Characters owned by Rob Grant and Doug Naylor. With special thanks to Cmar for beta reading this for me! Also thanks to Cmar, Cazflibs and Sunrise over the Tango Factory for the reviews! All reviews welcome!

Chapter Four - Testing Times

Rimmer's hand hovered over the button. This was what he had struggled for for so long…

He could see the images of Kryten, Lister and the Cat struggling against the door…

An officer!

He lowered his finger.

He could at last order around…

His finger stopped.

Who?

If he killed Lister and the others who could he order around? Who could he get to polish his lapels?

What the hell? He could just order the skutters…

He lowered his finger again and then he stopped. "Hang on!" he said to the Invigilator. "This can't be that easy! I've been struggling to get this for years!"

"You just need to press the button, Mr Rimmer…"

"This has to be a mistake; you can't make me an officer!"

"Press the button, Mr Rimmer, and you will be an officer."

"Why?"

"What do you mean 'Why?'"

"Why me? Why do you want me to be an officer?"

"For millions of years I have been patrolling the galaxy in an attempt to continue the Space Corp Standard. I thought the Space Corp was wiped out millions of years ago. I thought there was no chance of continuing the line of elite officers until I received a signal from Red Dwarf. It had reactivated a hologram! A hologram and a human. My research showed that the human had no drive or ambition, but with you the Space Corp can live on!"

"Indeedy!" said Rimmer. Rubbing his hands with glee he lowered his hand towards the button again. "Just a second though, Inviggy, what if… If I kill Listy and the others; sure the universe would be a less smelly place, but I would have no one to order around!"

"You don't need them. You don't need anyone! You are practically immortal; with you the Space Corp can live on for an eternity! All your life you wanted to be an officer! With me you can be a General! A Space Corp Marshall! The President of the Space Corp! You can rebuild the fleet; reactivate the holograms of Space Corp personnel with you at the head! And I…" At this the Invigilator closed his eyes reverently… "Can test them…"

"Well it's very tempting but you clearly belong in an insane asylum dribbling into a strait jacket, so I'll just be going…"

Without seeming to move the Invigilator was blocking the door. "Mr Rimmer, you do not understand. This is not what an officer would do…"

"Well, if being an officer means spending an eternity with a mad robot, I think I'll pass…"

"The only reason you won't is because the others still live…" said the Invigilator. He leapt towards the control panel and Rimmer jumped towards him and pushed the Invigilator back, toppling him over towards the console…

What the smeg am I doing? I'm scuffling with the one person who can make me an officer!

The Invigilator reached an arm towards the button and Rimmer grabbed his arm and tried to wrench the Invigilator back, toppling the robot back towards the glass screen. The Invigilator smashed against the glass viewport, which had already been cracked earlier. The window started cracking some more and a hissing sound started as the pressure outside tried to equalise what was inside. The pressure was making the Invigilator stick to the glass like an oversized novelty car toy. Cracks formed around him and he was sucked into the blackness of space.

Smeg!

Rimmer ran towards the door, which started closing to protect the integrity of the hull…

Smeg!

He was running now like he was wading through treacle. A hurricane force wind tried to pull him out into space and the door in front of him was thundering down… He had wanted a body for so long and now when he eventually had one it was killing him… He was being dragged inexorably towards the harshness of space. Would he float for centuries out there? Unable to move, unable to die until he was too far from the Dwarf and the signal would wink out?

He grabbed hold of the commander's chair, his legs pointing out towards space. He gibbered in panic as his fingers dug into the chair. A chair that was beginning to bend. A chair that was beginning to crack…

His feet were actually in space! He looked behind him and could see the Invigilator floating in Space behind him, a light covering of frost covering him. His feet were getting the same deathly coating and it was creeping up his trouser legs, crackling as it went… The door was only a few inches wide even if he was there he could not squeeze through. His prized new hard light body would be the end of him… Unless…

"Soft light!" Rimmer said to activate the soft light side of his light bee. He normally used it to conserve power or when he was asleep. His feet dropped to the floor since his body suddenly had no wind resistance and he scampered like a deranged rodent towards the ever narrowing door. Since he had no real physical form now apart from the light bee he rolled through the door (literally); the small gap that was there allowed his bee to pass through, scraping against the sides as it went, and he was in the corridor of the test ship. With a wump sound the door hissed shut behind him…

Second Technician Arnold Rimmer paused to get his breath back. Not that he breathed at all but it was more habit than anything…

There was a loud clanging sound ahead of him, like something about six foot tall, fairly sturdy, with a flat top hitting a metal door, and he ran through down the corridor towards the supply section. The door in front of him was locked.

"Hard light!" Rimmer pressed the unlock button on the keypad and the door hissed open.

Lister, Kryten and the Cat fell out. "Rimmer! For the first time in…" Lister's eyebrows raised as he thought… "ever, I'm pleased to see you!" He gave him a friendly punch. "How did the exam go then? Did you pass the smegging thing?"

"Not this time, Listy, not this time..." And for the first time ever he really didn't care…

The End