I'm not really sure where the inspiration for this came from. I think it mainly derives from a conversation I had with cazflibs. So thanks to her, this story is now here, and we see how the Dwarfers (thankfully not known as the Starbuggers) celebrated Christmas without Red Dwarf.
It wasn't like the holiday was all that important to any of them.
Lister sat in the front of seat of the cockpit, staring out through Starbug's Plexiglas view-screen. He was in quiet contemplation as he glanced over at the ship's chronometer, which said it was December 24th, the day before Christmas.
It was never a big deal to them before.
They'd tried to recreate the holiday as best as they could, but they soon found it was next to impossible to have a traditional Christmas Day.
For a start, Rimmer and Holly couldn't really take part in anything because neither of them had a body. Then of course the Cat was mostly a vain and selfish creature, and as such was the entire antithesis against the spirit of the holiday. And of course Kryten was a mechanoid, and as such his understanding of holidays was text book only.
So Lister felt it was always down to him to bring the holiday spirit.
But somehow, no one could ever really grasp it.
Perhaps it was because Lister insisted on three bottles of Glen Fujiyama, a malt whisky from Japan, be poured into the eggnog, or maybe it was the fact that he needed to watch It's A Wonderful Life three times during the day.
Whatever the reason, Rimmer, Cat and Kryten were just unable to get into the season.
And as such, Lister was contemplating just plain old skipping Christmas this year.
After all, now that they were trapped on Starbug, they were going to have to put up with the reality that with low supplies and whatnot, they'd probably not be able to get decent gifts for each other.
Crumpling up his last can of lager and tossing it aside, he decided to give everything one last go-over before hitting the sack. He checked the auto-pilot, the fuel gauges and everything else, pleased to see that all was well for now, and then went over to check the Navicomp (which, oddly enough, never seemed to stay in one place for a long period of time).
He noticed that a planet was a few miles into the distance, hard to starboard. He couldn't help but feel a grin creep across his face when he saw what sort of planet it was.
It was a sort of snow planet.
He checked the scans and saw that the entire planet was in a constant state of snow fall.
And then he decided, as he reprogrammed the auto-pilot to head for the planet: What's Christmas without snow?
Content with a fine night's work, he set off back to his cabin to get some sleep for the big day.
Rimmer was feeling rather poorly as he came down the stairs from the sleeping quarters. Once again, his light bee had caught a malfunction, and he was looking rather fuzzy, as if his photograph had come out rather grainy, and as such, he couldn't see very well.
Kryten was already at work on breakfast when he saw the blurred hologram come down the stairs.
"Good morning, Mr Rimmer," he said chirpily.
"Morning," Rimmer replied testily.
"Oh, is something wrong, sir?"
"Kryten, take a good look at me. Can you see anything wrong?"
Kryten look slightly abashed. "Yes, I did notice, sir. It just seemed rude to point it out."
"Glad to know someone's looking out for me. Perhaps you could do something about it?"
"As soon as I get breakfast on the table for Mr Lister and the Cat, I'll see to you at once, sir."
"Kryten, I'm the highest ranking crewmember on this ship. You should hop to it when I tell you to do something for me. Remember Space Corps Directive 73251."
Kryten looked confused. "73251, sir? Any Space Corps Chefs caught burning a milkshake must evacuate the kitchens?"
Rimmer glared. "73250 then."
"Ahh… An injured senior officer must be attended to once."
"But… But, sir, I've already shredded the onions for Mr Lister's cornflakes!"
Rimmer rubbed the bridge of his nose, or at least it looked like he was.
"Fine, keep at it, but be quick. I want this problem solved."
"Straight away, sir."
As Kryten resumed his duties, they heard the shrill shriek of the Cat announcing his arrival. He slid down the banister of the staircase, leapt off the bottom stair and swung around on the central computer column, neatly hanging by one arm as if he were repelling off Mt Rushmore.
"I smell breakfast!" he cheered.
"Coming up, sir," Kryten announced, putting the finishing touches on the Cat's usual morning roast mouse.
Cat nodded in acceptance and skidded around the room towards his seat at the end of the table. He finally noticed Rimmer off to the side, glaring at him through his blurred eyes.
"Hey, Goalpost Head! You look like a captured moment from a Goldstar©!"
Rimmer glared and sat down huffily in his chair. "Where's Lister?" he asked, for lack of anything else to talk about.
"He's awake, I know that much," the Cat replied.
"Which is clearly more than you did yesterday."
"Is he coming down, sir?" Kryten asked.
Cat shrugged. "He was working on something. He didn't say anything to me."
"Oh great," Rimmer muttered. "He's probably going to want us all to have Movie Night again. Just what I need: two hours wasted as I sit down to watch some pasty-faced teenage vampire and some attractive teenage girl run frantically in the woods and gaze at each other lovingly."
Kryten completed Lister's breakfast and set it out on the scanner table, and then headed over to the wall of monitors and pressed the commands that gave him access to the sleeping quarters.
"Mr Lister, sir? Breakfast is ready."
The crackling reply came, "Just leave it on the table, Kryts. I'll be down in a tic."
And with that, he was gone.
"Hmmm… Curious," Kryten said. "Mr Rimmer, I believe I can see to your problem now."
"Finally," Rimmer griped, getting up, and he followed the mech up the stairs.
A few hours later, the Cat bounded into the Medi-Lab and found Kryten still working on Rimmer, who was looking much more coherent.
"Hey, buds," he said cheerily. "Found a way to cure the common smeghead?"
"Shut it, you," Rimmer said sharply from the bench.
Kryten went over the readouts. "Yes, I believe that should just about do it, sir," he said calmly. "Now I think you should just maintain your hard-light form for another twenty-four hours, bedtime permitting, of course."
Rimmer gave a nod of appreciation before getting up.
"I thought Dormouse Cheeks said his hard-light drive was more power-consuming," Cat said, furrowing his brow in confusion. "How can he keep that form without causing a problem?"
"You're trusting Lister with technical advice?" Rimmer asked, raising an eyebrow.
Cat realized and snapped his fingers with understanding. "Gotchya," he said.
"Simply undereducated guesswork on Mr Lister's part. One would think this sort of technology would require more power, but Legion upgraded Mr Rimmer into a Type 4 Hologram, which can run on the same amount of power as a Type 1, but with more efficiency."
"Speaking of Dr Science, where is Listy?" Rimmer asked.
"He came down to grab his breakfast, but then he headed back into his Quarters," Cat said.
"Strange…," Kryten said, tapping his chest plate with worry.
"But that's not why I came in here. There's a planet up ahead, and for some reason we've been brought to it. Check it out!"
Cat headed out the door.
Rimmer and Kryten exchanged mutual shrugs and followed after him.
Kryten examined the readouts at his station.
"Hmmm… Fascinating. According to the readouts, this planet is in some sort of perpetual ice age."
"How's that possible?" Rimmer asked, squinting at the readouts on his own screen.
"It's a good enough distance from the sun, meaning that while there is enough heat down there to support life, the erratic weather patterns are putting the planet in a constant state of snowfall."
"How'd we get here then?"
Cat looked at the screen surrounding him. "As far as I can tell, the autopilot was reprogrammed," he said.
They all stared at each other for a moment before it dawned on them.
They said it together – "Lister."
Rimmer, Cat and Kryten swiveled around and saw Lister standing in the hatchway. "So we've arrived then, have we?" he asked cheerfully.
"Lister, what the hell are we doing here?" Rimmer demanded. "We're supposed to be searching for Red Dwarf, and you're content to put us dangerously off course?"
"It's only about ten miles out of our way," Lister assured him. "It was in the area. We can make up for lost time later." He bounded back down the steps and back into Midships.
Rimmer grumpily got up to follow him. "What the hell do you think you're playing at?" he demanded. "Why on Io should you want to come here in the first place?"
Lister grinned cheekily. "You don't know what day it is, do you?"
Rimmer stared at him. "…Friday?"
"What day is it today?"
"Lister, kindly make your point before I'm forced to grab your head and jam it into down the waste disposal."
Rimmer's face sagged slightly as he realized where this was going. "Oh my god…," he muttered.
"I know. It's brilliant, right?"
"So for Christmas, you're taking us to a bloody cold ice planet?"
"It's a snow planet! You'll enjoy yourself!"
"I'm going to enjoy having my love spuds frozen over?"
"Oh come on, lighten up."
Lister brushed past Rimmer and stuck his head into the cockpit.
"Kryten, what's the temperature down there?"
Kryten checked his screens again. "About 30 degrees Fahrenheit, sir."
"Is it snowing at this very moment?"
"Good. Let's get going. Take her down."
"Fine," Cat grumbled. "But if we're going outside, I'll need to completely change my outfit. A peach jacket and white snow? Give me a break."
Starbug had touched down a few hours later.
Rimmer and Kryten were waiting in the Mid-Section.
Kryten had adorned a pair of fuzzy pink earmuffs and was holding the Psi-Scan.
"You can't possibly think this is safe," Rimmer complained.
"No life signs were detected on this planet, sir," Kryten replied. "And the snow was uncontaminated. We could really use some fresh drinking water. We've been on the recyc for so long that our own water is beginning to taste like eggplant juice."
Rimmer crinkled his nose. "So you actually condone this whole Christmas merrymaking adventure?"
"Well, sir, being trapped on Starbug for months at a time has really brought down morale. This could be good for us. Some fresh air, some real weather, and possibly even…"
Kryten trailed off when he noticed something long and flat come sliding bumpily down the stairs, causing them both to get out of the way as they stared at a long wooden craft with a curled-up front with a rope looped through it.
"…sledding?" he finished, bewildered.
"Did you catch that?" Lister shouted from above.
"What's the matter, Lister? Lose your grip on its leash?" Rimmer replied sourly.
Lister walked down the stairs, carrying the other toboggan by its side.
"You like them? I pulled apart some old crates and built them this morning."
Rimmer stared. "Wait, you actually intend for us to go through with sledding?"
"No, I'm intending for us to go through with tobogganing," Lister replied.
"What's the difference?"
"You can steer a sled. You can't actually steer a toboggan. You just hold on and hope someone's smiling on you."
"Ah, yes, it just wouldn't be Christmas without a trip to the Medi-Bay."
"Oh, come on, it'll be fun."
"Sure. First, I'll get cold. Then, I'll get hurt. We're off to a good start."
"Oh, smeg off and put this on."
Lister reached into a bag and pulled something out. It was stripy and made of wool and it was rolled up to the size of a beach ball.
"What's that, a very long and very thin throw rug?"
"It's a scarf," Lister explained, unwinding it.
The scarf, if that's what you could call it, was multi-colored and about six feet long.
Rimmer stared at the strange piece of clothing apprehensively.
"You're sure it's a scarf?"
"What else could it be?"
"I'm mentally debating that right now."
"I found it in a storage locker downstairs. Come on, man, try it on."
Rimmer sighed and took the scarf by the middle and wrapped it around his neck, and it ended up hitting Kryten in the face when the long end swung round and dropped to the floor, meeting up with its other end on the floor.
Lister bit back a smirk at the comical visage.
Rimmer stood stock still, wearing his blue quilted jacket, the gold badge firmly in place, his black trousers, the red-and-black boots, and an extra-long scarf wrapped around his neck that Tom Baker wouldn't have minded wearing.
"You look great."
"Oh shut up," Rimmer snapped testily.
At that moment, the Cat bounded down the steps, dressed up in a furry jacket that covered up his lime-green jacket and black PVC bodysuit, and a matching white furry cap that looked like he'd killed an oversized raccoon.
"Okay, buds, let's get this hilarity over with," he announced, and then he noticed Rimmer's scarf, which he grinned at teasingly. "Nice."
Rimmer flared his nostrils with annoyance.
"Right, Kryten, open the airlock. Let's get out there."
Kryten pressed the buttons on the panel, and the airlock doors slid open. The boys stepped through and stood in the chamber, waiting for the doors to automatically close, but they wouldn't.
"What's taking so long?" Cat asked.
"Something's obstructing the airlock bulkhead, sir," Kryten explained.
They looked around for the source of the problem, before they looked down and saw that Rimmer's scarf had caught on the central computer column and was being stretched inside, but there was so much slack he hadn't noticed.
Grumbling, Rimmer wrenched the end free and wrapped it around his head a second time, so that this time it only grazed the floor.
Lister smirked innocently as the doors finally closed.
As soon as they stepped out into the open world, they were hit in the face by a flurry of snowflakes. They all closed their eyes for a moment as they adjusted to the sudden cold, but when they opened them, they saw the winter outside.
Lister was the first who dared to walk forward into the open air. He took a deep breath of the crisp oxygen and smiled as it filled his lungs.
Not that musty stuffy almost crusty air they had back on board.
This was the stuff of life.
Excitement growing as the steam poured out of nostrils, he let out a whoop and charged into the snow.
The others watched for a moment as he did this, running around in circles, catching snow on himself.
"What the hell is he doing?" Cat demanded.
"I believe that this is a human activity known as 'frolicking', sir, accompanied by a spot of 'lollygagging'," Kryten replied.
"Indeed," Rimmer said with a nod. "All he needs now is a Maypole and he'll be all set."
Lister ran back towards them, a dopey grin plastered all over his face. "What are you guys doing just standing here? Come on! Enjoy the weather!"
"Sir, I must insist you be careful. You may catch cold!"
"Yeah, and the last thing I need is your snot all over my suits," Cat agreed.
"Oh, come on! Live a little!" Lister insisted, looping his gloved fingers around a toboggan and grabbing it, running out into the snow once again.
Kryten glanced at the others unsurely before he waddled off after him.
Cat shrugged and pranced out as well.
Rimmer stayed in the airlock for a few more seconds before he too stepped gingerly out and placed his boot down in the snow. He slowly walked out and into the flurry. The snowflakes bombarded his body, clinging to the wool in the scarf, sticking to his jacket, getting lost in his unruly hair.
But they also danced on his face as well.
Normally he would've brushed them away in annoyance, but seeing as how he'd gone several years without a body, the sensation of the cold snow melting on his face felt good.
Once he got over this, he bent down and picked up a handful of snow, sifting the cold stuff around in his hand, letting it pour back down to the ground. He felt a small smile quirk at the corner of his mouth at the cool feeling.
Walking out into the light wind and looking around, he saw Lister was carrying the toboggans to the top of a slope, and Cat and Kryten were heading over towards him. Curious, Rimmer followed as well.
"Come on," Lister was saying eagerly, looking over the edge. "This'll be a great place to start."
Cat, Kryten and Rimmer peered over the edge of the bank.
They could see that this particular slope went down very steeply, ending in what looked like a briar patch.
"Erm, how about we don't and say we did?" Cat asked nervously.
"Aw, come on. It'll be fun!" Lister insisted.
"Can't we do something a little more enticing?" Rimmer asked. "How about we chase bunnies on a mini-bike until their hearts explode?"
"Oh come on. Me and Cat will take this one. You and Kryten take the other one."
Rimmer took the other toboggan reluctantly and laid it out on the edge of the hill.
Lister and Cat sat cross-legged on their own, as did Rimmer and Kryten on theirs.
"Okay, get ready to shove off," Lister announced.
"You shove off," the others replied, offended.
The crew pushed against the snow and began to teeter over the edge.
Just as they felt gravity slowly begin to kick in, something occurred to Rimmer.
"Kryten, I just realized something."
"What's that, sir?"
"I'm in front."
Before this could be rectified, the two sleds went gliding smoothly down the steep hill.
Lister let out a cry of childlike delight as he held onto the rope, as the Cat gripped his waist with one hand and held onto his cap with the other.
Rimmer had his eyes shut and was reciting chants from several different religions, his long scarf flapping wildly behind him and getting in Kryten's face.
They bucked and bounced along the terrain, kicking up snow everywhere.
Then Cat saw what he thought had been a briar patch was in fact a boulder.
"I'm detecting an obstruction about one hundred feet and closing," he announced.
Everyone saw the boulder and immediately went into action.
"Sirs, suggest we make a hard to starboard turn!" Kryten suggested.
"Engage thrusters," Rimmer ordered.
Cat and Kryten both stuck their right legs out and slowly lowered them into the snow, hoping to turn them slightly to the side.
"Applying turn pattern now," Lister said.
"Fasten seatbelts and good luck, everybody," said Kryten.
Everyone held on as Lister and Rimmer leaned into the turns and managed to get around the boulders, side-by-side.
"Obstruction avoided," Cat cheered.
"Well done, everyone!" Kryten said with relief.
"Resume original course," Rimmer ordered.
"Relocating landing point, sir. Estimated time to touchdown: ten seconds."
"Requesting landing line," said Lister.
"Suggest that clear stretch of flat land at the end of the hill, sir."
"Applying brakes now," Rimmer announced, putting his legs out at the sides. Lister did the same.
"Snow in sight. Landing lights locked," Cat said.
"Standby, we're attempting to stop. Good luck, everybody," Kryten said.
They finally ground to a halt at the bottom of the hill.
Everyone looked relieved.
"Good landing, sirs!" Kryten cheered.
"Disembark in your own time," Lister announced.
Slowly, they got up and stretched.
They took in their surroundings.
"Look at this place," Lister breathed. "It's beautiful."
"Indeed, sir, it is a piece of naturalistic beauty," Kryten agreed.
"There's only one thing that could make this better," Cat said thoughtfully.
"What's that?" asked Lister.
Suddenly, something cold, hard and wet connected with the back of Lister's head. He felt cold snow start to sneak down into his leather jacket. He whipped around and saw the Cat grinning at him proudly.
"And now the day is complete," Rimmer said with a smirk.
"Oh, no," Lister snarled. "Not by a long shot."
Lister emerged from Starbug holding four bazookoids, two of which were wrapped around him by their shoulder straps. He handed them out to the others until they each had one.
"Okay, I've supped up the blank chargers to fire more softly, but they'll still pack a punch."
Rimmer gulped nervously as he got the feel of the bazookoid in his hands.
"You sure this'll work, bud?" Cat asked.
Lister bent over and made a snowball. He loaded it down the cannon, loaded the cartridge and took aim at the sky.
The snowball flew straight up into the air before coming back down and landing splat on Rimmer's face, who'd been watching it very closely.
"I'd take that as a yes," Lister said, grinning.
Rimmer slowly began to take the snow off his face and mold it in his hands. After a few seconds, he'd successfully rebuilt the snowball and loaded it into his own bazookoid.
The others watched him warily.
Rimmer gave them all a devious glare as he loaded the cartridge.
Lister, Cat and Kryten immediately made a run for it, each taking off in different directions.
Rimmer grinned evilly as he aimed in Kryten's direction. Being as precise as he could, he fired in the fleeing mechanoid's direction, scoring a direct hit on the back of his head.
"Oh my goodness!" Kryten exclaimed.
"There's no Space Corps Directive that states a hologram can't shoot snowballs!" Rimmer shouted triumphantly, up for a little revenge on his crewmates. And with that, he was off.
Kryten stood in the cold, grumbling to himself as he began to scoop up some snow.
"Smeeeee Heeeeeee…," he muttered.
Lister crouched down behind a boulder, checking around for signs of life. So far, the coast was clear. No sign of anyone. He crept forward, still crouched down, chewing on one of his dreadlocks.
But no one was around.
Content, he pulled out his hipflask and took a drink of whisky to warm himself up. He couldn't remember the last time he'd felt this alive.
Lister jumped when a snowball suddenly blasted through his flask, shattering it and sending his whisky everywhere.
Looking over the horizon, he spotted the Cat laughing at him from over a cliff.
"You filthy smegger!" Lister shouted, suddenly incensed. "That was a full flask! It is on!"
But Cat ducked behind the cliff and vanished.
Rimmer trekked along through a small gully that had formed between two rows of rocks. He ducked down behind them and peeked out of the corner of his eye if anyone was trying to sneak up on him.
No one in sight for what looked like miles.
Panting for air he didn't need, he looked around in the other direction.
No one was over there either.
He let out a sigh of relief.
"Safe…," he whispered.
He was splattered in the face by two snowballs.
"What the hell…?" he gasped, getting to his feet and spinning around in frantic circles, looking for his assailant.
He saw Kryten laughing his Herman Munster laugh from behind another rock.
"Oh, you are dead, Crushed Soda Can Head!" Rimmer bellowed, scooping up as much snow as he could.
Kryten let out a yelp and ran.
Rimmer loaded his snowballs and made a mad dash after him.
Cat slunk quietly around a corner, his nose picking up on something not far away. His nostrils inhaled the air and he caught the scent of cheap cologne and aftershave.
"Elephant Trunk Nostrils is nearby," he hissed to himself. "The Cat Commando moves forward, stalking his prey…"
Getting down on his hands and knees, Cat groped his way around the rocks, sniffing harder and harder, hoping to catch him unawares. He padded softly through the snow as if he were a WWII soldier crawling under barbed wire.
Finally, the scent reached maximum stench, and he knew he was right on him.
Leaping to his feat, he reached behind his back and caught the barrel of the gun in his hand, and he leapt around the release his snowball on the unwitting hologram.
But when he landed, there was no sign of Rimmer anywhere.
All there appeared to be was his scarf, wrapped up and laid to rest on the ground.
Cat lowered his bazookoid in confusion, realizing he'd been following the scent Rimmer had left in the garment. And that meant he was up to something.
Cat knew this because he was suddenly hit in the face with a barrage of snowballs, sending him reeling over backwards.
"Aough!" he wailed, thrashing as the snowfall finally ended.
Wiping the snow-shrapnel out of his eyes, he spotted Rimmer on top of the rock, looking down at him with a weasel-like grin from behind his bazookoid.
"Oh well done bud!" Cat grumbled. "This is coat's dry-clean only, you know!"
But Rimmer let out a triumphant laugh and vanished.
Kryten was busily shaping up his latest snowball. He could just about make out Mr Lister a few hundred meters away. He was just reshaping his snowball when he felt the ground tremor beneath him.
At first, he looked around, wondering what was happening. But nothing was around.
Shrugging it off, he set back to work, sliding the snowball down the barrel.
Checking to make sure, Lister hadn't left just yet, and so he decided to get one more snowball to go. He reached over without taking his eyes off his target, trying to get just enough snow in his rubbery fingers.
But he felt something that didn't feel very wet or loose.
It felt rather leathery.
Worry flitted across his metallic blue eyes, and so he pulled the trusty Psi-Scan from his utility belt, checking it over. He hit the button that would scan for life.
It began beeping almost at once.
His grew wide as he saw where it was directing him. He slow turned his head around and saw it.
Some sort of creature was looking over him.
It was beyond description.
All Kryten could tell was that it was hungry-looking.
Slowly and carefully, Kryten abandoned the last snowball, tightened the strap on his bazookoid, waved goodbye and fled.
Lister was checking behind a boulder, trying to get a decent look at Rimmer, who was rewinding his scarf around his neck. He was getting ready to charge down and take him by surprise.
Suddenly, Kryten brushed past him. "Excuse me, sir!" he said in a rather panicked voice.
Lister dropped his bazookoid in annoyance. "Hey, I saw him first!" he yelled.
But then he felt the ground shake beneath his feet. He turned around and saw the creature bounding after him.
"Smegging hell!" he yelped, and he about-faced and scurried after Kryten.
Rimmer was wrapping the scarf around his neck a few extra times to keep from tripping, when he saw Kryten and Lister both yelling and waving as they came barreling down the hill towards him.
Instinctively, he reached for his bazookoid and aimed.
"Alright, you two, prepare to feel my wrath!" he yelled, loading the cartridge.
But Lister and Kryten ignored him, running straight past him.
For a moment Rimmer was confused, but then he saw the creature coming up over the horizon and realized it was time to do his roadrunner act and fled after his crewmates.
"Wait for mee-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ee!"
Cat was still trying to dry out his coat to his satisfaction. He was hiding out in a small cave he'd located, hidden away in the snow, trying to warm up a little bit.
Then his acute sense of hearing picked up footsteps.
Three sets of footsteps were heading in his direction.
And so was a giant set of footsteps.
Not even footsteps, really.
More like footstomps.
Nervously, Cat considered making a run for the bazookoid, but it was on the other side of the cave, out of his reach.
"Oh god, I'm a goner," he muttered. "Why couldn't I die in my red suit with the black stripes? Blood and entrails would go so much better with it."
And with that, he shielded himself with his arms and snuggled into the corner.
Lister, Kryten and Rimmer bounded into the cave, looking over their shoulders at the beast.
"What the hell was that thing?!" Lister demanded.
"It looked Rush Limbaugh after a drinking binge!" Rimmer said, trying to get some air into his nonexistent lungs.
They all headed into the back of the cave. It suddenly grew very dark as the creature tried to get into the mouth of the cave, slamming its head against the wall.
Rocks and dirt fell from above and smashed on the cave floor.
Cat finally looked up in time to see the creature glaring at him with one eye before pulling back, allowing sunlight to come inside.
"What the hell was that?" he demanded.
Kryten tapped the Psi-Scan.
"According to the Psi Scan, sirs, it's some sort of Pan-Dimensional Liquid Beast, born and bred in the Mogadon Cluster."
"Huh? What about frying pans?" Cat asked, furrowing his brow.
"Pan-Dimensional," Kryten corrected. "It's some sort of creature that has the ability to transverse multiple dimensions at once. Some sort of dimension hopper. It must have arrived sometime after we landed."
"What's it doing here?" Lister asked.
"I would hypothesize that it lives off of liquids alone. That's what it needs to continue dimension hopping. It arrives on planets that have vast amounts of liquid and consumes as much as it needs so that it can move on and explore the universe."
"So it's living off the snow?" Rimmer guessed.
"Precisely. It's probably tired and fancied a nice cooling drink."
"Yeah, that's all well and good, but why'd it chase us?" Lister asked.
"Maybe it doesn't like kids playing in its front yard?" Cat suggested.
"Oh please," Rimmer muttered.
"Actually, sir, that's not very far off," Kryten said. "The creature is very territorial. It doesn't like to share its area of land, and as such is bound to be hostile."
"So what do we do?" Lister asked. "It's probably lurking out there still, waiting for us to get out."
"Indeed. It's blocking our path to Starbug," Kryten agreed, checking the Psi-Scan again.
"Well I say we hold this guy off with the bazookoids," Cat said.
"Ah, an excellent suggestion, sir, with just two minor faults."
Cat sighed and listened.
"One: our bazookoids don't have the power to effectively hurt the creature, and two: even if our bazookoids did have the power to effectively hurt the creature, we removed the live cartridges for the sake of our snowball fight."
They all looked over at Lister, who responded, "Oh, we had fun, and you know it."
"Great. Just great," Rimmer grunted, rolling his eyes to the heavens. He lay out on his back and stared angrily at the ceiling.
"We've still got some snowballs," Lister pointed out. "They still back a punch. Couldn't we use them to distract the creature?"
"Wouldn't do any good, sir," Kryten replied. "This creature would only absorb the snow into its body."
"Could we just wait until it's had enough to drink and it leaves for another dimension?" Cat suggested.
"That could take days, sir."
"So what do we do?"
"Er, chaps?" Rimmer spoke up, still on his back.
"What is it?" Lister asked.
Rimmer pointed up at the ceiling.
They all followed his finger upwards and saw what he saw.
There were some heavy-looking icicles hanging from the ceiling.
The Beast was waiting outside the cave, waiting for its prey to come out.
They had managed to hide for several minutes, but it had waited for such things before.
They could only hide for so long before one of them lost it.
But then it saw something.
There was something stripy in the snow.
The Beast didn't know what it was. It was very long. It was almost snake-like.
Whatever it was, it's multiple colors stood out against the snow.
Grunting quizzically, the Beast reared up on its haunches and pounced forward, towards this strange object.
Just as it landed, the object suddenly vanished into the cave, moving much more rapidly.
When it looked inside, it could see its prey.
Kryten was winding up the Rimmer's long stripy multi-colored scarf like a fishing rod.
Lister, Rimmer and Cat stood in a row, their bazookoids primed and aimed at the creature.
There was a stare-down for a few seconds.
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Three shots were fired, sending the icicles flying through the air and heading straight on into the Beast's nose, burrowing deep down into the flesh.
Registering the sudden arrival of the objects, the Beast reared back in agony, letting out an otherworldly bellow of pain.
Without wasting time, Cat slipped his coat and hat back on, Rimmer wrapped his scarf around his neck and Kryten picked up the last bazookoid.
"LEG IT!" Lister howled.
They sped from the cave as fast as they could, avoiding the poor Beast as it wailed in pain.
They ran as fast as they could away from the cave and headed towards a steep hill. Lister spotted their abandoned toboggans waiting for them.
"Jump on!" he shouted.
Lister and Rimmer sat down on one toboggan, and Cat and Kryten hung on to the other one. Pushing off, the two groups went gliding down the hill.
The Beast leapt up over their heads, but missed as they continued on their way, gaining speed.
"Velocity increasing!" Kryten announced.
"Where's Starbug?" Rimmer shouted, looking over Lister's shoulders.
"There it is!" Cat yelled, pointing in the direction of the little beetle-shaped craft.
They could see it sitting close to the bottom of the hill.
"Is there any way to go faster?" Rimmer asked.
"It's a toboggan, Rimmer," Lister replied. "It's not like Speed Racer. We can't just fire up the afterburners and shoot off faster than light! We have to rely solely on gravity!"
They all bounced into the air as they felt the Beast slam down into the ground behind them, sending a shower of snow all over them.
"It's gaining on us, sirs!" Kryten wailed.
"There must be something that somebody can do!" Rimmer cried.
Then Cat got an idea. He put his right hand out and began to scoop up some snow as they slid down. Gathering it up, he began to form a new snowball. He looked over his shoulder at the Beast and waved it around.
"Looky here, boy!" he shouted. "Lunchtime!"
And with that, he threw it over his shoulder in some other direction.
The snowball landed in the on the hill and rolled off, gathering more snow as it went, growing larger and larger as it went off on it's own some distance away from them. The Beast seemed intrigued by it and ran off to fetch it.
Cat smirked. "Dummy," he muttered.
"That should hold it off for some time," Kryten said, typing commands into the Psi-Scan. "Activating remote link with the airlock now."
They could see Starbug lowering the De-Com Chamber down to them. The doors slid open as they came down toward the ship and slid the toboggans inside, crashing in a heap on the floor.
"Close the doors. Close the doors!" Rimmer wailed.
Lister's hand groped upwards and around the walls of the room before he finally found the appropriate button and slammed his fist into it.
The doors slid shut with a loud clang.
The doors slid open with a hydraulic whirr, and before they knew it, they were back inside the Mid-Section.
"Let's get out of here!" Rimmer wailed.
Stumbling and cursing and tripping, they managed to find there way into the cockpit, where they leapt into their stations and activated the controls.
"We're moving!" Cat announced.
Starbug's engines turned over. They activated thrusters, brought up the landing legs, and soon they were getting some lift.
"Here we go!" Lister said, looking over the readouts. "We're looking good."
Rimmer couldn't resist. "Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!" he yelled, frantically pushing buttons and checking the surrounding screens.
"Smeg off, Rimmer!"
But Cat joined in. "On Comet! On Cupid! On Donder and Blitzen!"
"I'm trying to concentrate here!"
And now Kryten. "To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!"
Lister heaved a sigh, knowing what was coming next. He took a deep breath and yelled, "Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
And Starbug was airborne and soon nothing but a speck in the distance.
A few hours later, the four of them were gathered in the Mid-Section, seated around the scanner table.
Lister, Rimmer and Cat were wrapped up in warm blankets.
Kryten came out of the galley with a tray carrying three mugs of hot chocolate, which he sat down in front of each of them before sitting down in his own chair.
"Well, all things considered, that wasn't a bad Christmas," Lister said pleasantly.
The others mumbled slightly, taking sips of their hot drinks.
"Alright, so it wasn't the best day we've ever had, but at least we bothered to try. And hey, I didn't make anyone watch It's a Wonderful Life again."
"I didn't say I didn't appreciate that," Rimmer said assuringly.
"Yeah, one time out of the year where we didn't have to listen to George Bailey stutter his way through a movie," Cat said with some relief.
Lister sighed. "What's your beef with that movie anyway? It's a masterpiece!"
Rimmer looked at him head on. "Hee-haw," he said in a bored voice.
"Okay, maybe he's a little grating after awhile, but still…"
"And then there's the fact that no one realizes that the wheelchair dude stole about eight grand," Cat added.
"And how about the weirdness involved in that high school floor that could open up to a swimming pool."
"And how ridiculous is it that one of George's main gutting moments is when he crashes into a tree, and the guy who owns it is more worried about the tree than him?"
"Alright, alright, that's enough of that!" Lister yelled. "Kryten, you liked it, didn't you?"
"Oh sir, it's a fine film, I assure you," Kryten said. "It moves me to tears every time." He paused. "However, that one scene where George ruins his moment with Violet and the camera pulls out to reveal all these people laughing at him. I mean, honestly! Where did all these people spring from?"
"Oh, I don't have to listen to this," Lister grumbled, taking a deep sip of his hot chocolate.
The others simply snickered around him.
That night, Lister was staring out at the stars as they left the planet behind. They had resumed their search for Red Dwarf, and Lister was looking forward to his return.
Okay, so it hadn't been the best Christmas ever, but hey, at least it had been memorable.
Sighing to himself as he cracked open a fresh can of lager, he put on an old tape he had from the twentieth / twenty-first century radio show, A Prairie Home Companion. He skipped ahead to his favorite part, Lives of the Cowboys. He listened to the characters, Dusty and Lefty, who were talking about Christmas. He chuckled when Dusty got mad at the word "theology" and fired his gun, accidentally shooting out his own bottle of whisky. He then ran over and ate the snow, forgoing Lefty's warning that there may be glass splinters there as well. Dusty soon begins to believe he may have eaten some and worries he may be dying. In attempt cheer his partner up, Lefty plays a song on his guitar.
This was always Lister's favorite part.
"Oh you better watch out.
You better not cry.
You better not poke your friends in the eye.
Santa Claus is riding your trail.
He's making a list.
He's checking it once.
To see who's been good for at least a few months.
Santa Claus is riding your trail.
He knows if you've been stealing…
…or broke somebody's heart.
He knows if you've been bad or good.
So be good or else be smart.
Oh, you better not eat a handful of snow.
Someone might've peed there a moment ago.
Santa Claus is riding your trail."
Then Lister heard someone coming, so he hit the mute button and turned around to see who it was.
Rimmer was coming up the steps and into the cockpit. He stopped short when he saw Lister.
"Oh… I was just coming up for something."
"Okay," Lister said, taking a sip from his drink.
Rimmer headed over for his desk and reached into the cupboard in the wall. He slid open the door and pulled something out from under it. He was attempting to keep it hidden by concealing it behind his chair and walking very stiffly out of the room.
"Right. Got it. See you in the morning, Listy," he said rather quickly.
"Whatchya got there, Rimmer?" Lister asked, raising an eyebrow as he took another drink.
"Nothing at all. Good night."
"Is it the scarf?"
Rimmer froze halfway through the hatchway.
"Nooooooo…," he slowly, hoping to think of an explanation in just a matter of seconds.
Lister smirked. "It is, isn't it?"
Rimmer finally glared at him. "Oh, fine. So what it if is? Kryten wants me to remain hard-light for twenty-four hours, so I just wanted to use it to support my pillow."
"Of course! Why else would I keep it?"
"I dunno… Maybe because you like wearing it?"
"Oh, please! Lister, I am the senior officer on this ship. What makes you think I'd get kicks out of wearing an embarrassingly long multi-colored scarf?"
"Because I kind of want to wear it myself."
Rimmer rolled his eyes. "Well, that's what makes us different, Lister. You want to prance around and strut and pose with a scarf, and I want to get some sleep."
"Sure, whatever you say, man. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, Listy."
And with that Rimmer turned and tried to leave the room as dignifiedly as he could.
Lister couldn't help but chuckle lightly as he turned his program back on, just in time to hear the final verse.
"You can hire a lawyer.
Plead the fifth.
Santa will know and you'll get no gift.
Santa Claus is riding your trail.
You can lay on the ground with your teddy bear.
Wear pink jammies and he won't care.
Santa Claus is riding your trail.
He knows if you've been loving.
If you're someone who shares.
He knows if you've been shoving…
…your mother down the stairs."
And as Dusty finally decided he felt well enough to take Lefty's guitar and destroy it, Lister looked out into infinite abyss of deep space and got comfy, deciding it would be terrible of him to break tradition.
He popped in the vid and settled in for It's a Wonderful Life.