Mel (vortex_loop) wrote,

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Starbug Express

Fanfiction for Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire, inspired by Chris Barrie's brilliant performances in each, and featuring the characters of Rimmer and Brittas.

Word Count: 2,921 words

Spoiler warning: some spoilers for the beginning of The Brittas Empire Series 2, Episode 1; Red Dwarf Series 1-3 - which is where the action picks up- set in this era of the series. Takes place in the setting of The Brittas Empire with characters from both series.

Content Note: Rating PG-13, some Red Dwarf style language, irreverence and questioning of characters' sanity by other characters.

Disclaimer: Red Dwarf and The Brittas Empire are the property of the BBC and their creators- I don't own the characters or settings.

Gordon Brittas stepped into the leisure centre, seeing no one at the desk again and the phone ringing, he shook his head and moved to answer it, talking to the air as he walked. "Carole? Carole, are you here?"

"Oh, where are all the staff." He muttered and picked up the receiver. "Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre, how can I help you?"

"Yes, yes, well, if you'll come in we can sort this out."

Just then he saw a man in a green suit and hat standing outside the automatic doors looking perplexed. He stepped forward but the doors stayed shut. He tugged at his visor, almost gave the doors a good kick but thought better of it. He peered in to look for any life inside the reception area.

Brittas sighted him and went to wrap up his call. "Will that be all? Only there's someone at the door. Thank you for calling, goodbye!" He replaced the phone gently and hurried around the desk to the entrance. The doors opened quickly at his approach. "Nothing wrong with the doors, is there, Mr ... er ... H, is it?" He noticed the large green letter affixed to the man's forehead, then gave a start when seeing the rest of his face. It was like looking into a mirror, the handsome devil.

The man stood up straighter, his jaw dropped. "Another me? Another one? Where'd you spring from then, the parallel universe of hotel clerks?"

"Sir, if you'll come this way, we can talk this over in my office."

Just then Carole came in from around the corner. Brittas turned towards her. "Ah, Carole, perhaps you wouldn't mind watching the phones while I have a talk with this gentleman."

She looked up. "Yes, Mr Brittas." Then she saw the other man. "Mr Brittas?!" Carole gave a start and backed away the way she came.

"Ah, yes, bit of a shock. Sorry about that." Brittas frowned apologetically to his guest. "She must have thought you were me, and since I'm also me that can't t have been easy to process. Let's just go find Laura and then we can proceed up to my office, we can have a nice cup of tea and talk things over, how does that sound?"

His guest, getting increasingly agitated through this spiel, groaned. "Oh, sure, you and your new age 90s staff are going to find a way back through the smegging tear in reality and send me back to deep space. Meanwhile, those idiots I work with couldn't find their way out of a paper bag with a torch. Let's face it, I'm stuck here." He sighed, pulled off his cap and ran a hand through his hair.

"Sir, I haven't given up yet, and that's a promise." Brittas gave him his best smile and reassuring expression, thinking the man was probably a nutter who'd wandered off, but he did have a classic profile and fantastic hair, so there was some hope for him. Spying Laura coming around the other corner, he created a quick diversion. "If you'll start heading over there, sir, we can get somewhere." He pointed to the posters near the stairs. No wandering off, please!" He smiled ingratiatingly and hurried over to Laura before she could turn the corner.

"Laura, could you do me a favour. Carole had to leave for a few minutes, could you watch the reception desk? Something important's come up and I'm needed in my office. Hold all my calls!"

Laura nodded. "Of course, Mr Brittas. So you won't be seeing anyone for a while?" She looked hopeful.

"No, Laura, I hope that won't be a problem. Only I have a guest who needs my help." The H fellow groaned again, and Brittas shook his head sympathetically at Laura. "If you'll excuse me, he seems to be in some distress."

He hurried away, and Laura headed for the desk. "He certainly will be when our leader's done with him," she said to herself, once Brittas was out of earshot.

"Now then, so sorry to have kept you waiting. If you'll just come up here and to the left, we'll have a little chat in my office, how does that sound?" Brittas stayed beside the man, to prevent any more unnecessary shocks to his staff. They wouldn't get anywhere if people kept making a scene over there being two Brittases in the leisure centre, even if one of them was certainly not him. While thinking about his next move, he spared a companionable smile for his guest, but the chap seemed to be rather lost in his own thoughts. Ah well, Gordon Brittas would soon get him to open up, and then, no doubt, they would get along famously.

"Here we are, then!" He said brightly, opening the office door with a flourish. He turned to his secretary. "Angie, please let no one through, very important guest!"

Angie nodded. "Yes, Mr Brittas. I think I can handle that."

"Splendid, see you in a bit!" He waved his guest in, standing by the door. The man grumbled, walking through and standing by the desk at attention.

Closing the door, Brittas smiled. "At ease, sir, we're all friends here. I'm terribly sorry, we haven't been introduced. You see how it is here, lots of fires to put out. Metaphorically, of course, we haven't had the fire brigade in for days, have we."

The fellow extended his arm, twirled it around sharply for three rotations and snapped off a salute. "Second Technician Arnold J. Rimmer, JMC Mining Ship Red Dwarf, Sir!"

Brittas unclasped his hands, his eyes widening slightly. "Pleased to meet you, Mr Rimmer. I'm Gordon Brittas, director of this Leisure Centre. Please sit down. Cup of tea? Biscuit?" He moved towards the intercom.

"Not unless they're hologrammatic, I'm afraid." Rimmer sat in the chair opposite the desk. "Unless you want crockery all over the floor. As you can tell by my H, I'm actually a computer simulation of myself, being dead and all."

"Oh, are you? How... interesting, Mr Rimmer." Brittas' hand fell from the intercom without touching it and sat slowly down in the opposite chair. "I was presumed dead once. All an unfortunate misunderstanding. I've even got the memorial plaque right here, the staff made it for me. Very nice of them, wasn't it?" He took down the sign behind his desk and put it between them."

Rimmer sat forward, startled. "1991? 1991? Why, that's years off. So much for Kryten's navigational skills."

Brittas nodded. "Of course, I'm still here, so the rumours of my death were greatly exaggerated." He grinned. "I daresay you look just fine for a man who claims to be 'dead', Mr Rimmer."

"Well, I am, see?" Rimmer reached out and swiped his hand through the table. "I assure you, I won't be playing racquetball on your courts anytime soon, not unless you have a hologrammatic simulation suite."

Brittas was almost struck speechless. "How did you do that? Some kind of optical illusion?"

"No, that's me." Rimmer said, exasperated. "That's what's left of me, anyway. Just a simulation to keep Lister company." He sat back, folding his arms.

Brittas decided to humour the man. "So, Lister and Kryten, are they your friends? Will they come by to pick you up?"

"Friends?!" Rimmer exclaimed. "Well, they're the only crew I've got. Besides Holly and the Cat, but they're not much help either. No, they'd be lost without Arnie Rimmer on board, so I'm going to have to find a way out of this mess, as per usual." He stared off out the window, shaking his head.

Brittas began to warm to the man. "Now, I wouldn't usually admit it, but I'm really the driving force behind this establishment. I feel we have something in common, besides smashing good looks!" He winked and sat back, mirroring Rimmer's gesture.

"Yes... I suppose so..." Rimmer, though still suspicious, relaxed his posture. "So, what do you do here?"

"I'm glad you asked! A bit of everything, really." He smiled. "It's not just about sport, of course, but about a way of life. To help people live their lives in the best possible way, as part of the community." He extended his arms, as if to encompass the whole town.

"Too late for me, then," Rimmer scoffed.

"Oh, never!" Brittas exclaimed brightly. "I have this dream, you see..."

Just then, the door opened. Angie put her head in. "I'm terribly sorry, Mr Brittas, but these men insisted on coming in."

A man in a leather jacket with badges all over it charged in after her. "Rimmer! We've been looking all over for you! What are you doing dressed like that?"

"Erm... you may have us confused. I'm Gordon Brittas, I have your Mr Rimmer here in my office." He gestured across the desk.

"Took you long enough. Where have you been?" Rimmer, looking none too pleased, turned to his crewmate.

"I see you're getting along famously." Lister smirked and leaned on the back of Rimmer's chair.

"Naturally, Lister." He smiled smugly.

"You smeghead. First person you meet is another you."

"Same fashion sense, too." Cat slinked in and gave the stranger a once-over.

Kryten followed with a tracking device in his hand. "Sirs, may I suggest we try to figure out a way back to our own time? That temporal storm wreaks havoc with Starbug's sensors, and threw Mr Arnold clear of the ship entirely. I'll have to run a diagnostic on his projector unit to ensure there is no malfunction."

"Yeah, my navigation's right buggered up, too, to use a technical term." Holly spoke from Kryten's front-mounted monitor.

"Everyone, welcome." Brittas thought he'd rise to the occasion, trying not to think about where all these visitors had come from. "My name is Gordon Brittas, but you can call me Gordon. You must be Mr Rimmer's friends he was telling me about."

"Yes, Mr Gordon, sir. We're all very grateful you've found Mr Rimmer safe and sound."

"We are?" The Cat looked skeptically at Goal Post Head and his double, who was smiling at them all while the hologram sulked.

"Yes, Mr Cat. He is a part of our crew."

"Right... don't let me keep you." The Cat took out a mirror and started combing his hair.

"Alright, Gordon, is it? I'm Dave Lister, this is the Cat, Kryten and Holly."

"Hiya, Gordon." Holly smiled from her monitor.

"Pleased to meet you all." Brittas' smile began to falter as he took in the odd appearance of Kryten and the Cat, not to mention the woman on the screen, but he did his best to keep his welcoming demeanor. "Make yourselves at home, I see you already have." He waved his hand and sank back into the chair.

"Ere, I think we've freaked him out a bit," Holly said. "What d'you think, Arn?"

"Oh, Gordon here is fine, aren't you, Gordon?" Rimmer smirked.

"Thank you, Mr Rimmer, can I call you Arnold?"

"Oh, Arnold, Ace, the Duke, it's all the same to me." Waving his hand casually, Rimmer paced around the room looking at the certificates on Brittas' walls. "I did quite well at swimming myself. Silver Swimming Certificate, Bronze Swimming Certificate, that's me."

Lister rolled his eyes. "I'm starting to feel sorry for your double, you gimboid. Why don't you tell him all about your service medals, too?"

"He's not my double, he just happens to look like me, that's all. And an admirable businessman, to boot. Imagine, being the motivator to all these people, a pillar to the community. Almost as good as being senior officer on your own ship."

"Yeah, if there's hardly anyone else left." Lister said. "Come on, we can't stay here. It's not even our own time."

"Just when I was starting to enjoy myself, too." Rimmer turned to Brittas. I'd shake your hand, but... you know." He snapped to attention and saluted.

Brittas gave a small salute in return. "I'm sure you'll be a fine leader to these lads, and ladies, Arnold." Rimmer looked pleased.

"Oh, spare me," Lister said to Rimmer, unwilling to let him get too far with that line of thought. "Thanks Gordon, we'll take him from here."

"Let me show you out. After you, Arnold."

"No, after you, Gordon."

"Come on." Lister walked out first, winked at the secretary, and headed back down the stairs.

Part 2

Rimmer walked down the corridor like he owned the place. He did, really, in this dimension. He saw a man coming towards him, who called out, "Oh, Mr Brittas! Bit of fancy dress, is it?"

"Fancy dress?" I'll have you know this is standard issue JMC uniform, and don't you forget it!"

"Yes, Mr Brittas. Trying out for the community theatre, are you, Mr Brittas?" Colin peered at Rimmer's costume. "It sure looks realistic!"

"Hm... Have you seen the others?"

"They're in the locker room, waiting for you."

"Ah, well, might as well get started!" Rimmer followed the man down the hall.


Everyone was calling to Rimmer as he entered. There must have been some mistake... the Red Dwarf crew weren't here. These were some sort of athletic crew, all waving familiar looking colour coded schedules and complaining about their assignments. Seems they'd all been assigned the wrong sports again, after he'd promised to sort it out. Well, he told them it would all be put right if they all spoke one at a time. One man came up and grabbed him by the shoulders. Of course, his hands went right through the hologram. Several people screamed. "Told you he was a ghost!" One of them, the woman from reception, shouted, and they were off again. Rimmer sighed and sat down on the bench.


"Kryten, did we lose Rimmer again?" Lister jumped down from the stairs at the reception desk.

"It appears he gave us the slip when we left Mr Gordon's office, sir."

"Ugh, just because he has his own building here, he wants to stage a coup." Lister examined the fliers on the walls. "Squash, swimming, badminton, he'll have it all. Pity about him being intangible, though."

Suddenly a crowd of people in shorts and t-shirts came running down the hall, quite agitated. "Look out, he's a ghost!" They heard as the people ran past.

"I think we've found him, sir." Kryten stepped aside to let them past. "Suggest we keep him under observation this time."
"Wait, I don't want to meet a ghost!" The Cat looked at the crowd. "I think they have the right idea."

"Right, come on. Trust me, Cat, I think I know what he's talking about." Lister led them towards the locker room, where they found Rimmer still lying on the bench.

"Just when we were starting to get on, too," the hologram said.

"Did you see the ghost, too?" Cat watched Rimmer upside down.

"No, you goit, they confused me with the main attraction at the Haunted Mansion and scarpered."

"Yeah, right. Let's go, Rimmer." Lister said. The hologram swung his legs off the bench and reluctantly left the room, pulling the cap over his eyes. This time, Lister made sure everyone went ahead of him before he exited the room.


Back at the ship, they all piled in, having disguised the craft with the cloaking device, and started preliminary checks. However, Rimmer stopped in the door to look back at the complex. He waved from the top of the steps, just as Brittas appeared at the automatic doors. "Goodbye, Gordon!"

"Bye, Arnold." The other man gave him a salute, then noticed someone pulling up in his car- his wife, Helen. Her eyes weren't on him, but on the man at the top of the stairs. "Gordon! Where are you going?"

"Me? I'm going back home! Bye, everyone!" Rimmer started to retreat, as Kryten appeared in the door.

"Sir, I must insist we take off. The temporal window will not be open forever, you know."

"Very well, Kryten. Good luck!" One last wave and they both disappeared.

Meanwhile, Helen skidded to a halt and struggled out of the car. "Gordon! Gordon!" She shouted into the air.

Brittas ran out of the leisure centre after her. "No, Helen, I'm me, not him. I can explain, Helen!"

She started and turned back slowly. "But he looked and sounded just like you!"

"No, that's my friend, Arnold. Unfortunately, he had to return to his own ship. Only one of us per universe allowed, you know." He grinned and pulled her to him. "You look like you could do with a nice cup of tea, come on."

Just then a crowd of staff rushed past, chattering about a ghost. They saw him and started backing away again. "Everything all right?" He asked.

"Yes, Mr Brittas..." Colin held up his strand of garlic, just in case.

"I can see it's time for another staff meeting. This way, team!" He strode off, Helen looking back apologetically at the staff and going after him. Meanwhile, Starbug fired up its engines and took off, back to its own universe.
Tags: brittas, fanfiction, red_dwarf, rimmer, the brittas empire
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