Author's Note: Last chappy :( And it's a sad one, I'm warning you (I cried as I wrote it).
Thank you to: smeggin-brilliant, Rimmerslittlevoodoodoll, Sunrise over the Tango Factory, Reddwarfaddict, Giver-of-Hope, Pentium, cazflibs, boogle, Sojuske and Zombie Kitty for your lovely, lovely reviews! You guys make all the writer's block and misery worthwhile! :D
Without stopping to think, Rimmer ran to the airlock and began to open it. He was stopped by Nicole tugging his arm away.
"What?" he asked, panic-stricken.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"I'm going to go rescue her!"
"Arn, we haven't landed yet! And we don't even know if the atmosphere is breathable!"
Rimmer stood, jiggling from one foot to the other for a while before conceding defeat. He pelted back to the control panel in Blue Midget's cockpit and, hands shaking, he plotted a course for the planet.
As they neared the planet's surface they were able to see the full extent of the damage the crash had caused. The swirls of blue smoke and dust were both the most beautiful and the most heart-wrenching thing any of them had ever seen. There was an eerie silence as they descended into the thick, atmospheric fog.
Laura tapped a few nearby buttons and examined the screen, "The air's breathable."
Rimmer wasted no time in kicking open the airlock door and sprinting to the crashed vessel.
Specks of grit and silt blinded him as he fumbled along the ground. He waved his arms uselessly in front of him. Finally, his hands touched cold metal. He swept his hand along its surface and saw distinctly green, although slightly charred, paintwork. He felt his way along to the smashed in windscreen, coughing the dust out of his throat. He heaved himself up into the cockpit and began to search through the rubble yelling, "Gemma? Gemma?"
Back in Blue Midget, Nicole nervously paced around. The only noise to be heard was the rubber of her soles brushing against the ground as Liz, Bex, Laura and Robyn sat nervously, trying various different methods (such as plaiting hair, biting nails, and, in Laura's case, trying to think of how to torture a character in her latest story) to keep themselves occupied. Gemma's voice pierced the silence, "Mum! Rimmer! Someone!"
Nicole ran and grabbed the radio, nearly snapping its cord, "Gemma! Gem, I'm here!"
"Mum, I'm scared!"
"It's OK, sweetheart, Arn's coming to get you."
"Good," Gemma breathed a sigh of relief, "But I'm worried about Faiyre."
"Well, she's in the back of Starbug somewhere and-"
"WHAT?" Nicole screamed into the receiver, "Why is she there?"
"Well, we ran into each other when I was going to get Starbug and she said she'd come with me. She's been homeless for two nights and she wanted to get away from Red Dwarf."
"Oh my God…" Nicole said faintly.
"I don't know how she is! I haven't heard her."
"It's OK," Nicole said through her tears, "Just hang in there."
Gemma's sobs ripped through Nicole's heart. She knew this was all her fault. She was a terrible mother.
"What are we going to do?" Robyn said, panicked.
"Arn doesn't know about Faiyre so I'm going to have to get her myself," Nicole said determinedly.
"Are you sure?" Liz asked.
"Positive. I want my family back…" she ran out before a fit of hysterical crying could stop her being able to.
Rimmer ripped chunks of metal out of his way and made his way towards the back of Starbug's cockpit.
"Gemma?" he yelled.
"Keep talking, I'll get you out!"
A juddering screech masked Gemma's words: "Get Faiyre! I'll get myself out!"
The whole of Starbug was slowly tipping itself to one side. Rimmer knew he had to work quickly, but he also had to be extremely careful; one sudden movement could be fatal. Through the rubble and clouds of ash his hands had to be his eyes. He felt his way towards Gemma, being wary of any loose pieces of metal. He wiped his brow on his shoulder, which didn't help with anything other than to put a layer of dust on his face. As he coughed it away his left hand fell through a hole on Starbug's side. He tripped and thumped to the ground. Starbug's frame wobbled worryingly, sending bits of wire and metal and plastic flying through the air. Gemma weaved out of the way of one piece of heavy-looking rubble, only to be hit and knocked out by another piece of even heavier-looking rubble.
Starbug steadied itself and Rimmer waited for some sign of life. None came.
"Gemma?" he called, "GEMMA?"
He made his way frantically across the mess in front of him and finally reached her. She had a gruesome gash on the side of her face. He undid his tie and stopped the bloodflow with it. Tentatively picking her up he shakily got to his feet and attempted to pick his way back to the outside.
Nicole, meanwhile, was running erratically down to the crashed vessel. She couldn't see more than her arm's length in front of her, but she kept running fast. By the time she saw the stark green of Starbug it was too late, and she smashed into its side causing another rumble. She cringed and waited for it to stop. She heard a thud not far from her followed by an "Ow!"
"Arnie?" she called into the fog.
"Nikki!" a reply came, "What are you doing here?"
As he ran to her she saw Gemma lying unconscious in his arms and she screamed.
"Sshhh," Rimmer comforted her, "it's OK."
It was a while before Nicole realized he was leading her away from Starbug's wreckage.
"No, no!" she cried, pulling away from him.
"Nik, we have to get out of here!" he said, grabbing her arm.
"No, you don't understand, I need to get back there!"
"There's no nee-"
"FAIYRE'S IN THERE!" Nicole screeched. Rimmer stared at her in shock.
"Oh God…Will you be OK?"
"I'll be fine, you just need to let me g-"
She was cut off by a massive explosion from behind them as what was left of Starbug gave way and crashed to the floor. Rimmer, Nicole and Gemma were thrown to the ground and Blue Midget was shaken by the shock waves.
"Oh, God!" Bex screamed as she saw shards of green metal fly past the window.
"Are they out?" Robyn shouted through the noise.
"Who knows!" Liz replied.
Laura dashed to the window and peered out, "I can't tell, it's too dusty."
"We need to get out there," Robyn said firmly, making her way to the door.
"Are you crazy?" Liz said, grabbing her arm, "Do you want to get killed?"
"Well, no. But it's already exploded, hasn't it? What danger could it be now?"
"Aftershocks?" Bex answered, "Earthquakes? That could have been one of the engine's going off and we don't know how stable the others are!"
"Alright, fine!" Robyn finally gave up and joined Laura at the window.
"We'll just have to wait," said Laura.
Rimmer waited at least fifteen minutes before letting himself and Nicole get up. Rimmer checked on Gemma whilst Nicole sprinted over towards Starbug. Rimmer looked up and a sudden gust of cold wind blew the dust and grit away, allowing him to see Nicole standing deathly still by a smoking crater. He heard a clank of metal and saw Robyn and Liz running down from Blue Midget.
"We'll take her back," they said solemnly, picking Gemma up between them. Rimmer nodded and walked slowly over to Nicole. As he got nearer to her he could see her shoulder's gently shaking. He looked into the huge hole and shuddered slightly; apart from the billows of smoke emanating from it, you wouldn't know there had ever been human life there. He looked over to Nicole and saw the tears streaking silently down her cheeks. He felt his own eyes begin to well as he brought her into a close hug. Nicole burst into irrepressible sobs.
"I can't believe this!" she cried, "I just can't…I can't believe it!"
Rimmer stayed silent, but it wasn't his usual 'avoid-the-embarrassment' silence. The truth was, he couldn't believe it either. He didn't know if there was a God, but he was fairly certain that whoever or whatever God was, they didn't like him very much. Every time he had come a butterfly's wing away from true contentment, something unbearably awful happened and it was whisked away, usually hurting the people around him in the process. He nuzzled into Nicole's neck and bit his tongue to stop himself descending into a crying fit.
"You'll get through this," he whispered shakily into her ear.
"We'll get through this," Nicole replied in-between her tears. Rimmer kissed her lightly and hugged her tighter. They stood for a while, giving comfort to each other, before helping each other across the planet, back to Blue Midget.
"Gemma?" Nicole murmured into her daughter's ear. Gemma's eyes fluttered open.
"She didn't make it, did she?" she whispered. Nicole shook her head slowly and wrapped her arms around Gemma's body. Gemma tearfully hugged her back. Rimmer looked on at his family. Because they were his family. And this family, though incomplete, was strong. Strong enough to move on from the disaster, and attempt to rebuild their lives.
A/n: That's it. It's all over. And I've opened a gate of tears that won't close. Please review:)