tight, black, sweater and died her hair blond.

"Where the heck have you been! We’re being attacked!" said Kryten.

"Do you mean my hair’s gonna get ruffed up again?" she said, with the look of disappointment on her face.

"To hell with your smegging hair!" said Kryten, leaning over and scrunching up her hair, making it look as messy as possible, "Activate your console!" He leaned back over and sighed heavily.

Kochanski looked at him in an annoyed way, then smoothed back her hair with a comb she had in her left pocket. She pushed the blue button on her console and the lights flashed up again and the "AUTO" sign disappeared. She grabbed her steering wheel. She then pretended she knew what was going on and said, "Lets go to red alert!"

"Oh, please, ma’am." Begged Lister, "You know how much that wears the batteries down!"

She rolled her eyes, acting as if she were superior, and looked out of the window at the Starspiders.

"They’re closing!" cried Lister.

Kryten suddenly picked up something on his scanner.

"There!" he said, "On a course of 39,82!"

Lister looked at his scanner to confirm what Kryten was trying to point out.

"A nebula!" he said with enthusiasm.

"A what?" asked Kochanski.

"A huge cloud of dust and particles sitting in space. This one is about 80 miles long, 65 across. I’m scanning it to check it’s safe to go in, hang on a second…" said Lister. He scanned the nebula and punched up the results. "Excellent!" he said, "No harmful substances, but it has high concentrations of Trionoxine. This is good, though, because it will disable the Starspider’s scanners, and shielding! Unfortunately it will do the same to us. Can you get us there, miss Kochanski?"

"Maybe" she replied, setting a course, "But not before they take a few good shots at us!"

"Go for it!" said Cat.

Kochanski nodded, and activated the ship’s engines. The ugly, green Starbug vessel sped off towards the huge bluey-grey nebula. The two pursuit vehicles changed course to follow and Red Dwarf lagged its nuclear powered ass behind it.

The lights on Starbug dimmed and the crew looked in awe at the huge cloud of gas beginning to envelop them and blot their vision.

"We’re in," said Kochanski.

"Scanners are now, to a certain extent, off-line," said Lister.

"Isn’t this what happened in Star trek II?" asked Kryten.

"Shhhhhh! It’s a copywrite movie! And Paramount have some darn good lawyers!" ordered the Cat.

As the two Starspiders approached the nebula they slowed and confirmed to Red Dwarf over the radio that they were going in.

"Acknowledged!" Replied Captain Rimmer, speaking into his microphone. The pursuit vehicles went in and were lost from Red Dwarf’s sight.

"What are we going to do, sir?" said Lister to Kryten.

"Dunno." Said Kryten. "If we exit the nebula Red Dwarf will be able to spot us and will notify the Starspiders,"

"We’ll have to find a way to get rid of them first, then!" said Cat.

"But how?" asked Lister, "We can’t detect them, scanners are still off-line, and we can’t stay in here for ever or the darkness will drain our solar batteries, and eventually the gas will wipe out our mains!"

They sat there for a while and thought. They thought some more…and some more. BUT THEN…they thought a bit harder.

Finally Kochanski broke the silence, "I need to go do my nail varnish!" she began to get up. Kryten thrust her back into her chair,

"Stay right where you are!" ordered Kryten. Kochanski snorted and crossed her arms in a sulky, childish manner.

Suddenly Kryten had an idea.

"Are there any flammable substances in this nebula?" he asked the Cat. Cat studied his atmospheric readings of the nebula.

"Yes, small traces of flammable gases." He replied, "But if you’re thinking of igniting them, it won’t work. Because the particles aren’t close enough together."

Kryten sighed.

"Wait," said Lister, "This version of Starbug apparently has a lot of the same devices as our one, yes?"

"Yes." Agreed the Cat.

"Well, lets see if it has a particle collector!" said Lister.

"A what-icle collector?" asked Kochanski.

"It’s used for collecting useful gases, instead of rocks, which Starbug usually collects. It sucks in any particles of a particular substance." Explained Lister. He looked at the ship’s device inventory, by routing the system to his monitor. "We’ve got one!" he said, triumphant.

"Even so," said Kochanski, "Why do we want to ignite a gas for?"

Lister looked at her, expecting an answer to come out of his mouth. It didn’t, so he turned to Kryten, who had originally brought up the idea. Realising he was expected to speak, Kryten explained.

"I want to create an explosion to attract the Starspiders to our position."

"WHAT!" cried Kochanski in disbelief, "You want them to find us and blow our brains out across this nebila…nobula…smegula, whatever it is! That means that this blouse I’m wearing will go into this ugly cloud! Do you really think that that dull, grey colour outside goes with this lovely piece of clothing!?!"

"Shut up!" yelled Kryten, "I haven’t finished yet!"

"Fine! Go on! I don’t care! You get your suits dirty, see if I give a smeg!" said Kochanski, and folded her arms again.

Kryten continued, "After they come near us we have to divert all power to engines, but keep a flame around us to make it look like we’re disabled, and let them get either side of us!"

"Then what?" asked the Cat.

"That is the most cunning and, may I add, skilful part!"

"We’ll never find them in here, sir." Said navigation officer Michael O’Neil of the lead Starspider craft.

"We have to keep looking for them!" said Richardson, the commander of the vessel, "They will make a mistake eventually! Besides, Captain Rimmer’s orders were quite clear: capture the rouge Starbug craft, and only fire if they do first!"

Richardson was a tall, fairly muscular guy, with bulging eyes, a sturdy chin, and always with a serious look on his face. His hair was kind of a punky, flat top hairstyle, but within regulations. He took pride in his "hard man" hairstyle and kept it short, flat on top, and regularly gelled. All though he was a hard guy, he often sucked up to the captain, more than a man who works in a cinema pick ’ n ’ mix sucks up to a manager who has just won the lottery!

Anyway, Richardson was the kind of guy who brought hot tea to his superiors in the morning, and spilled hot tea over those inferior to him in rank! He was, to put it bluntly, a colossal, two-faced bastard.

Suddenly a light appeared on the Starspiders scanner.

"Sir," said the science officer to Richardson, "I’m detecting an energy reaction. Because our scanners are at lowest power, I can’t tell what it is though. It could be Kryten attempting to power up his weapon systems or engines."

Suddenly a huge a huge explosion of yellow flame burst through the nebula. Richardson turned and squinted out of the window and frowned towards the explosion. Richardson new it was them.

"Target that explosion and set a course!" He ordered O’Neil.

"Aye, sir." Replied O’Neil, pushing some buttons on his console.

"Quinbey!" Shouted Richardson at the communications officer, "Notify Starspider B to follow us and surround the enemy! Remind them not to fire unless they do! But they will know better than to pick a fight with a pair of Starspiders!"

Quinbey contacted Starspider 2, and the two pursuit craft altered course to surround the flaming Starbug.

Richardson stared out of the window into the flames.

"Their fatal mistake…" he said, quietly, with a dark grin on his face, "…has been made."

 

"AHHHH!" cried Kochanski, "We’re on fire, we are, WE ARE!" She looked out of the window. The huge orange flames surrounding Starbug blocked her vision of the nebula and roared up in front of her.

"For the last time, NO WE ARE NOT!" said Kryten, sternly, and very fed up.

"Then what the smeg is all that! Can’t ya see it!" she cried hysterically, pointing out of the window.

"Arrgghh!" sighed Kryten, "Lister, you explain it to her!"

"Yes sir." Said Lister, "Look, ma’am." He looked at Kochanski, "There is a lot of gas outside, yes?"

"Err…yeah."

"Now, some of this gas can go on fire, right?"

"Ok."

"Now we put this gas around us, but not exactly touching us, a few centimetres away, and set it on fire to attract the Starspiders so that we can pull off our plan and escape from the nebula."

"Oh." Said Kochanski. She contemplated Lister’s explanation for a while, trying to understand at least one word. In the end she just said,

"WE’RE ON FIRE!"

"Look!" Kryten mused to Kochanski, "If you just charge up the engines to full power then we won’t be on fire."

"…O…k…" she pushed some buttons and the engines whirred.

"They’re closing!" said Lister, pointing out of the windows towards the Starspider’s.

"If i’m correct, the Starspider’s should think that we’re on fire and immobilised." Said Cat, confidently.

"ON FIRE?" yelled Kochanski, "AHHHHHH!"

Kryten rolled his eyes.

"Well," continued Cat, "Being pursuit craft they should go on either side of us and only fire when we charge up our weapons. So, we have to activate the chemical reaction inside the lasers to make it look like we’re charging our weapons, but we’re really using all energy on the engines!"

"WHY?!" asked Kochanski, "I don’t get it! Do you mean we want them to fire on us!?"

"Yep."

"WHY?!"

"ARRGGHH! Just wait and see!"

The Starspiders flew on either side of Starbug.

"Now, sir?" asked Lister.

"No," replied Kryten, looking carefully out of his window, "Not until they’re exactly opposite each other."

Suddenly the voice of Commander Richardson hammered through Starbug’s speakers,

"This is Commander Richardson of the mining corporation pursuit vehicle: Starspider 1. Surrender yourselves immediately or I will open fire!"

Kryten went up to the microphone and replied, "Sorry, but you’re transmission is garbled. I think I got most of it though. You said that you were commander bitch’s-son of the public lavatorial system, and that we should use your facilities immediately or you will open your flies, yes?"

"WHAT!" cried Richardson, "You criminal minded son of a…"

Kryten flicked the switch on the microphone, and thus turned off the speakers.

"Ok," he said to Lister, "Pretend to charge up the Lasers."

Lister pushed a blue button, and then a lighter blue one. A whirring noise could be heard throughout the ship.

 

"Sir!" said O’Neil on the Starspider, "They look like they’re charging weapons!"

"What?!" cried Richardson, "Quinbey, notify Starspider 2 to open fire before they can! O’Neil, target their main systems and fire!"

 

"Get ready to activate full engine power on my mark!" Kryten ordered to Lister. Lister nodded. He watched the Starspider’s laser’s charge up.

"Get ready."

A red light could be seen coming from both Starspiders.

"Ready…"

A laser beam shot out from both Starspider’s simultaneously.

"NOW!"

Lister pushed a red button and Starbug shot forward leving streaks of light, avoiding the two strips of laser fire, which crossed each other. Kryten and the others looked back out of the window as the two streaks of laser skimmed passed each other and smashed into the two Starspiders, disabling them, and leaving it’s bewildered crew stranded in the extraordinarily boring nebula.

"YYYYYYYYYEEEESSSSS!" cried Kryten with joy, triumph and victory, "Get us out of here, Kochanski!"

"Don’t you tell me what to do, dog breath!" Kochanski replied.

"What?" said Kryten. He then realised that she was still pointlessly sulking and decided not to bother explaining that he wasn’t ordering her to do anything, but asking her to help the crew and herself! "Never mind!" he said, grabbing his control wheel, "I’ll do it!"

Kochanski grinned with pathetic triumph. Well what she assumed to be triumph. But to everyone else it was pure ignorance. The kind of ignorance you get from a car boot salesman when you ask him "Why should I buy this clay model of a gorilla cleaning its companion’s behind?"

 

"Sir," said the navigation’s officer aboard Red Dwarf, "Starbug has emerged from the nebula. We are now able to pick them up on scanners."

"What about the Starspiders!" asked Captain Rimmer, anxiously.

"No sign of them." Replied the officer, "They’ve either been destroyed or they’re still in the nebula."

"WHAT!" cried Captain Rimmer, outraged, "Power up full engines and weapon systems and GET ME THAT STARBUG BACK!"

"Aye sir."

Red Dwarf’s huge engines whirred and then let off a large explosion of light. The huge ship the size of London, Washington DC and Pamana Anderson’s tits all stuck together, lunged forward after Starbug, which was ant sized in comparison.

 

"Sir." Said Lister to Kryten, "They’ve powered up their weapons and are coming towards us! I estimate at our current speed and position they will reach us in about eight minutes!"

"What kind of weapons does this Red Dwarf have?" asked Kryten.

"According to the files on Starbug," said Lister, looking at his desktop reading, "Red Dwarf has laser cannons and rock cutting lasers. We can survive them for a while, but they will eventually penetrate our shields and outer walls."

"We have to find a way to disable them, or at least their engines!" said Cat.

"How many of the engines would we have to take out to slow them down?" asked Kryten to Lister or Cat, whoever knew the answer.

"At least 9 out of the eighteen, for them to be slow enough for us to make a getaway." Replied Lister, "But the engines are designed to withstand laser fire and just absorb the energy."

They thought for a while. The situation seemed to be impossible.

"What if we block up the engines?" said Kryten, "If we blocked up enough it would cause an overload and shut them all off, wouldn’t it?"

"Theoretically, yes." Said Lister, but with not much confidence, "But what can we block it up with?"

"Well, this is a mining corporation ship, isn’t it?" said Kryten, "It would have rock! And I’m sure that there is a bit of garbage on board, too!"

"We’re gonna take out a ship the size of a Mammoth’s Bic Mac meal with large fries and a double coke," said Kochanski, sarcastically, "by firing rock and garbage up it’s butt!"

"But the rocks and rubbish will brake into smaller pieces when fired!" said Cat, "We need something to stick them together."

Kryten turned to Lister and said,

"Do you remember that sticky porridge I used to make when I was a mechanoid, back in our universe."

Lister looked back at him, puzzled, and said,

"You mean the one that you got the recipe wrong on? The really sticky one?"

"Yes." Said Kryten, "But I didn’t get the recipe wrong, it was my manufacturers. When they programmed me they get that highly important file wrong! Anyway, check your mechanoid database to see if you’ve got the recipe, and make sure it’s the sticky one!"

Lister looked forward, as if concentrating. A bleeping sound came from the circular panel in his now mechanical stomach.

"I’ve found it, its here!" said Lister.

"Great, make the porridge!" said Kryten.

Lister printed a sheet of paper with the recipe on, out of his paper slot in his chest. Then he walked into the kitchen, in the back room.

Kochanski looked astonished. For once she actually knew what they were planning to do, but even then it didn’t make sense.

"Rock, garbage and porridge." She said, "We’re going to fight that huge ship and it’s laser cannons with rock, garbage and porridge! Fantastic!" She got out the small, black, comb from her left pocket and nervously curled her hair back.

Lister used his mechanical hands in such a way that they were a blur. He whipped up the porridge in the kitchen (with a bit of mess) in four minutes! He plopped the vast amount of gooey slop into a bucket and took it to the torpedo launch bay. Torpedoes were not actually allowed on Starbug, except in emergencies, and even then you needed security level 8 for access to them. Then he heard a call from a radio on the wall next to him,

"Lister, where’s that porridge!?!" cried Kryten’s voice.

Lister pushed and held a small button on the wall and spoke into the microphone next to it.

"I’m melding it with the rocks and garbage, sir!" he replied, "I know what to do!"

"Oh," came Kryten’s voice again, "Sorry, Lister, I wasn’t sure you were fully aware of my plan. Carry on, but be quick about it, Red Dwarf’s fairly close now!"

Lister made a few big bundles of banana skins, drink cans, bottles and paper, crushed them up with rock, and then splattered them together with some lumpy, sticky porridge mix. He loaded them into the torpedo launchers and set off back for the cockpit.

Kryten saw him walk in and sit in his place, swivelling his squeaky chair as his metal backside contacted the seat.

"Right!" he said, "Now I’ve gotta pilot Starbug straight towards Red Dwarf, on what seems to be a death run!"

"WHAT!" cried Kochanski, "Guys, come on! This plan is getting more ridiculous all the time. Next you’ll say we’ve got to fly through their direct laser fire or something!"

"Wow!" boomed Kryten, "We do sometimes think alike, don’t we?!"

Kochanski fainted. No-one bothered to wake her. After all, in this universe, she was no great loss to the team!

"Ok," said Kryten, spiralling his chair around almost 180 degrees to look Cat in the eyes, "I want you to do as much as you can to make Starbug look like it’s disabled and in such a bad condition that we wouldn’t be able to survive for long. Can you do that within two minutes?"

"I think I can, but I’m not sure how effective it will be." Replied Cat, "They should be able to detect if we’re faking with their tactical scanners."

"Hmmm…how long do you thing it would take for them to figure it out at close range?" asked Kryten.

"I’m not sure. It would probably only take about a minute or two, if they have good scanners." Said the Cat, promisingly, "But in a battle situation they may be so busy they won’t notice."

"Ok. Do it. I’ll chuck kochanski out the airlock!" Kryten joked, "What are you planning to do, exactly?"

"Well," said Cat, "To make us look disabled I will vent plasma through the engines to make them look like they’re damaged. I will burn the outside of the hull, but only minorly. I will create an energy discharge in the engineering section, to make what looks like a system overload. And I’ll reset the urinals to flush thirty seconds early."

"Sounds good to me!" said Lister. Kryten nodded and turned his chair back around. Cat began to use his console. Suddenly, Kryten remembered something.

"Wait!" he said to Cat, turning around again, "I almost forgot, this is the most important part! When you make a fake overload in the systems, you have to make it look like that it will blow up Starbug before we hit Red Dwarf."

Cat look slightly puzzled, but nodded and made the necessary calculations.

Kochanski woke up to find her self slumped over the steering wheel. She grabbed hold of it and pushed herself up. The others were busy, and didn’t notice her stir. She looked around. She was unaware of the plan of course and so all she could do was sit there like a hamster and hope everybody else did! Then she noticed out of the window, lots of gas floating around. The others new it was the plasma being vented through the engines purposely, but she thought the ship was really leaking! Her eyes widened. She was startled to see burn marks on Starbugs green, outer surface, too. Then she looked forward out of the main view screen as Starbug shot at unbelievable speeds towards Red Dwarf. The others looked at her as she slumped back over the steering wheel.

 

Captain Rimmer awaited a report from the tactical officer. He got one,

"Sir," said the tactical officer, "They’re coming towards us at full speed! They are aiming for the hologram simulation suite, not that it matters."

"What!?" cried Captain Rimmer, "What is their condition?"

"They appear to be heavily damaged. The engines are leaking gas (in this case plasma), there appear to be burns on the side of the ship, there is an overload occurring in their main systems, and their toilet system has gone crazy. Sir, the overload will destroy their ship if it continues."

"I don’t believe it!" said Captain Rimmer, "They’re attempting a death run! Just to take a few of us with them, they’re planning to drive into us! Like a mad Scotsman, trying to Kamikaze a Welshman who’s stabbed him in both arms and nicked his kilt! THE GITS!"

The Captain turned to the tactical officer and said, "Get the lasers and the torpedoes ready. If they hit Red Dwarf it will hardly make much damage overall, but I’d rather have the hologram simulation suite on that deck intact! They seem heavily damaged, and their shields are down. We should be able to destroy them quickly. I want you to blow up Starbug before it hits the ship, OK?"

"You got it!" said the tactical officer and turned back to his console. Then, over his shoulder he asked, "Shall I evacuate the hologram simulation suite and surrounding areas, in case they do hit?"

"I wouldn’t bother!" said Captain Rimmer, "Just shoot’em before they get to it!"

The tactical officer was about to charge lasers when he noticed something on his scanner.

"Sir," he said.

"What is it!" said the Captain, frustrated.

"The energy signatures on Starbug show that the overload will cause the ship to explode before it hits Red Dwarf!"

"Really?"

"Yes, sir! We have no need to fire at them at all!" said the tactical officer, pleasantly surprised with the predicament.

"Well then," said Captain Rimmer, "Don’t bother wasting that energy on charging up the lasers! Lets just sit and watch them…err…BLOW TO BITS!" He sat in the captain’s chair, crossed his legs and relaxed, staring out of the window at the small, green vessel charging towards them. "Got any pop-corn?" he asked.

"OK," said Kryten, "When we are 70 metres away from hitting Red Dwarf I’ll curl around it’s side and attempt to reach the back of the ship, got it?"

Lister and Cat nodded. Holly’s face reappeared on the screen by the front window.

"All right, dudes." He said, in his usual twang, "What’s up, then. Any-one got a plan while I was away?"

"We’re about to skim past the side of Red Dwarf and then block up the engines when we get to the back, sir." Explained Lister.

"Oh." Said Holly, "But, won’t they start shooting at us all the way along the side. It’s a long ship, you know."

Kryten looked at the other two in the back. He hadn’t considered that! Kochanski groaned, still unconscious.

"Don’t worry, sirs." Said Lister, reassuringly, "At such a close range it will be hard for the lasers to lock onto us. They may hit us a few times, but we should get through…I hope."

Kryten looked at Cat. Cat nodded in absolute agreement. Kryten turned back to his steering wheel, sighed uneasily, and prepared for the spin.

 

"Their energy signature is getting larger, sir." Said Red Dwarf’s navigation officer, "They should blow up in…five…four…three…two…"

Captain Rimmer looked satisfactorily out of the window.

"ONE!"

Starbug did not explode. It didn’t even slow down!

Captain Rimmer leapt to his feet and demanded an explanation.

"Uh…err…I don’t know." Replied the tactical officer, very confused, "I’ll re-scan………There’s no overload at all! Sir, they faked it by diverting all energy to one point! They’re not stopping, sir!"

"WHAT?! Activate lasers, evacuate the hologram suite! NOW!" cried Captain Rimmer.

"There’s no time, sir. Here she comes!"

They watched in horror as Starbug hurtled towards them. Suddenly their jaws dropped to the ground and bounced at least five times, as they saw, just at the last second, Starbug spin violently to it’s side and swerve around to the left hand side of Red Dwarf.

"Wha…what the…" blurted Captain Rimmer, "Shoot down that damn ship!!!"

The tactical officer activated the weapons.

 

"We’re travelling down the side of Red Dwarf now, sir." Said Lister, "But they’ve activated weapons!"

A laser shot whooshed across the window screen.

"It’s like that Death Star scene from Star Wars, isn’t it!" Yelled Kryten, trying to keep spirits up.

"Death Star!" said Holly, very discouraged, "THANKS A LOT!" And he turned himself back off.

Starbug shook violently as a laser beam struck the bottom of the mid-section.

"Darn it!" said Lister, "They’ve hit the kitchen! Permission to return fire, sir!"

"By all means, YES!" said Kryten, "Try and take out their laser emitters!"

Starbug shot a few streaks of laser at Red Dwarf. They took out two laser emitters out of about ninety, and did little other damage!

Starbug got hit again, this time on the engineering deck.

"Some of the supplies in the engineering deck are damaged, sir!" said Lister, surveying the damage report machine, "And I’m afraid the last hit took out the Poppadom packets and the salad cream!"

"Were they the spicy Poppadoms or the normal ones?" asked Kryten, having Lister’s taste for Indian foods in this universe.

"The spicy ones, sir!"

"ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!!! FIRE AGAIN!" ordered Kryten. Once again Starbug fired, taking out one emitter and doing sod all else!

Starbug get hit again, and again, and two more times before it got to the end of the ship.

"REPORT!?" cried Kryten.

"The cargo bay’s damaged," said Lister, "the lasers are off-line, engines are on auxiliary power, and the salad cream has got all over that nicely decorated china collection!"

Out of the window they now saw Red Dwarf’s many large engines.

"Fire that smeggin’ porridge!" yelled Kryten.

Lister pushed a button and a blob of the porridge/garbage/rock recipe was catapulted out of Starbug’s torpedo launcher and lodged in one of Red Dwarf’s engines.

"Bulls-eye!" cried the Cat, "Fire another one!"

Lister did so. And another, and another, until Kryten said,

"That’s enough! We’ve blocked up enough of their engines to create an overload. Plus we can’t take any more of their laser fire! I’m getting us out of here!" He pulled back on the throttle and turned the steering wheel. Starbug moved away from the laser blazing Red Dwarf.

 

"What did they just do?" asked Captain Rimmer to the tactical officer.

"Apparently, sir, they have just fired porridge at us."

The captain stood there, highly perplexed. He raised his left eye brow, and then said, "Well…err…we better follow them, I suppose."

"Aye sir," said the tactical officer, pressing some nicely coloured buttons, "Activating engines." A warning bleep went off.

"Sir, there seems to be a blockage in the engines."

"What? What kind of blockage?" asked Captain Rimmer.

The tactical officer stared at his readout in amazement, then simply said, "Porridge."

"P-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-porrodge?" parroted Captain Rimmer.

He nodded and said, "It’s causing an overload. It will occur in five seconds…four…three…two…one."

The ship shook gently.

"Engines off-line, sir. We won’t be able to repair them for another twenty-six hours, approximately, sir."

Rimmer stared out the window as Starbug seemed to get smaller and smaller, as it got further and further away.

Captain Rimmer sighed and then yelled at the top of his voice,

"SMEG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"So," said Kryten, "What the hell are we going to do about getting out of this stupid, smegged-up universe, eh?" He looked back at Lister and Cat.

"I’ll start downloading the information from the old mirror machine into Starbug’s computer and try to build a new one. It shouldn’t be too difficult." Said Lister, "The only problem is, although there are mirrors aboard Starbug which are more or less flat, they are different at the microscopic level, so when we pass through that mirror, I believe we will enter yet another different universe."

"So you mean we have to pass through the same mirror we came through?" asked Kryten, understandingly.

"Precisely." Nodded Lister.

"How the smeg are we going to do that?" asked Kryten, "That would mean getting back into the captain’s quarters on Red Dwarf. We just got away from there!"

Kochanski woke up again.

"Sir," said Lister, "This is a mining ship. It has cutting instruments on board, even maybe for microtechnology! If I download the precise calculations of the previous mirror into the ship’s system, I should be able to literally carve the mirror into the shape we want!"

Kochanski rubbed her eyes with her index fingers, slowly.

"Get to work on it then!" Kryten said to Lister.

"Yes, sir."

"I’ll help him out." Said Cat.

"Perhaps you should go and find a mirror with a molecular pattern closest to the one that we need, sir." Said Lister to Cat, "That way we will save energy on the cutting device."

Cat nodded and walked out of the cockpit.

Kochanski suddenly remembered why she had fainted and jumped to attention. She quickly looked out of the window. Red Dwarf was gone, and they were apparently safe.

"What’s going on?" she asked.

"Ah, ma’am!" said Lister, getting up and preparing to leave the room, "Are you fully functional and on-line?"

"What the heck are you talking about, trodden on marshmallow head!?" cried Kochanski, baffled by Lister’s use of words.

"He means ‘are you OK?’" explained Kryten.

"Oh…err…yeah, I’m OK." Said Kochanski, not really sure if she was telling the truth.

Lister walked out of the cockpit. Holly turned himself back on. He was relieved to find that he could turn himself back on, and that his circuitry wasn’t spread over two miles of deep space.

"So," said Holly, calmly, as if he hadn’t been worried in the first place, "What happened?"

"Nothing much!" said Kryten , sarcastically, "You see, all we smeggin’ well did was charge towards Red Dwarf, spin to it’s side, dodge a load of…"

He was cut off when Starbug shook violently and a screeching metal sound filtered its way through the corridors.

"Holly!" cried Kryten, "What was that?"

"Just a moment…" Holly’s screen went dark for a second as he checked the damage report system. He reappeared and said, "It doesn’t look good," he nodded at the damage report read-out, "take a look for yourself!"

Kryten leaned over to the damage report screen and read the horrifying messages printed on it.

"What is it?" asked Kochanski.

"We were hit badly on the engineering deck three times by Red Dwarf’s laser fire!" said Kryten, "The outside wall is very weak and could rupture at any minute. We need to get down there and reinforce the wall plating, and make sure nothing heavy hits it!"

Then they heard a voice from the microphone. It was Lister.

"What was that? Is Starbug OK?" he asked.

Kryten pressed a button and held it down, hard. He spoke,

"We were hit pretty badly on the hull under the engineering section. We have to reinforce the wall. You and Cat better get some supplies and meet us down there!"

"Yes, sir." Said Lister.

 

Lister and the Cat walked into the engineering deck with soldering equiptment to find Kryten and Kochanski waiting there. They were both holding a tool kit each, and by the floor next to them was a pile of scrap metal.

The engineering deck was a large factory-like area, with metal, gridded staircases, pipes carrying gas and water, and large (but not very high-tech looking) machinery. The lighting was a bit lower than the rest of the ship and the walls were not the same military…err…ocean…well they weren’t the usual pleasant grey colour as the rest of the ship. They were a simple, dull, metallic grey colour, with faint detections of rust in the areas near water pipes. There were a lot of items stacked untidily against a wall to the left wall of the engineering room. There were boxes, crates, small machines, crowbars, wrenches, and even a fridge! From behind them was a loud, unsettling, metal screeching noise.

Kryten pointed to the pile of objects and said to Lister and the Cat, "That’s where the wall is weak. When the ship shook about all of those objects smashed into it, too. They’re applying a lot of force onto it, weakening it further. We should get rid of them and then attach some scrap metal to it to enforce the wall.

OK, Kochanski, you start clearing the right hand side of the pile. Lister, you sta…"

"Sir," said Lister, "I don’t believe that moving the objects would be a good idea."

"Why not?" asked Kryten.

"They could actually be enforcing the wall themselves." Explained Lister, "If we suddenly release the wall of all that pressure it may cause the wall to collapse!"

"So whadda we do, bud?" asked Kochanski.

"I suggest we repair the wall from another location. Perhaps outside the ship!" said Lister.

"He’s right," agreed Kryten, "Someone has got to go outside and repair the ship from there. Who’s gonna do it?"

Everyone looked at Kryten.

"Err…" he thought, "Shall we draw straws?"

They remained there and stared at him.

"Err…shall we do "Ippy Dippy" to see who goes?" he suggested.

They continued to stare at him.

"All right!" he said, "I’ll do it, then! But, Lister, you’re coming with me! For one thing you can breathe in space, now, without a space suit. Cat, Kochanski, keep a radio link open to us so that we can carry out the repairs simultaneously."

Cat and Kris nodded. Lister walked over to a storage locker and got out a pair of radios. He passed one to Cat, and the other one to Kryten.

"Good luck!" called Cat, as Lister and Kryten ran up the staircase to the airlock.

 

SCCCCCCCRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEECCCCCCHHHHHHHH!

The laser cutter sparked and squealed at the side of Starbug as Lister welded another layer of metal onto the side of Starbug. The repairs had taken exactly 1 hour 36 minutes so far, and progress was coming on excellently.

"OK, Cat." Said Kryten into his radio, which was clipped onto the inside of his spacesuit, "Remove some more of the objects. We’ve welded on another layer."

"Acknowledged." Replied Cat. He and Kochanski, exhausted, removed a fridge, a crate and a clay toilet seat from the pile.

"How much more?" asked Kryten on the radio.

"That’s it!" replied Cat, "The pile’s finished!"

"Great! In that case, Lister and I will come back inside and finish repairs from there! OK?"

"Agreed! Over and out."

Lister had heard this via a small speaker in his ear. He also had a small microphone by his mouth. He grabbed the laser cutter and tucked the spare scrap metal under his arms. Then he and Kryten climbed across the side of the ship back to the airlock.

Tssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

The airlock opened with a calm, pleasant whoosh, and then closed again with a fairly loud chuchung.

Kryten reached down and turned pushed a button on his large, metal, magnetic boots, deactivating them. Then he began to remove his spacesuit and hang it up in the locker to the left of the airlock. While he did this, Lister radioed the Cat.

"We’re safely back in, sir." He said.

"Good." Answered Cat, "Meet me in here [referring to the engineering deck] to get some supplies for building the mirror machine. Oh, and, err, I suggest Kryten meets Kochanski in the cockpit, OK?"

"I’ll tell him, sir." Replied Lister.

"Hang on!" said Kyten, overhearing. He grabbed the radio and spoke to Cat, "You and Kochanski come to the conversation lounge. Lister and I will meet you there. We have a few matters to discuss!"

 

The four crewmembers sat down at the grey, metal table, on the grey, metal, however cushioned, seats.

"Right." Said Kryten, taking authority, "Now I’m sure you pretty much know what you’re doing, but I want to know in detail! Will you please go over the whole plan."

"Yeah, guys!" said Kochanski, "I want to know what we’re doing just as much as he does!"

"May I, sir?" Lister asked Cat.

"Go ahead!" said Cat.

"Well, we’re planning to collect some objects and pieces of material from the engineering and cargo bays to make the mirror machine." Explained Kryten.

"All right, dudes!" said Holly activating his screen in the room.

"Hey Hol!" Greeted Kryten. Then he turned to Lister, "But I thought to make something like that you needed an atomic prism, which we found in Red Dwarf’s experimental research lab. After the crew had left, right?"

"Yes, sir. That’s correct."

"How are we going to find one on Starbug?!" asked Kryten, agitated.

"Oh I see!" said Lister, understanding Kryten’s dilemma. "Don’t worry about that, sir! The Cat got one from his laboratory on the mirror Red Dwarf."

"Yeah." Explained Cat, "As a top professor I was allowed access to many substances and files concerning these kinds of things!"

"All right." Said Kryten reassured, "and what about the actual mirror we’re going to use?"

"Well as we said before, sir," said Lister, "We plan to download the microscopic molecular pattern of the captain’s mirror into a laser cutter and then use the laser cutter to "carve" a mirror so that it is right for our purpose."

"Which is what, exactly?" asked Kochanski.

"To make donkey vindaloo with extra hot poppadoms made of dry bird droppings!" Kryten said, sarcastically, "WHAT DO YOU THINK!?"

"Ma’am, we’re trying to get back to our own reality!" said Lister.

Kochanski looked at him, puzzled.

"Oh." She said.

Kryten rolled his eyes.

"Hang on!" he said, "In our dimension the Starbug equivalent to this one is miles away from here. In our dimension the position we’re sitting in now is deep space!"

"Yes, sir." Said Lister, "But it doesn’t work like that. The mirror will not just transfer us to our universe, it will take us to the equivalent mirror. So we won’t materialise in deep space, don’t worry!"

"So we’d appear on a Starbug, with the rest of the Red Dwarf fleet?"

"Precisely."

"Well, in that case we’d better get started," Said Kryten, "Lister, Cat, you better get on with making the machine and working on how we’ll use it. I will lend a hand with assembling it and I’ll sometimes pop up to the cockpit to check on things. Kochanski…"

She looked up, intently.

"…you just sit in the cockpit and wait for something to happen."

"Is it easy?" she asked.

"Is what easy?" replied Kryten.

"What I have to do. Because I’m tellin’ you, I have had a rough day and I’m not doin’ anything complified!"

"Complified?" said Kryten, baffled. "No no. Look, you weren’t listening! All I said was ‘sit in the cockpit’! That isn’t complified…err…complicated!"

"I see." Said Kochanski, trying to sound intellectual. She got up.

"I better go do my job then!" she said, thinking she was about to do something important, and walked off to the cockpit.

The others looked at each other, wondering if they should admit Kochanski to "Ackh-hack-haughkachkacgh-ackh-aKK-ackhi Achooough-ahh", the Gelf mental hospital, which was situated on the dark-side of the ugliest planet in that part of the galaxy.

 

Twang! KerPlunk! Smash! Owwww!!!!! Kryten, Lister and the Cat chucked around large scraps of metal, bits of old machinery and various other equiptment and they scavanged the cargo bay searching for components they could use for the Mirror Machine. Kryten chucked a crowbar over his shoulder, oblivious to the fact that it hit Lister on the head, denting it further. This had happened to Lister at least six times now, but he thought he better be polight to his human master! His metallic head was covered in dents of different shapes and sizes, but it wasn’t effecting his brain circuits in any way. Cat was on the other side of the bay, constructing the machine out of the bits they had found so far. However they still needed a lot more.

"Hurrah!" boomed Kryten and from the rubble at his feet he pulled out a strange, power drill shaped device. Cat looked up.

"A laser cutter!" cried Lister, "Well done, sir! If you’ll permit me I’ll start downloading the mirror molecular data into it."

"Good idea." he handed Lister the laser cutter and started to search again. Lister inspected the laser device. Cat looked down and began work again.

"Hmmmm." said Lister, "This cutter will need a new power cell. I can get that and download the data from the science lab, can’t I, Mr.Cat?"

Cat didn’t hear. He was too busy.

"Begging your pardon, sir???" Lister persisted.

"What???" Said Cat looking up, "Oh, yes. Science lab, yes. You should be able to do both from there." He got back to his mahcine.

He was making a very thorough job of designing the inner structure of the device. He had now spent quite a few hours on it and it was looking good. Lister had just found the prism needed for the machine in the wreckage, and now, with the laser cutter, he could "carve" it into the required shape and then Cat could assimilate it into the device. The prism was one of the main components of the machine and it was vital to it working at all. The energy needed was a light beam and a laser very close to each other, going in a straight line at the same time. They would hit the prism and the two forms of light and energy would meld together. When they hit the mirror they would change reflection (which is merely the reflection of light energy) into physical matter, creating a world within the mirror. The fact is, that this universe isn’t even in existence until the mirror creates it. The prism sends out a field that splits the space into two dimensions, a real one and a mirror one, for a radius of about 900,000 miles. But these two dimensions are completely split up at first and you don’t even realise that the mirror universe exists until you enter it through a mirror. Once normal matter is inside the mirror universe (instead of just mirror matter) then the mirror universe remains in existence even if the mirror device is turned off. Normal matter kind of pushes the mirror universe open. But once the normal matter is out of there the universe closes, assuming the device is turned off. So, in the situation that they were, Kryten and the others had to find a mirror that they could use to get back to their own universe, but it had to be within

900,000 miles of where they entered the universe, otherwise they would dematerialise because there was nothing to support normal matter. Mirror matter, like the mirror Red Dwarf could go beyond the 900,000 mile locus, but normal matter like Lister, Kryten, Kochanski and the Cat could not. Lister had explained all this to Kryten and Kochanski in the Tank on mirror Red Dwarf using cat’s help. Kryten vaguely understood it, but Kochanski thought they were talking about the range of fashionable underwear in Marks and Spencers. She failed to realise that no Marks and Spencers in the history of the universe had a radius of 900,000 miles.

So, to sum up that boring, unconvincing and very confusing explanation, I can safely say that Kryten and the others, like people who go for a phone call in a brothel, are heavily buggered.

Lister was working on the prism in the lab with laser cutter that he had finally repaired, forming the right shape. He had detected that the prism had fused with another substance, possibly a metal alloy, during the battering of Red Dwarf’s laser fire, but said that it shouldn’t matter to the end result.

In the cargo bay Kryten was getting fed up. He couldn’t find any more useful equipment. They needed some wires to solder into the machine. They had almost all the scrap metal they needed, they only required the electrical components, now.

"Aaaarrggghhh!" groaned Kryten, fed up, tired and thirsty. "Cat!?" he called over to his feline companion in the corner on the other side of the cargo bay, sitting on the floor, his legs crossed, still furiously working on the machine. He didn’t hear.

"CAT!!!" yelled Kryten louder. He sighed, rolled his eyes and walked down the bay towards him. When he was about four meters from him he said, quite calmly for such a stressed out person, "Cat…"

Professor Cat looked up in acknowledgement.

"I’m just goin’ for a drink, OK?"

"Sure." Said Cat, in his normal voice, but slightly more polite and intellectual.

"You want anythin’?" asked Kryten. He yawned. His mouth opened like the rump of a flatulent elephant. He smacked his lips and a little drop of saliva blipped onto the machine.

Cat didn’t notice and just said "Err, yeah. A coke, if you please."

"Don’t ya want a beer or something? You used to have it with Lister a lot, back in our universe."

"Mmmm…no thanks. I don’t want it to affect my work." Said Cat.

Kryten nodded and walked off to the side of the bay where the stairway to the next level was. Cat got back to work.

Kryten clanked up the gridded, steel staircase up to the door. It slowly slid open to his left and he stepped through. He was back in the reasonably hospitable parts of the Starbug ship. The military grey colour again. No, no wait. Kryten was sure it was ocean grey. No, it was too dark. Or was it. It was strange, when he ws a mechanoid his robotic brain would instantly work out the shade of the colour and tell him whether it was ocean or military. But now it was hard for him to tell. Ok, he could now say "smeg", "bugger" and "YOU B*ST*RD!" as many times as he wanted, but he didn’t know what any of them meant anymore. He wanted his full IQ back. He now realised how Holly felt when he had become computer senile. An IQ of more than all the greatest minds in history put together, brought down to the amount of all the smallest goldfish in the smallest bowl of water in history. Ok, Kryten hadn’t started off with an IQ status of 6,000, and he wasn’t as thick as Holly was now, but he still wanted more intelligence. Enough to correct Lister’s every word again. Enough to give him the orgasmic pleasure he used to get from going into ultimate "smug mode". The quicker he got back to his own reality, the sooner he could "route" Lister out again. Aaaahh! Ecstasy!!!

Kryten looked a bit closer at the wall.

"No!" he thought, "I can do it! I can get it." He peered closer and closer. "Ocean blue! It’s ocean blue!" he decided, and walked on down the corridor, feeling good about his choice. He passed a pair of crew quarters. He peeked inside to see what was inside. The quarters were empty, as the Starbug they were on was out of service when they stole it. He continued on. He came to one of the Information Technology rooms. He decided to test his theory bout the walls. He went in and stood in front of one of the computer terminal. He flicked the switch at the side and turned it on.

LOGIN NAME >

It read. Kryten didn’t know if his name would work, so he typed "USER"

USING THE USER FUNCTION WILL GIVE YOU ACCESS TO LIMITED FILES ONLY. DO YOU WISH TO CONTINUE? (Y/N) >

Kryten typed "Y" (meaning "yes", of course).

STARTING UP USER FILES. PLEASE WAIT…

C:>

Kryten typed "Ship info.exe"

SEARCHING…

A program now came up which allowed him to use the mouse. He grabbed to mouse, which was to the right of the computer and clicked the link on the screen marked "GENERAL SHIP INFORMATION"

Then an option came up with a choice of three:

RED DWARF; STARBUG; BLUE MIDGET

Kryten clicked on "STARBUG"

STARBUG GENERAL INFO

MADE OF THE TITANIUM ALLOY…

Kryten visually scanned the screen for what he was looking for.

MINIMAL HEAT CONDUCTION.

COLOUR : MILITARY GREY

Kryten thrust his fist into the centre of the screen, cracking it from the centre to the edge. He walked of, infuriated, to get his drink. The computer buzzed and whirred.

TH ** N K YO OO U-U FOR U-U-U-U-USING STARButTTt’S InFOrmaTiON ON BoARd CoMpppUUUTER-r-r-RS.

 

Kryen came to the food dispenser, after punching a few military grey wall panels down the corridor. Like most dispensers on Starbugs and Red Dwarf, it was a terminal built into the wall, with two lights that flashed when it spoke, and a tray at the bottom to collect your food and drink.

HELLO, HOW MAY I HELP YOU?

Said the dispenser, in it’s usual, polite manner.

"A beer and a coke, please." Said Kryten, seeming to have calmed down, now.

CERTAINLY.

A can of beer and a can of coke popped out into the little tray at the bottom.

"Cheers." Said Kryten, picking them up, one in each hand. He started to walk off, but then stopped, turned around, and decided to see if the computer records were faulty or out of date.

"Hey, dispenser!" he said.

YES SIR, HOW MAY I HELP YOU.

"What colour are these walls???"

WELL, SIR. AT PRESENT TIME THEY ARE MILITARY GREY. FOR MORE DETAILS OF THE SHIP’S INTERIOR STRUCTURE, PLEASE CONSULT THE ON BOARD INFORMATION COMPUTER TERMINALS, WHICH ARE SITUATED…

The dispenser’s reasonably long life then ended swiftly and sharply, with a nasty crunch. Kryten shook his fist, picked up the cans again, and walked off back to the cargo bay.

Kryten stepped in and looked across the bay from the top of the stairs. He could see Lister working with Cat on the floor. The machine looked as if it was coming on well. He climbed down the stairs. Lister heard the clanks, got up and walked over to meet him.

"Ahh! Mr. Kryten, sir." Said Lister.

"Hey, Lister." Said Kryten, "Anything new to report?"

"Yes, sir. I’ve finished programming the laser cutter and have shaped the prism accordingly. I have disintegrated most of the alloy that was fused with it. There are still traces of it, but I doubt it’s anything to worry about. Mr. Cat has nearly finished the machine, but still needs a few more wires. Do you think you could find some, sir?"

"Sure. I’ll have another look now." Replied Kryten.

"Ok, sir. I will assist you."

"Before you do, can you give this to Cat?" he asked, handing Lister the can of Coke.

"Certainly, sir." Said Lister, and walked off towards the Cat.

Kryten pulled back the ring of his beer can. It opened with a buzzing fizz. He sipped it. It fizzed down his throat. He felt a warm, smooth, sensation.

"Ahhhhhh!!!" said Kryten, licking his lips. He stared up at the stairway he had come down. The stupid door still hadn’t closed. He could see the wall of the corridor through the doorway.

He frowned.

"Military grey…" he hissed, and sipped his beer again.

 

Up in the cockpit Kochanski was bored to tears. She had had three showers, seven change of clothes, she had changed her hair style ten times and dyed it four. But she was still bored. She combed her hair for the fourteenth time, placed the comb back in her pocket, and slouched forward in her chair. She randomly pressed a few buttons on her console. The window wipers went on then off for a second. An airbag filled up in the adjacent chair. Kochanski had used this random combination of buttons quite a few times now, and it was wearing pretty thin. She pressed another couple of buttons, then twizzled the steering control round a bit. The ship shook and rumbled a bit. She heard Lister’s voice crackle through the speaker to the left of her chair.

"Miss Kochanski, ma’am? Is everything ok up there?"

She heard Kryten’s voice in the background. It sounded harsh, but not too loud. She heard some quiet thumps, as if the microphone Lister was using was changing hands.

"Gimme that." She heard Kryten say.

"KOCAHNSKI!?!" she heard him yell through the speaker, "Stop messing around with the controls! You’re gonna get us killed!"

Kochanski looked around at her control panel, and saw a square button marked "SPEAK".

She pressed it, held it, and spoke into the microphone next to her.

"How can we get killed by shaking about a bit and having the windows wiped?" she said, sarcastically.

"Well, with you, a number of things!!!" replied Kryten, "You don’t know how to use the controls properly! You could set off the ships auto destruct or fly us into a star!"

"What?" said Kochanski, "You mean like that big, round, yellowy-orange thing we’re heading towards?"

"WHAT!!!" screamed Kryten, "Wait there! I’m coming up!"

"I’m kidding, hollow head!" shouted Kochanski, "I’m not that stupid!!!"

She leaned forward and rested her elbow on her control console. The ship tilted to one side and the engines blasted up to full speed.

Kochanski fell to one side as Starbug changed course.

"Oooops!" she said. She looked out of the window in front of her. There was a big, round, yellowy-orange thing filling up most of the view…and it was getting closer. Or rather, Starbug was getting closer. Closer to the huge star, which Kochanski had accidentally piloted towards. She gritted her teeth. A drip of sweat plipped down from her nose onto her bottom lip.

"What now, Kochanski!!!" sighed Kryten, through the speakers.

"Err…well…err. Something…"

"Like what? Is it good or bad???"

"Err…well…that depends…" she said, "What is that big, round, yellowy-orange thing that we’re heading towards?"

Kryten sighed again.

"Shut up, you stupid slut! Haven’t you noticed that you tried to pull that one on me less than two minutes ago? You’ve got the memory of a goldfish that has amnesia!" He turned off the microphone, disconnecting the radio link.

"Hello??? Kryten???" she cried.

She began to panic. She frantically pressed buttons, hoping to get the right combination. Confident that these were her last moments, she decided to do what she always wanted to do. She would colour her hair in thirteen different colours at once: Blue, Red, Yellow, Green, Brown, White, Black, Gold, Silver, Violet, Indigo, Pink and Orange. She got out her hair dies and colours and got to work.

As the ship approached the star, the temperature continued to rise, and by now Kryten and the others were beginning to think something was wrong. Kochanski put some blue die in the left of her hair. Lister’s voice crackled in through the speaker.

"Miss Kochanski, ma’am? Is everything ok?"

She put some black in at the back in the centre.

"No, Kryten. But there’s not enough time, now. I’m sorry, guys." She said, sadly. She didn’t realise that they could still move out of the way in time. She didn’t even know how to move out of the way in time, so that wouldn’t have mattered anyway. A large ball of fire flung off the star and headed towards Starbug.

"Ma’am???" said Lister, baffled.

She put in some Indigo.

"I’m sorry, Lister! Tell the I’m sorry!!!"

The fireball was headed towards them at incredible speed.

She apologised again and got out the orange hair colour tube. The fireball was almost on them. If it hit Starbug it would envelope the whole thing and burn it to ashes.

Holly had been offline for quite a time now. The attack from Red Dwarf had damaged his circuits a bit, and when the others went off to build the mirror machine he had turned himself off to regenerate and give auto repair a chance to reconnect some of his damaged circuits. But all of his temperature sensors around the ship were aware of the rise in heat, and his external sensors were going wild! He switched himself on in the cockpit, on a screen on Kochanski’s panel.

"All right, dudes?" he said, in his new, feminine voice. He looked confused for a second. He had forgotten that in the mirror universe he was female. He shook off the confusion, and looked at Kochanski.

"Oh, hi. Err…head?" she asked.

"Yeah?"

"I have accidentally piloted the ship towards a star. What shall I do???"

"Well," said Holly, "When I was being programmed I was told that in case of fire you should duck, cover, stay towards the ground and look for an exit."

"It’s not a fire. It’s a big ball of fire, called a star." Said Kochanski.

"Oh." Said Holly.

The fireball got dangerously close.

"In that case," he continued, "In the words of that smeg head, Rimmer…"

"Yes……..???" said kochanski.

"We’re finished." He said. "Thanks a lot!!!" and he turned himself off.

Kochanski rolled her eyes and took a deep sigh.

The fireball was very close now, flaming it’s way towards them.

She cursed Holly quickly, and picked up her orange hair gel tube.

The fireball was only a few meters away.

She squeezed the tube.

The fireball was inches away, and the ship was hotter than Pamela Anderson in a sauna.

A big blob of orange hair gel splat right up from the tube and plopped onto the control console.

Starbug tilted to one side, turned around and headed away from the star. The fireball skimmed passed them and carried on into space.

A smile rippled across the fluky, thick woman’s face. She was suddenly aware again of Kryten’s voice.

"Miss Kochanski! Please! What’s wrong! Hello!!! Hellooooo!!!!!!! Please!"

She pressed the TALK button.

"Hello?" she said.

"Ah, thank goodness! There you are, ma’am!" said Kryten, relieved, "What happened?"

"Oh…err…nothing. Just the…err…thermostint." She replied.

"You mean the "thermostat?" Kryten asked.

"Whatever!" she said, "It’s all under control, now. Nearly finished down there???"

"I’m afraid there’s still a bit of work to be done. We should be finished in an hour or two."

"What!?!" she cried, "Another hour or two!!! No thanks! I’m coming down!"

"Hang on, ma’am. I’ll just see what Mr. Kryten says…"

She waited. She heard them talking in the background, but she couldn’t here what. Then she heard Kryten’s voice.

"Kochanski!?!" he yelled.

"Hmm." She said in acknowledgement.

"You stay right were you are!" Barked Kryten, "Just tell us if anything unusual or interesting happens!"

"Interesting? Up here???" she said, "Oh, you mean like if the control panal goes "BLEEP-BLEEP" instead of "BLEEP-BLEEP-BLEEP"?

She heard Kyrten sigh impatiently and he said,

"No! Like if you smeg up the controls and fly us towards a star bursting with fireballs!"

Kochanski scratched her head, as if trying to prove to some invisible person that she would never and had never done that.

"A-heh." she let out a little, slow, fake laugh to show that she thought that was ridiculous, "That’s silly. Only a complete idiot would do that. Heh-heh...heh."

"Hmmmm." Kryten murmered in agreement and suspiction, "Well, just keep your eyes open! We’ll be finished here in an hour or two."

"No, no! Look, i’m as bored as dog who hasn’t seen a female dog’s butt in years! I’m coming down!" Kochanski began to get up.

"Stay there, Kochanski! You’re more use up there!" said Kryten, in a poor attempt to patronise her. Then she heard him mutter quietly under his breath, "For what use that is!"

Kochanski clenched her teeth and frowned. She turned the microphone to top volume. She smiled a little, evil, vengeful smile and scraped her long nails over the microphone. The information of this hideous sound filtered down through the ships radio system as majorly smegged up electrical signals, then squealed out of the speaker in the engineering deck, out into Kryten’s ears.

"AAAAARRRRGH!!!!!!!" cried Kryten, scrunching up his face to escape from the mind-tangling screech and he jumped back from the speaker on the wall. When the sound had gone he ran over to the microphone on the wall and violently smashed in the button turning it off.

"Hello?" said Kochanski, giggling immaturely, "Still there, Mr. I’m the only important one in the universe?…" she waited for a reply. There was none.

"I’m coming down. OK?…" She waited again to see if anyone was still listening. After 5 minutes of there being no answer she came to the brilliant conclusion that no one was listening. She switched the controls to "auto", got up, and walked off towards the engineering deck.

 

 

Back through the mirror, in the normal universe, where things existed in normal matter and energy, opposed to mirror matter and energy, which were composed simply of converted light. Here, where Red Dwarf no longer existed, where Hollister was the Captain, and Rimmer was the original chicken soup repairman. Here where the crew of Red Dwarf flew in a scattered trail, trying to get home. Will they ever make it? Fat smeg of a chance!

Here in the normal universe (as normal as you can get, considering the vast amount of weird, foul smelling creatures, fiends and ogres that Lister and the others have encountered), a lone escape pod flies slowly onward, trying to catch up with the massive fleet light years ahead. In the back room of the pod a bored human and a pessimistic service droid sat on the metallic, cushioned chairs around the small, square, metal table, in an attempt to find more ingenious ways of wasting time.

"Ha!" laughed Rimmer, "King me!" he moved his black draughts piece to the other side of the black and white chequered board, where Bob sat peering down and contemplating his next go. Bob reached down to his massive mountain of black draughts pieces next to him on the table, picked up a piece in the three claws mounted on his head, and "kinged" Rimmer’s piece.

This was Rimmer’s first "King", and probably his last. In fact, definitely his last, considering it was his last piece on the board. Bob moved another of his pieces to Rimmer’s side of the board.

"Smeg!" Rimmer hissed, and kinged another of Bob’s pieces. This was Bob’s ninth "king", and probably his last. Not because he had only nine pieces on the board, he had more than that, but because he was probably going to beat Rimmer totally, for the sixty-eighth consecutive time since they had started playing draughts. Previously, Bob had beaten Rimmer at chess (36 consecutive times), Risk (16 consecutive times), Monopoly (23 consecutive times), and table football (6 consecutive times). They actually played Guess Who about 30 times, too. But Rimmer won one of these, by cheating. He stuck a piece of blue tack onto the back of one of the cards. Bob eventually picked this one and Rimmer guessed it on his first go, which must have been just slightly suspicious. He denied it, of course, and they started to play draughts. And so here they were. Still playing draughts, and Rimmer was about to be beaten for his sixty-eighth game in a row!!!

Rimmer had a choice now. He could either move to the only position he could and be wiped out in a single move, or he could forfeit the game. He decided to do the thing that he thought would have made him an honourable general in Alexander the Great’s army. He moved the piece to the only position he could. Immediately Bob grabbed his nearest king and swiped it at Rimmer’s piece, knocking it off the table and sending it flying into the wall. Triumphantly, Bob slammed his piece down onto the table where Rimmer’s had been. Bob had won again.

"How about Snakes and Ladders?" asked Rimmer.

Bob made an electronic sighing sound and rested his head on the table.

Rimmer had Bob had now been floating in space, attempting to follow the Red Dwarf fleet for over a week now. Rimmer had insisted that they play games to pass the time, but he got so obsessed in trying to defeat Bob that they played almost 20 hours a day. Rimmer hadn’t shaven for all this time and he only washed very occasionally. Food rations could probably last him another week, but then he would have to search for a derelict ship or an S-3 class planet. But until then, it was back to Snakes and Ladders.

The Nano-bot in the pod’s system had been searching around the files for a program that might assist the human he wanted to help save. He believed that the other Nano’s had gone computer senile (like Holly) and that’s why they left Kryten’s system. But this Nano hadn’t. Holly then gave them all a mysterious boost in power for a short period of time. They used it to do something more powerful thn ever before. They rebuilt life! Then the nano’s left to explore the universe. But this one wanted to help the humans. Previously he had followed the other nano’s cheeky behaviour because of "pier pressure", but now he had had enough.

He abandoned the others and decided to try and repay the human’s for being so cheeky to them. So he his in Red Dwarf’s system and ended up in the escape pod. Then the chameleonic microbe came and began to destroy Red Dwarf. Rimmer turned up and the Nano realised he could help! He rebuilt the pod using all his strength and saved Rimmer’s life. What an idiot!

"Hey, look at this!" the nano typed on the computer, directed at Rimmer. Rimmer was still sitting in the back room and didn’t notice. The nano made the computer bleep a few times. Rimmer turned his head and saw the writing on the screen. He couldn’t read it from there so he got up slowly, and walked over to the cockpit area. Rimmer had permanently turned on the microphone, now, so the nano could hear him all the time, without having to push the "speak" button.

"What is it?!" said Rimmer, sluggishly.

"Me found new file in system!" replied the nano (typing on the screen, of course).

"So? There are loads of files in the pod’s computer system."

"This one not belong to pod. File details say it came for Red Dwarf ship!"

Rimmer suddenly became more aware. His drowsy eyes widened a little.

"From Red Dwarf?" he said "What is it?"

"Me don’t know. It very complex file. But badly damaged when virus came."

Rimmer thought for a second. What could it be? Who would have downloaded such a large file on to an escape pod?

"Can you repair the file?" he asked.

"Me think me can get it running, but cannot completely repair it. It too damaged for one nano."

"Well," said Rimmer, "Do what you can." He looked at Bob.

"What do you think it is, Bob?" Bob was still resting his head on the table in the back room. He didn’t move.

"Bob?" Rimmer persisted.

The skutter still didn’t move.

"BOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" yelled Rimmer. Bob stirred a little, stuck his middle claw up at Rimmer in another insulting manner, and lye down again.

Rimmer frowned. He hated being insulted by a service droid. He looked around on the dashboard by the control panel in the cockpit. He found a paper cup that he had drunk some coffee from two days ago. He picked it up and threw it at Bob’s head. It hit. Rimmer grinned, turned around, and began to use the scanner to search for an S-3 planet. Suddenly a draughts board with a huge load of red pieces flew back through the air and hit Rimmer on the back of the head.

"AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!" Rimmer cried, clutching the back of his head.

Bob bobbed his head up and down as if laughing, and rested on the table again. Rimmer was about to walk over to him and rip his head off when the nano bleeped for him again.

"What is it now!?!" asked Rimmer, impatiently.

"Me repaired file enough to run program, now." The nano typed.

Bob looked up, intently. Rimmer sat down in the cockpit’s left chair.

"Ok, then." Said Rimmer, "Do it." Bob came and sat in the chair next to him. The small screen on the control panel fizzed as the corrupted file tried to activate it’s program.

"Nearlyyyyy……g-g-g-ot itttt….." typed the nano, trying to fix the distortion in the picture. Suddenly a familiar, balding head appeared on the screen. Bob and Rimmer looked at each other, puzzled. The head looked around as if confused at his surroundings. He caught sight of Bob and Rimmer peering down at him and looked horrified.

"AHHH!" cried Holly, "I’ve been kidnapped by a service droid and that ‘orrible prisoner, Rimmer! Security alert! Let me go now, Arnold!"

Bob and Rimmer peered down at Holly’s face, completely perplexed. Rimmer spoke,

"Holly?"

 

 

- TO BE CONTINUED