Categories > TV > Red Dwarf > Forwards0 Reviews
Taking care of the aganoid.
"What is it, Hol?" Lister asked, putting down his cards. He was down to his shorts, and with the way his luck was going, he was grateful for the interruption.
"We've got an aganoid down in the engine room. I'm thinkin' he's responsible for draining power from the engines." She paused. "Oh, yeah, you wouldn't know. An aganoid is..."
"Yeah, we know," Lister interrupted. He had no wish to hear their inclinations described in any more graphic detail than he already had heard and inferred.
"Are you sure? They migh' be different in your dimension. In this dimension, they're custom-made killing machines who wouldn't think twice about pullin' off..."
"Yes, they're the same thing, Hol!" Lister yelled. He started to tug his trousers back on, while Cat replaced the silk scarf and spats he had been forced to remove. "How many are there?"
"One, far as I can tell," Holly said. "Rimmer's bringing him up here."
Lister's jaw dropped. "Bringing him up here? Why?"
"Probably thinks he can trade his own lousy skin for ours," Cat spat.
Holly nodded. "More or less, yeah."
"I think that boy needs a little time-out," Cat said. "And I mean outside of the ship."
"How long will it take them to get up here?" Lister asked.
Holly's lips started to move as she bobbed her head back and forth. Lister watched, wondering if her mind had wandered, or if she had finally gone utterly nutters. "Hol?" he asked.
"Shu' it!" she snapped. "You'll make me lose count!" After another half-minute, she said, "One day, three hours, twenty-seven minutes, and thirty seconds. Give or take five hours. You can never tell, with those lifts." She nodded, satisfied.
"Right. We need to find out how to take care of the thing." Lister glanced over at Cat. "Bazookoids didn't do so well against them in our universe. How are they in this one?"
"Very similar," Kryten replied, not looking away from the monitor he was polishing. "They can withstand several bazookoid shots at close range with almost no effect." He squeaked his cloth against the monitor, stepped back, and nodded, satisfied. He turned to Cat and Lister. "May I suggest that I put on a space-suit and pretend to be you, Mister Lister, and lure the aganoid out into space? It will be certain death for me, but I think the control room is in tolerable shape..." Kryten looked around the too-clean control room with a critical eye.
"Sounds good to me!" Cat said, grinning.
Lister sighed. "Stop it! Nobody is swuttin' sacrificin' themselves. Especially not the only person who will touch me boxer shorts." He turned to Holly. "Any other options?"
"Yeah," she said. "An EMP."
"What's that?" Cat asked.
A memory tickled the back of Lister's mind. "Wasn't it this strange buildin' back on Earth that was all different colors and looked like a whale with a skin condition?"
"Different EMP. I'm talking about an electromagnetic pulse." Holly looked quite smug. "It knocks out all electronics in a vicinity. Get a small enough one, set it off close to that thing, and it'll knock 'im on his arse."
"Let's get a bigger one and not get anywhere near it," Cat sniffed.
"If you get a big one, it'll knock me out, and then you'll just be flyin' blind through space."
"So, no change," Cat muttered.
"Where do we find an... EMP?" Lister gamely plodded over the beginnings of the spat.
"Officers have access to little generators. They're stored with the sidearms," Holly replied.
"The ones we couldn't get into?"
"Well," Holly drawled, "the ones I wouldn't let Rimmer into. The code is 68943. Mosey in and pick one up."
Lister started to walk out, then paused. "What will it do to Rimmer?"
"Dunno, but probably not good," Holly replied. "You'll want him to shut himself off before you set the EMP off. If not... well..."
"...we might get a double-bonus," Cat concluded with a grin. The three of them hustled out to the arms cabinet, where Lister punched in the code. He and Cat tried to run in at once, and got stuck two-abreast in the door. After some struggling and cursing, they made their way into the small room and started to play with the guns, which they both found utterly fascinating. Kryten walked in behind them, picked up a handheld EMP generator, and after an hour or so, managed to get Lister and Cat out without shooting themselves or each other (although a perfectly inoffensive wall bracket did not fare so well).
Kryten could not go with them, because, he explained, the EMP would knock him out, as well, and there were just too many dirty dishes to be done to contemplate that. Lister therefore took the EMP generator down to the lifts a day later with just Cat trailing behind. They stacked some old fuel drums as a barricade that would, with luck, get the aganoid to slow down and give Lister a chance to tell Rimmer to turn himself off. That is to say, Lister stacked the drums and tried to get Cat to help him. Cat just sniffed at the greasy drums. "Dog's work, bud."
Rimmer's head was very sore. Partly because he had been dragged up ten flights of stairs and across ten city-length floors by one leg, and partly because Batriz had relieved the boredom of the long lift ride that followed by cutting off bits of Rimmer's nose and ears. He was quite fascinated by the way Rimmer's hologrammatic flesh would rapidly fill in and 'heal.' "Yeh sure you're not a human?" Rimmer assured Batriz that anything vaguely human about him was long-dead, but he could tell that the aganoid was starting to think of him as afters to the main course of tormented human.
He just prayed that Batriz would not feel cheated when he saw what passed for human on Red Dwarf.
The lift halted just about a finger's breadth short of the actual floor, so Rimmer got a good solid whack to the back of the head when Batriz took him by the ankle and pulled him out. He barely noticed when Batriz dropped his ankle and walked over to the pile of empty fuel drums, scratching his head. Lister's voice did penetrate his consciousness, however, as the fuzz cleared.
"Oi! Smeghead! Turn yerself off!"
"Smeg off, tumeric-breath," Rimmer groaned.
"Rimmeh!" Lister's voice hissed. "We're knockin' the aganoid out with an EMP. Turn yerself off so it doesn't take you with it!"
"You've got to be k..." Rimmer's voice was abruptly cut short in a squeak as Batriz walked back, grabbed his crotch, and picked him up by it. He seemed vaguely annoyed that he could not glare right at Rimmer with that handhold, and so used his other hand to grab the top of Rimmer's trousers and haul him up higher, so that his eyes were only inches from Batriz's.
"Those drums were moved here recently. Tell me what the trap is."
"I don't know." Rimmer was not terribly proud of the response, but he was actually quite cheered that it was in a post-pubescent voice.
Batriz shook him gently, and he bounced like a paddle-ball. "Tell me, and make it quick."
The bouncing made the bazookoid that was still slung around Rimmer's back - and had fetched him a number of good whacks during their trip back up - knock against his hands. He grabbed it, and with a triumphant "Ha ha!" fired into Batriz's side. A sizzling bolt spat out and smacked Batriz's side very firmly, vaporizing a section of his jumpsuit.
The aganoid gave Rimmer a vaguely offended look, as if Rimmer had pinched his bottom. He took the bazookoid in his free hand and crushed it in his fist, very slowly.
/Damn/, Rimmer thought.
Lister had made his way back over to the Cat during this exchange. He looked on helplessly. "Hell," he hissed to Cat, "what do we /do/?"
Cat grabbed the small generator from Lister. "He had his chance, bud." He pointed it at the pair, and depressed the small button. The results were almost laughable - the little device beeped, and Lister smelled a whiff of ozone - but Rimmer disappeared, his bee falling to the ground with a metallic clonk, and the aganoid, stiff as a board, toppled over backwards.
Lister shifted a few of the drums out of the way, then trundled the cart with the plasma cutter on top over to the aganoid. He then set about the task of removing the top of the aganoid's head, while Cat danced around singing, "Yeeah, we're too fast for /you/, mister mean ugly robot dude! Too fast and too sexaaaay! Yeeeah!" Lister did his best to ignore him as he took a small laboratory spatula out of his jumpsuit and scraped the aganoid's electronic brains out of its head.
When they lay on the ground in a mushy pile, Lister stood, stomped on them a few times, and then stepped back with a sigh of relief. "Fine. Done here." He picked up Rimmer's light bee and looked at it. It was covered with fine engraving, the letters too small for Lister to read, and had a few buttons and switches on it. Cat started to bat at it playfully, but Lister stuck it in his coveralls. "Let's see what Holly says."
"She'll say it's a good goddam riddance," Cat muttered, slinking along behind Lister.
Aside from saying "smegging" instead of "goddam," Cat was quite correct. However, she ran her diagnostics on the bee when Lister hooked it up as he remembered Kryten doing.
"'E's intact. The safeties shut him down before anything could be damaged, near as I can tell."
"So what do I do, Hol?"
"Disconnect the bee, override the safety - that little recessed red thing, you'll need a pen - then turn it on. It's the little silver toggle. Toss it away when you do, or he'll reform with yer arm in his chest."
Finding a pen turned out to be a nontrivial matter, and Lister eventually had to enlist Kryten's help in hunting one down. He finally turned Rimmer back on as Holly had instructed, taking a deep breath as the hologram sprang back into being and straightened his already-straight iridescent red uniform. He prepared himself for smugness, pomposity, and complete denial of any responsibility for any negative outcomes of his cowardice.
Lister stared at the ceiling in their quarters about an hour later, his throat very sore. He had surprised himself. No sooner had Rimmer opened his mouth than Lister had started to curse him to Hades and back, at the top of his lungs. He supposed it was not strange that he had finally snapped, however. He felt like years of frustration were in that rant, this Rimmer overlapping in his mind with the old one as he went over every slight and annoyance that he could remember, from the times Rimmer unstrung his guitar and threw the strings into space to the early-morning exercise sessions that were always earlier and louder when Lister had been drinking to the shoddy birthday presents that were worth less than the money Rimmer 'borrowed' to pick them up to the times Rimmer had started barfights and left Lister to finish them to the time he had put itching powder in Lister's ship-issue condoms when he had a date with Kochanski to Rimmer's eagerness to sell Lister out to the aganoid to...
It was, indeed, a good hour's worth of yelling, which is a long time to keep a stream of invective going without becoming repetitive. But Lister was well-practiced, and he was warmed to the subject. Rimmer did try to slip a word or two in edgewise, but Lister ran right over the top of them. Rimmer's face ran a fascinating gamut of emotions, starting with stunned disbelief, progressing through anger to red-eared fury, through resignation and annoyance, and finally ending up with a nearly blank expression that Lister had never seen before. It was that expression that finally made Lister trickle to a halt, and he turned and stormed out of the control room. Cat watched him go, his eyebrows almost stuck to his hairline.
Lister's fury took him to his quarters, then slowly drained out as he stared at the ceiling, panting.
It was almost completely gone when Rimmer walked in, his face still blank, and climbed onto his own bunk. Lister could not see him down there, which was a small mercy, but he could feel the uncomfortable presence of the other man. They each shifted quietly, not speaking.
Rimmer was the first to break the silence. "I thought it was rather nice, actually." His voice was petulant.
"What?" Lister scraped.
"The present. You hung it over your bunk." Rimmer paused. "Well, not /you/. You."
Lister looked at the posters over his bunk. They were quite similar to his posters back in his old quarters, although some of them referred to bands and athletes he had never heard of. The one that occupied the venerable position held by Jim Bexley Speed in his old universe was lauding an athlete named Eric Walker. He did not look like Jim, but his dark skin, broad shoulders, and toothy white smile was certainly reminiscent of Lister's beloved Jim.
Once again, Lister had to remind himself that this was a different person from the Rimmer he had known. Just as arrogant and insufferable, but... Lister put the brakes on that line of thought, bringing it to a screeching halt. He turned on his side, looking at the wall. Why did he have to be so like the old Rimmer, with the differences so subtle? Why couldn't he have been more like Ace?
"Yes, Ace," Rimmer said from below, acidly, and Lister realized that he had spoken aloud. "Where is he these days?"
"Shu' it," Lister snapped. "He died to save the 'Bug. All of us."
"Yes, and a fat lot of good that did," Rimmer snapped. "You had to skitter out anyway, like jupirats off of a sinking starship, and lost him, Kryten, the 'Bug, and /me/. What a fantastically pointless gesture."
"He tried," Lister spat back. "He let us escape. It was /something/.""
"Yes, if we were all like that, we'd all be quite pointlessly dead."
"You don't understand," Lister growled.
"No, Listy, I don't. And I hope I never do."
Lister stared at the ceiling above, counting to a sufficiently high number, calming himself enough to end the conversation, hoping to calm himself enough to, eventually, sleep. He pictured Rimmer below him doing the same, and he hoped that the exercise kept the hologram up long after he managed to drift off.