Diamond Giza is set both on board Red Dwarf and inside the Great Pyramid at Giza. The Dwarfers surf through a wormhole and end up back at Earth and the only people still alive after more than 3,000,000 years are a group of modern-day Egyptians. The crew must solve a riddle in order to take these people back to Ancient Egypt, and find a way to get themselves home, too: only problem is, the Cat's the one who's got to do it! I envisaged the action taking place during series five (so there's no annoying Kochanski!!!)
CYBER BAT'S MESSAGE
Lister and the Cat had gone the pictures to watch some old kung fu movie, Kryten was scrubbing out all the retro housings on the upper engine deck and Holly was off losing at chess to the Toaster. It was the first night of peace and quiet Rimmer had enjoyed for years and he was taking the very welcome opportunity to glance back over his most successful risk campaigns.
No polymorphs, no Psirens, no Pan Dimensional Liquid Beasts from the Moggedon Cluster: just perfect peace and quiet. Rimmer took a sip from his hologrammatic glass of brandy and set it down on the edge of the desk. He flicked a page. This was sheer bliss: a feeling he hadn't experienced for several years now. Stuck on Starbug for day after day, having Kryten whining down his ear all the time and Lister playing his guitar at every hour God sent. It had been hell locked in that flying sardine can with all those smegheads.
And now that it was all over, and they'd found Red Dwarf again, and he finally had some space and time to himself, Rimmer intended to relax. He flicked another page, took another sip of brandy, and rested back into the deep cushions of his chair. He sighed. Perfection.
Holly blipped up on the wall monitor. A digitalized bead of sweat meandered its way down his virtual face, but Holly looked genuinely exhausted.
"Arn," he started, gasping for an illusory breath but once again managing a passing impression of genuine fatigue. "Arn, w-we're on a bit of a collision course."
"What is it now, Holly, you utter dingleberry?" Rimmer sighed again.
"W-we're on a-a-a c-collision c-c-course." Holly stuttered. "W-with a pl-planet!"
Rimmer shot up out of the billows of his chair.
"With a smegging planet!? What the hell are we on a collision course with a smegging planet for? Why didn't you steer 'round it you GIMP!"
"There wasn't time," Holly said rather sheepishly. "We sort of drove into a little wormhole and when we came out we were sort of on a little, tiny collision course with a little planet." A pause. "I tried to avoid it, honest, but it was already to late." Holly finished, and then looked downwards shiftily.
"What else? There's something else, isn't there? I can tell. Come on…" Rimmer's left leg jittered and his hands clutched his hips. He clenched his teeth and said: "…Out with it you total prat."
They rounded the corner and entered the drive room: Lister making for the main monitor, Cat for the navigation computer, and Kryten for the broom cupboard. Lister sternly waved him over to the scanner scope, and Kryten reluctantly obeyed.
"Hol'!" Shouted Lister at the vacant monitor. "Hol'! Get here now! Where are you, you absolute, complete, out-and-out…" Holly blipped up. He looked perfectly calm.
"Hi, dudes!" He chirped, merrily.
"What the smeg so you mean 'hi, dudes'? Give us some info' on that planet we're about to smash into!" A look of fear erupted over Holly's features. He came out in a computerised cold sweat.
"Oh, dear. I'd forgotten all about it."
The Cat turned from the navicomp: "You forgot about it? Daym - we're all gonna die and it slipped your mind?" He frowned at the monitor for a second longer before remembering his urgent duties, and he turned he turned back to recalibrating the sensitivity circuits of the navicomp. The console would have to be made much more responsive if the Cat was to use it to effectively manoeuvre the ship.
"Oh, smeeeee!" Squealed Kryten, his hands dropping from the focus dials of the scanner scope and clanking against his sides. "It's right there! It's right there…It's EARTH!!" He fell backwards and clanged onto the deck, his face twisted in disbelief.
"Oh, yeah!" Holly smiled. "Yeah, I forgot that too! This always happens when I try to keep in mind two separate things at once: they both go flying out my ventilation shafts! That was it - 'the planet we are about to hit is the planet Earth'-that was what I meant to say when I got here. Sorry."
And then, as the Cat finished his operation and brought the navicomp back on-line, and he took the emergency manual control lever and pulled it back as far as it would go, the planet Earth loomed ominously into view. It appeared, at some speed, from the bottom of the main window and drifted up until it took up the whole space. Lister and Kryten were dumbfounded. The Cat continued to struggle with the lever.
Rimmer skidded into the drive room: "H-have you heard?" He panted, his hands resting on his knees and his chest heaving. Then he saw what was outside the window. He straightened. "Oh, smeg."
Now the speed at which the Dwarf was moving became apparent. Previously, it had been impossible to gauge as they had been flying against a static backdrop of stars, but now they could see just how fast they were accelerating. Africa already took up the entire viewscreen and rushed towards them at breakneck speed.
The Cat pulled back, digging his Cuban heels into the desk-base and putting his whole weight into it. The ship juddered violently, but still held its course for Africa and the sands of Niger. The Cat bounced his legs onto the desk-top, a foot either side of the manual control lever, and pulled even harder, the sinews in his arms straining and the muscles taut: a shipquake rocked the Dwarf from its very core, but still the Cat was unable to change course.
"Impact in one minute." Uttered Holly.
Lister attempted to send more power to the reverse thrusters from a wall station. The Cat pulled on the lever with all his might. Rimmer stood paralysed with terror in the middle of the room. Kryten stared incredulously through the scanner scope at the fast approaching Nigerian landscape.
And then almost unnoticeably, the ship began to pull up. Not much, but a little. Kryten was the first to notice it: the horizontal and vertical intersecting lines in the viewer of the scanner scope crept slowly Northwards over the African continent.
"It's working!" Cried Kryten.
"30 seconds." Said Holly.
"It's not going to be enough!" Yelled Rimmer.
The Cat released one hand to jab a few buttons, attempting vainly to acquire more control. He leaned back on the lever, arching his spine. The ship pulled up.
"We're as far North as Algeria!" Shouted Kryten over the roaring of the convulsing, juddering walls of the drive room. "Just a little more, Mr. Cat Sir, and we'll be able to ditch into the Mediterranean Sea!"
"Ten seconds!" The land rushed towards them. The Cat gave one last heave. The Algerian coastline zipped out of view and was replaced by mile upon mile of open sea.
"Nine, eight, six, five, four, three, two…" and the Red Dwarf smashed into the waters, hissing downwards into the depths. A cloud of sheer Oceanic proportions was swirled up high into the sky in the Dwarf's wake, and the ship continued to tunnel relentlessly into the foaming, roaring sea.
Deeper and deeper. Containment panels and air-lock doors were torn from the ship's sides. It span downwards. Water seeped in through long, deep gashes. Still deeper. Torrents upon torrents of brine forced their way in, ripping the hull to shreds. And deeper, and deeper.
The drive room main window imploded and the whole command deck was flooded in two seconds.
Lister, Cat, Kryten and Rimmer stepped off the still-moving shuttle bus at the cargo bay station and bolted towards the landing bays. They had left the drive room the instant of impact: the drive room, the captain's office, the whole upper command area of the ship was raised from the rest of the vessel on a huge pillar. It was one of the least stable external structures on the whole ship, and one which they knew would be destroyed far earlier than most other regions.
The upper command level was prised off by the rushing waters and flung away. The hydrogen ram scoop collapsed, it's supporting rods buckled, and the whole array swept away.
The ship spiralled down deeper still, past all areas of life and light and into a dark, dead strata of the sea. The inconceivable pressures squeezed the bulkheads inexorably inwards, stabbing great holes at every possible place: the flood waters sucked in and took hold of every deck on the ship, expelling every last gasp of air. Kryten booted up the White Giant. The cargo bay doors were blasted apart and a great sheet of icy, black ocean banged into the bay, swilling out the series of 'Bugs, 'Giants and 'Midgets into the abyss before punching the hatches of the bay open and scouring out the rest of the ship.
The ship split in two. Holly off-lined.
The White Midget fired up its engines and strove for safety against the fierce tornado-like current that funnelled the Dwarf to its final resting place on the bed of the sea. Kryten initialised the retros, and they were back on the surface in twenty minutes.
Less than 50 miles from Sicily the Giant's drive computer had picked up a signal. A life sign. Of ten thousand people.
"People?" Lister had said, his brow raised. "So the human race isn't extinct?"
"Apparently not," began Kryten. "At first I thought it was because we had passed through that wormhole: that some sort of curious time phenomena had sent us back in time. But I was wrong. I checked the position of several stellar constellations and found that this is, indeed, our present. Apparently the wormhole only transported us in space, not time."
They were on the White Giant's observation deck and it was their third day of sailing. The air was close: sun rays beat down upon the plated hull of the ship as it breasted the warm tides. The Cat was, for the third consecutive day, lying on the cockpit roof basking in the sun's glow, the Mediterranean spray keeping him cool. Rimmer had off-lined the day before. Kryten had turned him down to minimum power, but with most of the generators waterlogged and only a few spare batteries available, Rimmer's hologram had fizzled out after less than fifty hours after the crash. Now there was not enough power left to keep a microwave running, let alone re-initialise a hologram.
Lister sat down in a swivel-chair and skimmed over to the window. The air was warm inside the ship, too, and he felt the heat on his face as he neared the glass.
"So where's this signal coming from? Where do the last humans live?" he said, without turning back to Kryten.
"Egypt, Sir. Giza. It's a city on the Nile."
Lister turned: "Giza? Wasn't there some sort of monument there? The Hanging Gardens of Giza, wasn't it?"
"No, Sir. That was Babylon. What Giza has is Pyramids, and amongst them is the largest one in the world: the Great Pyramid of Cheops. It is from inside the Great Pyramid that the signal is originating." Lister turned back to the window and stared out across the sea. The Cat dangled his legs down over the screen from above and twinkled his toes in the sun. Lister turned back to Kryten.
"Let's go and have a goosie then. We can't stay here forever."
Five days later they reached the Rosetta Mouth, a wide entrance to the Nile Delta on the North coast of Egypt. Kryten had jerry-rigged a makeshift set of solar-panels and fixed them to the roof, engine housings and fins of the Giant. These had provided a reasonable source of power and kept the ship moving, albeit at a slow pace, and so were welcomed by all on board except the Cat who was no longer allowed to sunbathe on the roof and soak up all the rays for himself. Over the next week Lister, Kryten and the Cat sailed Southwards, baking in the scouring heat, drifting slowly down the Nile. They passed Disuq on the second day, Kafr az Zayyat on the fourth, and Warraq al 'Arab and Bulaq ad Dakrur on the sixth. They reached Giza on the seventh day, just as the power reserves gave out and the solar panels started to cost more energy to run than they were generating.
They left the Giant on the flood plain and started the trek to the Great Pyramid. Kryten dragged a sled of food, what was left after a fortnight at sea, and bedding on which the Cat rested throughout the journey. Lister tried his best to keep them on track with Kryten's psi-scan set to 'life-search', but the heat and gusting sand kept his eyelids pursed most of the time. They strove on. They passed the old town of Al Kunayyisah, and Kryten knew they were about halfway there. The distance was only twenty kilometres but the weather and their load slowed them down, and it was nightfall on the eighth day before they reached the pyramids. Kryten set up the tents behind a small pyramid and wrapped Lister and the Cat up in layers of thick blankets. The cold, desert night stabbed through the sheets of the tent and the billowing winds slapped the material in and out, and howled the night through. No one got any sleep, not even Kryten who had to spend the night scraping the sand from out of his joints, but the night ended soon enough and the three packed up the bedding before the sun rose too high in the sky.
As they rounded the small pyramid whose shelter they had sought the night before, they saw the Great Pyramid for the first time. Barely a shadow in the dark late last night, it now loomed over them like some sort of Godly monolith. And Kryten was the first to realise.
"What's happened to it?" He cried, shielding his face from the whipping dust. "It's supposed to be made just of rock, but look: the marble and gold has been replaced!"
The Cat and Lister could see now. They squinted at the leviathan structure and saw that it wasn't the dull browny-yellow colour that they remembered from pictures, but a brilliant white and a dazzling gold. The walls of each side were plated in the purest snowy-white marble, and a cap of peaked gold stood at the summit and glinted in the rising sun. Kryten turned to them. "It's how the pyramid was when it was constructed: before centuries of pillagers and looters came and stripped it bare!"
They approached the side of the pyramid and traced their way around its perimeter before they came to an opening. A wide doorway, opened out with small sand-dunes hummocked around the edges. Lister and the Cat ran over to shelter from the wind, and saw that inside the opening, about five metres into the passageway, was a tall door carved all over with ornate symbols. Stone blocks were strewn about the sandy floor. They looked at the door blankly before Kryten joined them.
"It's a form of most ancient teleography: Egyptian hieroglyphics. These symbols," he said, pointing to a row of them, "have something to do with opening or entering."
"There's no door knob!" Said the Cat.
"No Sir, but what there are are gaps in the wood next to each symbol, possibly to allow for a sequence of key-like blocks which will, if placed in the correct series, cause the door to open." He bent down and picked up one of the blocks from the floor. It had a curving symbol on it with a line through the centre. He placed it in one of the gaps on the door: it fit perfectly. For five minutes he selected block after block from the pile amassed on the floor, examined them all individually, and placed them in their rightful places in the door. On the twentieth block, the door swung open.
"Hey, Buddy!" Yelped the Cat as he dove into the pyramid proper. "I don't know what we'd do without you! Me and the Monkey may be the 'smart party' but we ain't got a patch on you!"
The group walked into the pyramid, down a passageway that appeared to be carved into the solid rock. After fifty yards the light cast in from behind them was no longer an effective aid to navigation, and Kryten had to cast a torch-light from his chest monitor. The walls of the passageway, narrow and damp seemed to have been hacked away with pick-like tools.
"How did they manage to build these things?" Asked Lister. "I know I used to joke to Rimmer about the massive whips the Egyptians had, but only 'cos he thought they were built by aliens. I can't believe the did it without any real technology! The size of the thing: it's enormous! And where did all the rocks come from? How did they move them? I saw this programme about it once and it said that ramps must have been out of the question, 'cos to get a reasonable angle for them to get the rocks up to the very top, where the gold is now, the ramps would have had to start hundreds of miles away! It was impossible!"
"I agree, Sir" Said Kryten, directing his torchlight against the walls as they continued on. "These very tunnels - there must be miles of them - and they all seem to have been made by hand. It is indeed a feat of human achievement." They reached a fork in the passage-way and took a left.
Five minutes later, and another fork, this time three-pronged. They took the middle route and after half an hour came to a dead-end. Kryten went back to fetch the sled which they had left outside: this could go on for quite a while, and he had no intention of risking Mr. Lister's and the Cat's lives in the process. Lister and the Cat waited there in the darkness. They waited for an hour. Two. Then three. Where had Kryten got to? Had he got lost? How would they find their way out without him and his torch, and how would they get back to the Giant without the sled?
They sat, shivering and panicking in the dark, waiting for what was beginning to seem like a miracle. A long while later, they heard footsteps reverberating about the passageway. These steps were a long way off, but they were becoming closer. Lister and the Cat cheered up: the didn't realise it wasn't Kryten until the net had been cast over their bodies, and by then it was too late…
A large man, dressed in a spartan costume of draping white and gold fabric, drew near to them from out of the crowd. Lister noticed a sword at his belt concealed by a scabbard. The man stepped close, took Lister by the collar of his jacket and his long-johns, and pulled him up so he was standing. Then he hugged him.
Lister didn't know what to do! The man released him and raised the Cat for a similar treatment. He beamed a bright smile and the thousands in the crowd followed suit: the room erupted into a massive applause and everyone's cheers echoed about the hall. Lister and the Cat frowned at each other.
"Let me explain," began the man, obviously ecstatically happy for some reason. "My name is Khufu and I lead these people. We have lived here for many thousands of centuries. We have never, not once, ever had even a single, solitary visitor from outside the pyramid! You must understand that this is a very special day for us, and I beg you to forgive our actions. I see that you were very frightened to be apprehended by us in such a way that you were, and I wish it hadn't been necessary, but there are many legends in our history that warn of evil people from outside attempting to enter our pyramid and conquer us. Myths, perhaps, but reason enough to be wary, I'm sure you'll both agree!" Lister and the Cat nodded nervously, as if they felt they should.
"In fact, this very day, the glorious day that you 'our illustrious visitors' chose to see us, we seized one of these foul infidels walking through our passageways, following in your footsteps and bringing with him a load of weapons to destroy us!" Lister and the Cat looked at one another again, this time in realisation rather than confusion.
"Kryten!" Shouted Lister. "You caught our friend! He was just going back to get supplies - it wasn't weapons! - and you thought he was some evil spirit following us in!" The man nodded. "You don't need to worry about old Kryters! He wouldn't harm a fly! He couldn't: it isn't in his programming!"
The man waved his arm at someone in the crowd and Lister and the Cat heard another net being whipped away, and Kryten was pushed into the centre of the hall. The man eyed Kryten's angular features curiously and rather suspiciously.
"All right, then, if you two say so. He goes free. But I still refuse to trust such an odd sort of person. A man who seems to be made of metal and has a face like that is not a man I can be sure about." He turned back to Lister and the Cat, and he smiled. "Anyway, we have more important things to attend to!" And with that he turned and led the crowd away.
The man stood behind the alter and beckoned Lister and the Cat to come nearer, ignoring Kryten. He stared at them both silently for a moment, and the crowd of Egyptians lining the walls looked on in anticipation. The man closed his eyes for a second. He pointed at the Cat.
"YOU!" He shouted, suddenly. Lister and the Cat almost jumped out of their skins, but the crowd began cheering again and this time the uproar lasted for several minutes. "You shall be the one," continued the man to the Cat. "You shall be the one, my friend, who saves us all!" He walked back around the alter and slapped the Cat on his back, and he left in a jovial spirit with the rest of the crowd behind him.
The walls, like those of the other halls in the pyramid, were covered from top to bottom with intricate carved hieroglyphs and fashioned out of gold, silver and marble.
The priest had placed them there for the night so the Cat could 'prepare himself' for the task which awaited him the next day. They knew no more about it than that.
"So what's going on, Krytie?" Asked Lister, reclining on a bed of velvet cushions and draping a bunch of scarlet grapes over his mouth. "What's your take on the situation?"
Kryten had been forbidden to talk throughout their tour of the pyramid by the man, Khufu, who obviously still had no trust in the mechanoid. The man had shown them all manner of confusing scriptures, books, blocks and artefacts, mainly for the benefit of the Cat apparently, but Kryten had been prohibited from lending his usually helpful comments to the proceedings. Now they were alone, he could.
"Well, Sirs." Kryten spoke from a bail of hay that was to be his bed, brought in by the lowliest servant of the pyramid. "The scriptures and books and scrolls seemed to tell of a man who would come to save these people. I didn't manage to see all of every page, but I gathered this much: These people, thousands upon thousands of years ago, when the Earth was being ravaged by nuclear wars, disease, poverty and suchlike things, came here to this pyramid on a pilgrimage. It seems that people had once again fallen upon religion in an effort to obtain their answers about what was, for them, a bleak existence. They entered the pyramid, prayed and fasted for several days, and suddenly the monument restored itself to its former glory, gold and marble and all, and they were sealed inside safely away from the outside world.
"For all intents and purposes, they seem to belong in the past. They believe that their Pharaoh, Khufu, is the man for whom this pyramid was built. In fact, I've consulted my histochip and have discovered that the Great Pyramid of Cheops was built at circa 2500 BC during the reign of one Pharaoh Khufu. Their legends tell of a group of people who will arrive at the pyramid one day, one of whom will facilitate their expeditious return back in time to pre-historical Egypt. They seemingly believe Mr. Cat to be that person"
"But, Krytie," said Lister, setting down his grapes. "There is a very real possibility that these people, nice though they appear to be, could just be a bunch of wackos. I'm more inclined to believe they're a load of religious fanatics who, seeing Armageddon on its way, decided to latch onto one of the oldest belief systems in history rather than being original and making up their own crazy cult. I am certainly more inclined to believe that than some crazy legend about time travel that they made up to pass the time while they were stuck in this smeggin' pyramid!"
"I would agree with you, Sir. But something else has come to light in the past few minutes that has affected my opinion somewhat." He pointed at the walls of the room. "The hieroglyphs on these walls are of a time much earlier in history than those in the scriptures. They complete the story, and, remember, they are so old that they simply cannot have been written by the modern community of Egyptians who now live in this pyramid: they tell of a diamond-surfaced alter deep in the centre of the structure - this we have already seen - which is perfectly aligned with the subspace harmonies of time itself. These harmonies are magnified by the structure of the pyramid."
"So, the entire pyramid is some sort of giant time machine?" Lister asked, sitting up.
"It appears so, Sir. And I think I've learnt enough to be able to demonstrate. Follow me."
Go and visit the Author’s web site – THE PICKLED JAR.