“Installed! Let’s have a look!” Lister flipped to a channel guide on the bunkroom TV and began scrolling through the listings as Rimmer wandered in.
“That’s new. Where’d you find that, Listy? That’s not RedNet.”
“All-Droid. It’s their new TV service. I thought we’d check it out. C’mere and sit by me. Cat, man, move over.” Lister scooted to the middle of the sofa, patting the spot beside him invitingly.
Dropping down next to Lister, Rimmer scoffed, “All-Droid, eh? That lot has to be a division of M-Corp. Dare I ask what we’re paying for this?”
“We aren’t paying anything. I gave ‘em Hollister’s corporate card number, same as I always do. Besides, it’s a good deal. Seventy-eight thousand channels from thirteen thousand dimensions, all for ninety-nine dollar-pounds a month introductory price.” Lister snuggled against Rimmer’s side and began scrolling again.
Rimmer settled into the corner of the sofa, reached behind Lister, and helped himself to Cat’s popcorn, earning himself a felinoid swat and a halfhearted hiss. “Seventy-seven thousand shopping channels, a heap of premium movie channels showing total smeg, and one that shows nothing but a psychedelic toad pulsating to an obnoxious buzzing tone, no doubt. Someday we’ll get those bloody credit card bills payable immediately. They’ll probably send a Hudzen-10 out to collect.”
“Nah. Kryten says the JMC has autopay set up.”
Lister elbowed Rimmer. “Smeghead. Hmm, this could be interesting. ‘The Animal Botherer - Follow our intrepid host into the wilds of unexplored planetoids as he searches for new animal species.’ Let’s see.”
The Dwarfers stared in disbelief as the blond, tanned, muscular Animal Botherer, clad in tight khaki shorts and a white T-shirt, wrestled in a muddy pool with an enormous crocodile. “Isn’t she a beaut? What a gal!”
“Lister, is that...?”
“It smegging looks like one.”
“Hey! It’s Smooth Bud! Man, he’s down there in the mud and he still looks almost as nice as me!”
Onscreen, Ace Rimmer clung to the crocodile as she death-rolled, then straddled the animal’s back. Scratching her head between the eyes, he cooed, “Now, now, old love, is that any way to treat me? We’re fast friends, you and I.”
“Ugh. I’ve seen quite enough. It’s bringing up memories I’d rather not be thinking of. Give me that remote.” Rimmer prised the controller out of Lister’s hand, and, holding it out of Lister’s reach, switched back to the Guide Channel. “Zero-G draft picks - no - asteroid golf - no - Sharknado XVIII in 4D - seen it - ah. There we are. The Joy of Painting.”
“Painting should always make you happy. Sing with your brushes and paints. Here’s a happy little cloud in the indigo sky of Enceladus, where I once quashed an uprising of disgruntled GELFs bent on usurping the rightful government and replacing it with an anarcho-syndicalist commune. Here’s the happy little bush under which I buried their overlord.” The painter flipped his golden locks casually.
“Oh, you have got to be smegging kidding me. Another one?” Rimmer stabbed the channel guide button. “What else is there?”
Cat perked up in excitement. “The Fashion Channel! Let’s try that one, buds!”
Rimmer snorted. “Adventures in Style? Why not? Can’t be any worse than the last two.”
“The well-appointed rugged adventurer need not sacrifice style for function. I had Spanners install a pocket dimension on Wildfire for my sexy yet practical gear. Now, although you may not look as good as I do, even the worst of you will be presentable in this new flight suit from BacoFoyle. It’s flameproof, ventilated...”
Snarling, Rimmer mashed the buttons on the remote as Cat caterwauled, “Hey, Goalpost Head - I was enjoying that!”
“Now, always use the freshest ingredients when baking cherry blintzes, even if you have to dimension-jump to...”
“Sadly, old shoe, I’m afraid that this romance of ours would never work out. The love between a space hero and a Pleasure GELF could never...”
“Exclusively at MimasMart - Ace’s Smoked Kippers, the only breakfast treat endorsed by Commander Ace himself! If it doesn’t say Ace’s, don’t expect him back for...”
“...and this is my General Manager, Spanners Lister. Here at Ace’s Place, our team of certified experts can repair any make or model of ship. Come see us and get your tea chest back into the sky!”
“That’s it!” Rimmer leapt up and flung the remote down on the couch. “I’ve had quite enough of that bloody spaniel-haired git! I’ll be in my garden if you need me, Lister. At least he hasn’t ruined that for me yet...”
“Welcome back to Ace’s Spaces, the program where I personally teach lucky allotment holders how best to cultivate their plots...”