This is one of my earliest works. It tells the story of what could have happened when the crew found a way back to Earth, five years on from the second series episode Stasis Leak.

The Beacon

It was a dark back-alley of the kind that puts you in mind of a 1920's Chicago speakeasy's back entrance, just before a raid. A small yellow beacon flashed on and off in a corner, illuminating the alley for 3 seconds in every 10. A cat knocked over a dustbin lid, breaking the silence. Just then, a green beetle flew overhead. Strangely enough, it only had 4 legs, and no wings. It's tail end also appeared to be on fire.


"Watch-it, Cat!" yelled Lister as Starbug flew dangerously close to a meteorite shower.

"Hey monkey! If you want to find this beacon thing, then shut your mouth!"

"Stop arguing you two!" screamed Rimmer from the safety of under the scanner-scope, "You know I can have a heart attack now I'm in hard-light!"

"Will you shut the smeg up, Rimmer! For the past week it's been nothing but your stupid heart condition. Sh**********t!" Starbug had nearly collided with a low orbital satellite.

"With respect, sir, you always could have a heart attack. It's just that only now it can kill you indefinitely."

"Indefinitely," mimicked Rimmer. Kryten had said this so often that the whole crew knew it by heart. Cat turned round to berate Kryten for this when Starbug rammed a TV satellite, knocking out a whole continent's TV station's. It also knocked Starbug down into the atmosphere before it's entry window. Within 20 seconds, Cat had stabilised Starbug's dive. Flicking to autopilot, he checked his hair and freshened his breath, before flicking back to manual. Starbug was now over a city so huge, you could hardly see where it ended, and was so low, that Lister (whose eyes were fixed forward) could make out the name of every restaurant in the area.

"Aim for the 'Taj Mahal'!" he shouted.

"What's wrong with the 'Château Leclerc'?"

"I hate French food."

Rimmer appeared at Cat's side and yanked the steering column towards the 'Château Leclerc'. "Well I love it," he said.

Cat and Rimmer fought for control over which restaurant to land on, and eventually between them managed to make a perfect landing in a ring of trees surrounded by barbed wire.

"Brilliant!" said Rimmer, "and just how do we get out?"

"We can use a pole or something to move the barbed wire. Simple." Lister was already making his way to the back of the ship as he said this.

"Hey. You'd better make sure there's no barbed wire at all near me. If these trousers are torn, the whole suit is history!" said the Cat as he went off for a shower.


Ten minutes later, Lister returned with a 20 foot length of piping. Rimmer asked where he got it from, and why it was dripping water from the end. A cry from the shower room answered him. "Waaaah! Who turned off the water? I hadn't finished my shower!"

"It was the only thing I could find. All I did was turn off the drain-cocks and from then it was simple."

Kryten opened the airlock. "Sirs, why don't we look for the beacon now, and Cat can have his shower later."

"Later! If I don't have a shower soon, I'll start smelling like one of you! And why do we have to look for this beacon anyway?"

"I've already explained it sir. To regain our own time period, we must find two things. First, a transmat; Second, a time projection beacon. By connecting them up in a certain way, we can jump to the time-hole co-ordinates for this period, and use the remaining energy to create a personalised time-hole to take us back to 3,000,000 years in the future."

"Oh, is that all?" Cat disappeared in the direction of a locker, and came out seconds later wearing an elaborate red, green, and blue suit with sequins and 18 different shapes & sizes of button. "Well what are we waiting for? Let's go!"

"Hey, Kryten, what year is this?" asked Lister, following the Cat out of the airlock.

"I would estimate 1989 AD, sir."

"That reminds me. If we go to a theatre, don't let me go to one showing 'Run for Your Wife'."

Kryten followed him, trying to avoid the pole. Rimmer followed rather more reluctantly.


They had parked in a small area of scrubland just behind a large hotel. When Lister had cleared the barbed wire, they went to the edge of the clearing. As they waited for Lister to put the barbed wire back, Rimmer asked where the smeg the beacon was, and what it looked like.

"It will probably appear as a small round topped cylinder of yellow glass on three or four small legs. It will probably be flashing as well," replied Kryten.

"But you don't know where it is? This must be the most brilliantly planned mission since the charge of the Light Brigade. As failures go, it was pri-tty major."

"It is most likely to be in a dark, little used area, but outside, not in a cellar."

"You mean I might have to crease my suit looking for it? No way!" The Cat called to Lister, "Hey monkey, let me back in!"

"Hang on. Dark, little used areas? For 1989, that means muggers. I'm not going till I've got a weapon." Rimmer folded his arms and waited for the objections. None came.

"He's right y'know. It could be very dangerous round where it might be. But this is Earth 1989, we can't just walk round with bazookoids. We'll get arrested!" Lister started clearing the barbed wire again. "I suggest we make an aerial search for it."

"But there's no need. There are some regulation handguns on board, sir, all they need is a good polish and they'll be fine." Kryten walked over what barbed wire remained and up the steps to Starbug. He returned five minutes later with four hand-held laser projectors rated at 5kW per second. As Lister replaced the barbed wire and put down the pole, Kryten handed them out. "Be careful with them. They were banned from the Space-Corps just before I left Earth on Nova 5, for being liable to ricochet off granite. They can only sustain firing power for 15 seconds. After that, nothing."

Out in the main street, there was very little traffic about, and only one person. In the light of the street-lamps the four of them could see that he was wearing a camel-hair coat and a trilby. Suddenly, behind the crew, there was a screech of tyres, and the man in the camel-hair coat pointed.

"Oi! That's my motor that is! Stop thief!"

Before he knew what he was doing, Rimmer had spun round, raised his gun, and fired at the rear tyre of a rapidly retreating Jaguar. The tyre burst, and the car skidded out into the other side of the road. Bouncing off a building, it travelled back to this side, where it went through the window of an Italian bistro.

"It cost me 20 grand for that motor! Now look at it - a write off." The man in the camel-hair coat dashed past, dropping his cigar that went out. Not to miss a chance, Lister picked it up and read the label;


Lister shrugged, and put the cigar in his mouth, and used his own gun to light it. The laser bored a large hole into an office block, where it destroyed the fuse-box. In the resulting darkness, Cat spotted a yellow glow from a side alley.

"That must be it! Come on greasestains, do you want someone to steal it?" The Cat darted away, leaving an embarrassed Rimmer, an amazed Kryten, and a coughing Lister to follow.

"What'd he put in this? [COUGH] It's smegging deadly!"

Coming round the corner, Rimmer found Cat holding a tabby in his arms, stroking it. As Kryten arrived, Cat said "I think she likes me!"

Kryten picked up what looked like a giant yellow LED, and pronounced it to be the one they want. That was when they heard the sirens.

"Smeg, it's the cops! Let's move before we get nicked for carrying unlicensed weapons!" Lister dropped the murderous cigar and ran out of the alley. Kryten passed the beacon to Rimmer, who followed Cat out of the dead-end, still carrying the tabby. Kryten walked to the entrance of the alley and calmly fired a volley at the Midland Bank opposite. The shots bounced off the granite walls and into the path of the three police cars. Kryten then fired a single shot and ripped the lights off the top of them. Twelve more shots welded the doors shut, and Kryten calmly walked back to Starbug, twirling his gun round his finger and whistling the tune from 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'. When he reached Starbug, he was met by a laser shot. It was Rimmer on watch.

"Where are they Kryten - the cops? And why did you take so long.?" called the frantic Class One Hologram (Hard-light).

"The police are welded into their cars, and I walked."

Lister had cleared the wire, and was now running up the steps to the airlock. "Come on guys, they'll be here soon!"

"Wrong, Listy. Kryters here welded them into their cars."

"So what happens when they climb out through the windows?"


Ten seconds later they were all on Starbug with the engines running. Just as they lifted off, the set of policemen that had been fired on by an android and then sealed in their cars, arrived in the clearing. They found nothing except a ring of trees surrounded some by barbed wire with a gap in it.

"Cloak's on. Engaging reheat." Lister piloted the shuttlecraft clear of the city with the grace of a charging asthmatic elephant.

"Where's that shower pipe, gerbil cheeks? I'm in dire need of a wash!"

"I left it in the mid-section, where Kryten's making our time-jump machine work."

Cat left to have his shower just as Kryten came in. "We'll need to un-cloak before the time-hole can be created." Lister obliged. "Good. Now I just need to connect it to the navicomp, and we're away."

Within a minute, they were somewhere in space with no connection whatsoever to our solar system. Kryten pressed a button and an orange-swirly thing appeared. Almost instantly, they were sucked into it.

Above the shower cubicle, the tabby pawed at an air vent. It came clattering to the floor, and the tabby jumped down. Starbug went through the time-hole.

"Waaaaaah! There's a beautiful woman in here, and I'm not even wearing aftershave!"

Through the time-hole, 3,000,000 years of evolution took place in a small female tabby cat.