They found it crashed into a small moon.
Crashed. This was important. The previous pilots were two dusty relics still in the cockpit wearing manic-looking skeletal grins.
Lister’s grin was shockingly similar to theirs – all teeth and brainlessness.
“Look at this baby,” Lister crooned, as he caressed the control panel in a frankly disturbing way. “I bet she handles like a dream.”
Rimmer rolled his eyes.
“‘She’ handled into a moon.”
“She was probably hit in heavy gunfire, outrunning the law and they decided to crash rather than surrender,” Lister said dreamily.
“Probably the engine failed, Sir,” Kryten called from outside where he was looking dubiously at said engine.
Lister waved the mechanoid’s point off as incidental with a casual hand.
“I bet we could get her going again,” Lister said, in that ridiculous indefatigable way, that, more than anything, allowed him to be the last human being alive. That, or blind luck. It certainly wasn’t brains or charm, or, apparently, any kind of survival instinct.
Lister climbed out and Rimmer followed him.
“Look at her,” Lister said, in a voice usually reserved for memories of Kristine Kochanski.
Where Kryten had opened the engine hatch mechanicals spurted out like glinting, grey intestines, that, if Rimmer knew anything, he knew no one on this planet had the skills to safely repair.
The front was crumpled and buried in the rock of the moon, and the whole thing was mostly covered in rust. As Rimmer looked something unidentifiable, but probably essential to safe flight, gave up any pretence of usefulness and dropped off the wing.
But. But, and here was what Lister was looking at with lustful eyes, the original shape was vaguely reminiscent of how comic book writers in the seventies envisaged space jet fighters of the future (probably built on a comic –book model, which style-over-substance design may have contributed to its crash, Rimmer thought. He’d never liked comics).
And, in a piece de resistance , what he knew was the only thing Lister saw when he looked at it, on the side was a logo, faded and peeled, which looked – if you squinted – like the Hell’s Angels logo.
“I bet we can fix it,” Lister said, “and then...”
“And then, what?” Rimmer broke in. “What? You’re going to cruise around picking up chicks? I hate to remind you, Listy, but we’re three million light-years away from the nearest hot babe. Unless you think you can make Kryten’s groinal socket interested it’s all a wasted effort.”
Lister shrugged, “It’ll be fun, that’s all.”
“Fun? Riding around in a death machine for three seconds until our inevitable demise? I don’t think so.”
“You wouldn’t know fun if it kicked you in the groinal socket.”
“Excuse me! I know fun! Fun and I are intimate acquaintances. Fun and I exchange Christmas cards every year – ‘Dear Arnie, What fun we had on our fun-filled night of fun last week, love and kisses, Fun’. Fun wants to marry me and have little joy-filled babies.”
Lister grinned, but just shrugged and got back in the cock pit.
Helpless, Rimmer followed.
“This isn’t fun, this is suicide! While your mid-life crisis proves occasionally entertaining – I still get a tear of joy to my eye when I think about the diet-disaster of last month, when you had Kryten lock all the food away, and then we all woke to find you’d sleepwalked to the cupboard and was licking the door in your sleep – but a penis-Porsche substitute death-trap is going to get you killed!”
“What’s it to ya?” Lister asked, grin still in place as he sat in the pilot’s chair (having moved the previous occupant carefully onto the floor), turned his hat round so it was back-to-front and flicked his collar up.
“What’s it to me? Well, Lister, as much as it’s the most horrendous cosmic joke ever played, may I remind you that you are, in fact, the last human? May I remind you that, horrific as it is to contemplate, the future of my entire species lies in your horrible, sweaty gonads?”
Lister just grinned some more, put on his old sunglasses, and gripped the joystick.
“Smoke me a kipper,” he said, putting on an entirely unconvincing Ace Rimmer accent, “I’ll be back for breakfast.”
And maybe, just maybe, as he sat there, and if Rimmer squinted and tipped his head, he did look a little bit...
“Oh, yeah,” Lister said, catching his eye, leering and raising his eyebrows extravagantly, “how’s your groinal socket, baby?”
Rimmer flipped him the bird.