Author: Anthony Butler, Alan Decker
AUTHORS’ NOTE: The votes are in. The results have been tallied. And somebody’s going home early. We won’t say who right here, but we will tell you that no one escaped unscathed. Let the carnage commence…
SURVIVOR TRAKS II By Alan Decker and Anthony Butler
THE SCENE: Soon after Jeff leaves (See Week 1), the castaways settle in for the evening as the sun begins to set. While Captain Reginald Bain tries to coordinate dinner, Captain Alexander Rydell sits under a palm tree relaxing.
“Mind if I join you?” Captain Lisa Beck asked. Rydell looked up at the woman standing beside him.
“Sure. Grab some sand,” Rydell replied, patting a spot next to him.
“I thought you’d be more into this,” Beck said.
“Me? Nah. I’m quite content to leave the running around to others. If I’m going to be trapped here, I’m going to relax and enjoy the scenery.”
Beck’s voice lowered to a whisper. “Then maybe we should see about weeding out the people who are going to stand in the way of our vacation.”
“Sounds like a conspiracy to me.”
“I prefer strategic alliance.”
“I’m not saying yes or no here, but who’d you have in mind?”
A short distance away, Commander Walter Morales watched Beck and Rydell’s conversation with unease. The conversation itself didn’t bother him, really. It was just nerves about what he was about to ask Beck to do. And while it wouldn’t be a date per say, how could taking a sunset stroll along the beach with Lisa Beck be anything but romantic?
Morales tried not to stare as he approached. Beck had changed out of her uniform into a one-piece bathing suit that gave an excellent view of just how long and shapely Beck’s legs were. All that racquetball she played was well worth it as far as Morales was concerned.
“Captain?” he ventured, interrupting her and Rydell’s exchange.
“Yeah, Walt?” Beck replied.
“Well, it’s a nice evening. I wondered if maybe you’d…um…want to take a walk down the beach.”
Beck smiled. “That sounds nice actually,” she said, standing up. Morales’ body almost froze. She said yes! He honestly hadn’t been expecting that she’d agree. Now it would be the two of them…all alone…watching a gorgeous sunset on a tropical island. Morales had never literally had a dream come true before, but there’s a first time for everything.
“Hey, Alex,” Beck called as she and Morales got a few steps away. “You want to come with us?”
Morales’ dream exploded in a blast of cruel reality.
“I guess,” Rydell said, pulling himself to his feet. “Looks like a beautiful evening for a stroll.”
“Yes,” Morales said flatly. “It was.”
Up near the jungle tree line, Captain Bain and Commander Prosak prepared dinner while Captain Andy Baxter sat on a fallen log, his head resting in his hands, feeling dejected.
“I was unaware that you could cook,” Prosak said as Bain set to work filleting a fish he’d managed to catch using little more than a sharpened stick.
“Nothing to it in these situations. Just heat and eat. Beggars can’t be choosers as they say.”
“And what will you be using for seasoning?”
“Seasoning,” Bain said with a laugh. “We’re on a deserted planet, Prossie. You get fish and maybe some nice smoky flavor from the firewood, but that’s about the lot of it.”
Prosak was about to suggest that she attempt to find something in the jungle that could be used as a side dish (preferably one with some flavor) when Baxter let out a loud, plaintive sigh.
“Why the glum face, my boy?” Bain asked.
“I’m going to get voted off first. I just know it,” Baxter said.
“What would make you think such a thing?”
“Most of the people here hate me, even my own first officer.”
“Well, we don’t hate you.”
“I don’t believe we’ve known you long enough to even make a determination,” Prosak added.
“So who are you going to vote for then?” Baxter asked.
Prosak and Bain looked at each other. “Haven’t given the matter much thought,” Bain said.
“Nor have I,” Prosak said. “But consider your desire not to get voted off noted.”
“I could make a couple of suggestions,” Baxter said.
“That will not be necessary.”
“Yes,” Bain and Prosak replied, a hint of annoyance in their voices.
“Great. Now you two don’t like me either.”
Meanwhile, Commander Travis Dillon and Commander David Conway trudged through the jungle on their mission to get fresh water from the large barrel provided by Jeff and whomever he worked for. Since the two officers weren’t the types to chit-chat about their lives and didn’t like each other much to begin with, the conversation quickly moved to the upcoming vote.
“You and I have a chance to make something happen here,” Conway said as Dillon dipped his canteen into the water barrel. “Baxter’s a twit, and Rydell doesn’t give a damn. That leaves us!”
“And four other people,” Dillon said.
“Maybe we could get Morales and that Prosak woman. Kind of a first officers’ alliance.”
“You’re talking about mutiny, Conway,” Dillon said angrily.
“It’s just a game. I don’t know about you, but I want to win it!”
“First officers’ alliance, huh?”
“It’s the way to go,” Conway urged.
“You may just be right,” Dillon replied thoughtfully.
Captain Rydell awoke the next day with something of an idea. Actually, it really wasn’t anything different than his previous ideas for coping with life on the island, but this one was worth sharing…or at least trying to share…with the group.
“Why don’t we just refuse to play along?” Rydell suggested as bit into a pear like fruit he’d found during his stroll around the island the day before.
“I don’t follow,” Bain replied. “How can we not?”
“I haven’t seen any sign of force being used against us,” Rydell said. “They certainly didn’t seem to care that I’ve basically done whatever the hell I’ve felt like during their little ‘challenges.’”
“Well maybe some of us want to win,” Dillon said irritated.
“Win what? We still don’t know what this big prize is. Right now, I’d just like to win a trip straight back to my ship. And if not playing gets me booted off of here faster, so much the better.”
“Not me,” Dillon said. “I’m here until the end.” He and Conway exchanged a brief knowing glance, then returned to their respective meals.
JEFF: Day Three on the island…er, planet is coming to a close, and thus far the castaways have yet to get into any serious arguments. We apologize for that, and we promise that we’ll attempt to make them more miserable so there’ll at least be some yelling. But now the time has come for the first Captain’s Council…
THE SCENE: In a flash, the castaways find themselves transported from their camp to a torch-lit clearing in the jungle where a wooden deck has been erected. Jeff is there, looking as smug as ever. Bain quickly stands and yanks up his trousers.
“Bloody hell!” Bain shouted. “I’d just dropped my kickers for a bit of relief! What about some bloody common courtesy!”
“Welcome to the Captain’s Council,” Jeff said, ignoring him. “Here you will vote one of your own off the planet.”
“Hey!” Dillon protested. “There are Commanders here too, and we deserve some respect.”
“Fine, I respectfully order that you shut the hell up,” Beck said.
“Is everyone adjusting well?” Jeff continued.
“Peachy,” Rydell replied. “Can I go home now?”
“Sorry. Now let me ask you Captain Baxter, is there an alliance?”
“Alliance? What alliance? Nobody invited me to be in an alliance! I knew you all had it out for me!”
“Steady, old boy,” Bain said, clapping one of his big hands on Baxter’s shoulder. “Face the firing squad like an officer.”
“Firing squad! Is that what happens if we lose a vote?”
“It’s just an expression.”
“Enough chit chat,” Jeff said. “It’s time to vote. Captain Beck…”
“Now wait a minute!” Dillon said. “We should go by seniority. Who’s been in their current rank the longest? I think that would be me.”
“Hold on there,” Bain said. “I’ve been a captain for over 20 years.”
“Longest by stardate,” Dillon said.
“Who the hell cares?” Rydell said. “Besides, you and I got promoted at the same time.”
“Not true! I was promoted to commander 27 hours before you were promoted to captain. Check our personnel files.”
“Jeff, let him vote first just so he’ll be quiet,” Beck said.
“All right,” Jeff said as Dillon leapt up off the log he’d been sitting on and ran toward the voting area…
THE VOTES: DILLON: “I’m voting for Captain Bain. I respect his rank, but he’s too well organized. He’s a threat to me and Commander Conway.”
CONWAY: “Bain. He’s obnoxious and bossy and too damn British.”
RYDELL: “I vote for myself…what do you mean I can’t do that? I want out of here! All right. I vote for Dillon. At least things will be a bit more tolerable with him gone.
BAXTER: “Conway. He’s got it in for me, but I’m taking him out first. Ha!”
MORALES: “I think Captain Rydell needs to leave. He’s in my way here. Oh. That sounded a bit harsh. Sorry. The man says he wants to go, so I’m going to help.”
BECK: “Dillon. By the Great Bird, just let him leave. I’d rather deal with Baxter. At least he has enough sense to be intimidated by me.”
PROSAK: “I cannot put my finger on it, but there is something that unsettles me about Commander Conway. Perhaps it was the way he leered at me when he approached me about his so-called ‘First Officers Alliance.’ I will not be his Romulan fling.”
BAIN: “Down to me, is it? I hate to vote here. They all seem like first class sorts, but that Commander Dillon has a bit of an attitude problem. Puts his own needs before those of the group. It’s bad for morale, so off he goes.”
As Captain Bain retook his seat and Jeff retrieved the voting bin, the tension was as thick as the stinking, humid jungle air that pressed in on them like some menacing force, breathing hot, putrid gusts reeking of hell itself onto the napes of their necks…sorry, must of thought I was Joseph Conrad there for a second. Anyway, they were tense as Jeff pulled out the names.
“Yes!” Rydell exclaimed.
“Conway…Conway…” Jeff said, and paused. “Two votes for Bain, two votes for Conway.”
Conway turned on Baxter. “You’re behind this. I can feel it!” Baxter just grinned.
“Dillon…Dillon…and Dillon. I’m sorry, Commander. The council has spoken.”
“WHAT?” Dillon shouted, jumping up from his log. “How can they do that? I was the one in an alliance! NOOOoooooooo…”
And Dillon dematerialized, his cries fading into silence as his body vanished.
The group was quiet for a moment, each reflecting on what had just occurred.
“Right!” Bain said suddenly, clapping his hands on his knees. “Time for some supper!”
JEFF: Day Four on the planet…well, not a thing happened. Not even a hint of an argument. And nobody seemed to miss Dillon at all. We don’t have a single interesting thing to show you. Starting to sound like an episode of “Big Brother” isn’t it? Well, don’t worry. We’ll skip right on to Day Five.
“Baxter. Wake up!” The annoying voice forcing its way into Captain Baxter’s dreams of his wife was accompanied by a swift kick to his ribs that sent images of his beloved Counselor Peterman scampering back to dreamland. Baxter forced his eyes to open and looked up at the tall figure looming over him. Through his bleary eyes, the figure’s hair seemed to be wildly ablaze.
“If you call me mommy, I’m going to crush your windpipe with my foot,” the voice of Captain Beck said. Baxter’s vision cleared enough to realize it was indeed Beck standing above him, her red, curly hair now bent in directions that seemed to defy gravity. She looked…ridiculous.
“Yeah yeah,” Beck said as Baxter fought to control his laughter. “I’m Medusa incarnate. Now do you have a knife? I want to cut some of these damn tangles out.”
“No. <snicker> Sorry. I like it…really.”
“Thanks a lot,” Beck grumbled as Commander Prosak approached, her long black hair also seemed to be having some difficulties.
“The logical course of action would be for us to shave our heads,” Prosak said.
Beck glared at Prosak for a moment before speaking. “Um…NO!” Then she stomped off towards the water.
“Is Captain Beck always so on edge?” Prosak asked.
“I think so, but it may just be me causing it. She doesn’t like me much. Or Commander Conway. Or Commander Dillon.”
“Who does she like?”
“Good question. Captain Rydell, I guess.”
“He does possess a certain charm.” She looked over at Rydell, her noticed her gaze and smiled back. Prosak almost blushed and looked away quickly.
“Oh god. Not you too,” Baxter said.
“Me too what?”
“If you are implying that I would attempt to have a relationship with Captain Rydell, I remind you that cross-temporal couples are generally frowned upon by Starfleet. I would never…”
“Hey there,” Rydell said, stepping up beside Prosak. “I was about to scout for something to make bedding out of. Care to join me?”
“I would enjoy that a great deal.”
“We both will. Someone has to test to see if our potential beds are soft and comfy. Might as well be us. Later, Baxter.” Rydell took Prosak by the arm and the door hurried off toward the jungle.
“It’s just a good thing I’m married,” Baxter said.
“Like you were getting any offers,” Conway called from where he lay several feet away.
JEFF: See. I told you we’d find some tension to show. Of course, it mostly consisted of people saying “Shut up,” but it’s a start. Hopefully they’ll get to some better insults as they get crankier. Moving on…
Jeff appeared in the middle of camp a couple of hours later dressed in a khaki snowsuit.
“I don’t like the looks of this one bit,” Bain commented.
“Perhaps he has taken ill.”
“Time for the next challenge,” Jeff said. With a snap of his fingers, the castaways found themselves dressed in brightly colored snowsuits as well. Another snap and the entire group was suddenly on top of a snow-covered mountain. “We thought you might like a change of scenery.”
“Oh no. No no no,” Beck said, shaking her head.
“What’s wrong?” Morales whispered concerned.
“He’s going to make us ski. I just know it.”
Jeff continued on. “This challenge will separate the true downhill racers from those who belong on the bunny slope.”
Beck glared at Morales. Morales shrugged weakly. “At least you can ski,” he said.
“Sure. When I’m being guided by a computer,” Beck snapped.
Jeff still continued on. “Each of you will attempt to ski through our slalom course. Fastest time wins. But having you go one at a time is fairly boring, so how about we make it a bit more exciting. Everyone goes at the same time. Winner take all. And to that winner will go a mini refrigerator with an independent power source and a six pack of the beer of your choice.”
“Damn them!” Rydell spat.
“What is it?” Baxter said.
“I actually want that. Bastards!”
Skis and poles suddenly appeared on the feet and in the hands of the castaways as Jeff raised his hands into the air. “Survivors ready!”
Rydell, Bain, Prosak, and Morales crouched over their poles, sizing up the slope below them. Conway slowly moved to the edge, all the while repeating, “It’s just like NASCAR” over and over again. Baxter and Beck, meanwhile hesitantly hovered behind the main group.
“You first,” Beck said.
“No way,” Baxter said.
“Go!” Jeff shouted.
Rydell, Bain, Prosak and Morales were off in a flash. A half second later, Conway went over the edge, screaming all the way. Beck and Baxter gradually eased their way up to the edge.
“You know, we could just accept that we aren’t going to win and get Jeff to take us down the mountain the safe way,” Baxter said.
Beck’s face tightened in determination. “Go down that way if you want. I am going to do this.”
“I was just offering so you wouldn’t have to back out alone,” Baxter said unconvincingly.
“Sure. Right,” Beck said. “You ready?”
“Anytime,” Baxter said.
And they both sat on the edge unmoving.
“Oh go!” Jeff cried suddenly, giving them both a shove.
“I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!!!!!” Beck screamed as she hurtled down the mountain.
“AND I GET WHAT’S LEFT!!!!” Baxter added.
Rydell and Bain were running neck and neck as they sped down the mountainside, zipping in and out of the flags of the slalom course. Try as they might, neither one could take the lead.
“You are quite a competitor, Rydell,” Bain called.
“Where did you learn to ski like this, old boy?”
“The Poconos. My parents went every year to…work.”
“What sort of work were they in.”
All of a sudden, a blur of a figure sped between them.
“HELP ME!!!” Conway cried, obviously out of control.
“Turn!” Bain and Rydell shouted after him.
“Hmm…now that is a pickle,” Bain said. “Fall down!”
“NOOOO! I’m chasing Jeff Gordon. I’m chasing Jeff Gordon.”
“I don’t think Jeff came this way,” Rydell said.
“And how the devil did you find out his last name is Gordon?” Bain shouted suspiciously.
“MOROOONNNNNNNSSSSSS!!!!!!!” Conway screamed as he sped out of sight.
“That little bugger may just win,” Bain said.
“Not likely. He missed every single flag.”
“Then it’s just you and me, Rydell.”
“Morning, gentlemen,” Prosak said, skiing lazily past them on her course down the mountain. “See you at the bottom.”
Bain and Rydell exchanged a glance, and then took off after her.
“You can pack it in anytime, Baxter.”
“I am not giving in to you, Beck!”
“Why? Because I’m a woman!”
“No. You always think you’re better than me. Even when I outranked you, you thought that.”
“So what? I feel the same way about Dillon.”
“Like that’s supposed to make me feel better.”
Throughout this entire exchange, Beck and Baxter edged down the mountain at a snail’s pace, making almost horizontal tracks along the slope as they worked their way along.
“Fine. We’ll see who makes it to the bottom first!”
“It’ll be me! Even if it take us a year to get there.”
“At this rate, I’d believe it,” Jeff said as he casually walked by them on his (much faster) stroll down the slope.
“I hate him,” Baxter muttered.
“At least we can agree on that,” Beck replied.
“Tally ho!” Bain shouted joyfully as he and Rydell closed in on Prosak.
“You’re mine!” Rydell taunted.
“One morning’s dalliance does not make me yours,” Prosak replied.
Bain’s head whipped around to look at Rydell. “Now see here. Just what are your intentions toward my first officer?”
“We had a pleasant morning,” Rydell said. “Nothing more.”
“And that will be quite enough of that,” Bain said, grabbing onto Prosak’s right elbow.
“I think that’s her decision,” Rydell retorted, grabbing onto her left.
The trio was now skiing dangerously close together as a large mogul came into view directly in their path.
“Um…sirs…” Prosak said nervously.
And then the mogul stood up revealing a snow-covered monstrosity waving its arms at the group menacingly.
And then some snow fell off of the creature revealing a very dazed David Conway.
After taking a nasty tumble from following Bain’s “fall down” advice, Conway wobbled a bit, struggling to focus on whatever it was that seemed to be moving toward him….moving very quickly actually.
Meanwhile Prosak was having no luck ending the testosterone battle of wills going on around her. Bain and Rydell seemed far to intent on staring each other down over a matter that was really neither of their concern.
“What’s going on here?” Commander Walter Morales asked, skiing up behind Prosak, Bain and Rydell.
“We have it under control,” Bain said.
Morales cleared his throat nervously. “With all due respect, I’d like Commander Prosak’s opinion.”
Commander Prosak’s opinion was that all three of them were fools. And Conway wasn’t helping matters by not getting the hell out of the way. It was all just…just…
“SO NOT LOGICAL!” Prosak screamed finally in utter frustration.
“What?” Bain, Rydell, and Morales demanded.
“That!” Prosak shouted, pointing ahead of them.
Bain, Prosak, and Rydell smashed into Conway as Morales smashed into the three of them, sending the entire mass of officers tumbling along for several feet before they collided violently with the truck of a study pine tree, which brought them to a rather abrupt and painful stop.
“What’s the matter, Beck?” Baxter taunted as he moved a couple of inches into the lead of the slowest slalom run in recorded history. “Scared of a little slope?”
“I had a really bad experience on my last ski trip,” Beck said. “Let’s leave it at that. What’s your excuse?”
“I don’t ski.”
“Obviously,” Beck replied, inching into the lead.
“Has anybody seen my spleen?” Rydell muttered as he and the other crash victims lay motionless at the base of the tree that had so rudely gotten in their way.
“I think it ran off with my spinal column,” Conway croaked.
“Stiff upper lips, gents…and lady,” Bain said. “We just need to sit up and…OOOOH! OWWWW! Strike that.”
“So the plan is to lay here, sir?” Prosak asked.
“Absolutely. But pained moaning is optional.”
“If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll be moaning.”
“Make that three,” Morales said weakly.
Morales stopped in mid-wail as he spotted Beck and Baxter slowly advancing down the mountain, each trying to get ahead of the other…and it looked like Baxter might have the advantage.
Summoning his last bit of strength, Morales pulled his dislodged skis out of the snow and tried to put them on his feet. The attempt was short lived. There was no way he was standing up. Instead, he put a ski under each knee, hoping gravity would keep it there, and then looked around for more.
“May I?” he asked, reaching for the two skis sticking out under Rydell’s back.
“Be my guest,” Rydell gasped. Morales pulled them out, eliciting a grunt of pain from Rydell as the brackets pushed back his back. Then Morales put an elbow on each ski, grabbed onto the brackets, and lay in wait for Baxter and Beck.
After what seemed like an eternity (damn could they move any slower?), the pair of competitors moved into range, and Morales, on all fours, turned down the slope to intercept them…or Baxter anyway.
At that moment, Baxter was completely unaware that he was being stalked. On the contrary, he was about to taste victory. The finish line was mere yards away, Beck was a good foot behind him in terms of their long tracks across the slope, and nothing was in his way.
With the finish line that close, Beck was tempting to just aim downhill and hope for the best. She just couldn’t bring herself to do it, though. Who knew what potential hazards (or cliffs) lay beyond the finish line should she not be able to stop? If Baxter won, he won. She just wanted this over with. Her hair was practically frozen standing straight up in the tangled mass she’d been unable to deal with that morning.
In an instant of horror, Morales realized that he’d miscalculated Beck’s trajectory. She was moving right into his path. They were going to collide. And there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.
“LOOK OUT!” Morales screamed as he slammed into the back of Beck’s knees, sending her toppling over on top of him.
“What the hell?”
Beck scrambled around on top of Morales to a forward facing position just in time to see them speeding toward Baxter’s knees.
“BAXTER, MOVE!” Beck cried. But it was far too late. With a jarring thud, the duo smashed into Baxter, sending him flipping onto Beck’s back. Morales was now almost unable to breathe due to the weight pressing down on top of him, but still they continued to move, sliding down the slope toward the finish line, then crossing it as they eased to a halt right in front of Jeff, who continued to smile smugly.
“Three…way…tie,” Baxter gasped, then rolled off of the top of Beck and Morales and sank into the snow.
“Not quite,” Jeff replied. “Captain Beck’s hair crossed the finish line a split second before the rest of you.”
“Yea rat’s nest,” Beck said as she too rolled off of Morales, landing in a heap in the snow. Jeff knelt down beside her and knocked on the frozen abstract sculpture that was her hair.
“You really should take better care of this. Get a brush or something.”
Beck looked up at him, her eyes boring directly into Jeff’s poor excuse for a brain. “DIE.”
Back at the camp later that day, Beck basked in front of the cool breeze emanating from the open door of her mini-fridge while the others luxuriated in the feel of their freshly knitted ribs, legs, arms, etc.
“Not a bad day’s work,” Rydell said, sitting down beside her on the sand.
“Who the hell are you kidding?” Beck replied with a smile. “Wanna beer?”
“No thanks. I try and stay away from the Andorian stuff. Too many chunks.”
“Hey, Baxter,” Beck called to her skiing rival, who was now sulking under a palm tree a short distance away.
“What now?” he asked, wary of whatever insult was about to be thrown his way. Instead, a cold Andorian beer (Zak’is’hhhzat, if you must know the brand. We’re trying to avoid product placements here.) landed in the sand beside him.
“Nice skiing,” Beck said sincerely.
Baxter smiled. “Thanks.”
Over toward the hut they castaways had constructed, Morales watched the exchange between the three captains with growing resentment.
“Some thanks, huh?” Conway’s voice said softly from directly behind him.
“I’m not joining your alliance, Conway.”
“I didn’t even mention it. I just hate to see a fellow first officer crapped on like this. You pulled your broken body up out of the snow to help your captain win, and all she does is flirt with Rydell and coddle that twit Baxter. Baxter, for god’s sake!”
“Shouldn’t you be standing up for your captain?”
“He’s a moron. They all are. And they think they’re invincible, since they got rid of Dillon. We may be outnumbered, but we can still do something.”
Morales watched Beck laugh at some oh-so-witty comment Rydell made, then put her head on his shoulder for a moment. It was a moment that seemed to burn itself into Morales’ corneas.
But they could do something. “Okay, Conway. Keep talking.”
AUTHORS’ NOTE: As we mentioned in the intro note, each and every character received a vote last week; therefore, the voting in the Captain’s Council (other than for Dillon) doesn’t accurately reflect who was voted for or what percentage of votes they received. For those of you who have to know, Dillon received 32% of the votes last week, which was enough to send him packing.