Author: Anthony Butler, Alan Decker
AUTHORS’ NOTE: We just wanted to assure you all that there will never be a Big Brother Traks. Wasn’t that kind of torture outlawed by the Geneva Convention anyway?
SURVIVOR TRAKS V By Alan Decker and Anthony Butler
THE SCENE: As Day Twelve dawns, Commander Walter Morales is once again up early and out on the beach. He works diligently and carefully, forming intricate turrets and walls out of the sand. Then, in a hailstorm of sand, it is gone, and in its place stands a figure.
“I must speak with you,” Commander Prosak said, her feet firmly planted in what used to be the great hall of the sand castle Morales had been constructing. She looked at the piles of sand around her feet. “Were you engaging in some type of activity?”
“Sort of,” Morales said with a sigh. Oh well. Sand castle building was kind of a stupid hobby anyway and certainly not one to impress Captain Beck.
“Oh wait,” Prosak said, her stoicism suddenly giving way to sorrow. “This was a hianix!”
“A sand castle! I used to build them with my daddy on the coast of the Sea of Grenooz on Romulus. I’m so sorry.” She dove to the ground and frantically tried to reconstruct Morales’ work. “Wait. Wait. This behavior is not logical.”
“Can I ask you something?”
“By all means.”
“When did Romulans start with the logic thing?”
“I am a RommaVulc,” Prosak said proudly. “I have dedicated myself to living the Vulcan way, by logic and without emotion.” She looked down at the sand castle remains sadly. “But sometimes it is difficult to hide your true feelings.”
“Tell me about it,” Morales muttered.
“Wait. I came here concerning a matter of great urgency. Even greater than your sand castle. Captain Bain is missing!”
Inside the hut on the castaways’ beach, Captain Alexander Rydell gradually awakened and rolled over to find himself looking straight into the eyes of Captain Lisa Beck.
“Morning,” Beck said with a soft smile.
“We seem to be waking up like this a lot lately.”
“There are worse ways to wake up,” Rydell replied. He absently reached over and brushed several strands of Beck’s long red hair out of her face. “And worse people to wake up with.”
“Speaking of, what exactly is going on with you and Prosak?” Beck asked pointedly.
“Very little. We went into the woods. We had some fun. We’re adults. End of story.”
“So nothing romantic on either side?”
“Definitely not. She gets this whole Vulcan thing going every once in a while. Besides, we both know this was a brief temporal crossover fling. “
“As long as she was clear on that,” Beck said.
“She was and is,” Rydell said. “She may just not her fling to fling with anyone else.”
Beck smiled again. “Are you saying you want to fling?”
“If we can avoid laughing at each other this time.”
“You got a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for the hut?”
“I’ll just lock the palm leaves,” Rydell said. He rolled back over, allowing Beck to roll on top of him so that she was looking down into his eyes and…
“OW!” Rydell cried, pushing Beck off roughly and reaching under his back. He yanked out a futuristic Starfleet insignia pin of the kind worn by Bain and Prosak. It was attached to a large uniform.
“Now there’s a mood buster,” Beck commented. “Think we ought to follow up on this?”
“Probably,” Rydell said, getting to his feet as Beck did the same. They pushed the palm fronds making up the hut door aside and stepped out onto the beach. Prosak and Morales were still by the shoreline talking.
“Hey,” Rydell shouted, holding up the large, empty uniform. “Anybody seen a big naked Brit?”
The remaining four non-missing castaways quickly decided that they should go looking for Bain, since the running off without clothes on did not say much for the older man’s current mental state.
“Guess he overdid his victory celebration night,” Rydell remarked as the group moved deeper into the jungle. The previous day, Bain had won the rock climbing challenge, the prize for which was a very brief (3 seconds) visit with his wife.
“He came back to camp and went to bed,” Prosak said. “How can you overdo that?”
“Maybe Jeff took him,” Morales offered.
“I thought about that,” Beck replied. “But he would have shown up by now to tell us what was going on. This is something else.”
The search went on for most of the day, taking them far from camp as the sun began to sink in the sky.
“Um…is anyone else hearing drumming?” Rydell asked. Sure enough, the beats of hundreds of drums were gradually growing louder and louder as the group moved deeper and deeper into the jungle.
“I guess this place wasn’t so deserted after all,” Beck said.
“Did you see that?” Morales asked suddenly.
“What?” Beck said.
“There!” Prosak exclaimed, pointing into the forest.
“And there!” Morales said.
All around them, the group would occasionally catch a glimpse of a pale figure dashing between trees, or they would hear the rustling of leaves.
“Captain Bain!” Prosak called.
“Bain Bain Bain Bain Bain,” voices shouted from all around.
“Is that you, Bain?” Beck said.
“Bain Bain Bain Bain Bain.”
“Will you echo everything we say?” Rydell asked.
“For some reason, the calling seems to be specific to Captain Bain,” Prosak said.
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!”
“Damn that’s annoying,” Beck muttered.
“Maybe we shouldn’t say Bain’s name anymore,” Morales said.
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!”
“Great idea,” Rydell said. “So should we forge ahead to find Reginald?”
“REGGIE REGGIE REGGIE REGGIE REGGIE!”
“Or just leave him to whatever that is,” Rydell finished.
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!”
“Oh come on! We can’t even use a pronoun for him!”
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!”
“Oh well,” Beck said. “I’m going to find breakfast.”
Prosak grabbed Beck’s arm before she could get away. “You can’t! We have to help him.”
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!”
“They could be hurting him!”
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!”
“Or even have killed him!”
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!”
“ALL RIGHT!” Beck cried. “I’ll go. But let’s do it without talking.”
“Agreed,” Prosak said.
The group pressed ahead through the thick underbrush which didn’t allow them to see more than an inch or two ahead of them. Then all of a sudden the underbrush gave way to a large clearing. The drums were almost deafening now as they surveyed the area. Torches burned all them since the thick jungle canopy had the effect of blocking off all of what little sunlight remained in the day. At the far end of the clearing sat row upon row of apelike pale creatures all banging away rhythmically on drums.
“Will a thousand monkeys banging on a thousand drums eventually compose ‘When Doves Cry’?” Rydell asked idly.
Beyond the rows of drummers, a rudimentary dais had been constructed out of fallen trees. Upon this sat a frond covered enclosure. Two more of the ape-things scurried to it and pulled aside the fronds revealing two more ape-things fanning a figure seated on a log throne. That figure was a very regal-looking, very naked, Reginald Bain.
“Captain!” Prosak exclaimed happily. “You’re alive! And…” She shielded her eyes. “Nude.”
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!” the ape-things chanted.
“Sorry for the fright,” Bain said amicably. “And for going absolutely starkers.”
“Stark raving mad,” Beck muttered.
“What happened to you?” Rydell asked.
“That’s kind of a funny story. Seeing my Rosalyn last night got me thinking a bit about home, so I decided to take a stroll. I ran into these chaps, who seemed intent on making me their king, so who was I to refuse? Rosalyn assured me I’d win anyway, so I might as well have a bit of fun in the process.” Bain clapped his hands loudly. “So, who wants to be my court jester?”
Prosak took a step toward her commanding officer, prompting the ape-things to stop drumming and bear their teeth defensively. “With all due respect, sir, I do not feel that you have known these creatures long enough to be accepting royal titles from them.”
“Nonsense! We’re all going to be very happy here with them.”
“What’s this we stuff?” Beck said. “I’m going back to camp.”
Bain leaned forward on his throne. “I am king here, and I say no one is going anywhere!”
And then they all disappeared leaving behind a very bewildered group of ape-things.
“Damn it all to hell!” Bain shouted as he fell to the deck of the Captain’s Council area. Jeff and whatever powers were in control of this “game” hadn’t bothered to put the sitting Bain over an actual seat, leading to his fall to the deck.
“You’re in MY kingdom now!” Jeff said, pointing at Bain. “Oh yeah! That’s right!”
“How scary is it that I’m almost relieved to hear that?” Beck said.
“Well, it seems that you all have been busy today,” Jeff said. “Does anyone have anything in particular they want to say to start today’s council?”
“I think Captain Bain may be feeling a bit unstable,” Morales said diplomatically.
“Not at all,” Bain protested. “I’m right as rain!”
“Is there any other business? How about you, Captain Rydell? Have you and Captain Beck managed to consummate your relationship?”
Rydell blanched as Morales’ head whipped around with an angry glare. “WE’RE JUST FRIENDS!!!!” Rydell screamed.
“On that note, it’s time to vote,” Jeff said. “Time to say, who goes away!”
“Oh please shut up,” Beck groused as she charged past Jeff toward the voting area.
BECK: Why are you even bothering to ask? Loose the psycho…what do you mean which psycho? Bain, dammit!
RYDELL: I’m going to have to break with my random strategy of the past couple times and say Bain. I like the guy, but the whole naked king of the monkeys thing is freaking me out.
MORALES: This is a hard one this time. Rydell and Beck keep saying they’re just friends, but do I believe that? And what about this Bain thing? Somehow I get the feeling that Bain having control over all those apes is bad for the rest of us. And being here with Lisa isn’t going to mean much if we get killed by a bunch of apes. Okay. I’m going to say Bain.
BAIN: I really don’t think that a king should be involved in anything like voting. Smacks of democracy. But if I must, not that a king must do anything, I say down with Beck! She tried to leave my monkeys!
PROSAK: I find myself in a moral dilemma. On the one hand, I should do everything in my power to support my captain. On the other, he seems to have become a deluded monkey king. While my Romulan roots teach absolute loyalty, logic suggests that I stand up when I feel that something wrong is taking place. Therefore, I must stand against my captain. Sorry, sir, but you need to go home now.
“I’ll tally the votes,” Jeff said after retrieving the voting bin.
“And then you will return me to my kingdom,” Bain said.
“The first vote is for Beck,” Jeff said.
“That was mine!” Bain announced, turning his imperious gaze on Beck. “You will now leave.”
“Hold on a second, Jeff,” Beck said. “Let’s speed this up. Everyone who voted for Bain raise your hands.”
Everyone except Prosak and Bain raised their hands, then Prosak’s went up sheepishly.
“Et tu, Prosak,” Bain said in shock.
“Sorry, sir, but this environment is obviously bad for your mental health.”
Bain’s body began to fade, drawing an anguished cry from him. “The horror…THE HORROR!” And then Bain was gone.
“He really is a great man,” Prosak said sadly.
“We know,” Rydell said. “But this environment could get to anyone.”
“You may return to camp,” Jeff said.
“Great,” Beck said. “I’m starving. What’s for dinner?” Everyone fell into a stunned silence. “We just voted off the guy who gets us dinner!”
DAY THIRTEEN: With Captain Bain, who happened to be the main hunter and fisher, gone, the remaining four castaways sprung into action to find a new source of food. After forty minutes of hunting and fishing led to nothing, they decided to just eat the rice provided by Jeff for the day and try again the next day. Besides, who wants to waste a day working when you’re stranded on a beautiful beach?
DAY FOURTEEN: As another day dawns on the planet, the castaways sleep one of the best sleeps they’ve had since their arrival. Funny how reducing their numbers from eight to four created so much more room in the hut.
For the first time in several days, Morales didn’t wake up before the sun. All in all, his situation hadn’t changed all that much, yet Morales felt more relaxed. It wasn’t that he was concerned about winning. To be honest, he still didn’t even know what the final prize for all of this trouble was even going to be. But with half of the original group of castaways gone, Morales felt closer to being alone with Beck than he had previously.
Gradually the other three people in the hut began to stir, and soon the group, two men and two women, was sitting up, looking around at each other with bleary eyes.
“When did this become an episode of ‘Love American Style’?” Rydell muttered.
“What does that mean?” Prosak asked confused.
“Don’t worry about it,” Rydell said, crawling out of the hut. The others soon followed. “Guess we should see about some breakfast. Is there any fruit left?”
“We’ve nearly depleted the nearby trees,” Prosak replied. “We will need to venture deeper into the jungle.”
“Um…I don’t know if we should do that,” Morales said.
“No kidding,” Beck agreed. “Who knows where Bain’s friends are now?”
“We could try to fish again,” Prosak offered. “It’s not exactly my ideal breakfast food, but under the circumstances, it may have to do.”
“Hmm…I thought I saw some roots that looked an awful lot like tapioca,” Rydell said.
“I don’t care anymore!” Beck snapped. “I just need to eat!”
“I can start a pot of rice,” Morales offered.
“NO!” Beck, Rydell, and Prosak screamed.
“Okay okay,” Morales said, holding up his hands defensively.
“And so famine begins to set in,” Jeff’s voice said as the smug host of their little game appeared out of nowhere.
“I wouldn’t go quite that far,” Rydell said. “We’re more near starving, possibly ravenous, but no famine yet.”
“Speak for yourself,” Beck muttered.
“Well, I may have just the thing,” Jeff said. With a wave of his hand, an elegant dining table complete with candelabra and lace doilies appeared behind him. Near the table, a line of chefs stood behind a serving line complete with a side of beef, roasted turkey, a salad bar, various pastas, and one of those soft serve ice cream machines.
“Hold him down,” Beck said. “I’m going in.”
Before any of the castaways could react, Jeff waved his hand again, freezing them all in place. “The winner of today’s challenge will share that wonderful feast alone with me.” Was it Morales’ imagination, or was Jeff aiming that comment specifically at Prosak and Beck?
“There’s always a catch,” Beck said.
“So what’s it going to be today?” Rydell asked. “Escaping an erupting volcano? Dodging falling comets?”
In an instant, the entire group (minus the buffet) had been transported deep into the jungle. Jeff had changed from his customary khaki shorts and shirt to an identical set in camouflage colors. In his hands he held an odd rifle.
“This is a paintball gun. In it you will find…”
“Paintball?” Morales guessed.
“Very astute, Walter,” Jeff said. “We’re going to play a good old fashioned game of capture the flag. Your team of two must successfully snatch the other team’s flag, then return to your base with it. If you get hit, you’re out. Last one standing wins. Should both members of the same team survive unscathed, we’ll have a duel to decide the overall winner.”
“And then I can eat, right?” Beck asked.
“If you win.”
“Just start this damn thing.”
“Survivors ready!” Jeff said. “Begin!”
And then Prosak and Rydell found themselves inside a makeshift wooden fence enclosure, paintball rifles in their hands. A crudely painted map on the fence showed the relative positions of the two bases. Behind them a bright pink flag hung on a pole.
“I really would have preferred something in teal,” Prosak commented.
“Maybe they have a suggestion box,” Rydell replied.
“Perhaps. Should we attempt to devise a strategy?”
“Seems fairly straightforward to me.”
“Very well. I will attempt to engage the enemy then.” Prosak charged off into the jungle.
“Have fun,” Rydell called after her as he casually strolled off in the general direction of their opponents’ base.
At the opposite end of the play area, Morales wasn’t having much more success when it came to suggesting strategy. Beck just growled something, then charged out into the woods. Or maybe it was her stomach that had growled. It was hard to tell. Well, at the very least he could help her take out Rydell and Prosak, then allow himself to be shot in the duel so she could take the dinner.
He made sure his rifle’s safety was off, then charged off after Beck. He caught up with her a few moments later just as she was charging into a small clearing. In a sudden rustling of leaves, Prosak burst through the opposite side of the clearing, rifle at the ready.
All three officers shouted a battle cry as paintballs began to fly. Prosak dove forward, hitting the ground in a surprisingly graceful roll which ended with her leaping up into the air, kicking her legs out with artistic flair, then firing with new abandon.
Unfortunately for her, Morales and Beck had been able to lead her little performance. They sent several red and green paintballs slamming into her before she hit the ground, turning her into an avant-garde Christmas decoration.
Unfortunately for them, Prosak also got off two accurate shots, nailing them both in the chest with bursts of canary yellow.
“What? We’re all out!” Beck exclaimed.
“I’m afraid so,” Jeff said, materializing on cue.
“Hey, guys,” Rydell said casually as he wandered by a few moments later. He strolled into Morales and Beck’s base, put the flag in his pocket, then headed back the other way, whistling to himself.
“OOOOHoo-oo-oo-oo-OOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” a cacophony of voices suddenly called from behind him. Rydell tensed and slowly turned around.
The ape-things were there. An entire line of them bearing really nasty sharp looking claws.
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!!!!” they shouted insistently.
“Woah. Sorry, fellas. He stepped out for a bit. I’ll make sure to tell him you stopped by, though.”
Somehow Rydell got the impression that was a bad sound, particularly when they all started charging at him.
“SH**!” Rydell screamed as he took off as fast as he could back toward Beck, Morales, and Prosak.
“Do you have the flag?” Jeff asked as Rydell tore into the clearing.
“Right here,” Rydell said, waving it frantically. “Send us home now!”
“Only you get to have the dinner,” Jeff said. Rydell was on him in an instant, hoisting the host into the air by his shirt.
“WE GO NOW!”
“Great, Alex. Just rub in how hungry you are,” Beck said.
“BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN BAIN!!!” The ape-things charged into the clearing, quickly surrounding the castaways and Jeff.
“Okay, now you can do the whole hand wavy thing,” Morales said on the edge of panic.
“I agree whole heartedly,” Prosak said.
“Put me down first,” Jeff said to Rydell. Rydell dropped him immediately, sending Jeff falling to the ground in an undignified heap. “Just for that, I should make us stay!”
“JEFF!!!” Prosak, Morales, Beck, and Rydell shouted.
“Oh, all right,” Jeff said with a pout. “But this day isn’t turning out at all like I’d hoped.” With another wave, the group returned to the relative safety of their beach.
“Everyone all right?” Rydell asked.
“Peachy,” Beck said. “The planet’s natives will not be allowed to come here,” Jeff said.
“That covers that, then,” Rydell said. “Let’s eat!”
“All right,” Jeff said as the buffet reappeared, complete with servers. “You and I will enjoy your victory.”
“I’m inviting them along, too,” Rydell said.
“You can’t do that.”
“Yes, I can,” Rydell said.
“We could refuse to play anymore,” Beck said.
“I could just leave you here,” Jeff replied.
“Oh come on!” Rydell said angrily. “That’s way more food than I can eat. I want to give some of it away.”
“I appreciate the sentiment,” Prosak said. “But do not think it will get you anymore jungle lovin’, as you put it.”
“All right,” Jeff said. “You can bring one other person to the table.”
Rydell looked out at Beck, Morales, and Prosak’s longing faces. This was almost worse than when he had it all alone. Guess he’d have to let random chance decide.
Rydell led the group over to the large pan of ribs sitting temptingly on the buffet. “Okay. Everybody close your eyes and grab a rib. Long rib wins.”
Beck, Morales, and Prosak eagerly reached into the pan and yanked out a rib. “Damn,” Rydell said. “I can’t really judge with all that meat on there. Can you guys clean them off?”
They quickly chowed down, cleaning off every last bit of meat. The sound of a “snap” filled the air. “Oops,” Beck said. “I broke mine.”
“Guess we’re going to have to start over,” Rydell said.
“Oh, for Director’s sake!” Jeff shouted. “I know what’s going on here! Fine! Everyone can eat! But I get to sit between Beck and Prosak.”
“Agreed,” Prosak said, taking a seat. “But you should not expect any jungle lovin’ either.”
“And that goes double for me,” Beck added, sitting down.
“Fine,” Jeff said dejectedly as he sat down between them. His hands disappeared beneath the table.
“HEY!” Beck and Prosak shouted a second later as two fists collided with either side of his jaw.
Later that evening, Prosak approached Beck as the human captain sat on a log by the campfire. “Lovely fire,” Prosak commented.
“Thanks to that lighter you won,” Beck said.
“True. But I have always been willing to share.”
“And we appreciate that.”
Prosak sat down on the log next to Beck. “I feel that you and I may have an opportunity here.”
“We are the only two females remaining in the contest. If we were to coordinate our votes, we could practically be assured that one of us will be the winner.”
“A women’s alliance, huh?”
A short time later, Prosak moved off down the beach, leaving Beck to think about her proposal. Almost immediately, though, Morales stepped into view.
“Walt, I told you to call me Lisa while we’re here.”
“Sorry, but this is sort of official business.”
“Here? Oookay. What can I do for you?”
Morales sat down and formulated his thoughts. “It seems to me that we have an opportunity here.”
“Do tell,” Beck replied bemused.
“Well, we’re the only captain/first officer team still here. If we vote together, we could make sure that you win this contest.”
“Me?” Beck said surprised. “What about you?”
“I’d be happy if you won it. I want to give that to you if I can.”
Beck looked over and Morales and smiled warmly. “You’re a great man, Walter Morales. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this kind of loyalty, but I’m touched.”
Beck gave him a peck on the cheek, then headed off down the beach, leaving Morales alone…for a few seconds anyway. Prosak stepped into the light of the fire. “May I speak with you?”
“What is it?” Morales asked, feeling dejected.
“I feel that you and I may have an opportunity here.”
“Let me guess, first officers’ alliance,” Morales replied.
“It does seem logical. If we work together, we could coordinate our votes.”
“Uh huh,” Morales replied non-committally.
Beck found Rydell sitting on the shoreline, watching the waves crash in the moonlight. “Mind if I join you?” she asked, stepping up beside him.
“Sure. Grab yourself some sand,” Rydell replied, patting the beach beside him.
“Walt and I just had a little chat.”
“He suggested that he and I band together in our voting.”
“The Waystation Alliance. Makes sense to me. Good for him for suggesting it.”
“You know we could do the same thing.”
“Against Morales and Prosak? Captains everywhere unite.”
“We could…or not.”
Beck and Morales soon retired for the night, leaving Rydell to walk the beach. He soon heard footsteps coming up behind him. “If you’re one of those ape-things, I’m going to be very upset,” he said without turning around.
He caught a bit of a chuckle before it was stifled. “Very amusing,” Prosak said, flattening her voice.
“You here to talk to me about an alliance?”
“Did you want to form one?”
“Seems to be fashionable these days,” Rydell remarked.
“Opportunities abound. I imagine it will simply come down to who decides to take advantage of them.”
“Are you planning on taking advantage then?”
“We either play the game or we don’t.”
“Logical,” Rydell said.
AND SO ENDS “SURVIVOR TRAKS V.” Alliances are everywhere…or maybe nowhere. People could be in cahoots…or maybe it’s every officer for him or herself. Who’s going to survive? Who’s going to get the boot?
For those of you curious about this sort of thing, Captain Bain received 50% of the vote this week.