Zooniverse or son of red Dwarf

a lowly technician finds himself kidnapped by a delinquent super computer and trapped on an evolving galactic arc a million years in the future. obsessed over by an older, and sexy, cougar and getting high with some chavvy monkeys. What else could go wrong...or right?

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1. Ordinary World

As far as ideas went, it was among the worst of the best of the best of the worst. Noah hadn't quite decided which. The train of thought popped into existence, waved a vague and half-hearted hand in acknowledgement then lost track of itself before popping out of existence. Noah, squinted his eyes in concentration.

'rash decision make for strange ducks.'

He had no idea what that meant. Come to think of it he wasn't sure it made any sense at all. Instead, Noah gritted his teeth and focused on his core self. An essence clinging desperately to the plug hole of personality or a well used and spoiled lump of gum stuck to the shoe of self.

He should of known better. Meeting a strange man in a dark alley on the wrong side of town. Well, the whole city was technically the wrong side of town, if not the whole planet.

'got free PH’s for you to test...' the man, dressed up in casual clothes, looked and spoke in a way which did little to hide his privileged upbringing. 'give you a thousand Earth-credits for your trouble.'

alarm bells should of rang or clattered or honked or even poked him with a sharp stick. But it didn't. Yet a weekend spent on Whizz-juice had put him in a dulled and more trusting state of mind. The offer of free money only made the temptation of a Personality High all the more compulsive. Not that he needed bribing.

He was far too impressionable.

Far...far too impressionable.

A no good Juice junky tripping on PH.

Somewhere in the world, the bud of delusion was not only flowering on a family tree of bad ideas it was flowering on a thousand year old oak tree of a family of bad ideas.



Rash decisions make for strange ducks.

But not this one....


*


Hud slipped his hands into the pockets of his red cargo trousers, rolled his eyes and sighed patiently. Then moved onto the dozen or so pockets and tears of his thick grey flight jacket. The delayed train of realisation pulled into the station of futility. He recognised futility, when it slapped his age addled brain.

'hmm...not good. Not good at all.' he scratched the patchy grey stubble on his chin.

So close to retirement and THIS had to happen. They would of course be looking for answers and solutions to problems that only his apartment could supply.

What they wanted to hear was something along the lines of, 'your flagship Freighter will be ready on time.'

what they didn't need to hear was, 'there is a problem with the engine. Yes it can be fixed, once we have developed the appropriate theories, turned them into practical solutions and trained people with the right skill set. How long? Ooh, difficult to say. Certainly not this generation but perhaps the next.' Hud looked beyond the panel into the organised mess of theory that was oddly named the Extinction Drive.

He spoke into the intercom, 'engineering department, A.R.C. Project.' then waited. A long pause, born in an egg-like fashion, threatened to crack and give birth to an annoyingly chirpy voice.

'ARC project, this is Hernia Bubbles speaking how may of be of help?'



'Harry Thorne please.'

'This call is being recorded for training purposes and possible legal action.'

'I...erm...legal action you say?' the day was getting worse by the minute.

'its okay sir, standard procedure for all callers, I can assure you. Just to be safe we are running a legal protocol program. Its that okay?'

'hypothetically speaking …' Hud paused to gather his thoughts before continuing. '...if I was to ask to speak to Mr Thorne, would I be committing myself in anyway to possible legal action?'

a long pause, highlighted only by hushed conversation in the background, 'and what would be the reason for the call?'

Hud shot back an instant reply, 'that's classified, I cannot divulge that information to you unless you have the appropriate clearance. Do you?'

'hmm, now there we have a problem.' the voice sucked in a lungful of recycled air.'

'its not a problem from where I am sitting Ms Bubbles.'' which was near the engine of a multi-trillion credit engine of a flagship transporter. Which worked in a broken sort of way or was broken in a working sort of way. He wasn't sure which. 'if, through your own personal negligence, you, directly or indirectly, impede in anyway the launch of a much lauded, and expensive ship, are you liable for prosecution. And if so, to what degree?'

If it was possible for a person to argue with a software program then Hernia Bubbles was. While the computer repeatedly flashed up two words, FOLLOW PROTOCOL, she, Hernia, was objecting in the sternest way she knew, which was via her fingers and various gestures therein. This was damage limitation. This was the choice of the lesser evil. Her choice was simple.

'just putting you through.'


A moment of silence, within which the baby of impatience was born.

'er...hello.' came a surprised voice.

'Mr Thorne?'

'speaking...whose this?' the voice asked carefully.

'its chief engineer Hud sir.'

'how the Frick did you get this number!' Thorne was annoyed. It was the bitter chocolate cover of annoyance that held an equally bitter kernel anger. What was the point of being in a position of authority if everybody wanted your attention?'

Hud took a deep breath and count to five. Using the common language and dialect of a tribe of Hechactic Mongolian tribesman. Which involved a series of sighs, sniffs and nostril twitching.

'under normal circumstances this would not of been an option. But...' a firework of ideas exploded in his head. '...actually your quite right sir. Its unforgivable. Perhaps I should resign my position with immediate effect.'

'well yes, cherub of an idea. Unforgivable as you say. Its just not on.' Thorne repeated, warming to the idea.

'naturally, it would be advisable to make the dismissal all above board and without...' he struggled for the right word, '...recourse by making it official.' Hud said a prayer of hope to the Gods of the Hechactic synopsis beneath his breath.

'er...Hud' he said carefully, 'there isn't a problem is there?'

A long extended sigh followed by one of those meaningful pauses. Which said more than words ever could. '...its working fine sir. But.' Huds words, carefully picked out.



The word BUT resounded across the room and joined a famous family of BUTS, that began so innocently and yet always guaranteed a headache of epic proportions.

'its working fine and yet there's a problem?' Thorne repeated dumbly.

'Its the extinction drive Sir. Its working.'

'that’s good then. Isn't it?' Thornes confidence wavered.

'yes and no.'

'oh, well...your going to have to explain.'

Hud took a patient breath before launching into an explanation, 'in simplistic terms the engine has two parts. The first being of the standard sort of drive and the second (entirely theoretical) called the Extinction-drive, which we use to travel from this side of the Galaxy or the Now-present, to the other side of the galaxy which is the Future-present. Now. Two presents cannot exist at the same time. But now-present and a future-present can. Apparently. Now, in order to go from here to there we enter a series of events called a Duality Or Offsetting Motion or DOM for short.'

'ahem...' the noise escaped from Thornes mouth, 'or DOOM rather.'

' yes, yes...continuing on....So to travel from the first point in to the second point in space, the second being the destination, reality goes from future-present to present-present. In order to achieve this one of the realities must enter a state of extinction.'

'so what exactly is the problem then?'

'well...simply put. In words that you understand, that everyone can understand, life as we know, on this planet may, in all probability, cease to exist.'



'well, I have a board of directors to answer too and a public with expectations. We cannot stop the project now.' he insisted.

'er, yes quite.' Hud, closed his eyes to gather his thoughts but found common sense had made a sharp exit out the window.. 'so there you have it.'

'quite quite.' Thorne repeated, now entirely unsure what the whole point of the call was. 'well, keep up the good work.' then hung up.

Hud, stared into the engine department and shrugged his best whatever shrug. He would get changed and go down to the space dock. Once there he would do something he should of done decades ago. What that was he didn't quite know yet. But whatever that was, and he was sure he'd recognise it when he saw it, he'd darn well do it.
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