Death is Not the End - Part 1 (of 2?) [Mature Readers - Not Quite a Lemon]


As the ship flew off, the larger space ship dwindling to a small, green
pinprick of colour in the distance, the sole occupant stared at the controls
within the cockpit.

A perplexed look changed slowly into one of contempt, followed soon after by
a face filled with horror as it dawned on him - he had no idea how to work
the thing.

He scanned the controls, trying to spot the labels that had so far eluded
him. They had to be there, somewhere! Maybe the gits who'd built the ship
had decided on a nice black motif - black letters on a black label, stuck
under the rows of flashing lights and switches, on the matt black control

Leaning forward, his face bathed in the multi-coloured lights of the control
panel, he stared intently everywhere around the buttons. Nothing. And it was
almost impossible to see with the soft, blow-dried fringe feathering across
his line of vision.

What on earth had possessed him to even wear that poofy hair do? All he'd
ever really wanted was a nice, short marine-style cut. Short back and sides.
But here he was, with some poncy fringe and a head of hair that was not only
tipped with golden strands, but it _cascaded_ past his collar!

And the _outfit_! A silver, aluminium foil-like jacket and matching pants.
At least he wasn't wearing the sunglasses. The cream polo neck was almost too
much to bear, too. Why on earth did he ever change out of his nice, normal
Space Corps uniform?

He reached up and turned the joystick a little, and glared at the stars as
they seemed to arc around, moving left through the inky black sky. That was
all there was out there - stars and deep, black, cold space.

"I've got to concentrate," he muttered to himself, his voice even sounding
weaselly to his own ears. He'd been in ships before. True, he'd only been
on the scanner and helped with navigation, but he should have picked up
_something_ from his time up front.

He reached up a hand to flick one of the switches on the bewildering arrays,
and paused. His hand hovered for a moment, then snatched back as if the
buttons and lights had turned into a poisonous snake, ready to strike. There
was no way that he was going to risk it - what if he pressed the ejector
seat by accident? What if he pressed the warp button and smashed into a
planet or a sun?! What if...

A movement in the window caught his attention, and he caught a glimpse of his
ghostly reflection, the glow of flickering lights softening his features.
He hardly recognised himself. His eyes seemed a little wider. The sweep of
his fringe and hair softened the sharp edges of his face, even making the
line of his nose smaller. In fact, he seemed quite a bit better looking that
he really remembered.

No wiry, toilet-brush hair. No flaring nostrils. His sharp chin and overly
large Adam's Apple had soften and diminished. Maybe the hair and outfit weren't
so bad, after all...

He'd set off to become a hero. The new look went with the job... He'd set off
to travel to dimensions unknown, to seek out new life and, wherever possible,
to bring it back home, and to boldly have sex with lots and lots of beautiful

Too bad he was stuck in this red, un-flyable vessel, millions upon millions of
light years from anywhere. The closest thing near-by was the other ship.

For a moment, he thought to turn back to the others. Some companionship! And
they, at least, knew how to fly their ship.

But he was no stranger to loneliness. Ever since he could remember, he'd
always been alone. Maybe not physically alone, but always emotionally. Not
even the others on the ship were close to him. In fact, often they were
just the opposite. At least there had been one, brief, shining moment of
happiness in his life .....

He sighed. Turning back was no option. He would never live down the shame.

He stared resolutely at the dark, star-studded sky, and flew on.


The soft, sexy feminine voice made him start.

"Um, hello?" Ace stared around, a little nervously.

"Oh, he died, did he...?" the voice asked, sounding forlorn.

Ace looked down and stared at a little speaker. It was the ship's computer
talking to him.

"Err, yes. Sorry." He really didn't know what to say.

After a moments silence, a sigh emanated from the speaker, "I guess that it's
left for me to teach you how to fill his footsteps." After another moment,
the voice continued, "Well, Arnold, it's time for you to become Ace Rimmer."

After a moment's pause as the computer scanned through his hologram projection
files, the voice spoke again. "Oh, Gordon Bennett. This is going to take some

He was Arnold Judas Rimmer, recently promoted to First Officer, of the
missing Jupiter Mining Corporation vessel, Red Dwarf. It had taken him
twelve years to rise from lowly Third Technician to lowly Second Technician,
in charge of Z-shift.

Z-shift was, in fact, the group who cleaned the gunk out of the chicken soup
machines and who made sure that vending machines never ran out of various
fun-sized chocolate snacks. Not only was he a vending machine repair man,
but he wasn't a very good one at that.

But the day when the ship's captain asked him to fix a drive plate was the
worst one in his life. Of course, it hadn't been repaired correctly - the
team had been short one man, so Rimmer had to fix it by himself. And so, the
whole crew had been subject to a lethal dose of Cadmium-2, and had all been
wiped out.

Rimmer had died with the rest of them. Three million years later, he was
revived as a hologram. Revived to do one important job - to keep the last
human in the universe sane.

The last human being left alive was kept in a stasis field for the whole
three million years - he was Rimmer's subordinate. Having brought an
un-quarantined cat aboard the ship, he was punished by being placed in statis
for a few months, and having his pay docked during that time.

While he was frozen in time, inside the field, the accident occurred and the
whole crew died. Holly, the ship's computer, released Lister as soon as the
radiation reached a safe background level.

To stop Lister from going crazy from loneliness, Holly brought Rimmer back.
Unfortunately, Rimmer is a petty, small-minded, cowardly, bureaucratic maggot
of a human being. The only reason that he was chosen, out of the thousands of
other crew who died aboard Red Dwarf, was the fact that driving Rimmer crazy
was what would keep Lister sane.

And drive Rimmer crazy Lister did - they didn't like each other one little
bit. Exchanging insults was what they were best at. And Lister was the one
who thought of him the most fondly. There were two others who eventually
found their way on board - the Cat, a humanoid descendant (felis sapiens)
from the cat that Lister had hidden in the hold, and Kryten, a series 4000
mechanoid. They both disliked Rimmer.

Even Rimmer, deep down, hated himself.

Though, to Rimmer's credit, he had done a few laudable acts in his life.
He'd given up everything that he'd ever wanted - a position of command,
an effective physical presence, sexual congress twice a day (health
regulations) - for the only woman he'd ever really loved. He had also found
the courage to fight and saved Lister and the others from death.

Ace Rimmer - a Rimmer from another dimension, who was everything that
Rimmer ever wanted to be; cool, charming, handsome with wall to wall
charisma, brave and incredibly yummy to members of the opposite sex (not to
mention members of the _same_ sex, though Ace was strictly butter side
up) - could see that Arnold J. Rimmer had the potential to be better.

The goodness was there, the courage was there. But it was well hidden behind
his neuroses and his self-loathing.

But the computer still had her work cut out for her.

[Space, Months Later]

"Look, you stupid broken-down excuse for a photo copier, just shut up! Shut
up! Shut up! I am _not_ going to fly into GELF territory - I might get

If the computer could sneer in disgust, she'd be doing that right now. "Look,
you bonehead, I'm going to turn you into Ace, even if it kills you! If you
don't have the love spuds to meet with them now, you'll always be the maggot
you are now!"

With that, the computer took control of the ship, and flew off into enemy
space, with Arnold trying desperately to have a nice, quiet panic attack
under the pilot's seat.

She was going to teach him, even if it killed him.

[Space, Years Later]

"No, Arnold, 'Mi esperas ke vi lernos ^gin, balda^u' means 'I hope that you
will learn it, soon'!"

"I thought that that was the one that went 'My thanks for the lemon gin,
and that small, plastic umbrella looks smashing'."

The computer groaned in frustration, "But you've been trying to learn
Esperanto for over three million and eight years! Concentrate!"

[Space, Centuries Later]

"...and that it how I'd turn the light-speed drive into a time machine, using
only my jacket, a screwdriver and a paper clip."

Arnold's voice was deep and full of confidence, and actually quite sexy. He
gave a winning smile at the computer, although she couldn't see him.

"How did I go, you sexy CPU, old love? Do you think I'm ready to hop this
crate up and into the great unknown?"

The computer was quite pleased - she had expected to have taken another few
centuries, at least, to get him up to this level. He had been the worst
Rimmer that she'd ever come across, in any of the dimensions where she had

But the last Ace had proved himself right - there _was_ an Ace Rimmer buried
somewhere, hiding deep under all of Arnold J. Rimmer's neuroses.

Ace would live again!

But first...

"There is one test left for you, Arnie. You'll have to earn the name 'Ace'
by yourself."

A crease marred his forehead, under the perfect waves of blond hair, "How can
I do that, old girl? The only boffins out there are the boys from the Dwarf."
He flicked his hair back, and slid his sunglasses on with his other hand,
"And we've left them behind long, long ago. There hasn't been even a flicker
on the scanner in the last five years."

"A ship has just come into my long-range scanners, Arnie. Have a look."

"Gordon Bennett, you're right! And I didn't even notice it - well, dearest,
since we have company, it'd be rude of me not to pop by for a visit, eh?"

"Oh, Arn... you'd better stick your H on - it's a hologrammatic ship."

"Hologrammatic?" As the computer projected a small 'H' on his forehead, a
look of disbelief crossed over his features, "It couldn't be."

They flew on, until the strange, space station came into view. It was made
up of three long cylindrical habitation areas, joined by two sphere-shaped
control decks. It seemed to twinkle gently with a strange light.

It was.

It was the Enlightenment.

[Moments Later]

A glow of twinkling, blue lights flew straight into Rimmer's ship. It paused
and swirled around Arnold for a moment, before zooming off into the ship's
sleeping quarters.

Rimmer had been through this once before. It had been quite a number of
years before - about two hundred years before he'd left to become a hero -
and he felt quite a bit more nervous now than then.

Before, he didn't know what it was. Now, he had to prove to himself that he
was worthy of becoming Ace Rimmer... and _she_ was on board.

Nirvanah Crane.

His hologrammatic lover. The only woman in the world to have really, really
loved him. And his only lover (who wasn't concussed at the time).

And, surprisingly, she hadn't been desperate or ugly. She actually had more
wits than a Tasmanian Tiger after its visit to the taxidermist. She was
quite intelligent. And beautiful. With a damned sexy voice.

But he hadn't seen her again, since he left the Enlightenment. She'd given
up not only her position on the ship as Navigation Officer to let Arnold
have his dream, but she'd relinquished her hologrammatic life for him.

He couldn't accept her sacrifice. He'd left a letter for her, and returned
to Red Dwarf. All because he had loved her, too.

Now he was scared to death at seeing her again. Maybe she had gotten over
him. Maybe he'd written something gittish in that letter, and she had finally
realised how stupid she'd been. Maybe she'd fallen back into thinking that
love was only a short-term hormonal distraction. After all, the rest of the
crew thought that - love was an outmoded concept on the holoship....

Before he could follow this train of thought any more, he blipped out of

[The Enlightenment]

The ship's captain stood on the bridge and swept back his long, blond hair
with an elegantly shaped hand, then formed the Enlightenment salute.

"Captain Hercule Platini, IQ two-one-two. I haven't seen one of your type of
hologram around here, so I thought it best to bring you straight to the
bridge. You remind me of someone, too. So, who are you?"

Rimmer looked around the bridge. The other holograms were all looking at him.
Natalina Pushkin, the Captain's second. She was a pretty woman, though a
little too arrogant for Arnold's taste. Commander Randy Nevaro, a handsome
male hologram. IQs two-zero-one and one-nine-four respectively.

He spoke in the deep, space marine-type voice. "The handle's Commander A.J.
Rimmer. Friends call me Ace. Just had to pop in from another dimension to
take a look at this marvelous machine you've got here. I'm what the boys
call a 'hard light hologram'. Not sure how it works, but I've got a solid
body when I want it." He looked up around the bridge, "A holoship, am I
correct? Then you're all obviously top-flight personnel. 'Course I could
only dream of watching you guys from a distance. I'm just a humble test
pilot in the Space Corps."

"I see that you know pretty much about us, Commander Rimmer," he rolled his
rs thoughtfully, "Hmmm. Rimmer... Rimmer... Where have I heard that name
before? Rimmer?" He looked Arnold up and down for a moment.

"Oh, I know," Natalina interjected in her deeply accented Russian voice, "He
was that strange man who took Commander Crane's position, then stupidly
went and returned to his pathetic ship, the Red Dwarf. He was so rude that
he even refused to have sex with me."

The Captain raised an eyebrow, "Oh, my. Thank goodness he decided to leave
after all." He turned back to Rimmer, who looked slightly uncomfortable,
"I take it that you're related to that Rimmer?"

Rimmer forced a laugh, making it sound surprisingly free and easy, "Of course
not. I'm just him from another dimension. At some point in time, our lives
diverged, old man. And thank the Big Man Upstairs for that!" He swept back
his fringe and smiled, "And the poor man must have been higher than a hippy
flight attendant after his first open-air festival - how could he refuse
such a deliciously sexy hologram like you, my old love?"

Natalina's glacial expression actually melted as he spoke.

Randy stood forward, coughing slightly, "Captain, if you want, I'll show
Commander Rimmer around the ship," he saluted.

"Actually, Captain, I go off duty now. I'll show the Commander around,"
Natalina raised her chin, looking down her nose at Randy. She wasn't about
to let Randy get this one.

Rimmer looked apologetically at Randy, then gave a salute to the captain,
"Sorry, but it looks like the lady has me. I'll see you gents shortly. What
a ship! What a crew!" He turned, and offered Natalina his elbow.

Linking her arm with his, the two headed off the bridge.

Randy stared after Rimmer, his eyes dreamy, and murmured, "What a guy..."


Rimmer and Natalina stood in the elevator as it whooshed up the various
levels to the bridge. She'd shown him all of the more interesting parts
of the ship - the botanic gardens, the vid suits, the mess hall, various
clubs and bars, the engine room, the main computer room (from which Stocky,
the ship's computer, projected the entire holoship, including the crew; it
was a little strange, since Stocky himself was a hologram of a computer),
and even the sports and sexual recreation deck.

He'd been through the tour before, with Nirvanah Crane. And then she'd
invited him to stop over for a spot of sex for a couple of hours. It had
been during that whole, blissful day that they'd fallen madly and deeply
in love.

Rimmer had been terrified at the thought of seeing her... what to do? What
to say? But now that the tour was almost complete, and he hadn't seen her,
he knew that he needed to see her - if only once. The longing deep inside
him, to meet with her if only for a moment, was something that he'd never
felt before. He was still in love with her.

"...to have sex with me, some time next week, if you're still around?"

Rimmer was pulled back into reality at this, "Umm, pardon?"

"I said, would you like to have sex with me, some time next week, if you're
still around? It would be a really good work out for both of us." Natalina
gave a smile as if to say that she didn't need the work out, but what the

Collecting his thoughts, Rimmer smiled and said in his Ace voice, "Well,
my delicious little vodka martini, my schedule's a bit tight what with
hopping dimensions for the Space Corps and all, but it would be bad manners
not to. Especially for you, my lovely."

He really didn't think anything much of her, but that sounded like an
appropriate space-marine-type thing to say... But he hadn't had sex ...
well, he hadn't had sex in over a millenium or so, give or take a couple
of hundred years. The last time had been with Nirvanah. It had also been
his first time as a hologram. His second time all-up.

His first time had been about three million years previously - a brief
liaison with a concussed female boxing champion on Red Dwarf. Yvonne
McGruder. Pity she kept on calling him by the wrong name... But then, that
Arnold Rimmer was the maggot who didn't believe in love. (Mostly because
he'd never actually been capable of having a relationship with anyone, let
alone with a woman.)

The years since his death seemed to have been the best years of his whole

He _had_ to see her again. He really, really did.

[Mess Hall]

Having finished the tour, Natalina left to get some sleep. Rimmer played
with the hologrammatic plum sauce that covered chicken leg on his plate.
Being a hologram, he had no need for food ... but this food was something
that he could actually taste. The computer-projected food somehow stimulated
the part of his mind that 'tasted' food, and the part that 'smelled' it.
He could eat and drink normal food, when he was in hard-light form, but
it just wasn't the same. This really felt _real_ to him!

Although, right now, he wasn't interested.

Everyone else was busy at their posts, or sleeping or doing whatever the
arrogant beings of this ship did. The mess hall was empty.

A voice startled him, "Oh, I heard that there was another ship. You must be
the pilot?"

He knew that voice. He remembered every sexy intonation she had ever uttered.
It was Nirvanah.

He turned to her ... and found himself talking as Ace, as a group of crew
members entered behind her.

"Yes, I'm the poor chump whose old crate's just a bucket of rusting bolts
that have been sitting out in the rain for a few years, compared to your
magnificent craft. The name's Ace, my charming beauty. Might I have the
pleasure of knowing your name?"

The others were off getting their own meals by now, but Rimmer still felt as
if he was making a total fool of himself. How could he act towards her like
that? ...but how did he know if she even remembered him......?

She gave a little sigh of pleasure as the full force of his charisma hit
her, "My name is Nirvanah Crane, and the pleasure is all mine."

He gave her a charming smile, and gestured to the table opposite him, "Would
you care to join me? Seems that tonight's dinner is a tad dull without
someone to have a good, old chin-wag with. Crashing bore, if you know what
I mean. And dinner with the captain wasn't something that interested me,
frankly. I'd like to get to know the rest of the crew than reacquainting
myself with the fairies in the land of Nod."

She gave a smile, "Well, if you'd like..." She sank down on the seat next
to him, forgetting totally about getting something to actually eat. Somehow,
he reminded her of someone ... but she just couldn't place it. The memory
fluttered, teasingly, at the edge of her consciousness ... then vanished.
But she did know that she was *very* attracted to him. There was something
in him that made her recall the hero on a white horse that she'd dreamt
about as a teen, so long ago... and there was something more. But, again,
she couldn't place it.

Finding herself talking to him, mostly on autopilot, she gazed at him. He
was the sexiest guy she'd ever seen. The most attractive thing about it
was the fact that he didn't act as if he knew it. He was charming, too, and
treated her with a respect that was genuine... and he lacked the arrogance
of the rest of the holocrew. It was refreshing - a man who didn't think that
he was God.

She started a little as he repeated her name.

"Oh, sorry... I was just thinking about something for a moment. What did you
say, Ace?"

He just smiled his winning smile at her, without a hint of disapproval for
her lack of concentration, and said, "If you really don't mind being
shacked up for a while with just a test pilot, rather than all of your
intelligent and handsome crew members, I wouldn't mind taking time out for
a little sex. It's been a while - hopping dimensions and all - so I might be
a little rusty."

"Oh, of course I wouldn't. A sexy guy like you needs to have a work out now
and again. My schedule's empty for the next few hours," she stood up, and
brushed back a lock of her hair that had fallen across her face, "My room
is quite comfortable."

Rimmer stood up, and followed her. They chatted about this and that while
they walked, Rimmer's mind not really on the conversation, just on her. He
felt a little strange, asking for some sex just like that... but he just
wanted to be alone with her for a while. Plus, sex was just a recreation
here - a health regulation. He loved her, so why couldn't he make love to
her? On top of that, he hadn't had sex in the last couple of hundred years,
and was really, really horny.

[Nirvanah's Room]

Nirvanah pressed a switch on the computer, and said, "Privacy on."

She then turned to the man, sitting on her bed.

"So, Mr Ace, what do you do?" She walked to him, and sat down on the bed
next to him, "You're quite a new type of hologram..."

Rimmer reached down to a small, black control box attached to his belt, and
pressed a button. It didn't do much, physically, being on a holoship, but
he changed from being hard-light to soft-light.

"When I'm like this, I'm just a normal hologram and can't touch anything,

She looked at him in some surprise. "Whenever did this technology get used?
We'd speculated on such a thing, but even our computer couldn't formulate a
way to put it into practice!"

As she studied his facial features, she paused, and a frown crossed over her
pretty features. Recognition flashed across her face.

"What's wrong?" Rimmer asked as she stood up, half turning away from him.

"I'm sorry, Ace, I can't have sex with you."

All Rimmer could think of to say was, "What's wrong?" again. So, he said it.

"What's wrong?"

"You're such a sweet man, you really are, but... you just remind me of
someone. He's very special to me..... although we've evolved passed love,
I guess that I'm not as intellectually superior as I thought. I ... love
him... and so, I can't have sex with you. It would just seem ... wrong."
Nirvanah finished on a sigh.

Rimmer steeled himself, reached up, and removed the wig that he was wearing.
Underneath, his hair was dark brown, short and slightly curled. It wasn't
soft hair, it was wiry, but it was neat. He looked more like the old Arnold
J Rimmer.

He spoke in his normal, slightly nasally voice, "Nirvanah..."

"Arnie?" Her eyes widened as she turned back to him, "What is going on?"

"I... I'm sorry about the whole Ace business. I just had to see you again."
He looked down at the floor as he spoke, "I've changed, look at me. A new
outfit. New hair. New hard-light projection. New knowledge," He tapped his
forehead as he spoke, "Myself from another dimension made a new man out of
me, Nirvanah. The ship's computer decided that here was to be the testing
grounds for my new self. If the others on this ship believed that I was, in
fact, Ace Rimmer, I'd succeed. I'd be a success for a change! Someone who's
okay. So I just couldn't tell you before..."

"I never thought that I'd see you again, Arnie. You gave up your whole dream
for me!" She sank down on the bed next to him, tears starting to form in
the corner of her eyes, "Arnie, how stupid you were to do that!"

Rimmer swallowed and looked into her eyes, "It was stupid of you to have
given up your hologrammatic life for me, Nirvanah. I... I love you too much
to let you do that for me."

That had been even more difficult to say than saying goodbye to the crew
aboard Starbug. In fact, saying goodbye to them was easy in comparison. He'd
never been any good with feelings. Saying what he just said had been the
emotional equivalent of having his teeth pulled out by a psychopathic dentist
with a rusty pair of pliers.

"Oh, Arnie..."

He managed a smile, looking at her hopefully.

She took his hand in hers, "You know this isn't right... We're just meant
to explore the universe and have fantastic sex, at least twice a day. We
shouldn't be in love. But sex was never the same after you'd left. It was
still exercise, but there was never anything ..." She paused to search for
the right word, "... different about it. Just meaningless, sweaty grinding
away, hour after hour with man after man. Constant, steamy sex, day after

Rimmer twitched a little as she spoke.

"But none of it was with you, Arnie. I really did miss you," She looked up
at him with her beautiful, wide eyes. There was no taunting or teasing in
her eyes - she really did mean what she said.

He leaned towards her slightly, caught in her innocent gaze.

Ever so slowly, she lifted her face up to his. Her pink, soft lips parted
slightly for a kiss. As her lips hovered inches away from his, Rimmer could
feel her sweet, hologrammaticaly simulated breath against his face. He could
do nothing but wait, her lips so tantalisingly close to his... and then her
lips brushed against his.

So soft and delicate was her kiss that he was stunned at the shudder of
pleasure that went through him. For the merest second, he felt like he was
in heaven.

Ever so slowly, they broke off their kiss. Nirvanah was trembling inside.
She looked up at him through her dark eye lashes. Both were inexperienced
at love.

Rimmer slid his arms around her and drew her close. He could feel her
body, pressing against his, arousing him intensely. He'd definitely need
a _jumbo_ quatro-formaggio pizza with extra olives at the end of this!

Reaching down, Nirvanah placed her hands on his hips, and slowly pulled
him back against her. Their lips met again as they moved down against the
bed. As their kisses grew more passionate, their hands started to explore
and caress each other's bodies. Rimmer's body felt wonderfully heavy against
her own. She was feeling a passion that she'd never really known before,
and it felt wonderful... Even the last time she'd been with him, there had
been a wall. They'd both had to pretend that it meant nothing to either of
them. This time she was free to explore her own feelings as she joined with

As Rimmer's hands brushed through Nirvanah's elaborate coiffeur, he kissed
her deeply, his lips open and his tongue searching out hers. She felt so
soft and warm underneath him, it felt so right to him. His body started to
rock against her, and she matched his movements. He heard her murmur softly,
and suddenly she was naked beneath him.

"Undress," he whispered a command to his own light bee, the little computer
controlled device that projected him. His clothing disappeared, and he
gloried in the sudden feeling of her smooth, velvety skin against his.

They kissed each other, Rimmer's lips moving from hers to leave a trail of
kisses over her face and neck. He softly moaned with need for her as her
gentle touch spread shivers through him.

Pushing back up against him, Nirvanah wrapped a leg around his hip, her
sex tingling, sending fires of need rushing through her. Arching her back
slightly, she whispered his name.

As their bodies rolled over again, naked and covered in a sheen of
perspiration, abruptly the ship's klaxon started blaring.

In a knee-jerk reaction, they both jumped apart, ordering their clothes
on. It was worse than having a bucket of ice water poured over them! Looking
at each other for a moment, frowns on both their faces, Nirvanah turned
away, fixed her hair, and touched her private computer.

"Privacy off," she said after Arnold put on his wig, "What's the problem,

On the screen, Platini looked rather flustered, though he tried to give the
outward appearance of calm.

"Greetings, Commander Crane. It seems that there is a rogue simulant ship
out there with holo-weaponry, and they're daring to attack us. No matter,
we will defeat them, but I think that you should take up your position on
the bridge. Ah, Commander Rimmer is there with you. Commander, if you would
join us on the bridge, please."

"Yes, Captain," Nirvanah replied. She switched the screen off and turned to
Rimmer, "It seems that we are needed..."

Rimmer's face took on some of his old look, "Attack? Umm... well, it seems
that we are."

"Don't worry, we'll have time later," she smiled at him and lightly kissed
his lips.

Rimmer followed Nirvanah out, feeling somewhat confused and more than a
little afraid. But he was also determined to show his lover that he'd
changed. He was going to do his best to be brave.

[On the Bridge]

"What is the probability of success," Natalina asked the computer,
enunciating her words with a Russian accent, "Against the simulant ship?"

She was talking more for the benefit of the rest of the crew than for the
computer - it required typed commands. Her fingers clicked speedily over
the keyboard, her eyes focused on the screen.

"Stocky says that we have a 68% chance of success."

"68?" Platini was dumbfounded. How could something have a 32% chance at
beating them? They were the best of the best - the creme of the Space

Natalina kept her cool, "Yes Captain. It seems that their weaponry is
superior to our own, and that they have more experience at fighting than
ourselves. Of course, being mere robots, however psycopathic they are,
we are superior in every other way."

Nevaro looked over to the captain. "She's right, sir. They only live to
destroy, and do not care that we are more likely to win. If we disable
their craft, there will be no threat as they have no hand-to-hand holo-

Platini swept back his blow-dried hair, "Well, lets see what we can do,
then. Where is Commander Crane? She's the most adept at flying this

As if by magic, the bridge's automatic doors slid opened, Nirvanah stepping
in, followed by Rimmer.

"Crane reporting, sir." She saluted, and stepped up to her station.

"It's so good of you to make it, commander," the captain said, saluting
back, "Proceed to formulate an attack plan and then we'll be on our way
to study the twin suns in the next quadrant. Now, Mr Rimmer, perhaps you
would like to take a seat and enjoy the spectacle. It won't take long,
but when the simulant's ship explodes, I'm sure that you'll enjoy seeing
the fireworks."

With that, he turned back to his console.

Rimmer was left to himself. Nirvanah turned to him for a moment and they
shared a worried look. A slight shrug, and she turned back to her job.

Looking at the monitor, Rimmer recognised the ship before them. It looked
like the one that had attacked Starbug, Red Dwarf's ship-to-surface
vessel, all those years ago. Platini seemed to be trivialising the matter
too much - did he know what to expect? The last time that he'd encountered
one of the murdering simiulant beings, he and the rest of the crew, had
been used as game for their sort - hunting down and killing humanoids.
It had largely been a matter of luck that had saved them - but even then,
the simulant captain had had a trick up his sleeve.

He'd spread a computer virus to their ship, leaving it careering into the
path of an oncoming planet! This time, they'd been saved only through the
efforts of the whole crew. An antidote was found at the last second, and
they were saved from being made into a large metal and squishy bits pancake.

These man-made beings had been designed only for war - the ultimate
warriors. Only they had turned on their human masters. In fact, they'd
turned on each other, too, and a lot of murdering and killing and orgies of
blood had occurred before the human race could dismantle most of them. A few
had escaped into deep space... these few were smarter and more devious
than the others.

They were not to be taken lightly - the simulant ship was contolled by
intelligent, crafty, sadistic beings who's only pleasure was that of seeing
another being slowly and cruely killed.

The Enlightenment was a prize - these simulants would stop at nothing to
destroy all the holograms on the ship.

And Rimmer knew that there was more to the situation than it seemed...
they would never attack another ship stronger than they were. They enjoyed
playing with their prize before the killing started.

It had to be a trap.

The simulant ship had been firing steady blasts at the holoship, sending
objects skittering everywhere, and crew members falling over themselves
to keep standing. Only in the bridge did things seem calmer.

The scream of the ship klaxon was softer in here, and the crew were much
more composed.

But, even to Rimmer, who was terrified beyond belief, there was something
wrong with the situation.

The attacks were just too ..... He couldn't quite put his finger on it,
but there was something fishy going on.


The stars sparkled distantly against a backdrop of darkness and two ships
in the midst of combat. The stars continued on their eternal dance, cold
and uncaring as brief blasts of light and heat burned, scarred and twisted
the outer casing of the two ships - one of light, one of metal. The twinkling
lights danced on in the deep silence... the ships raging in a silent battle...

[Inside the Enlightenment]

Rimmer watched the battle from his seat. Blasting apart the Enlightenment
wouldn't do much. The ship was hardly there, anyway - it was just a hologram.
As soon as the computer was able, it would repair the holoship by reloading
the ship's projection program. The lack of oxygen wouldn't kill the crew,
either. Why were the simulants shooting at them?

He watched the return barrage hitting the simulant's ship. Chunks of the
outer hull were being blown away, but still the attack came.

Did they hope to somehow board and use hand-to-hand weaponry on the crew,
personally? How else could they kill the crew? Attacking like this wouldn't
do a thing - the best that they could hope for would be to hit a few of the
holoship's crew with the blast as they were shooting through the ship. But
what was the chance of killing many before their own ship was destroyed?
It seemed more and more like a suicide mission for the simulants to Rimmer,
the more he thought about it. It just didn't fit.

What were they trying to do? What?

His eyes searched the room, over the others as they concentrated on their
tasks, keeping themselves steady as blasts shook the ship.

He didn't understand. What were they trying to do?

His eyes swept back to the monitor...

Then back again. He stopped and stared.

Stocky! They were going to destroy the ship's computer, and - in one shot -
all hologrammatic life abord the ship! All they needed was a few solid hits
on the computer banks, and the Enlightenment would cease to exist!

Sure, he would live, as he had his own, personal light bee, and wasn't
projected from the ship. But...

His eyes went to Nirvanah. She would no longer exist.

He just couldn't let that happen.

He stood up and addressed the room.

"I'm going to my ship, old friends. Maybe a bit of diversion to let you boys
and girls take them out. Who knows - I might get a lucky shot or two in and
actually get to hit the blighters before you blow them all to Kingdom Come
and Back Again."

He gave a salute, "Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast."

Without looking - unable to look at Nirvanah again, maybe for the last time -
he turned and marched out.

He didn't see Nirvanah watch him go.

Nor did he see her mouthing, "I love you, Arnie."


Well, this is a test to see if anyone likes anything non-Ranma that I write.
And to see if people can pick up the characters, if they've never seen the
show first.

Also looking for C&C, too...

It's my first non-Ranma fanfic, and it's also a non-anime fanfic (*shock!
horror!*), but hopefully it was enjoyable anyway.


All characters portrayed in this fanfic are copyright of Grant Naylor,
etc, etc, etc.


Ja, mata!