Categories > TV > Red Dwarf > Cleanup

Beast, 1

by Roadstergal 0 reviews

A pre-OOT gapfiller.

Category: Red Dwarf - Rating: PG - Genres: Action/Adventure, Humor - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2006-09-06 - Updated: 2006-09-07 - 1330 words

Lister squinted out of the viewscreen at the ragged cluster of stars ahead. The view normally looked like a random speckling of stars, but the formation ahead stood out like a spoonful of sour cream splattered on a burnt-to-black mutton curry. He tried to trace lines between the stars, like an oversized join-the-dots puzzle. He managed to make it spell a very filthy word, which, by a good coincidence, fit his mood perfectly.

"Veeery interesting," said one of the reasons he was in a mood that demanded a rude word. Lister glanced over his shoulder to where Rimmer squinted at the view, his nose wrinkled in a pose that he seemed to find studious. Nobody else did.

"Yeah, Cat said we got in visual range during his shift," Lister replied. "It's just been gettin' bigger. I'm thinking of calling up Kryten; I think it's pretty, but he can tell us if it's a good idea to go in or not."

Rimmer's face flowed seamlessly from studiousness to irritation. "We do not need Kryten's help to find out if we can go into a smegging... star... cluster... thing."

"Whot, do you still have those astronavigation notes on yer left thigh?" Lister asked, raising his eyebrows. Past Rimmer's face, which was moving from irritation to haughtiness, he caught a glimpse of Kryten bustling about in the midsection's kitchen. "Krytes!" he yelled. "Have you seen this?"

Kryten trotted into the cockpit with a high-kneed gait. "Ah, the globular cluster! Yes, Mister Cat pointed that out to me while he was on duty. I instructed him to head for it. There is a better chance of finding a habitable planet in there than in deep space, I believe."

Rimmer leaned back in his chair and faced Kryten, lacing his fingers over his stomach. "Forgive a certain degree of skepticism on my part, but you also believe that dead home appliances go to the Happy Toasting Grounds."

"And you believe that women think stories about yer chess club meetings are sexually arousin'. I'll go with Kryten." Lister turned back, looking at the splotch ahead. He could see, now, that the stars were not a homogenous group of white dots; greenish-white dots and bigger red ones were scattered around the outside, while the inside held yellowish and bluish-white stars. "Gorgeous, innit? All of those orbs, hanging in space."

"If you don't want a swift kick to your orbs as they hang in space, miladdio, pay attention to the ranking officer aboard," Rimmer snapped.

The way to Rimmer's annoyance is to ignore him - something that Lister did too little of, he chided himself. "Take a seat, Krytes; we're goin' in." He felt some satisfaction upon hearing Rimmer's irritated snort.

Cat joined them, neatening his sideburns with a small brush, as they headed towards a planet with a breathable atmosphere that Rimmer grudgingly reported upon. It grew swiftly as the cluster grew slowly, resolving into a dark-blue planet with small brown patches - difficult to see under a thick cover of wind-whipped cloud that was smeared over the surface. They dipped below the clouds, Starbug tossing slightly in the wind; Kryten pointed out a valley between two crags, next to what looked like a broad, flat lake, and suggested tactfully that it might shelter them from the wind. Cat's feline reflexes took them down for a very gentle landing, which Rimmer nonetheless groused about.

Even Rimmer, however, was rendered speechless when they tromped out of the 'Bug. The cluster was setting, and the sight threw even Lister's memories of sunsets - which were improved over reality, no doubt - into the back seat. The light from a fistful of suns - each turning from some shade between reddish yellow and pure white to bloody red as it sank below the horizon - glittered off of the lake they could just barely see in the distance, staining the streaking clouds with every color in the red spectrum, while stars glittered in the velvety blue behind them. They watched in silence until the suns were gone.

"What a sight!" Kryten said, quietly. "Sir... if I may... one of my programmers, Dr. Helga Mogadon, wore eyeglasses that looked just like that. Could we name this cluster after her?"

Lister shook himself as a chill night breeze toyed with his braids, and pulled out a torch. "Sure, Krytes. Oi, let's go check out that lake!" he said, thinking of water that did not taste like too-often-recycled piss. Cat followed him with enthusiasm. Kryten followed with moderate interest, and Rimmer followed Kryten, glancing frequently over his shoulder, giving the impression of a man who is wondering if an attack would be more likely to come on the scout party or on the lander left behind.

Lister and Cat reached the lake together. Cat flopped down, holding his snazzy velvet suit off of the ground in a semi-pushup stance, and sniffed at it. "There's water in there, bud, but something else, too," he said, frowning. Lister dipped his hand in it, tentatively. It felt cool and watery, but had an odd slickness that was not quite water.

Kryten came up behind them, holding the psi-scan. "Excuse me for a moment, Mister Lister, Mister Cat." He held the machine over the water. His eyes widened. "Goodness me, this is dangerous, indeed! It is highly caustic to human flesh. Whatever you do, do not touch it!"

Cat froze, his tongue extended to lap at the water. Lister jumped back, scrubbing his hand on his overalls. Damn his curiosity! He could have waited until Kryten scanned the water. Lister looked at his hand, cringing - but it looked and felt just fine. "Er, Krytes, are you sure about that?"

Kryten looked at the psi-scan. "Yes, sir! It's very clear on..." Kryten frowned, looked hard at the scanner, and then turned it upside-down. "Ah, much better. It's mostly water, with some trace volatile compounds. Quite safe to drink. We can distill out the volatile compounds, then filter the water, and replace our stock of urine re-cyc with this."

"Yeeess!" Lister yelped, as Cat grinned and started to lap at the water.

Rimmer sighed and shook his head. "Why do I suspect that Lister is more interested in the trace volatile compounds?"

Well, Lister thought later, you couldn't really blame him. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had a good drink - and the telekinetic wine that Legion served did not count, thank you very much! JMC Lager (TM) was better than the wine Kryten had made from urine re-cyc, but not by much. The stuff that contaminated the water in the lake - or, if you chose to see it that way, the stuff that was contaminated by the water in the lake - was amazingly potent, and whatever contamination remained made it go down very smoothly, he and Cat quickly discovered, after Kryten purified the water and put the 'volatile compounds' aside. Rimmer refused Lister's invitation to try a bit of it, with a suspicious look in his eyes, and went back to Starbug, muttering something about hazardous nocturnal planet-life.

"Good - I could use a few centuries away from typewriter-head," Cat said to Rimmer's departing back. The two living entities drank and sang badly and drank some more and sang even more badly under that dazzling starscape, which only got more dazzling the more Lister had to drink. The night breezes were sweet after the stale air of Starbug, and Lister thought about staying there, drinking water in the morning and booze at night, maybe setting up a little farm, breeding some horses he'd find somewhere, with his Cat, and if Rimmer would only act a little more like Kochanski, he'd have his paradise and his hot-dog stand and would raise animals and kids, lots and lots of kids, under that starcape that was only getting more /lovely/, Cat, wasn't it just /lovely/...?

Lister fell into a very, very drunken sleep.

Which was interrupted much sooner than he would have liked by a deafening roar.
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