Space- the infinite expanse, the ultimate reality. The endless... ness. That is space.
Through the darkness the great gnarled metal fist of a spaceship drifted, fully three kilometers long, ugly and functional. It looked like a collision in between an asteroid, a collection of high-rise cranes and the engine block to a 1986 Volkswagen. It was red- the long metal expanse of it a dull pockmarked and scratched red. Across her mighty bows was etched, in white letters each taller then a house, the words "RED DWARF."
On the bunk in his quarters, Dave Lister, human, was trying to enjoy one of his legendary infinite Sunday mornings, sleeping off the even more legendary Saturday night curry extravaganza, when he was shaken rudely awake by a vibration that shook the entire vessel. He swing his legs out and found his feet uncertainly, rubbing a grubby hand over his dreadlocks and gathering them with an elastic band together at the back.
"Hol?" He asked, "what's happenin'?"
On a large wall-screen appeared the rather bored and placid face of a balding middle-aged man. Holly, sixth-generation holographic ships' computer, IQ four thousand, somewhat senile following a voyage of three million years due to a certain accident, replied.
"Nothing's happening, Dave."
"Hol, I just felt the whole ship start to boogie, what happened?"
"Nothing's happening, Dave. Everything's completely normal to be honest with you."
"Yer tellin' me the main drives haven't just fired up?"
"Nope. Cold as Margaret Thatcher's underwear. Nothing going on, Dave."
"So I'm not hearin' them going off right now? That low sort of, engine-y, main drive-like rumblin' sound?"
"Well I expect it's just a bit of dry rot."
"Yeah. These old ships, they tend to "settle," you get funny noises. Dry rot."
"That's houses, Hol."
"Is it? I'm pretty sure I read something somewhere..."
Dave shook his head and pulled on a pair of grubby jeans over his unmentionable long-johns, and his ancient leather jacket with "LONDON JETS" emblazoned across the back.
"Fair enough Hol, fair enough. So, where is everyone anyway?"
"They're all on the main drive deck."
"I suppose they're lookin' into all the dry rot."
Lister made his way up to the main drive deck, the navigational heart of the ship, where all was chaos. Skutter robots were gliding about everywhere, low rounded floor units with a single manipulator arm surmounted by a red camera eye. At the main console, he saw his official best friend and also the person he loathed most in all the human race.
"Holly! I'm asking you one last time, why are the engines firing?" Asked (one last time) Arnold Rimmer. Hologram, image of a dead crewman who was dead as a result of the same certain accident three million years ago. He scratched fitfully at the green "H" emblazoned on his forehead while Holly repeated the same bland entreaties to the effect that the main drive couldn't possibly be firing.
"I'm sorry sir, I'm afraid Holly seems to genuinely believe the answer he's giving you, shouting will achieve nothing," that was Kryten. Mechanoid. Angular-headed janitorial automaton, or as Rimmer preferred to call him Bog-Bot. He looked alarmed, and had been tapping away frantically at a keyboard. His entire plastic and metal body was angular and rigid, and nowhere more so then his face which was a vaguely flesh-coloured head shaped polygonal arrangement that still somehow managed to look upset all the time.
"Hey-y-y-y," drawled Lister, "what's kickin' guys? What's the word?"
"The word, Listy," sneered Rimmer, "is "we're smegging smegged, matey!" The engines are firing, we've veered off course into an unknown system, and our senile supercomputer doesn't seem to have any idea what's going on!"
"How's that even possible," mused Lister, seating himself and fumbling in his pocket for one of last night’s sausages, which he chewed thoughtfully, "the ship can't just change course without Holly doing it."
"Well done, Listy! Keep that up and you'll be passing the astronavigation exam any millennium now!"
"I'll just be sure not to write "I am a fish" five hundred times, at least then I'll do better then you."
"Please sirs!" Kryten looked even more anxious then usual, "this could well be an emergency situation, we're heading into an area of space that is dense with meteors."
"Well then," Listen swallowed the last of the sausage, "let's find out who's at the wheel."
And, several hours ago (but not too many)...
garrulousGourmet [GG] began trolling twinArmageddons [TA]
GG: It is nearly time, and I shall be there soon.
TA: ii 2tiill can't beliieve my luck ju2t fiingiing you liike thii2.
GG: We have found each other, soon we will be together and we will both get what we want.
TA: And you're 2ure your 2hip can take u2 all?
GG: Of course. The Red Dwarf is more then ample for your needs.
TA: ii don't know how we can ever thank you!
GG: Thanks are unnecessary. As fellow void-voyagers, it is our duty to render assistance where it is needed. And, do not think I am getting nothing out of this. I will say that my current companions have grown somewhat...
GG: tiresome, to me. I will be glad to make the acquaintance of you, and all of your friends. There will be new views to discuss, new opinions to consider, new questions to ask. How stimulating!
TA: Ye2... you do alway2 2eem to a2k the 2ame que2tiion, though.
TA: Over and over.
GG: There shall be new ways to ask it.
Sollux closed the husktop gently and went to find the others. It was too good to be true, yet he had checked the data time and time again. The vessel that he had detected at the ranges of their perceptual equipment's power had indeed changed course toward their meteor. His new friend would be right on time, and then they could at last leave their dismal prison.
When Sollux announced his findings to the others, they were less then enthusiastic.
"What the fuck, Sollux? Exactly how fucking stupid are you? I seriously want to know, I want to know that exact amount of stupidity for fucking science!"
In fact, they were somewhat negative about the whole idea.
"Lithen KK, I know I should have told you guyth thooner but I wanted to be really thure before I thaid anything to you,"
"Well I think it's exciting!" Nepeta beamed, "a spaceship!"
"An unknown space vessel containing uw-we-don't-know-how-many alien uw-warriors!" Eridan retorted.
"I agree with the seadweller, much as it brings me great chagrin to admit it," grumped Equius, "the vessel you describe is clearly the product of a highly advanced civilisation, and we are heavily outnumbered. They will be able to ex-tinquish us at will"
"Well it's too late to do anything about it now," Karkat ground his teeth irritably, "when they get here, let's at least try to look like we're not a bunch of disorganised nooksniffing rumpbulges, can we at least fucking try that?"
And, over the course of the intervening hours...
Lister crawled through an access shaft and emerged onto a poorly lit maintenance corridor, one of a million identical ones that honeycombed the ship.
"Nothin' in that one, let's move on."
"You got it, buddy!" Said The Cat, the last descendant of a feline race that evolved over the course of the three million year voyage that resulted from the aforesaid accident. He grinned a mouth full of teeth and fangs, and span on his heel to lead the way down the corridor. He was wearing a somewhat subdued number in alternating maroon and gold velour stripe, with flared shoulders and a tight hip-line accentuated by a blue cummerbund. For The Cat, this was highly subdued indeed.
"Kryten said it had to be one of these shafts, right? The main sensor cables all run through this section."
"I gotta tell you bud, I was listening to what everyone was saying, but then I suddenly realised something."
"I realised I'm lookin' nice."
"Yee-e-e-eah! But I mean, real nice! In a whole originally new way, just today!"
"Must have been shockin'."
"I know! I keep surprising myself!"
They had been hunting through shafts like these for hours, or at least Lister had been while The Cat watched and offered the occasional commentary on how great he was looking. Kryten had isolated the points in the ship at which the signals from the navigation gear to Holly might be intercepted. From what Kryten could tell, there had to be something attached to some vital cable feeding Holly incorrect information.
"This is hopeless," sighed Lister, "we're never goin' to find anything." And that was when they found something.
Lister and The Cat met the others back in the main drive deck. Lister looked furious, and The Cat just swivelled into a corner and made himself obnoxiously comfortable on an impossibly angled edge of table.
"We found it," growled Lister.
"Found what!" Rimmer looked up.
"We found what's been smeggin' our course up. What's been messing up Hol."
"What is it?"
"The low-life scummy result of a stupid decision I've been regrettin' for years. I should have never gone to that novelty souvenirs shop when I was smashed."
"Listy, I know it's hard to get this through your miniscule curry-soaked remaining brain cell but some of us are quite interested in knowing what you found!"
Lister pulled a battered box-shaped item from his satchel and slammed it down on the table aggresively. It bleeped and one face lit up with a crude digital display.
"It's the toaster."