From: Lord MooseHammer
NOTE: You *HAVE* to have seen "Dimension Jump" to enjoy this. "The End", "Holoship" and "Stoke Me a Clipper" would also help a lot.
The Ship's computer has reminded me that I'm meant to keep a log of all the Dimensions that I encounter. I was proud to see that my own Dimension was the first entry in the log, being the first Dimension that the "original" Ace visited.
I'm afraid that I didn't find out about the tradition of keeping the log until the 6th Dimension I encountered, so the first 5 Dimensions are missing. According to the computer, all the other Aces came to the conclusion of keeping the log themselves in the first Dimension that they visited, so the computer didn't need to tell them.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, here's the log entry for the 6th Universe:
Dimension co-ordinates: 124812-3275432-2348753.
Stardate on which visited: Thursday.
Causality line: Just like my home Dimension with one difference: On the day of the accident involving Red Dwarf and a large amount of Radiation, David Lister was on duty, and Arnold J Rimmer was held in Suspended Animation...
"You wanted to see me, sir?" said Lister, walking straight into the Captain's office. Well, straight in if you don't include stopping to talk to Kristine Kochanski.
"Where's the cat, Lister?" said the Captain.
"What cat, sir?" said Lister. He knew which cat, the Captain knew which cat. The only problem was trying to keep a straight face while he played along with this charade.
Captain Hollister was about to reply when Tod Hunter walked into the room, smirking. "You in trouble as well, Lister?" he asked.
"What do you mean, 'as well'?" asked Hollister before Lister had managed to reply.
"Well, I'm up here with his bunk-mate. He's been taking his Officer's exam again," Todhunter put special emphasis on the word "again", raising a smile from both Lister and Hollister, "and I caught him cheating."
Had it been any other member of the crew, Hollister would have had to ask who the bunk-mate was, but Lister and Rimmer were legendary among the crew, especially the officers. The phrase "If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well, if it's not worth doing, give it to Z-shift" often came up during formal dinners.
It was a running joke that Lister and Rimmer were still in Z-shift. Z-shift was the lowest group on the ship. The newest 4th Technicians were given a few weeks in Z-shift so that they could have something to do while they were getting settled into the idea of being on a space ship. Hollister knew that he could disband the group and give the skutters their job, but it was a useful way of easing new recruits into the job.
Rimmer had been doing it for 7 years so far.
His long service record had meant that he had been promoted to 1st Technician, but Hollister still didn't trust him or Lister in any job where lives might be at risk. As it was, nothing short of a Cadmium II radiation leak strong enough to wipe half a planet could place them in a position where he could actually have an effect on the safety of the crew!
"Show him in! Lister, you wait outside." Hollister knew that the life form Lister was hiding in his cupboard was more important than this, but he would get more pleasure from punishing Rimmer for his cheating. Hell, he'd probably even give him time in stasis as a punishment!
Lister walked out of the office and went back over to where Kochanski was sitting.
"I got promoted" he told her.
"Yeah, what's your rank now?" said Kochanski with a smile, "Did they make you a Commander, or just let you go straight to Captain?"
Kochanski acted as if she was annoyed when Lister spoke to her while she was on duty, but the truth was that she enjoyed the break from her work. Lister's chirpy indifference to everything around him was a welcome change from the screens and screens of navigation information that kept appearing in front of her.
"Nah, they've made me the Admiral. I think some..."
Lister was interrupted by a woman's voice on his communications unit, "Lister! The rest of Z-shift is otherwise occupied, so you're on your own today. Get to deck 14 and fix the drive plates there. There should be a senior technician to tell you which ones to fix. After that, sort out the garbage release mechanisms on Deck 21. Rimmer was meant to do them yesterday, but you know what he's like."
"Well, Admiral," said Kochanski, her grin widening even more, "I suppose I'd better let you get back to fixing the garbage machines."
"It's okay, I'm sure it can wait." Lister knew what it meant when the rest of Z-shift were "otherwise occupied". It was promotion day. All of the crew had been put in a different shift, apart from him and Rimmer.
As Rimmer was dragged past him by 2 security guards, shouting something about the injustice of spending a month in stasis, Lister thought about his options. What was more important, fixing a drive plate, or spending some time with Kris?
"Sir," said Kryten from the back right seat of Starbug's Cockpit, "something's materialising next to us!"
Rimmer woke up from his daydream with a jolt. "What is it?" he spun around in his chair to face Lister, who was sitting in the back left seat of the cockpit.
"It's some kind of craft," said Lister, reading from his read-outs, and stroking the large silver H on his forehead, as he spoke, "I don't recognise the shape or any of the markings."
"Incoming transmission" said Kryten. The monitor came to life as the image of Ace Rimmer appeared on it, saying
"Can I have a kipper please? It's time for breakfast!" That said, his face disappeared again.
"What the smeg was that?" said Lister.
"It was... me." said Rimmer, "he was me, only..."
Ace's face appeared again, to say "Wait, sorry, that was wrong. It was meant to be a smoked kipper, and I want you to give it to me for breakfast. No wait, that's still not it, there was something about being back."
Ace Rimmer had never been happier in his life. Or his death, actually. In fact, it was in his death in particular that he had never been happier. For years, he had felt the guilt eating away at him, but at last it was gone.
It had not been his fault.
Once again, he found himself wishing that the others could be here to see this. Wherever he went, that was his thought. From his marriage to Nirvanah Crane to the improvements that Arnold "Rambo" Rimmer had made to Starbug in the 5th Dimension he had visited, he kept wishing that the Lister, Kryten and Cat from his own Dimension could see what he was seeing.
But this far out-did any of those things. This was proof that it hadn't been his fault! There they were, the 4 of them 3,000,000 years into space, despite the fact that Rimmer had been in stasis and someone else had been given the job of fixing the drive plates!
The crash had not been his fault.
"I can't tell you... how happy I am to see you!" said Ace, almost crying with joy.
Arnold Rimmer looked back at him, wondering what was going on. First a demented version of himself appeared in the middle of space asking for kippers, and now... now this?
"Ah, you've arrived!" said Kryten. He held a silver dish with a silver cover towards Ace, "Here you are!".
Ace lifted the top from the dish to reveal 2 small grey rectangular strips of... something. He lifted one of them with a fork provided and looked at it. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen something as unappetising. Actually, he could, but not if he didn't include things that had been cooked by Lister. "What is it?" he asked, fearing the reply.
"It's smoked Space Weevil" said Kryten, proudly, "I would have served you some smoked kippers, but there aren't any on board."
"Thanks, but I've just eaten" lied Ace.
"Okay" said Lister, with a hostile tint to his voice, "who the smeg are you?"
"I'm... uh..." Ace tried to remember the line that the first Ace had used. It had seemed to impress Lister. "The name's Ace. I'm going to call you Skippy."
"You're going to call me what?" asked Lister.
"I'm going to call you Skippy. No, wait, I'll call you Skipper."
"Skipper?" said Arnold with a deriding grin, "Yeah, I think I can see that one catching on. You'll be able to find plenty of friends out in the Australian bush, Listy."
"Let's try this again" said Lister, beginning to lose his temper, "Who are you? Where do you come from? Why do you look like Rimmer?"
Account of the visit: I immediately impressed the crew of Starbug, with my warm hospitality and my humorous nickname for Lister. Kryten was certainly impressed, since the first thing he did was to try to offer me a home cooked meal! As for this universe's Rimmer, I think he must have been a bit insecure around me. He felt the need to put other people down to make sure he held his superior ground.
After a slight mis-understanding with Lister, which led to a slight scuffle, I decided to show Kryten a few tricks that we'd picked up in my dimension.
Lister sat in his back seat nursing his face. He didn't know how Ace had managed to fight so well. There had been something strange about the way Ace had fought him. It was just like Rimmer, but he didn't seem to feel the pain of any of the blows inflicted. He seemed to recover immediately, as if he hadn't been hit!
As Lister pressed some buttons on his holo-belt, the pain in his face disappeared. That was the good thing about being a hologram, you could turn your pain sensors on and... Off.
Lister leaned over to Kryten's work station and stood behind Ace. He put two of his fingers against the back of Ace's neck and pinched as hard as he could.
"And it really works?" asked Kryten.
"Perfectly!" said Rimmer, proudly showing Kryten a method that the crew of his dimension had picked up from Legion, "your communications are now 250% more powerful!"
"Rimmer!" hissed Lister. Arnold Rimmer turned around and saw Lister motion to him to go through to the back section of the ship. He left Cat to pilot alone as he stepped back with him.
"Akhadkkkkchakhh!" screamed Kakhckakhkhaaakhkh.
"Akhakhakk akhach-ni? Ka-kakhkakhkhakhakhakhakh!" replied Akhakhakh, the Captain of the GELF cruiser.
(( What? What do you mean you don't speak GELF? Well why didn't you say anything sooner? Okay, I'll tell you what, I'll translate this bit into English, so that you can understand what's going on. The translation won't be perfect, you understand, there are certain GELF words that can't really be translated into English, but you should get the general gist of the scene. ))
"Sir, I'm detecting a Human ship only 140 Kilo-krutons away!" screamed Bringer Of Boredom (that's a literal translation of the GELF word. We'll just call him... uh... B.O.B. or Bob).
"How come you're only detecting it now? We've been scanning this region for over a year!" replied Giving And Receiving Y-band radiation (Y-band radiation is a fancy GELF term for a fart. It's an insulting nick-name that G.A.R.Y.'s crewmen had given him), the Captain of the GELF cruiser.
"It's only a small ship, until now, the communications have been too faint for us to detect." said Bob, "They've suddenly grown about 3 times as powerful for some reason. Whatever it is, we're picking up a trace of the ship right now! We might lose it again at any point, so I suggest we give chase immediately."
"Make it so!" said Gary, tugging on his shirt as he sat down.
(Translator's note: slight artistic license was taken with the last line)
"He's a hard-light hologram, just like me," said Lister.
"How can he be, he doesn't have an H," Rimmer answered.
"That doesn't mean anything. Did you see his fighting? He was fighting like I would if I turned my pain sensors off!"
"Oh I get it," said Rimmer with a smirk, "you can't handle the fact that I beat you in a fight!"
"You didn't beat me, he did!"
"Well," said Arnold, relishing in his moment, "it seems to be the same thing, doesn't it, Skippy."
Before Lister could answer, a scream came from the cockpit. The two of them pounded in to see Kryten looking worriedly at his read-outs, with Cat and Ace staring at him, trying to see what was wrong.
"What is it, Kryty?" asked Lister.
"It's a B-B-B-B-B-B-B-B." said Kryten.
"Oh my god, it's the stutter of death!" said Lister, sitting down at his post. He knew of the slight bug in Kryten's programming where-by he would stutter uncontrollably whenever faced with certain death.
Kryten hit his head against the table hard before speaking again, "It's a battle cruiser of unknown origin. It's headed right for us, and it's powering up it's weapons!"
"It's a GELF ship" said Ace, looking at Kryten's read-outs.
"A what?" asked Lister.
"A..." Ace suddenly realised that the crew had never encountered the GELFs before. Who else hadn't they encountered. He glanced at some of the battle read-outs and confirmed his fears. They had almost no firepower. They had obviously never met with the Simulants who had upgraded their ship.
Starbug didn't stand a chance.
Account of the visit (cont.): At this point, I decided to re-asses my options. I knew that Starbug would probably be able to face the danger without any trouble, but I realised that I would just get in the way if I stayed on board. I explained that I'd probably be of more use if I went back to the Dimension Jumper and stayed in radio contact from there, helping and doing what I could
From the size of the explosion it made, Ace guessed that Starbug's cargo hold must have been filled with some sort of fuel.
"Computer, engage cloaking device" he whispered, as if worried that his raised voice might alert the GELF ship to his position.
"The ship doesn't *have* a cloaking device, Ace." said the computer.
Rimmer watched as the GELF cruiser turned towards his position. They knew he was there. He didn't know how, but they knew.
"Computer," shouted Ace, panicking, "full thrusters! Maximum speed!"
The ship moved at full speed almost immediately, the acceleration rate impressing Ace.
However, the ship moved straight towards the Battle Cruiser. Fortunately, the Cruiser had not been prepared for that, and Ace managed to slip straight past it. Ace remembered Cat's words from a long time back about doing what the enemy least expect. Maybe he'd been right.
Before he'd had time to think about this, he realised from his Radar screen that the GELF ship was following him anyway. He looked ahead of him and saw a fiery planet straight ahead of him. He guessed that it would be about 3 minutes before he hit it.
He tried to turn the ship, but realised that at full speed, the turning thrusters wouldn't work. He looked in the Radar screen again, and could see that the GELF ship was closing on him.
"Computer, can this ship survive flying into that planet ahead?" he asked.
Ace was beginning to miss Holly. She was usually wrong in her answers, but at least she was more confident in herself!
Ace used every piece of information he could think of to calculate whether or not he'd be able to survive. He used a piece of paper to write down all the factors involved. Eventually, he worked it out and relayed that he'd definitely destroy the ship if he hit the planet.
"So," Ace mused out loud, "If my calculations are correct, I should stop the ship right now."
"Would you like to stop the ship right now?" asked the computer.
Ace's lack of confidence in his own skill of calculation was not misplaced. The ship managed to go straight through the planet.
"What's the damage?" screamed Ace. He knew that there'd been at least some damage, since the temperature inside the ship had gone up sharply.
"Superficial." said the computer, "but it'll be a lot more in a minute, the GELF ship is still coming at us! It's been held up a bit by going around that planet, but it's still gaining on us."
Ace prepared to find another way to out-run the ship when he remembered that he was on a Dimension Jumping ship.
"Computer, open a portal to another Dimension!" "Where do you want to go today?"
"Spanners, get in here right now, on the double!" Dave Lister's comm unit crackled into life for a moment to deliver the simple message.
He shuffled slowly towards the Launch Bay from which the message had come. When he arrived, he was shocked by what he saw.
He looked up at Admiral Jacobs, the new commander of the Jupiter Station and saw the look of shock and awe in his face. He'd only been working at the station for a few weeks, but he knew perfectly well what it was that had just landed in front of them.
"Ace" whispered Dave "Spanners" Lister.
Ace regained consciousness and felt like he was about to vomit. He was going to have to do something about the disorientation he felt each time he jumped Dimensions.
"Computer, where are we?"
Ace guessed that it was not a coincidence that the numbers were all the same. "Could you be a bit more specific?"
"This is the home universe of Ace Rimmer."
"You mean my home?"
"No. I mean the original Ace Rimmer."
"What do you think's taking so long?" asked Lister, "Do you think he's all right in there?"
"If there's one thing I've learned about Ace," said Jacobs, awe-struck, "it's that he's always all right, Spanners."
Ace was, in fact, reading the original report in the Dimension Log of this universe, to make sure that he knew what to expect. Now, at last, he could see the point of having the Dimension Log, if he wanted to pass himself off as the original Ace while he was in this universe, he'd have to know a bit about it.
Ace sat up when he heard that voice, and looked around him.
"Computer, who said that?"
"Who said what?"
"Who said 'Guilt'?" asked Ace, begining to panic.
"I'm sorry, but I didn't notice anyone saying it."
Ace knew that this was the computer's polite way of saying that he was going nuts, trying to suggest that he was hearing voices in his head. Then he realised, it *had* been a voice in his head.
He had nothing to feel guilty about. He had abandoned Starbug when it was doomed to die. His staying on board would have just meant that he too would have died. that wouldn't have been any use to anyone, it certainly wouldn't have helped the 4 people on Starbug.
(so why do you feel guilty?)
For the first time in his life, he really didn't have anything at all to feel guilty about. He was Ace Rimmer! He didn't have the guilt of disappointing his parents on his shoulders. At last, he knew that their disproval of him was wrongly placed. True, he had lived his whole life without dignity, but his death had been different!
More importantly, he didn't have the guilt of killing the crew of Red Dwarf on his shoulders. The guilt that, no matter how much he had tried to ignore, festered and grew inside him until, eventually, he had been imprisoned in a penal colony. He hadn't been imprisoned for the deed, but for the guilt. The Justice Computer had read his mind and seen that he felt guilty for the death of over a thousand men and women.
The only way that he had managed to get off the charge was when Kryten managed to convince the Computer, that he was a miserable, snivelling, big-headed smeg-pot. Who believed that he had the power to kill people that an imbecile like him wouldn't have been put in charge of the lives of. The problem was that Arnold had known that it wasn't the truth, and that it had all been his fault.
Arnold had known... But Ace had seen that it *wasn't* his fault! If he had been in Stasis and someone else had been given the job, the crew would have all been killed anyway. True, that someone else was only Lister, but that wasn't the point.
(but you feel guilty)
Ace hit his head against the side of the ship. This was no time to suddenly get a conscience!
"You know, any other Ace would have stayed with them on Starbug".
Rimmer buried his head in his hands and tried to ignore the voice in his head. Until, that is, he realised that it hadn't been a voice in his head, it had been the computer.
"That's why we saw so many dead Aces by that planetoid then, wasn't it?" said Ace, curtly.
"They all died nobly. They all made a difference while they were still alive." said the computer. Then, thinking some more, she added, "Either that or they all died, then existed nobly as holograms. Those ones all made a difference while they were still... uh... dead but existing."
Ace decided that he had had enough. He hit the release button and climbed out of his craft.
"Is it true? Is it true?" asked the Padre, running towards Dave "Spanners" Lister.
"Yes, padre," said Lister, "it really is true, it's him!" The truth was that Lister didn't know whether it was him or not. True, it looked like the same ship, but they might have made exactly the same ship in another dimension. Besides, they had been sure that Ace would never be able to return. Or if he did, it wouldn't be for a smegging long time!
He didn't want to say these things to the old man, though. For months, the Padre had been in his room, not talking to anyone. After Ace had left, the church group on the moon they were on had died out.
Lister was disappointed, as he knew how much it had meant to Ace, but there had been nothing he could do about it. He had wanted to try to get more support for it but Kristine, his wife and a firm atheist, had made sure he didn't. She said that she didn't think it would be good for the twins to see him as a religious fanatic. Lister knew the real reason, though, Kris was jealous of the bond of friendship that there had been between Ace and her husband. She had wanted to wipe out anything that reminded them of him.
At last, the Padre had left his room and come out to the Launch Bay. Lister could see the excitement in the old man's eyes, excitement that he knew everyone else would share when they realised that Ace Rimmer had returned.
"Why isn't he coming out? He's..."
The old man's words were cut short by the metallic sound of the doors opening. The sound was incredibly loud, and the 3 men watching the craft had to hold their hands over their ears.
When the sound ended, Lister looked into the eyes of Ace Rimmer, his best friend, his role model, the man he... worshiped.
"We had the kippers ready Ace, but you're late for breakfast" he said with a huge grin.
Ace felt a pang of sadness as he looked at Lister. It was the same gerbil faced grin that all of the Listers had. Wherever he went, that was one thing that always remained stable.
(but not in the universe you've just left)
He tried to open his mouth to answer, but no words came out.
(he'll never grina gain in the universe you've just left)
(you should have done something to help them)
"It's good to see you again, Spanners!" Ace shouted far too loud, trying to speak over the voices in his head.
The 3 of them were taken aback by his loud voice. "Sorry if I was shouting" he babbled, far too quickly, and much more "That was something of a noisy landing."
The others nodded understandingly.
It wasn't until this point that Ace caught sight of the Padre. He had read Ace's description... Rimmer corrected himself mental, he had read the *original* Ace's description (for he was Ace every bit as much as the first one!) of the Padre, and he had thought that it had seemed familiar to him somehow, but he had not been prepared for this.
The man was a spitting image of Cat!
It was impossible, of course, for it to really be the Cat. Lister was born in the same era as Rimmer, so it was perfectly understandable that they'd be together, but Cat? 3,000,000 years of evolution had to happen before he could come into existence.
Ace let out a soft laugh (which the others took to be a sign of relief and happiness to be hope) as he thought about it. It seemed that wherever he went, his friends *had* to be with him! In every universe, Cat existed.
(he doesn't exist in the universe you left any more)
Ace pushed the voice out of his head as he stepped forward to give Lister a hug. He then turned to the others and tried to make small talk.
3 different people! 3 different people!
First Yvonne McGruder, then Nirvanah Crane, and now this!
Ace lay back on the bed, looking at the sleeping form of... well, whoever she was, and smiled. It wasn't so bad being Ace.
It had been over 7 hours since it had ended, but Ace still felt as if it had been a few minutes ago, the excitement was still in his mind, and the feeling that he really wasn't a failure kept rushing through his mind.
(you failed in the last universe)
The guilt again. Ace stood up and paced the room. Then he lay down again and looked at the 18 year old girl that was sleeping in his bed. For the 50th time in 7 hours, he thought about how lucky he had been. She was really beautiful! Her long blond hair tangled around the pillow and the bedposts, and he could see one of her long legs which wasn't covered by the blanket. Most of all, though, he was fixated by her mouth and her soft breathing. The mouth in which just 7 hours earlier he had...
Suddenly, an alarm went off. Ace had spent so long on space ships that he immediately thought that it was the Battle Alarm. After a few seconds, he realised that it was actually the girl's alarm clock. She yawned and sat up, placing her hand on the alarm clock. She looked into Ace's eyes and smiled. She leaned forwards and kissed him softly.
He watched, fixated as she climbed out of bed and put her clothes on.
"I... uh..." Ace said, awkwardly, "what did you say your name was?"
"Jenny" the girl said. She noticed that he was blushing as he watched her walking around in only her underwear.
"I didn't know you were usually so shy, Ace! You aren't like this with other girls!"
"You're not other girls!" Ace said. He was so happy with himself for managing to think of a good line that it took him a few moments to realise the significance of what she had said, "How do you know what I'm like with other girls?"
"Lori was telling me about the time that you two were together. You didn't blush then." she said, with a teasing smile, "and you didn't ask her what her name was. You didn't even let her stay the night in your room, you asked her to get changed and leave once you were finished!"
Ace, of course, didn't remember Lori, since that had happened to a different person. "Well, Lori was..." he hoped that a vague comment would work, "she was a special case."
"But you did the same to Betty." Jenny said, "And to Jackie."
"And Alison says that you didn't speak a single word to her the whole night, and when you spent the night with Michelle and Laura..."
"Look," said Ace, not wanting to hear any more, "I've changed a lot over the past few years."
"You mean because of all the Dimension Jumping and everything?" Jenny knew about the project. *Everyone* knew about the project!
"Yeah, something like that."
The two of them just stood there, looking at each other for a while.
"I'd better go," Jenny said, after what seemed like an eternity, "I'm going to be late."
About 5 minutes after she left, Ace collapsed onto his bed. He was still thinking about her when he fell asleep.
"HE'S NOT ACE!" Lister insisted, frustrated.
"Well who the smeg is he then Spanners?" roared Jacobs. Lister knew that he must have been getting angry, he'd only heard him use the word "smeg" twice before. The first time had been shortly after the death of his wife, and the second had been when he was shot in the shoulder.
"I don't know, sir," Lister said, trying not to stir Jacobs up any more, "I just know that he's not Ace."
"Spanners, that must have been Ace. We both saw him. He looked like Ace, he sounded like Ace, he had all of Ace's knowledge, what more do you want?"
"Sir, I've known Ace for years," said Lister, trying to add weight to his argument, "and I'm *sure* that it wasn't him!"
Jacobs sat back in his chair and contemplated Lister's words. Could it be that he was too busy worshiping Ace that he was blinded to the fact that it wasn't him? He was proud to be talking to a living legend, but was he so proud that he was letting an intruder pass under his nose?
But then, why should he be trusting Lister's judgement? He was a good mechanic, no, a *great* mechanic, but he wasn't exactly the smartest guy in the world.
"Lister," he said at last. Lister sat up when he said it, since almost no-one ever called him by his real surname. "it's been 5 years since you last saw Ace. People change in that time. You've both changed."
"Go to the bar and have a drink Spanners." Jacobs said. He had made his mind up that he wasn't going to listen to him any more.
"That's an order."
Ace pushed the kids out of the way as he tried to get through the cockpit of Starbug.
As he arrived, he saw them at last. Lister was leaning against the front view-screen with Kochanski in his arms. Around them were hundreds of children. All of them looked exactly like Lister and Kochanski, but shorter. Kryten was dressed up as a nursemaid, and Cat was sitting in the back section, giving the children lessons.
"Listy!" he called.
"Arnie, it's great to see you again!"
"Listy, I need to ask you your advice."
"Sure, buddy, anything!" said Lister, stepping towards him. He and Kochanski both moved towards him, so that Ace was standing between the two of them.
"I need your advice about..."
Ace's gaze darted back and forth between Lister and Kochanski, "about love."
"Love?" asked Lister and Kochanski in unison.
"Love, sex, girls, all of it."
"Sure, ask away!" said Lister.
"What do I..." Ace shifted nervously, "what should I be doing to a girl if I want to... you know.... Treat her properly?"
"Treat her properly?" echoed Lister.
"Yeah. If I want to be fair by her, not to leave her thinking I'm a complete git."
"You need to give her plenty of curry and beer," said Lister, "and to show her plenty of romantic movies to get her in the mood."
"And," said Kochanski, "you have to have sex with her at least 2 times a day."
"Two times a day?" asked Rimmer, turning to Kochanski. As he looked at her, he realised that it wasn't Kochanski, it was Nirvanah Crane. He looked about him and realised that he wasn't in Starbug, he was in a lift. The lift of the Holoship Enlightenment. "That's more than..." he stopped as he gained a sense of deja vu.
"I love you" Nirvanah said.
"I love you too" said Rimmer, "I treated you properly, didn't I?"
"Yes you did," Nirvanah answered, "but you didn't treat her properly!"
Nirvanah pointed at the corner of the lift where Jenny stood, completely naked, "You didn't even ask her what her name was before you got what you wanted!"
"I... I..." Ace stammered, "I wanted to, but there was never a right time. At least I asked her in the end! At least I'm better than... than..."
Suddenly he felt that he was falling... Something was wrong with the lift... something was wrong with...
"I'm better than..." Rimmer hit the floor hard. He looked around him, mumbling "better... than...", and realised that he was still in his quarters.
He stood up and walked over to a mirror and looked at his reflection. "Better than..." he said.
Then it hit him. The realisation flowed through him like the effects of a bottle of vodka, his outlook on life suddenly changed.
"I'm better than Ace."
By the time Ace left his quarters, it was already 20:00. He decided to head for the bar.
"Hi Ace." said the girl closest to the door as he walked in, "Do you have any plans for tonight?"
As she spoke, every girl in the bar turned to look, hearing his name mentioned.
Ace thought of what Jenny had told him about the original Ace. He had slept with so many girls, but had treated them all like smeg.
"Uh, yeah, I'm afraid I've already got something planned" he said at last. There was an audible groan as every girl in the bar slowly turned back to their drinks or their friends, realising that they'd have to wait another day before they might get a chance to spend some time with Ace Rimmer.
Great, thought Ace, here I am, surrounded by hundreds of beautiful girls who want nothing more than my body, and I start listening to my conscious!
Ace started over the the bar, but saw Lister sitting down at a table on the far side of the bar.
"Excuse me," Ace said. The bar was completely full with customers, but the moment he said that, the closest barmaid snapped to attention, ignoring the customer she was serving.
"How can I help you, sir?" she asked. "Could I have two... uh... lagers please."
Ace couldn't believe he'd asked for that. He'd never asked for a lager in a bar before! "Bring them over to that table there" he pointed at Lister's table. He took a wallet out of his pocket.
"Don't worry about the cost, sir, it's on the house!" said the barmaid with a huge smile, "They'll be right over in a minute!"
Ace walked over to Lister and sat down.
Lister looked up at him slowly. He was expecting to look into his eyes and realise that it really was Ace, but he didn't. Instead, he simply started to wonder why he hadn't realised sooner that it wasn't him.
"Hi Ace." It wasn't until after he'd said it that he knew why he had done. He wasn't going to let this guy know he'd sussed him. He was going to wait and see why he was doing this; why he was trying to impersonate Ace.
The lagers arrived, and Ace slid one over to Lister. This was all it took to completely convince him that it certainly wasn't Ace.
Lister thought back to the time that he had first met Ace. He was still a technician on Red Dwarf back then, it was about 2 days after he had met Kristine Kochanski.
The first thing he had seen of Ace Rimmer had been his shoes. They had been covered in fresh puke at the time, Lister's fresh puke. The first thing he had ever said to Ace had been "excuse me, have you seen the President?", but he had been very, very drunk at the time.
When he woke up the next morning, he was on the floor of Ace's quarters. He learnt that he hadn't been able to find his way back to his quarters the last night, so Ace had helped him back to his own room. That had been the last time that Lister had gotten properly drunk.
After that, Ace had helped him sober out, and within a week, he'd manage to get him to move into his quarters permanently. Normally, a technician wouldn't have been able to move into the set of Officer's Quarters, but Ace had managed to pull a few strings.
But here he was now, and this... this imposter was buying him a drink.
Lister wanted to pick his pint up and throw it over the imposter! In fact, he probably would have, had it not been for the fact that he'd already drunk it.
"So who were you with last night?" Lister asked, starting another pint.
"What makes you think I was with anyone?"
"I heard you." replied Lister with a drunken grin, "for the first time in 5 years, no-one could sleep because of someone shouting 'GERONIMO!' during the night."
So, thought Ace, the other Ace used to do that as well...
"I was with Jenny, as it happens." Ace smiled as he said it. It wasn't often that he was able to feel pride in describing his sexual conquests!
(you're parading her like a trophy)
Lister didn't need to ask who Jenny was. He'd seen Ace talking to a few First-Year University students the last evening. They'd all approached Lister earlier to try to find out more about Ace. Lister had actually had two offers himself, but he had thought of Kris and the twins and declined.
"Jenny, huh?" Lister remarked, finishing his lager between words, "She's a nice girl. I wouldn't have thought that she'd be your anyway. Well, I wouldn't have thought that she'd be his type, anyway."
Ace jerked up at that comment. Surely Lister hadn't managed to find out the truth! He couldn't have realised that he wasn't really his Ace!
It wasn't for another few seconds that Lister realised what he'd said. It had been many years since he had been drinking properly, and his body was no longer used to the alcohol. After Jacobs had ordered him to the bar, he'd started drinking. He'd drunk quite a bit more than he normally did, but was still in control of himself. He had been about to leave when Ace arrived.
After another couple of drinks, he was ready to talk.
"You aren't him, are you?" Lister finally asked.
"You're not Ace Rimmer."
"My name is Arnold Rimmer," said Ace, managing to avoid lying "but my friends call me Ace."
(you shouldn't be decieving him)
"I want you to swear on everything that you hold dear that you are Ace Rimmer!"
Lister screamed. Ace was certainly not a liar, and he knew that he wouldn't lie if he had any form of pressure placed upon him. Had he been sober, he might have realised that if this man *was* an imposter, Ace's honesty was irrelevant, but he wasn't sober, so he didn't realise it.
"I swear it!" said Ace.
(the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth)
"I am Ace Rimmer!" he said again, trying to convince himself more than anyone else.
(the whole truth)
As Ace struggled with himself, Lister suddenly realised the truth.
"Are you the Ace Rimmer," said Lister, choosing his words carefully, "that was born in this universe?"
(he deserves better than a lie)
(for once in your life, be honest, even if it means losing face)
Lister raised his head from the toilet bowl and moved slowly towards his bed. So he hadn't been Ace. So what? He had been right, but was there any difference?
He started to feel sick again, so he moved back to the toilet bowl.
Things had come full circle. The first time he had met Ace, he had been sick all over the bar from an overdose of drink, and Ace had tried to help him. This time, he had managed to keep his dignity and be sick after he had gotten home, but he still couldn't help to smile at the irony.
Then he couldn't help but giggle from the irony. Then he couldn't help but laugh softly from the irony. Then he couldn't help but laugh loudly and drunkenly from the irony.
Before long, Lister was laughing so hard that he couldn't breathe. It wasn't from the irony any more, he was laughing because he had started, and because he was drunk.
After a few minutes, he laughed himself into a drunken slumber. His last thought before he fell asleep was "Where's Kris?", but before thinking about it, he fell asleep.
Kristine Lister was, in fact, in the bar. She had heard that Ace would be there, so she had turned up immediately.
She walked into the bar and saw him sitting on his own at a table. In fact, her husband had been sitting there just minutes earlier, but she had assumed that he'd be staying away from any bars. When she'd first met him, he'd been a complete drunk, but by their first date, a few weeks later, he had completely sobered out.
She moved through the crowd towards Ace and sat down at his table. "Hi Ace" she said, cracking the pinball smile that had made her husband like her so much, "All alone tonight?"
"Uh yeah." said Ace. At this point the attention of every girl in the bar moved towards the two of them. They had heard him saying that he had plans earlier, but now there was a possibility that it had just been a brush off towards the girl who had approached him. There might still be a chance!
"I was thinking," said Kris, placing her hand on Ace's knee, "that we might... re-live the past."
Ace realised that Lister obviously hadn't told her about his true identity. He had explained everything to Lister after he had admitted the truth, but he wasn't sure how much the drunk Lister had understood. While he was thinking about this, he didn't notice Kris getting even closer, until she was eventually sitting on his lap.
"What, uh, what are you doing?" he said, his voice losing it's composure.
Kris looked deep into Ace's eyes. Ace instantly recognised the look in her eyes, she was as drunk as her husband "You've been drinking" he said, unable to think of anything else.
"Yeah," she said with a giggle, "I needed a little something before coming here. After all, it's hard to proposition a man when you're sober." Ace suddenly realised what Kris was saying. "The past" she had said... Ace and her had obviously...
(your best friend's wife)
"Oh my god!" Ace stood up suddenly, knocking Kris to the floor, "Me and you?"
"You were perfectly happy with me 5 years ago!" Kris said, feeling more hurt by Ace's words than by her fall, "What's changed?"
"I have!" roared Ace, "I can't go behind my best friend's back!"
Kris slowly stood up and walked out of the bar.
Ace sat down and thought. He had just... Oh smeg. He had just turned down a chance to spend the night with... Kristine Kochanski! He had been drinking himself, to keep Lister company, so it took his mind a while to correct himself and point out that it wasn't Kristine Kochanski, but Kristine Lister.
Ace's mind raced back through the years until he remembered the time he had met the original Ace. He remembered Lister telling him about the Lister that lived in the other Dimension, this one. He was happy, he had the wife he had always wanted, he had a nice new country house (donated by Ace), he had two beautiful children.
He had an adulterous wife.
Ace stood up and looked around the bar. A few weeks earlier, he would have happily given up everything he owned to be in this position, in a bar full of College Girls, all of whom wanted nothing more than to have sex with him, but now the whole notion made him... sick!
As he looked around the room, one girl caught his eye, and he knew what he had to do.
Jenny had been sitting with her friends and discussing Ace when Kristine Lister walked in. They were sitting too far away to be able to hear the discussion, but Jenny couldn't help feeling that there was something odd about the way he was looking at her...
"He really said that?" asked Lori. Jenny snapped back to the conversation, realising that the others had their back to Ace, and that they hadn't seen his latest companion. They were talking about him anyway, of course.
"Yeah," said Jenny "he seemed, I dunno, hurt when I told him about how badly he'd treated you."
"Maybe it was guilt." said Betty.
"Maybe he really likes you." said Lori, ignoring Betty. It amazed Jenny that Lori was being so nice about it. Lori was Jenny's older sister's best friend, and it was only right that she should be happy about her and Ace, but she was still surprised by the fact that she wasn't even slightly bitter about what had happened.
Lori was 21 which was, by Ace's legendary standards, completely past it. She had been only 16 when the two of them had gotten together, years earlier. Jenny could still remember the excitement that Lori had in describing the events to Jenny's sister.
But now, Lori seemed to be genuinely happy for her...
She was lost in this line of thought when she realised that Ace was walking towards them. Looking around, Jenny realised that Kris had left the bar, but Ace wasn't heading towards the doors, he was heading closer and closer to her. Not only that, but he was looking straight at her.
Jenny turned around to see if Ace might have been looking at something behind her. He wasn't, of course, there was a solid wall behind her.
"Hi Jenny" Ace said.
The jaws of everyone around the table dropped. It was completely unheard of for Ace Rimmer to aproach one of his sexual partners again, but to remember her name?
"Is this seat taken?" Ace asked pointing at the empty seat next to Jenny.
"No, it's... uh..." Jenny started to panic, realising that Ace wasn't asking to sit with her, he was asking if he could take the chair to sit elsewhere.
By the time the disappointment sunk in, she realised that it had been misplaced, as Ace was sitting next to her.
"Aren't you going to introduce me to your friends?" he asked.
It was gone!
The guilt, the voice in his head, the feeling that something was wrong, it was all gone!
He thought about Jenny, and how they had spent the last night, and started to run through the garden, contented. It wasn't a real garden, of course, on this moon it would have to be a fake one, but it was a close enough replica for Ace to suspend his disbelief.
As Ace thought more about his feelings for Jenny, his run changed into a skip.
Ace felt... young again. True, he had the body of a 28 year old, but he had existed for far longer. His thoughts drifted to Rimmerworld, the planetoid that he had accidentally terraformed with thousands of replicas of himself. He had spent 50 lifetimes stuck on that planet.
But now, he felt like he was a teenager again. In some ways, Jenny was the love that Rimmer had never had as a teenager.
Love. The word rang through Rimmer's head. It was a feeling he had only fleetingly felt in the past. Yvonne McGruder had been nothing to him, she hadn't even known who he was. Nirvanah Crane, now there was another matter, but it still wasn't anything like what he felt for Jenny.
He carried on skipping, and started to sing songs that he could remember from his childhood.
Jacobs shook his head as he watched Ace out of his window. It was 9:00 in the morning and Ace was skipping around the fake garden.
His door creaked as Lister walked in, with a hangover.
"Spanners, you look dreadful!" said Jacobs. He had received information about all of the crew when he started his job here, and he had understood that Lister never got drunk or hungover! "What were you up to last night?"
"Just following orders, sir" Lister replied with a chirpy grin.
Jacobs noticed that the grin didn't look right on Lister's decidedly off-colour face, but decided not to comment on it.
Lister quickly recounted what he could still remember from the last night, and told Jacobs that it really wasn't Ace.
Jacobs opened the window to the fake garden and called a still skipping Ace up to his office.
In about half of the time he was expecting it to take, Ace burst through the doors and sat down contentedly on a chair facing Jacobs' desk. Lister sat next to him, and Jacobs sat down behind his desk, facing them.
"Now, Ace." Jacobs said slowly, "Lister here tells me that you're and Ace Rimmer from" Jacobs glanced over to Lister, as if to remind himself that he wasn't insane, "another Dimension."
Ace realised that if he was going to tell him everything. After all, he had said it to Lister, so it wasn't as if he had anything to hide any more.
10 minutes later, Jacobs and Ace were knocking on the door to the room that went off from the side of Jacobs' office, trying to console Lister and get him to come out.
Ace still didn't know why he had said it. After he had told the two of them everything, Lister's first reaction was to mention Kris, and say how much she had liked the other Ace.
At this point, Ace just didn't know what to do. Almost every single part of his mind and body was screaming out at him to tell Lister the truth about Ace and his wife. There was one small part of his brain, the part that worked on intelligence instead of instinct, that was telling him not to. Unfortunately, that part lost out.
Which was why he was trying to console Lister through a door, telling him that he was a great guy and that it was Kris' loss if she didn't want to be with him.
Eventually Lister got out of the room and sat next to Ace.
Lister's whole universe had been shattered. Ace, the man that he had hero-worshiped, the man who had given him self-confidence, the man who given him his job, the man who had helped him to get together with his wife, Ace had taken the one thing most dear to him.
And here he was, being consoled by someone who he had despised earlier for not being Ace. Now, he was despising him because he was too much like Ace!
Ace Rimmer was sitting in his Dimension Jumper.
He would have to leave.
He thought about the look on Jenny's face as he had told her this. She seemed slightly disappointed, but at the same time she looked as if she had been expecting it, as if there must have been some kind of catch in her relationship. She reminded Ace of someone who wakes up from a dream that they've won the lottery. Someone who gets out of bed feeling amazing, but after a few seconds realises that it had been a dream.
He was also trying to wrap his head around the truth about the original Ace "What a Guy" Rimmer.
He had been brave and charming, but at the end of the day he was still just Arnold Rimmer. He wasn't perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. He was just as flawed as any other Rimmer.
This gave Ace hope for the future. Until now, he had seen Ace as a perfect figure. He could never hope to be as good as the others who had preceded him, no matter how hard he tried. But now, he realised that he could do it. He was just as good as any of the others, if not better!
He could do it! He could be Ace!
But first he had to leave this place. He had to leave Jenny.
Ace was enjoying his goodbye dinner. He'd only been in this universe for 3 days, but it had felt like a lifetime.
In fact, Ace realised that it had actually been less than a week since he had left his own universe! It all seemed like so long ago...
He looked over at his friends, the people who he'd known for 3 days, but who'd known him for far longer. Jacobs, Padre and a hundred other people he didn't really know were sitting in the hall and stuffing their faces. He guessed that some of them were only there for the free food. He hadn't even met a few of them yet, so they could hardly be saying goodbye!
Ace suddenly realised that the only two people who he truly cared about at the dinner were missing. He made some polite excuses and promised to hurry back as he left the room to look for Lister and Jenny.
He searched the whole building, including Jenny's room, Lister's room (not his house, but the room he had been given. He couldn't bear to go back to Kris, not now), the room next to Jacobs' office, everywhere.
He was almost back at the dinner hall when he passed his own quarters, and he heard Jenny's voice coming from inside.
"Go on, say it!" she was saying
. Ace put his ear to the door, but couldn't hear the reaction. It had obviously been to the negative, though, because before long, Jenny said "Go on, SAY IT!" again.
After the third time, Ace was about to open the door of his quarters, when he heard a loud cry from inside, it was Lister's voice.
Ace immediately felt angry. He was about to run into the room and tell the two of them what he thought of them, but then he had another thought.
His greatest sadness at leaving this Dimension was that he was leaving Jenny alone. After that, his greatest sadness was leaving Lister in the state that he was in about Kris. What was happening inside his quarters right now solved that problem.
"Where do you want to go today?" As the computer asked the question, Ace realised that he was being hailed. He flicked a switch, and Lister's face appeared on his screens.
"I couldn't let you leave without telling you something," he said, looking guilty, "it's about me and Jenny."
"It's all right, I know all about that!" Ace said with a smile, "Good luck to the two of you!"
"Good luck to you too, Ace!" Lister said.
"Choke me a knitter, I'm coming home for Dinner!"
"Never mind. Ace out."
The comm unit died out, replaced once again with the face of the ship's computer.
"Where do you want to go today?" it repeated.
"Somewhere where I can be a hero and save some lives!"
As the portal opened, the computer smiled, glad to see that at last, this Arnold Rimmer had become Ace. Self-centered, smug, arrogant, but confident and charismatic. Yes, this was Ace all right.
But soon would come the biggest test. Was he brave enough to be Ace?
Boy, that was a bit longer than it was originally intended to be! As always, please tell me what you think!
CYBER BAT’S MESSAGE
Mmm bit of a sad ending…hopfully he will write one with a happier ending next time….