tagCelebrities & Fan FictionFar Better Than Life Ch. 01

Far Better Than Life Ch. 01

byBoondocker42©

Note to the reader. In my own head, this is Clare Grogan playing Kochanski. I have no issues with Chloe Annett, but Gorgan really struck my adolescent fancy, once upon a time.

Red Dwarf's canon is malleable. The novels and later seasons assert that Dave and Kochanski had a 3-week fling and it was mostly physical. It was her ending the affair that led Lister to arrange to be put into stasis for the remainder of the ship's intended mission, which saved his life and made him the last living human being in the universe. I'm using that timeline. (This contradicts the earliest seasons in which Lister was infatuated with Kochanski only from afar). I'm also using an elaboration concerning what happened to the memory recordings of the rest of the dead crew. I don't think "canon" ever explicitly says they were destroyed but I feel they need to have been or else they would have continuously been an issue.

I know that the joke density isn't very high. But there's some.


*****

This an SOS distress call from the mining ship Red Dwarf. The crew are dead, killed by a radiation leak. The only survivors were Dave Lister who was in suspended animation at the time of the disaster and his pregnant cat who was safely sealed in the hold. Revived three million years later, Lister's only companions are a lifeform who evolved from his cat, a service mechanoid rescued from a crashed ship and Arnold Rimmer, a hologram simulation of one of the dead crew. Message ends.

Additional: It really makes you wonder if you're appreciated when you change gender and no one even notices. Could have at least said something about my hair.


The mechanoid jumped when the male human slapped the console. "Come on, Kryten, are you finished or not?"

Flustered, the mech tried to explain again. "Mr. Lister, the splice program is complete but I need to check the code! Remember, this is going straight into your brain. If there are gaps or bugs..."

They were in the old science lab aboard Red Dwarf. Kryten was hunched over a cobbled-together cybernetics console. The room was originally built only to support deep radar scans of asteroids and some mineral testing. Kryten had used parts from half a dozen derelict ships they'd scavenged over the years to put together something that resembled a VR development console.

It contained the specialized hardware necessary to create or to modify virtual reality programs.

Dave slapped the console again, this time hitting the eject button. The little thumb-sized chip lept up as if from an over-excited toaster.

He caught it exclaiming, "I can't wait any more, Kryten. I have to see her!" He ran out of the room. He ran right through a tall, curly-haired figure that had just been coming in through the doorway.

That is to say, the leather-clad Lister passed entirely through the projected-light simulation of his dead crewmate.

"Lister! How dare you! Did you just see that?" he asked Kryten, pointing down the hall at Lister's retreating back. "That was unbelievably rude. I have half a mind to write a letter to the Hologramatic and Cybernetic Personnel Union. There are regulations about proper hologram etiquette, you know."

He stepped into the room, hands on his hips. "What was that about, anyway? 'See her'? See who? Did his last brain cell finally check out of reality?"

Kryten blubbered. "Oh, Mr. Rimmer, I promised I wouldn't tell you."

"Tell me what?" the hologram asked in the stern tone he was only ever able to muster when dealing with the subservient mechanoid.

Holly answered from a nearby viewscreen. "He's gone to see Kochanski."

*****

Lister ran all the way to the lift. He was huffing by the time he got there. The doors closed and he punched in one of the storage floors. He'd set the machine up in one of the holds so Rimmer wouldn't be able to interfere. The holds covered dozens of square kilometers of deck space. Not even Kryten or Cat knew where it was.

Neither could keep a secret for smeg.

Holly knew. She kind of knew everything, even if she was a bit computer senile. Or maybe she was just very blond. But Lister had found a way to keep everything he'd done within the privacy regulations that Holly was obligated to follow. When Red Dwarf had had a full crew, those privacy regulations had allowed Holly to monitor every inch of the ship for crew safety without anyone having to worry about private or petty activities being seen.

Holly wouldn't tell anyone where Lister was. Unless something went wrong and Lister needed medical attention. Which was actually pretty ideal.

Lister patted himself on the back for how well he'd planned everything. This project had been one of the very few things he'd ever applied himself to. When he actually cared about something, he was a lot smarter than he looked. Just like when he'd used a supposedly-unquarantined cat to arrange some time in suspended animation.

He'd even used the same medical and safety loophole in the privacy regulations to achieve his current triumph. Holly was charged with keeping Dave sane. She claimed that bringing Rimmer back from the dead was calculated to best achieve that. Arnold Rimmer. Not anyone else. Not the captain, not Peterson, not the ship psychiatrist.

Not Kochanski.

Lister had given up trying to change the computer's mind on that. But he'd recently began thinking about VR. And using VR quite a bit. He'd gone on epic virtual benders. Slaughtering hoards of orcs, gunning down both cops and gangsters, fucking every imaginable type of woman and drinking oceans of beer and vodka. He'd skydived from low earth orbit and skied on both the Alps and the low-G methane-slush valleys of Titan.

One brothel program allowed him to customize the escort. He'd gotten it to produce an excellent copy of Krissi's body and it was certainly very exciting for a time or two. But the things had personalities like vending machines.

He was actually more interested in talking than in having sex.

Not that he wouldn't have sex also. Like, a lot of sex. In his brief three weeks with Kochanski, they'd been at it like rabbits on viagra. He would have never guessed that someone so petite could crave big cock so much.

He had convinced Holly to give him access to every piece of video about Kochanski. It was exactly the kind of obscene invasion Holly was duty-bound to prevent. But Dave finally convinced her of the viability of his plan and that Dave's mental health was in need of being able to talk to someone else. To talk to a friend and former lover and normally functioning human being, if only for a little while.

Kryten and Holly had created an algorithm to scan all the crew surveillance and process every word and every action involving navigation officer Kristine Kochanski.

All the way up to a certain date. One week before she broke up with Dave. He'd been clever enough to figure she would have already been planning to break up with him if he'd just given it a day or two of leeway. But surely she hadn't been unhappy for a week without him knowing.

This data was used to synthesize a consciousness model similar to those recorded to allow dead crew members to live on as holograms.

It would have been so much easier if Rimmer hadn't destroyed all the recordings of the other crew members. Petty, paranoid little shit.

Now, the results had been spliced into a VR program and Lister was finally going to be able to see and talk to and touch Kochanski again.

He thought the lift ride would never end.

*****

"He did WHAT?" Rimmer screamed, nostrils flaring like jet intakes.

"He created a consciousness model of Ms. Kochanski and spliced her into a VR unit," Kryten answered, cringing.

"Where is he?" Rimmer demanded. He didn't care about the VR much. It just showed Lister's base nature. But if the fat weasel thought he had a consciousness model for his little officer trollop, he might try to replace Rimmer!

"I don't know, sir. He didn't tell anyone," the mechanoid shrank under the technician's angry gaze. "Probably somewhere in the cargo decks."

"Oh. Of course. I'll just go down and find him then, shall I? I should be done searching B deck by Christmas! After that, there's only a dozen or so more."

He turned dramatically to Holly's screen. "Delete that file! I order you to delete the digital model of Kristine Kochanski."

"I'm sorry, I can't do that Arnold," It has to be said, Holly's digitized face didn't look sorry. "Project Kochanski is protected under medical confidentiality. Not even the Captain may interfere. Even if he hadn't died three million years ago."

"Project Kochanski?" Rimmer scoffed. "Medical confidentiality? What are you going on about, you bubble-headed bit-bucket?"

"The procurement of additional companionship for crewman David Lister has been deemed imperative to his mental health," said Kryten

Nostrils flared to new dimensions of affront and rage, Arnold Rimmer continued to castigate, wheedle and plead with the computer and mechanoid.

Holly's empathy routines mused, ~Wait until Rimmer finds out Project Kochanski's CPU requirements.~

Cat entered the room. "There all you guys are. What are you doing down here?"

"Lister's gone rogue. We have to stop him," said Rimmer.

Cat didn't ask for any details. "Fine. Maybe after I eat."

"Would you like any toast?" asked a chirpy electronic voice.

Rimmer looked down at the source. "What's that stupid toaster doing in the science lab?"

"It's... part of the project. We're going to use it as a... storage device." said the mechanoid.

"Storage device? What does that mean?"

"Whoa. Stop. Back up. I think we're all missing something important here," said Cat. The others looked at him, expecting something inane. "We need bread," And he turned and left the room.

Rimmer turned back to Kryten. "Storage device for what?"

*****

Behind a towering stack of shipping containers filled with prophylactics, feminine hygiene products and irradiated haggis, the last human being alive removed his cap and leather jacket. He fondled the data chip as he looked over the VR rig.

He'd hauled an over-stuffed chair from Todhunter's officers' cabin all the way down from the hab levels and across two kilometers of deck. Behind that, an articulated arm rose from the floor and dangled an electronics-festooned helmet over the chair.

Beside all that was a computer rig the size of a small refrigerator. Lister slid the data chip into a port on the front and flipped on the power. Status lights flashed and blinked as the unit booted up.

He stripped off his curry-stained trousers and stepped into the euphemistically named "sanitation harness". It contained articulated microfibers that would scrub and absorb any bodily waste while he was unconscious.

A wired controller sat on top of the VR unit, Lister grabbed it and sat back in the chair. "You really should have let Kryten finish his scans," Holly said. Her face filled the small screen on the controller.

Lister was feeling nervous. A little about seeing Krissie again, a little about the slapped together VR setup. He had to wipe his hands on her trousers. "I know. I always get impatient at the end. I just need to know, Hol."

He heard a scutter roll into his little cargo-cave. "I know," Holly said. Her blond-framed face vanished, replaced by the VR options menu. "Go to her, Dave. I'll watch over you." The scutter stationed itself next to the VR cabinet.

"Thanks. You're a good old broad."

Dave worked silently for a bit, loading the modified program and setting the parameters. He thought about Krissie. When he saw her, she'd think they were still dating. During a time when Lister was spending most of his free time in her cabin. They made love multiple times nearly every night.

He didn't know why he was crying. He wiped a tear away and chuckled to himself. He now knew a lot more about the navigation officer than he had back then. A LOT more.

She'd often hinted that she had a wild side. He'd never been sure if she was serious. She was plenty liberated and enthusiastic for him.

Watching her on all that surveillance footage had still been a bit of a shock, though. She'd been with at least twenty men since coming on board, and a handful of women. There'd been a number of threesomes and once, he'd seen her spend all night prowling through officer-country, going from cabin to cabin like a pub crawl, fucking a total of seven men.

She spent just over a month seeing a lot of one catering officer but then broke that off. The very next day, she'd approached Dave.

Their first hook-up, she'd come up to him at the ship's bar, said, "Word around the ship is, you've got a massive cock, Davie. It's long past time you gave me a go. I know you've been undressing me with your eyes, squire."

Yes, he had. She had him in her cabin and naked five minutes later. She'd been deliriously happy with his thick, ten-inch package.

Said package shifted in the harness at the memory. Aided by growing arousal, Lister mustered his courage and triggered the VR. Dropping the controls in his lap, he gripped the chair and waited for the helmet to descend.

It settled on his head. "Godspeed, Dave," Holly said.

A robotic female voice said, "Engaging cerebral link." That meant that the helmet shoved two four-inch probes deep into his brain.

Lister went stiff for a moment and then limp, eyes crossed.

On the controller in his lap, the words "Entering VR: Global Honeymoon".

*****

Rimmer was standing over Kryten, ordering him to shut off power to the storage decks. Conflicting orders and priorities were making the mech conveniently clumsy and confused. "No, that was the auxiliary ramscoop power. Sorry. Sorry."

He was spending half his CPU capacity finding ways to sabotage the other half, stalling for time.

In mid-harangue, the hologram vanished. A moment later, there was a confused scream from the toaster. Then a few moments of silence.

"What the hell just happened?" The toaster asked. Except the voice was Rimmer's, albeit hollow and modulated. "There's something wrong with my eyes."

He was seeing the room from an odd, low perspective and there was a strong fish-eye effect. The resolution seemed low as well. "Where the smeg am I?"

Kryten bent over the toaster, "Sir, your holographic runtime has been transferred into the toaster."

"What?"

Holly said, "Project Kochanski requires more processing power than any VR unit has. So we're borrowing capacity from the hologram suite."

"He really is going to replace me!" Rimmer shouted, anguished. "He can't do that! Holly, you have to stop this. I'm Lister's chosen companion. You said only I can keep him from going any more insane than he already is."

Kryten placated him. "Correct sir. You are not being replaced. This is a temporary measure. Think of it as a timeshare."

Holly continued, "It's only while Lister is in VR. The rest of the time, you'll be at full capacity."

Cat returned, rolling a cart stacked the bread and a row of butters and jams. "Where's goalpost-head?"

The toaster's sensors tracked the newly arrived life form. Rimmer's vision was filled with text notes about the Cat's breakfast preferences and some rudimentary bio readings. His hunger rating was at 70 percent. "Apparently, I'm the toaster now. So, would you like any toast?" there was a pause. "What? I didn't mean to say that! Keep away from me with that stuff."

Kryten said, "There are likely some hard-coded routines still in effect, sir. No cause for alarm."

"Wait a mo," Toaster-Rimmer said. "Why can't the Kochanski program just use the toaster?"

"Oh, no sir," Kryten scoffed. "That thing's not a real AI. It doesn't have nearly the capacity to run an actual consciousness simulation."

"Well then, why am I in here? You might as well just shut me off until Lister's done getting his rocks off with that trollop."

"HCPU regulations," Holly said.

"How's that?" the toaster asked. He was watching Cat select four bread slices. He felt a pre-warming element activate. It caused a small, thrilling tickle.

The mechanoid explained. "The Hologramatic and Cybernetic Personnel Union requires that a good-faith effort be made to maintain the runtime of hologramatic personnel, even in emergency situations. Shifting to lower-capacity hardware is standard procedure."

"But I don't even feel any different, really. How is this little tin can managing to maintain my consciousness so well?"

"Yes." Kryten said, thoughtfully. "I'm surprised myself. You don't seem to have lost any of your personality at all. Of course, you're no longer maintaining the visual component of the hologram but that's always been a minor part of your processing load."

He peered at the toaster. "By rights, you should be reduced to a bare set of simple responses. Barely articulate."

"Doesn't that pretty much describe pubes-head anyway?" Cat asked, approaching with a small stack of light-rye. "Move over, I'm hungry."

Holly added, "Yes, Arnold. I think probably that your root personality is so shallow and predictable, it's just not a strain for the toaster to simulate it."

"How DARE you," Rimmer screamed. "That is an unforgivable statement!"

"See?" Holly said. "Entirely predictable response."

Cat dropped bread into all four of Rimmer's slots. "Wait! No, don't do that. I'm not a smegging toaster!"

Cat pushed the plunger down and it clicked home.

Rimmer was filled with a deep sense of warmth and well being. "Oh." he said calmly. "That's delightful." If he had eyes, they would be drooping. "This is such a... fulfilling feeling."

Kryten stepped back, "More of those hardwired routines I think, sir."

"I can see why Talkie likes being used so much. It's like a drug." Rimmer's voice was growing softer. After a few moments, he was humming softly to himself.

"This is weird," Cat said. "I'm not sure I'm hungry anymore."

"Oh, it's almost done!" Rimmer said excitedly. "Oh. Oh wow. It's so hot. I fucking love it. Toast. Toast is so... HOT!" He started making other noises now. No longer humming. He was groaning excitedly.

Cat took a step back. "The Talkie voice never acts like this. What's going on?"

Kryten said, "I can only speculate, but I don't believe Mr. Rimmer has much experience with pleasure or using self-control. It felt just as good for Talkie, but that person is a lot more... well, I guess 'mature' would be a good description."

"Oh god!" Rimmer shouted. "This is the best feeling ever. Smeg! Here it comes! Here's the hot, hot toast!" And that was followed by a scream of erotic release as four slices of perfectly toasted bread shot out of the toaster so hard they hit the ceiling.

Cat dodged one falling slice. Another bounced off Kryten's shoulder.

"Oh god, that was amazing. I need a cigarette."

Cat made a refusing gesture with his hands. "No. I am not eating that. That was disgusting."

*****

Lister found himself on a covered flagstone patio. He was gazing across a wide, crystal-white beach to a lively surf and the infinite expanse of a natural horizon.

He gasped and staggard. The sight gave him momentary vertigo. Aside from a few other VR excursions, it had been many, many years since he'd been on Earth and experienced real vistas.

Even if you didn't count three-million years in stasis.

Another gasp followed his. It was higher in timber and made his heart summersault. His eyes darted to the source.

Kochanski stood next to him, facing the sea as he was. Her legs were in a wide stance, arms out as if to catch herself. "Whoa," she said, catching her breath.

Lister had a moment to drink it in. Kochanski. She was right there with him. And already she seemed more real than previous VR knock-offs. Startled and off-balance, she looked so natural.

She was also gorgeous. Her hair was done the way he liked. Caramel locks teased high in the front and wavy curls down the back to the base of her neck. Only 5'3", she was slender and pixie-like. "Yeah, whoa," he said, everything clever he'd wanted to say blasted right out of his head.

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