Categories > TV > Red Dwarf > Cleanup0 Reviews
The nature of the beast.
"That sounded hungry, bud, and I know I'm tasty," Cat said, getting to his feet and brushing off his suit. He and Lister grabbed their belongings and hurried for Starbug. Kryten was trotting down the gangway, holding a bazookoid awkwardly in his hand, with Rimmer following and tugging at his shoulder plate, hissing something at the mechanoid.
"Krytes!" Lister yelled. "Toss that down!" Lister did not like the way the muzzle of the bazookoid was dancing all over the vicinity, sweeping him and Cat as often as anything else. He raised his hands to catch it. Kryten started to unhook the bazookoid from his shoulder. Rimmer snatched it away.
"What the smeg are you doing?" Rimmer yelled down at Lister. "Get back in here, and let's /go/!" His words were punctuated by a more moderate, albeit closer, liquidy roar.
Lister stood at the base of the gangplank and shook his head. "You want to leave a gorgeous planet with lakes of clean water and booze just because you heard a roar? Can that hard-light drive make a real spine for yeh?" Lister trotted up the gangplank. "Krytes, bring out two more bazookoids, and then get the engines started, would ya?"
Kryten nodded and hurried up the stairs with a "Yes, Mister Lister!"
Rimmer looked at the mechanoid's disappearing back, looked down at Lister, and said, "Yes, well, I'll just help him with the engines..."
Lister had climbed the gangway just to get within grabbing range of Rimmer. He grabbed Rimmer's arm and yanked. "No way, Rimmer. You're coming with us. Kryten can take care of the engines himself." If looks could kill, Rimmer's would have snuffed Lister on the spot - but they can't, and it didn't. Rimmer stumbled down the steps after Lister as the shorter man leaned his weight on the arm in his grasp. "If it does turn out to be dangerous, Rimmer," Lister snapped, "use the bazookoid on it. Don't try to sell us out to save your skinny arse."
The three of them, armed with bazookoids, tromped back towards the lake. Lister seethed at the 'rear-guard' position Rimmer had automatically taken. Why did he let it bother him so much? Rimmer had never been anything other than a rank coward and a selfish, smeggy bastard; Lister had no reason to expect anything else, none at all. Cat's callous and selfish streak certainly did not bother him to the same extent. Ah, but that was an essential part of Cat's catty nature; Rimmer, he knew, had Ace in him. Rimmer himself had seen that - or could have, if he hadn't been too busy making snide homophobic cracks. Lister sighed. It frustrated him to no end, seeing the man so stubbornly refuse to be anything other than a smeghead.
Lister rounded a crag that stood beside the lake, Cat just behind him and Rimmer significantly behind him. Beside the lake hunkered a creature that looked like a good candidate for the source of the noise they had heard. Lister guessed that it would be three meters tall if it stood upright on its broad, flat, toeless feet. Its flesh was an oddly reflective deep blue, featureless aside from what looked almost like ripples. Its face was triangular, with no visible eyes or nose, and a mouth, hanging slightly open, with no more substance than a sock puppet's. As the three crept slightly closer, it turned towards them, staring at them eyelessly and raising itself to what Lister decided was closer to four meters.
"Eh... hello?" Lister called.
"Lister, what the smeg are you doing?" Rimmer hissed, squinting to aim the bazookoid. Not that any aiming would be required to hit something that size.
"We dunno anything about it. Maybe it's just..." Lister trailed off.
"Just a giant monstrous beast?" Cat said, aiming his own bazookoid. "I hate to agree with goalpost head, but I don't think this dude is friendly."
"Give it a mo," Lister said. The creature had not done anything during the quick conversation aside from cock its earless head slightly. As Lister stepped forward and raised his hand, the creature let out a questioning, almost dog-like whine. "Hey, we're cool," Lister told it.
It bent its head, and its mouth twisted. It opened it, and that odd, liquidy roar they had heard earlier came out - despite the fact that Lister could see, from his position, that the... thing had no throat or tongue. Lister jumped back as it lunged forwards. Cat's bazookoid blast flew over his shoulder and hit the creature in its outstretched arm. Its roar turned to an almost questioning whimper as it staggered back, its arm falling to the ground as a splat of viscous liquid.
"All righ'," Lister said, raising his bazookoid, "I guess it's not friendly." Which was a damn shame. "Back to the 'Bug!" Back to Starbug's cramped quarters again, to stale air and deep space. Back /slowly/, with bazookoids upraised. The three sidled towards the crag they had just rounded. But the creature, leaping with mind-boggling speed and agility, splashed into the lake, then around to cut them off. The three spun to face it, Rimmer backing up to once again put Lister between himself and the beast.
"Right - we'll have to take it down." Lister armed his bazookoid, and was pleased to hear the dual snick of two more arming behind him. He took aim at the creature's head.
Two things happened in rapid succession. The first, which was quite visually stunning, was that the creature turned to liquid and flowed very rapidly into the lake, merging with the blue water. Lister had very little time to process that, however, before the second thing happened, which was Rimmer screeching like a goosed banshee. Lister and Cat turned. Rimmer's rear-guard position had put him very close to the splat of liquid that had been the creature's arm, and it had latched onto Rimmer, enveloping him from the back like evil Silly Putty. Rimmer had dropped the bazookoid and was fruitlessly yanking at the blue goop, which had covered his head and most of his torso.
Lister might have felt a certain poetic justice at Rimmer reaping the fruits of his own cowardice, but the fruits were looking worrisomely dangerous. "Rimmer!" he yelled, then paused, trying to think of something useful. Something useful came to him. "Go to soft-light!"
Either Rimmer heard, or the same thought had occurred to him. He wavered and re-formed in a red uniform, and the blue beast fell right through him. Part of it hung up somewhere in Rimmer's chest area, however - and as Rimmer turned to look at Lister, a horrified expression on his face, he disappeared. The patch of liquid oozed to the odd blue water and joined it, Rimmer's light bee just visible inside of it before it sunk into the depths of the lake.
"Rimmer!" Lister yelled, running to the edge and looking into the bluish substance. Rimmer's light bee was nowhere to be seen. Lister turned to see Cat leaning against the crag they had initially circled, checking his nails with his bazookoid propped beside him.
"Well," said Cat, "we're safe, we have water, we've gotten rid of left-part armpit-hair, and we even have a little something to celebrate with!" He slung his bazookoid over his shoulder and started to walk back to Starbug.
Lister hurried after him, thinking furiously. "We have to get Rimmer back. Think!"
"The only thing I'm thinking about, bud," Cat said, airily, "is why the smeg you keep going back to rescue him every time he gets his own ugly behind in trouble. Leave 'im, for once!"
Lister shook his head. Even if it were something Rimmer himself would do to Lister, he wasn't about to leave the hologram behind. It just... wasn't right. Lister might not be the neatest man in the world, he might drink a bit more than most, and, in his moments of extreme honesty, he had to confess to himself that maybe he wasn't really a better guitar player than the love child of Eddie Van Halen and Mark Knopfler - but he did do what was right, as well as he could, and that was just how it was.
Lister slapped the Cat on the shoulder as they came to the base of Starbug's gangway. "Drop off the bazookoid and come with me. I have an idea."