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Daughter From The Dwarf: Low Battery

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It was a rare occurrence when Arnold Rimmer let his light-bee run so low on power that he had to resort to becoming soft-light or turning off altogether. Rare, but it still happened on occasion. After Luna came along he had tried to limit the times it happened, but sometimes it just couldn’t be helped. The first time it had happened his only company, to his irritation had been the Cat. Lister and Kryten were working in the engine rooms and Cat had come to their part of the ship to show off his latest designs, whether Rimmer cared or not.

Rimmer was reading to Luna out loud from Lister’s Zero-G football annual, which he’d picked up by mistake. The Cat was strutting in and out, showing his new suits while Rimmer rocked with Luna rested against him in one arm, annual in the other. He was reading in a silly and over-exaggerated voice as the Cat showed off his 17th suit when the familiar dizziness washed over him. He froze, knowing he’d never make it back across the room to Luna’s nap area he launched himself towards the unsuspecting Cat. “Cat; catch.” The Cat, caught unawares, clutched the small body pushed into his hands as Rimmer fell through him, book clattering to the floor.

“Hey!” The Cat protested, holding Luna securely, although at arms-length. “What’re you thinkin’ Goal-Post head? Her outfit, with this suit? You crazy?” He turned to see Rimmer getting to his feet, relief flooding his features as he saw the Cat holding his daughter.

“My light-bee’s low on power, it put me on soft-light. I can’t touch anything again. Where’re you taking her?”

“My design rooms. If you expect me to hold her, we gotta match bud.”

“Would you at least hold her properly?” Rimmer pleaded, seeing the discomfort on Luna’s face. “Fair warning,” he began, switching to his old and smug voice, “if she starts crying, I can’t cuddle her, you’ll have to do it,” he said firmly. The Cat looked between Rimmer, Luna and his suit. He huffed and held Luna against him, facing the way he was going, stopping by Rimmer and Lister’s quarters to take his charging gear.

From that day, The Cat designated himself Luna’s stylist, making her racks and racks of frilly dresses and what he considered casual outfits.

The battery issue only happened once in a while, and thankfully, there was nearly always someone else nearby to take Luna or take-over her care. Luna, thankfully, was still too young to understand what was happening. That was, until one day, she wasn’t. Rimmer, dressed in casual attire as he was off-shift, was holding Luna overhead as she pretended to fly around like a superhero when the dizziness overtook him. Hurriedly he made a ‘crash landing’ on the lumpy couch before he reverted back to soft-light. Luna was laughing wildly as she picked herself back up as Rimmer pecked her hair. “Again daddy, again!” She cheered jumping up and down, arms raised.

“I’m sorry darling, not now, daddy can’t lift you right now,” he said, feeling guilty, the lifespan of his hard-light form was getting shorter with each passing month. He feared nothing more than being doomed to be soft-light. To never hold his daughter or Lister again.

“Why?”

“It’s complicated sweetie. Holly,” he called to the screens in the room, “call Lister in here would you?”

“But I don’t wanna play with papa, I wanna play with you,” Luna insisted and while he adored that statement, he needed to get back to charging. Lister entered the room looking hurried, the Cat trailing behind.

“Already?” Lister queried, raising his eyebrows, the look of distress on Rimmer’s face told him all.

“What’s he doing here?” Rimmer asked, nodding to the Cat as Lister scooped Luna in his arms, preventing her from running to and through her father.

“I just finished a surprise for the little lady. Wondered if she wanted to come try it on,” the Cat defended. Luna looked torn, she wanted to keep playing with Rimmer, but the Cat had been teasing her for weeks with a new outfit and her curiosity won out. She allowed the Cat to take her from her papa, watching over his shoulder as he carried her away.

“It’s gettin’ worse man,” Lister said, pulling a charging block from under a counter.

“You don’t think I know that? That I don’t worry about it every day? What am I going to do?”

“Have you given any thought to what Kryten suggested?” Lister brought up.

“What other choice do we have? We’re going to have to seek out Legion again. He can fix my light-bee.” Rimmer resigned himself to going back to where he first became hard-light. The battery life was weakening with each charge. Lister carried the block, connected to the light-bee in search of Kryten to implement the plan.

Lister, Cat and Luna would go into Stasis, Rimmer would be turned off and frozen to preserve the form and re-downloaded, based on his last back-up, which with Luna here he updated weekly and would do before turning off. Holly would have Kryten to keep him company to stop himself going more peculiar than he already was. When they were near Legion’s station Kryten would take Rimmer’s light-bee, un-downloaded, and ask for a replacement circuit.

Next, they had to explain everything to Luna. “It’s time she knew. She’s noticing, she feels hurt when I can’t lift her, or hug her. I see the pain on her face and she’s going to remember it. I can’t let it go on. I’ll talk to her tonight. We can tuck her into bed, then you can take her into Stasis.” Rimmer’s form shimmered as he became hard-light once again.

“It’s gettin’ late, should I go get her an’ the Cat?”

“No,” Rimmer decided, “let them have their fun first.”

 

The Cat brought Luna back 3 hours later, carrying her in new clothes and three other garment bags. “Daddy, what do you think?” She asked twirling.

“You look brilliant. Absolutely beautiful,” he said, lifting and spinning her. “Come on, we’re going to have dinner, then we need to have a talk. A grown-up talk, with you.”

“I get to be in a grown-up talk?”

“Mhmm, me and papa think you’re grown-up enough, for this talk.” Luna bounced excitedly in the chair Rimmer sat her on at the table. She, Lister and the Cat ate what Kryten had prepared then she sat up, showing she was ready for the grown-up talk. Rimmer lifted her and they sat on the suite. “So, I’m guessing, you’ve noticed that sometimes, daddy can’t hug you, or pick you up.” Luna nodded, “and we think it’s time you knew why. You see, daddy is like one of your interactive toys. He needs to be recharged sometimes, or he won’t work anymore. Or, he needs the battery replacing, otherwise he’ll break and need fixing.” Rimmer explained, Luna’s face held a concentrating expression as she tried to understand.

“Like my musical book?” She questioned, remembering her long broken toy.

“Yes, your musical book,” Rimmer said eyeing the Cat, “the one that mysteriously broke.” Rimmer, Lister and Cat exchanged a look at the memory. It played songs from early 21st century Disney princesses. Luna rarely made it past the Frozen pages, subjecting them to hours of Elsa.

Cat looked at Lister and whispered: “it was driving me crazy, she only ever pressed the same damn buttons,” he exclaimed in hushed tones.

“I’ll press your damn buttons, miladdo.” Rimmer warned.

“I miss my music book,” Luna sighed, remembering her long forgotten toy.

“Not to worry Miss Luna, I just finished putting it back together this morning,” Kryten cut in.

“Yay!” She cheered.

“Nooo!” Cat groaned into a pillow Lister pushed into his hands.

“We’re getting off topic,” Lister said.

“Right, yes,” Rimmer said, refocussing, “so, Daddy needs to be recharged, however, something in him is broken, meaning he doesn’t stay charged for very long, which is why sometimes I can’t cuddle you. So, we’re going to go somewhere to get the things we need to fix me. But, this place is a long way away, so to make it quicker, we’re all going to go to sleep and when we wake up, we’ll be there.”

“Sleep all the way there?” Luna knelt beside Rimmer, looking into his eyes.

“All the way, and when you wake up, I’ll be as good as new.” Rimmer pressed their foreheads together and ‘booped’ her nose, making her giggle.

“Pinky promise?”

Rimmer stuck out his little finger and entwined it with Luna’s. “Pinky promise,” he smiled.

That evening Rimmer read Luna a story, laid beside her in her ‘big-girl’ bed. “Daddy, I can’t sleep,” she said after a moment, “could you sing me our special song?”

“I will always sing you our special song,” Rimmer smiled down at her, brushing her curls from her face, he sang softly:
“Sun goes down and says goodnight
Pull your covers up real tight
By your bed we'll leave a light
To guide you off to dreamland
Your pillows soft your bed is warm
Your eyes are tired when day is done
One more kiss and you'll be gone
On your way to dreamland
Every sleepy boy and girl
In every bed around the world
Can hear the stars up in the sky
Whispering a lullaby
Who knows where you'll fly away
Winging passed the light of day
The man in the moon and the milky way
Welcome you to dreamland
Every sleepy boy and girl
In every bed around the world
Can hear the stars up in the sky
Whispering a lullaby
Who knows where you'll fly away
Winging passed the light of day
The man in the moon and the milky way
Welcome you to dreamland”

Rimmer finished their song, knowing she had been asleep for most of it and tucked the blanket around her as he returned to help the others with preparations. Once they were ready he carried her through the ship to Stasis where he pressed her into Lister’s arms, kissing both of them.

“See you on the other side,” Lister said quietly and Rimmer nodded.

Shutting the door Rimmer gave Holly the instruction to seal them inside. He made a final back-up of his personality before turning himself off, giving over his future to Kryten and Holly.

 

376 years later…

Kryten prepared Starbug for the journey to Legion’s station, packing only Mr Rimmer’s light-bee. It had been a quiet 376 years, just himself and Holly, piloting Red Dwarf through space. Holly had stopped Red Dwarf a few hours away from the station, to ensure the others were out of range for Legions’ powers. 

Kryten piloted the bug into the docking bay to find that there were already 2 ships there. He pondered his concern as he scanned the station, there were life-forms aboard. This complicated things slightly, but Kryten was not deterred. Collecting the light-bee he ventured aboard, Legion found him soon, among the crowds of people.

“Kryten, good to see you again.”

“And I you. I wish the circumstances were better. Who are all these people?” Kryten asked, gesturing around.

“A colony ship found it’s way into my station docking, the residents seemed more than happy to stay, we have been together for nearly 200 years now. It’s fascinating really. Is that Mr Rimmer’s light-bee?”

“Yes, the battery life was worsening, causing anxiety for him and troubling emotions for his young daughter.” Kryten was forth-coming with his information, Legion was him and therefore knew everything he did. There was no need or point to hide things from him.

“Come, let me replace it, and send you off with spares for your journey. I have no need to keep you here against your will. The colony lives in shifts, there are always people awake to keep me alive, I have no need for forcing people to remain against their will anymore.” Legion lead Kryten through the station to a laboratory, where he took the light-bee apart and replaced the circuitry inside. In a box he packed several back-ups before handing them over to Kryten.

“Thank you, sir, I am sure the others will be most thankful.”

“You are welcome, my friend, here, allow me to show you out,” Legion saw Kryten off before returning to his work, thriving under the mass of minds provided by the colony.

 

Kryten arrived back at Red Dwarf and began collaborating with Holly to re-download Mr Rimmer’s personality to the light-bee. Rimmer blinked and flexed his fingers before patting himself down. He was hard-light and he felt a renewed sense of energy, “did it work?” He asked Kryten.

“Yes sir, Legion has the company of an entire colony, he had no need to keep me there. Come, let’s wake the others.”

Rimmer stood outside the Stasis booth, waiting for Cat, Lister and Luna to reanimate. Lister woke, adjusting Luna in his arms. Stepping out of the booth Rimmer took his daughter back, “all sorted?”

“All sorted, with spares,” Kryten informed him.

“I’m going to put her back to bed,” Rimmer said, “then I’ll meet you all for the debriefing.” Rimmer carried Luna back to her room, newly dusted in anticipation of their reanimation and tucked her in. She stirred as he pulled her blankets up to her shoulders.

“Daddy?” She mumbled.

“Right here,” he replied softly.

“Are you better yet?”

“I’m all better now, go back to sleep, it’s still late,” he told her.

Luna nodded, “daddy, can you sing to me again?”

“Of course,” Rimmer perched on the edge of the bed, stroked her curls from her face and sang their lullaby again.