Takes place sometime around season four.
Some three million years into deep space, Dave Lister was sitting in the cinema, with his feet propped up on the chairs in front of him, watching Mary Poppins singing from between his toes. He hummed along with the music whilst munching on his popcorn, managing both tasks with all the grace of a camel. He was on his fourth movie of the evening, his sixth bowl of popcorn, and his ninth can of lager, and so was feeling pretty content. Until a certain hologram walked into the room and shouted "Off!", freezing Julia Roberts in mid-fragilist.
"All right, Lister, what have you done with them?" Rimmer demanded.
Lister twisted around in his seat to face his dead bunkmate. "Hey, I'm in the middle of something. Play!" Poppins resumed her singing. Rimmer came to stand in the next aisle down, right in front of him, arms crossed. Lister rolled his eyes and said, "Off. Look Rimmer, I haven't done anything to any of your stuff. I don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm talking about my slippers, Listy, the ones you've probably done something horrible to. The navy blue ones with the little yellow ducks printed on them."
"I haven't done anything with your slippers, Rimmer." Lister complained. "Now can I please go on watching the film?"
"No, you may not! Not until I've made sure you haven't lit my favorite pair of slippers on fire, filled them with moldy cheese, sent them out of an airlock, shrunk them in the wash, dropped them in acid, or worse, put your feet in them." The hologram ticked each fate off on his fingers.
Lister started picking bits of popcorn off of his shirt. "I didn't do any of those things to your precious slippers, an' I don't see what difference it'd make if I did. You can't wear them anyway."
"What difference would it make! They're my property. I own them, it's the principle of the matter. You don't just go messing around with a dead person's things!"
"Yeah, you do, that's what people write wills for."
Rimmer glared at him. "Apart from that, I'm trying to get Holly to scan some of my things into digital format, so I can have a hologramatic copy of them."
"Hang on, so you're trying to get touchables an' you come looking for your slippers rather than Inflatable Ingrid?" Lister said, incredulous.
The hologram looked uncomfortable. "Yes, well, I'm having a little trouble finding her, too."
Rimmer's embarrassment was interrupted by the arrival of the Cat. The feline sat down behind Lister, but not before leaning over and stealing his popcorn bucket. "Go!" He demanded, and the film resumed play. "Hey, you haven't gotten to the part with the plump, mouthwatery pigeons in it yet, have you?"
Rimmer did his best to ignore the stupid moggy. "So you're absolutely positive you haven't seen my things?"
"Ingrid's folded up under the bath mat in the captain's private quarters," Lister admitted, "But I swear I don't know where you're smegging ducky slippers are. Have you asked Kryten? He might have put them through the wash or somethin'."
Cat's brow furrowed. "Ducky slippers? You were supposed to wear those things?"
"And what would you know about it?" Rimmer questioned sharply.
The Cat spread his hands. "I thought they were one of those bags you monkeys cough your hairballs into."
"Cat, those would be called sick bags, and they're for sick, because we 'monkeys' don't happen to do our laundry with our tongues!" The hologram's jaw was clenched, and his nostrils were flaring. "You mean to tell me you hacked a hairy one into my slippers?"
"Sure I did. Don't worry, alphabet head, I clean up after myself. I flushed them down the swirly water bowl when I was done."
"You what?" Rimmer shouted. Lister was grinning away at this turn of events, Rimmer was winding up to say some rather nasty things, and the Cat was completely oblivious to the upset he'd just caused when Holly appeared on the screen.
"Sorry to interrupt the film, and that's my favorite part, too." She said. "But I just thought of a story I wanted to tell you guys."
"Holly, we're not in the mood for stories. We're in the mood to jettison the Cat's entire shoe collection into deep space." Rimmer said, causing the Cat to leap to his feet in alarm.
Holly kept talking. "But it's a really good story! See, once there was this big red ship, and then a little grey ship came along, and since the red one was so much bigger than the grey one, the little grey one went into orbit around the big red one."
Lister got up. "Wait, there's a ship outside?"
Holly seemed surprised. "Yeah, there is, how'd you guess the end of the story? Anyway, it's the SSS Ark, and I've just received a video brochure from her."
"A brochure?" Lister said. "I'll round up Kryten and we'll all have a look at it in the drive room, then."
Moments later, the four crew members gathered around the main screen in the drive room as Holly loaded the video. Her face faded away into a scroll of fancy lettering declaring 'Visit the SSS Ark, home of the Grace Longshore Memorial Space Zoo!' Following this title were shots of varying animals, accompanied by a voice boasting of the facility's forty decks, holding thousands of species. Some of the exhibits were the size of air plane hangars. It gave a run down of the zoo's gift shop and food courts. Lister even spotted an Indian food place among them. What's more, it showed the ship packed with people, although the video was dated the 24th century.
"Do you think anybody's alive over there?" The scouser wondered once the brochure ended. "I mean, somebody's got to be taking care of the animals."
Holly popped back onto the screen. "I think you're about to find out, Dave. I'm getting a transmission. Just hold on a tick while I route it."
A robot appeared on the monitor. It was slightly bigger than a skutter, with a design that wasn't very much more sophisticated. It had a thin, upright body that rested on a wheeled platform. From this central metal spine protruded two sets of similarly thin arms, each with a pair of pincers on the ends. A small camera eye was mounted on the top. Whenever the robot moved one of its four arms, or rotated on its spine, or did much of anything for that matter, the machinery made a series of distinct clicking noises. A tinny voice came over the intercom.
"Service bot 300-65975 addresses you warmly. Welcome to the Grace Longshore Memorial Space Zoo, potential visitors. It has been exactly three million years since we have last had customers. Would you like to purchase tickets?"
Lister waved at the robot. "Can I ask a quick question first? Have you got any humans over there?"
"We have a modest human presentation in the Hall of Taxidermy," came the prompt and polite reply.
"You'll have to forgive it, Mr. Lister," Kryten broke in. "This line of service bots are efficient, but their AI tends to be very rigid."
Lister said, "I'm talking about living humans, like me."
The little camera lens zoomed, appraising him. "We have no living humans on board the Ark. Would you like to purchase tickets?"
"It's too late at night to go over there now." Rimmer said. "We'll think about it in the morning."
Cat nodded approval. "He's right, I need to get my beauty sleep."
The service bot's arms began to rotate, click click clicking as they went. "What species is this? It is not listed in my database."
"You don't know a cat when you see one?" Cat said. He gestured to himself. "Just for the record, clicky thing, I'm the finest example of felis sapien you've ever laid eye on."
"This zoo would like to make a generous offer for the purchase of this felis sapien."
Rimmer lit up. "How generous are we talking?"
"Rimmer, don't be a smeghead." Lister said. "Cat's part of the crew, he's not for sale. Besides, I don't see what good money does us with nowhere to spend it."
The bot persisted. "This zoo is authorized to barter. We have many attractive supplies which may prove useful to you."
Cat folded his arms, taking a no-nonsense stance. "Listen buddy, this kitty is not for sale! Believe me, you couldn't afford it if I was. I'm priceless!"
Kryten waved an arm at the screen in disgust at his fellow machine. "Just end the transmission." He couldn't see why anybody ever bought those things when mechanoids were obviously the superior product. Of course, service bots were cheaper, but clearly you got what you paid for, skutters and clickers alike. "There's no need to worry, sirs. As thick-circuited as they are, once you've convinced them that Mr. Cat is not for sale, they should stop pestering us."
Lister shrugged. "As long as they leave Cat alone and they don't want to add me to their collection of stuffed people, I'm all for a visit tomorrow."
They all filed out of the drive room, heading for bed, or in one case, a place with an outlet nearby to power down and charge for the night. All except for Arnold Rimmer, who suddenly remembered that his beloved inflatable pal was still languishing, deflated, in the captain's quarters. He walked back into the drive room, looking to see if there might a skutter about. There weren't any, and he was about to leave again when the Ark's video transmission turned back on.
"This zoo is authorized to barter." The clicker bot repeated. "Are you certain you do not wish to sell your fine felis sapiens specimen?"
Rimmer considered the proposition. "What sorts of things exactly are you offering?"
Click, click, click, went the robot. ""We have food and fuel. We also extend a modest collection of preserved fruit bats, a ping pong table, a tape of Reggie Dixon's best Hammond organ hits, and the AR game Conquests of Napoleon."
The dead man paced back and forth, weighing the pros and cons. Fuel and fruit bats aside, the AR game alone was extremely tempting. Still, it was a bit rude to sell your own shipmate. "I don't know. I own that particular Dixon tape already..."
"We would like to extend in its place the special collector's edition of the book The Complete History of Glue."
"That's the one with the fold out diagrams and color photos, isn't it? Deal!"