An Extract from the Diary of Arnold J Rimmer
...And what happened next
Fanfiction for Red Dwarf
Word Count: 2,965 words
Spoiler warning: some spoilers for Red Dwarf Series 1-3 - which is where the action picks up. Set in this era of the series. Stand-alone story, mentions of the events in the previous entry.
Content Note: Rating PG-13, some Red Dwarf style language.
Disclaimer: Red Dwarf is the property of the BBC and creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor- I don't own the characters or settings. Some elements inspired by the Red Dwarf Smegazines and novels.
"Dear Diary... Look, it's an expression, all right? You don't have to tell me that, I know full well your name is Holly. Just record, none of your interjections this time. It's either this or the Skutters, and they haven't exactly mastered the subtleties of prose needed. What? I wouldn't trust Lister with my innermost thoughts and plans for the future! You're just recording what I say, aren't you, not what you interrupted with. Now this entry isn't going to make any smegging sense at all. Off!"
"Rimmer, what are you doing?" Lister came in the bunkroom with a tray of curry, eating as he walked.
"Not getting anything done, that's what. I wish someone could have a talk with that daft computer. Won't do anything I say." Rimmer rolled his eyes as he lay back on his bunk.
"So what else is new? If that's all she's doing, she must be getting more sensible." He leapt up on his bed, swinging his legs over the side.
"A little sympathy would be nice, Lister. I could've stayed in the past, but the rest of you couldn't have gotten back without me. We might've changed history, and then we wouldn't've existed in the future... present... you know what I mean."
"Yeah, right. You're the one who tried to take that gimboid's job. Too bad you couldn't pull it off." He smirked. "Wouldn't that be an advantage for all of us."
"Where's my report book?" Rimmer leapt up to face Lister. "Holly, make a note, Lister comma D., challenging a superior officer and threatening to leave him on the nearest planet."
"Sorry Arn, I can't find your report book, either." Holly appeared on the screen. "It may turn up somewhere, have you checked under your desk?"
Rimmer shook his head. "This isn't over." He turned on his heel and left the room.
"What's got into him, Hol?" Lister continued his breakfast, unfazed.
"He finally found a version of himself who he might've got on with, and he couldn't stay. Either that, or the skutters haven't finished repainting C deck. How should I know, I'm only the computer with an IQ of 6000."
"Thanks anyway, Hol. Smeg, does this mean I have to be nice to him or what?"
"Then he'd really know something's up. Just continue as normal. Maybe try listening to him? We don't want a mutiny. He'll steer the ship into a black hole if he's left alone."
"Ugh, if I don't survive, let the Cat have my best jacket."
"I think he'd want you to have it, Dave." Holly blinked off.
"Fine, Holly." Lister tugged on his jacket and hat, stuffing his hands in his pockets.
Rimmer paced in the drive room, directing a skutter in the posting of new safety regulations. "The crew needs a firm hand, and no one else seems interested in following proper regulations. Otherwise, how would we have accidentally run afoul of that dangerous space anomaly?" The skutter shook its head as it turned back to the wall.
Lister heard this last comment. "No, you're right, man. I should have been watching the console and not using it to stage a laser light show with accompanying playlist. Even if I was doing a killer guitar solo at the time." He struck an air guitar pose, closing his eyes and tilting his head back.
"Right, that's what you were doing. Not violating every noise pollution ordinance on the books and disturbing every crew member on this ship!" He folded his hands behind him. "That's another for the report book, Lister!"
"Sure, your imaginary report book." Lister began to retort, then reconsidered. "Look, man, we'll all have to make some compromises, as much as it pains me to say."
"All right, fine. I may have been too abrupt. We do have to live together."
"Yeah... even if the drive room does have the best surround sound available."
"I'm warning you, misuse of property is a serious offence!"
"No way, Rimmer, I'm not rising to you. It's for the good of all of us."
"Look at you, getting on your high horse all of a sudden." Rimmer turned his back and the skutter whirred away before he could give it another task. "Get your smegging arse in gear and then maybe we can get something done, finally."
Lister rolled his eyes to the ceiling. "I'm trying to help you, smeghead. Come on, I'll get Holly to make you a drink. Not here, in the rec room. Come on."
"Any excuse to have a beer or five for you, eh, Listy?" Rimmer sighed, noticing the skutter had abandoned its duties, and went out the way Lister indicated.
"Seen Kryten or Cat lately?" Lister had already gotten a start on his first beer of the day, as they walked the corridor.
"How should I know? One's probably clearing the decks of your dirty laundry, and the other's likely to be hoarding smoked salmon or whatever cats do when they're not preening themselves in front of a king-sized mirror." Rimmer examined his fingernails. "As for you, there's no mystery there."
"I am plenty unpredictable, Rimmer." He opened the door leading to the bar. "I may even order Italian later." He considered it. "Nah, I'll have a chicken curry and a tropical mimosa. It is still technically early." Going to the food processor, he put in his order.
Rimmer sat at a table. "Give me a vodka, neat." He took it in with one shot, which seemed the most efficient way to have his programme's sobriety reduced by a slight amount.
"See that! You can still loosen up once in a while." Lister joined him, digging in to his meal. "What would you do without me?"
"Not exist, probably." Rimmer leaned on the table, gesturing to the air as if summoning an invisible bartender. "Another."
"Come on, you have a long full life ahead of you." Lister waved his hand at a sharp look from Rimmer. "Whatever you want to call it, you're here, and we're the best hope for each other. Of all the crew on the ship, we were the ones to get the luck of the draw."
"Just like old times, eh, Listy?" He affected a casual look, as if he'd been a regular here for years.
Lister looked skeptical. "You never used to come drinking with us. You only came down when you wanted to write us up for something."
"That was the old me."
"Yeah, the you of five minutes ago. You'd write me up for obstructing the search for your report book."
"Ancient history. Who needs it." He sipped at his drink, avoiding eye contact.
Lister shook his head. Snap out of it, man, he's only trying to make me feel sorry for him. Smegging Rimmer. Out loud he said, "Hey, no problem."
Holly appeared on the screen. "Seriously, this quiet is getting to me. You lot have been sulking ever since we got back from that time travel business."
"Being back in deep space will do that. There's got to be more out there than just rocks and dust."
"Aliens, Lister. They'll help us achieve our potential."
"How do you know? You'd think we might've found them by now."
"Oh, yeah, I meant to tell you." Holly said. "We're picking up space debris on the radar. You guys might want to have a look, some kind of wrecked ship."
"What did I tell you, Lister? Aliens!" Rimmer stood up, excited. "I could be a new man."
"Could be just a piece of junk. Come on, let's salvage what we can." Lister walked out slowly.
Rimmer walked into the derelict ship- no spacesuit for him- accompanied by Kryten. The android carried a atmosphere detector, followed by Lister and Cat, who were both wearing helmets as a precaution. Normally he wouldn't be the first into potential danger, but this time he really thought there was something in it for him. If they were to make first contact with a hitherto unknown alien race, he wouldn't let the others take all the glory. No, Acting Captain A.J. Rimmer, resplendent in his dress uniform, would be the pioneer, the...
"Oh, smeg." Lister interrupted Rimmer's train of thought. Oh, well, he would remember it for later.
"Yes, Lister?" He put on his best heroic Captain-like expression, hoping there would be a welcoming committee.
"Did you hear that? Sounds like a load of animals scuttering around in the lower decks."
"Eugh, I don't want to get attacked by a herd of rats or something!" The Cat exclaimed. "Do you know how messy they are? l just did my hair and everything!"
Rimmer backed up. "Right, while you're determining that, I'll be scouting... erm, the shuttle. That's right, someone needs to keep a lookout from there."
"Oh no you don't, it was your idea to get suited up and come down here, now let's go." Lister advanced and shined his torch into the doors as he passed.
"Well, there's plenty of fish in the sea. Better luck next time, eh, guys?" Rimmer said as he reluctantly followed Lister.
"Sir, it is unlikely that there would be any marine life aboard this vessel, since it is, in fact, in the middle of deep space." Kryten said.
"You know what I mean." Rimmer said, exasperated.
"Yes, sir. Mr David, any progress?" Kryten turned to Lister, who had reached the end of the corridor.
"No, man." He glanced at Rimmer. No sense in letting him go off by himself again. "Kryten, you go with Cat. I'll take him around the other side.
"Are you sure, Mr David, sir?"
"Yeah, I'm sure." Lister waved Rimmer on ahead of him.
Rimmer blinked. "Very well, it's possible there'd be a contact here, after all."
"Or at least some equipment we can salvage." Lister frowned as he walked on. "Are you sure you're all right?"
"Since when do you care? This from the man who wanted to disconnect me to have it off with his ex-girlfriend."
"I didn't really know you then. I'm stuck with you now." He gave a slight smile.
"I know what this is, you think I'll override the ship's systems to steer it off course. You don't think I've heard what you've been saying to Holly? Nope, I'm on to you, Lister. You're..."
"I'm what, trying to make you feel a part of the team? Oh, wouldn't want me to succeed in that evil plan." Lister groaned. "You really are a smeghead, Rimmer. If I try doing something nice, you spin it into a conspiracy."
"That's all it was? Ah, I see." Rimmer continued on in silence.
"And the thing about not crashing the ship, too." Lister couldn't help it. He snickered and ducked out of Rimmer's way, accidentally hitting a switch on the ship's wall.
"Watch it, gimboid." Rimmer glared. Then he saw something spark into life and dodged, hitting the floor. "What the hell's that?"
"It's... it's a recording." Lister had his gun out, but just stared when he saw a flickering image of a woman in uniform appear in front of him.
"An unauthorised presence has been detected on this vessel. Automatic defenses will be deployed." She disappeared from view and a whirring started up.
"All right, what are our chances? We get picked off one by one, or all at once?" Rimmer hid under a nearby table. "If I get fried, that's it for me, I'll be gone. Have you thought about that?"
"No one's getting fried, Rimmer." Lister aimed his weapon at the cameras. "If we make a break for it now, we could get back to the shuttle." He started to back up. "Come on, it's not far."
"That's what you say." Rimmer winced. The cameras began to swing around in their direction. "Can we get a move on?"
"No problem, Captain Courageous." Lister muttered as he retreated. Rimmer quickly shot out from beneath the table and ran for the other end of the ship, where he almost ran through the Cat.
"Hey, look where you're going." Cat stepped back. "You might be in a hurry, but some of us don't want to get dust all over our gold spacesuits."
"Didn't you hear about the automatic weaponry coming to wipe us out for trespassing?" Rimmer, out of breath, leaned over with his hands on his knees. "Someone needs to get me back in the shuttle. Where's Kryten?"
"You're not worried about me getting sliced by lasers?"
"Should I be?" He thought he saw a wall-mounted gun begin to lower into place, and ran around the corner. "Now would be a good time."
"Sirs, I've attempted to reason with the ship's computer." Kryten approached the others, quickly ducking when the heat-seeking lasers finally warmed up and fired in their direction. "It was not successful. Suggest a retreat back to Red Dwarf."
"Oh, good plan. Wish I'd thought of it myself." Rimmer launched himself from the opposite corner towards the airlock. "I call first off the laser death ship."
"I've taken out one of the turrets but who knows how many there are." Lister, one arm singed and a load of smoke in the hall behind him, ran into the atrium. "Whenever you're ready, guys?"
"Yes, of course, Mr David." Kryten turned the airlock door to the open position and pulled it out, giving them enough space to exit.
As promised, Rimmer was the first one through, where he collapsed into a heap just outside the entrance to their ship. "That was a close one," he said, still winded.
"Sir, we have to wait for Mr Cat and Mr David to come through." Kryten craned his neck around the door to see the others attempting to return fire to the machine-operated gun turrets.
"What would you have me do about that? Provide a convenient target?" Rimmer leaned on his arms. "I can't lift a weapon even if I did feel like going back out there."
"You may be an abject coward, but at least you would consider going back out there if you were able to, and that's what counts," Kryten shouted over the gunfire. He estimated that they didn't have much time left, and if necessary he would go out and get Mr Cat and Mr David, even if it meant sacrificing himself. Mr Arnold, it seemed, could find a way to get himself out of any situation. Further considerations were interrupted by the hurried entrances of the human and humanoid crew members from the hall, and as they fired off last shots, Kryten pulled the door closed.
Rimmer sat up as best he could. "Ah, gentlemen, so glad you could join us."
"Thanks, hockey puck head. I'm going to have to do a major salvage effort on my best spacesuit. Whose idea was this little field trip, anyway?" Cat looked indignantly at the rest of the crew as he brushed himself off.
"Don't you start." Lister pressed the airlock seal and waited for the other door to their ship to open. "We're all home safe, okay?"
Rimmer just shook his head. When the door's indicator light on their side shone green, he gestured for his crewmate to open it.
"Sir, might I suggest a course of relaxation would be in order?" Kryten looked down at his nervous compatriot.
"I'm perfectly relaxed, why would you think otherwise?" He straightened up and adjusted his uniform. "The blast must have thrown me clear into the airlock. Lucky break, that." He smiled at the others. "Now, let's get back to the ship."
"You keep telling yourself that, bud." Cat said.
"Right, let's get out of here." Lister opened the door and stepped back into Starbug. The rest of the crew followed, preparing for takeoff. They disengaged from the other ship, pulling away from it at speed.
"Look, it's coming apart!" Rimmer leaned over Lister's seat, staring out the viewscreen.
"Those laser blasts must have caused a structural instability in the ship's hull, causing it to disintegrate." Kryten said, consulting the scanner.
"In other words, it's coming apart!" Cat shook his head.
"Whatever it's doing, we don't want to be a part of it." Lister turned the ship back towards Red Dwarf, hitting the accelerator. "And no tearing the fabric of space and time again, we just got it fixed."
"Yes, mon capitan." Rimmer folded his arms, leaning against the wall.
Behind them, the abandoned ship sparked and flew apart, debris flying in every direction. The Starbug tumbled end over end, coming to a halt just before hitting the side of the large red mining vessel. They activated the docking bay doors.
"Glad you're back in one piece, guys. I was beginning to worry!" Holly appeared on the screen inside the ship.
"You were worried? How do you think we felt? I nearly missed this new trouser press!" The Cat exclaimed as he headed down the stairs, admiring his new finds.
"Yeah, find anything useful then?" Holly asked.
"I did! Even if no one else did." Cat grinned and dashed off back to his room.
"Just a collection of deadly lasers, but what else is new?" Rimmer grimaced, looking out the viewscreen. "We dealt with them, they won't be attacking anyone else."
"How did you deal with them, Rimmer? Except by running in the other direction." Lister said.
"I led the charge out of there! You should always know when to retreat, that's what I always say." Rimmer put his cap back on, standing up smartly. "Good work, men. I'll see you for debriefing." He saluted extravagantly and headed out the door.
Lister rolled his eyes. "He's cheered up considerably."
Holly tilted her head. "See? You succeeded! Good for you, Dave."
Lister stared at her, several expressions passing over his face, then sighed, following the others back to quarters.