Author: Anthony Butler, Alan Decker
AUTHORS’ NOTE: At long last, we’ve reached the final episode of “Survivor Traks.” Anthony and Alan would like to thank all of you who voted, since, without your voted, we wouldn’t have been able to get rid of anybody. So now let’s return to our deserted planet. A place where timelines merge, continuity is not a factor, and pop culture icons are painfully dismantled.
SURVIVOR TRAKS: THE FINALE By Alan Decker and Anthony Butler
JEFF: A wise man once said, “There can be only one”…okay, maybe it was a hack screenwriter, but who really cares at this point. It’s Day Seventeen, and in a few short hours this hell that has become my existence on this Director-forsaken planet will be over. I know this is supposed to be about those weenies camping out on the beach, but what about me? I’m the one who’s the real survivor here. Meanwhile, the least interesting love triangle in the universe continues to sputter along like a 1974 Impala with a bad muffler. Come on! A 1974 Impala? Who’s writing this stuff? I’d so better get some sponsorship deals out of this mess. Oh, just cut to the damn beach.
Violet streaks stretched across the sandy coastline as dawn broke through the castaways camp. Dim shafts of light illuminated the inside of their hut, which had survived surprisingly well through the last two weeks, allowing Lisa Beck to just make out the figures of Alexander Rydell and Walter Morales sleeping on either side of her. She smiled softly, kissed both men on the head, and slipped outside to walk along the beach.
“Steph, where are you when I need you?” Beck said to no one in particular as her feet sloshed though the lapping surf. She looked back at the hut and pictured Stephanie Hodges, her longtime friend, soaking in the attentions of Rydell and Morales. “You’d be having a field day.”
Of course, Beck could be having a field day as well. It was no real secret that she and Rydell enjoyed each other’s company. Ever since she’d been given command of Waystation, there’d been a kind of electricity between them. Perhaps it could have always been their, but their positions as captain and subordinate had prevented either of them from exploring the possibility. But now a whole new set of barriers existed, not that it wasn’t fun to test them a bit.
And then there was Walter. Beck was well aware of his feelings for her, but they were feelings that she did not share. Certainly the captain/first officer relationship was an issue, but beyond that Morales just wasn’t the type of man who appealed to her. He was too…how to say this without sounding bitchy…needy. He was the nicest guy in the quadrant, but maybe that was the problem.
But here, in these surroundings, with lush jungles, gorgeous sunsets, and the general air of hedonism surrounding their camp, Beck found her mind turning to romance. Who wouldn’t? And she and Rydell had had their share of close calls up to now. But part of being in command was staying in control of her emotions. The soap opera crap just wasn’t going to be happening.
“DAMMIT!” Jeff cried, materializing right in front of her. “Just go bonk one of them! Or me! That would work just fine.”
Beck lashed out, catching Jeff by the collar and dragging him eye to eye with her. “Were you bastards reading my thoughts?”
“What? That self-pitying, ‘I can’t ever show affection’ drivel? Didn’t hear a word of it. Kissy kissy?”
Beck jammed her knee into Jeff’s testicles, and tossed him into the surf. “That’s all the action you’re getting from me, big guy.”
“It’s more than Morales or Rydell got,” Jeff croaked.
A faint smile crossed the face of the half-sleeping Alex Rydell as he wrapped his arm around the figure next to him. The other person snuggled closer, so close Rydell could feel the warmth of the other’s breathing.
Rydell opened his eyes, prepared to greet Lisa Beck…and found himself looking at Walter Morales.
Morales snorted and muttered something about Lisa, then abruptly opened his eyes. “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Rydell returned the scream as both men quickly scrambled to their feet on opposite sides of the hut.
“You need to think ahead, my dear,” Jeff said pulling himself up out of the water. “I’m a good guy to know. I can help you…if the price is right.”
“Tell you what? Why don’t you go find a nice secluded volcano, hop in, and wait for me?” Beck replied.
“This guy bothering you?” Rydell’s voice cut in as he and Morales walked over from the hut. “Walt and I would be happy to take him into the jungle and thrash him.”
“You probably wouldn’t get threatened like this if you knocked before just dropping in on us,” Morales added.
Jeff laughed derisively. “Is that all you can throw at me, Walt? Appropriate from the most spineless man in the cosmos. Surprise me and show us all what’s REALLY going on in there. The players are all here. Someone’s just got to start the game.”
“We’re already playing a game,” Morales said. “And that’s all that’s going on.”
“This is why forty years from now you’re going to be a lonely, pathetic shell of a man still hiding from his life, while everything you ever wanted goes to someone else.”
Morales was halfway into a crouch, ready to charge at Jeff, when Beck grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him up to face her. “He’s just trying to get a reaction out of you, Walt. Just let it go.”
Still breathing heavily and glaring at Jeff, Morales let Beck lead him a few steps away over to where Rydell waited.
“Fine. You can play the Three Musketeers for now,” Jeff said ominously. “But the next challenge will end that once and for all.”
“What do you mean by that?” Rydell asked, unsure if he wanted to hear the answer.
“For this next challenge, there will be two winners. And the loser…” Jeff laughed superiorly. It was almost enough to make Beck want to charge him herself. “The loser goes.”
“Goes?” Morales asked surprised. “Don’t we have to vote on that?”
“Not anymore,” Jeff said. “From here on out, the voting is out of your hands. Two of you will make it through this challenge, and that remaining pair will face a jury of their peers tonight.”
Beck had had enough. “Cut the crap, Jeff. What’s the challenge?”
“Say ‘not it.’”
“Not it,” Rydell snapped reflexively.
“What?” Beck and Morales said confused.
“That’s one,” Jeff said smugly. “You may step aside, Captain Rydell.”
“What just happened?” Morales asked. A half beat later, it dawned on him. “Oh. We had to say…” He trailed off. “You say it, Captain,” he said, turning to Beck.
“Walt, what are you doing?” Beck demanded.
“I’ve done everything I can to help you win these challenges,” Morales explained. “And when I’ve won I’ve given you my prize. Isn’t it obvious what I’m doing?”
“I appreciate the loyalty,” Beck said. “But the command structure doesn’t apply here. If you want to win this, say…you know what to say.”
“I won’t do it, Lisa.”
“I think I’m going to be sick,” Jeff muttered.
“You stay out of this,” Morales shouted fiercely.
“Say it, Lisa. Please.”
“Not it,” Beck said softly.
Morales smiled. “See you soon…Captain.” He reached out to touch her hand just as he began to dematerialize, his fingers passing through hers like a ghost, and then he was gone.
“Well that was melodramatic,” Jeff said. “He may have been the one hope for some drama on this rock, but I’m glad to have the little whiner gone.”
Rydell and Beck were no longer around.
“Hey!” Jeff called. “You can’t just walk away from me like that. I’m your host!!!”
“HOST THIS!!!” Beck shouted from behind him just as Jeff felt the unpleasant sensation of a large stick ripping through the seat of his pants on a forceful course toward…
The next several hours passed slowly as Beck and Rydell were left alone in their camp while Jeff vanished to whatever realm he went to when he wasn’t tormenting the castaways. Hopefully it was a realm with a good proctologist.
“You know,” Beck said as she and Rydell lay on the beach, enjoying the sun and gentle breezes. “Couples always say that they’d love to be stranded somewhere like this together forever, but I don’t think I could handle it.”
“I get the feeling they’d have a bit more to keep them occupied than we do.”
“Every minute of every day? Be honest.”
“Exactly. You need other people. We’re social animals by nature. I think Waystation is boring sometimes, but not like this. Nothing to do. No one but you around.”
“I feel so loved,” Rydell remarked.
“You know what I mean.”
Rydell sighed. “Yes I do. This has been okay for a vacation, but I’m ready to get the hell out of here today.”
“When did Jeff say the final council would be?”
“And what time is it now?”
Rydell looked up at the position of the sun. “Maybe three o’clock. The sun sets about four hours from now.”
“Great. Got any ideas on how we can keep busy?”
Rydell smiled. “A few.”
JEFF: Just let me break right in here and spare you the torture to come. They don’t sleep together. They exchange some witty banter, grab a bite to eat, then go swimming, which, aside from a little flirtatious dunking, is uneventful. I don’t understand it at all. Man, woman, tropical island. You’d think nature would kick in at some point, but that damn Starfleet training seems to have sucked the spontaneity out of both of them. At this point, I don’t care who wins. I just want it to be over!
Rydell was in mid-gyration when he suddenly found himself standing on the deck of the Captain’s Council area. Next to him, Beck stopped in mid-hip shake herself and whirled around to see Commander Travis Dillon, Commander David Conway, Captain Andy Baxter, Captain Reginald Bain, Commander Prosak, and Commander Morales all seated in ornately-carved wooden chairs staring at them.
“What were you two doing?” Dillon demanded.
“Dancing in the dark,” Rydell replied with a shrug. “What else?”
Morales considered pressing the point with a question of his own, but, considering that Beck and Rydell were both fully dressed and had obviously been standing before being transported to the council, he decided to let it go.
“Welcome to our FINAL council,” Jeff said, walking in from the darkness. Beck was satisfied to see that each step seemed to be causing him slight twinges of pain. “Tonight you will face a jury of your peers, the very same people you voted off in the earlier rounds. THEY will decide which one of you walks away with our Pretty Good Looking Prize.”
“Pretty Good Looking Prize?” Beck asked.
“Handsome Reward was already trademarked by someone else.”
“Um…Jeff,” Rydell began. “I hate to put a damper on these festivities, but what if there’s a tie. You’ve got an even number of people voting.”
Jeff smiled as though he’d been expecting the question. “All has been arranged,” Jeff said with a dramatic sweep of his arm. Suddenly, behind the chairs of the jury, a Borg appeared…and he looked none too pleased by the sudden change of environments. The jury scattered to avoid any possibility of assimilation by the newcomer.
“We are 4 of 8, Designated Facilitator of Exploratory Class Cube 347. We demand to know why we have been brought here against our will.”
Jeff casually strolled over and clapped a hand on the Borg’s shoulder. “You have been chosen to sit on a jury with these six Starfleet Officers.”
“Jury. Who is on trial?”
“Those two,” Jeff replied, pointing at Rydell and Beck, who had taken seats facing the jury. “In a way.”
“I am familiar with many of these humans,” 4 of 8 said. “Captain Alexander Rydell, USS Secondprize. Captain Lisa Beck, Waystation. Captain Andrew Baxter, USS Explorer. Commander Travis Dillon, USS Secondprize. Commander Walter Morales, Waystation. Commander David Conway, USS Explorer.” He turned to Bain and Prosak. “These two I do not recognize.”
“Pssst,” Jeff whispered. “Aren’t you supposed to be saying ‘we’?”
“Are you criticizing my Borg-ness?”
“Explain this trial.”
“It’s more of a contest really. These eight officers were marooned on this planet seventeen days ago. After various competitions and votes, they have been whittled down to these two.”
“Why was this drone not included?”
“What?” Jeff asked surprised.
“You kidnap me and demand that I participate in this voting, yet I was not included in this game in the first place. Why not?”
“We didn’t think you’d want to.”
“Did you ask?”
“See,” 4 of 8 snapped.
“Would you have come?”
“The Collective would not approve of such activity. Officially, it is irrelevant. However, if my Second and I were to be taken from our cube, we would have had little choice but to participate.”
“We’ll remember next time,” Jeff said.
“Acceptable. But make the location someplace less sandy. Grit in implants chafes horribly.”
“Got it,” Jeff said. “Now let’s move on. Each juror will be allowed to ask one question either to one finalist or both. Once the questions have been asked, each juror will vote for who they feel should win.”
“We do not deliberate?” 4 of 8 asked.
“What kind of fascist system is this?”
“This coming from a Borg,” Dillon scoffed.
“We deliberate everything,” 4 of 8 said. “Every being in the Collective is part of every decision.”
“Does this sound like their PR crap to anyone else?” Conway said.
“And he said ‘I’,” Baxter added. “I think he’s hiding something.”
“This conversation is irrelevant,” 4 of 8 said a little too quickly. “May we proceed?”
“All right,” Jeff said. “It’s time to begin. Commander Dillon, as the first loser…er…person ejected, you go first.”
“Thank you,” Dillon said, rising from his seat and straightening his uniform with a firm tug. He clasped his hands behind his back and began to pace in front of Rydell and Beck. “You both know me. You’ve both served with me. You know the type of man I am and the code I live by.”
“Code of the Morons,” Beck muttered.
Dillon stopped his pacing, glared at her, then continued on his way. “As a Starfleet Officer, my highest duty is to my Captain. So, Captain Beck, I ask you, why should I vote for you instead of Captain Rydell.”
“You shouldn’t,” Beck immediately replied.
Dillon stopped again, this time so abruptly that he stumbled forward, landing in Captain Bain’s lap, who shoved him onto the floor.
“Wh…what?” Dillon stammered, quickly picking himself up and brushing himself off. “Please elaborate,” he added more professionally.
“Alex is your captain. Vote for him.”
“But you might lose.”
“But if I won because you voted for me, you’d feel I owed you something, and I really don’t want that kind of thing hanging over my head. Do me a favor. Vote for Alex.”
Jeff broke in. “That’s your question, Commander. Please sit down. Commander Conway…”
“All right,” Conway said, standing up and heading to Beck and Rydell. “This I’ve got to know. Did you two form an alliance to get you this far?”
“Why bother?” Rydell replied.
“Really,” Beck said. “It’s just a stupid game.”
Conway’s eyes just about bugged out of his head. “But I planned. I was ready. I had allies. How could you two…?”
“Only one question per person, Commander Conway,” Jeff said. “Please take your seat.”
“Fine! But this whole thing is wrong! It goes against nature!”
“Whatever. Moving on. Captain Baxter, your turn.”
“Okay,” Baxter said hesitantly as he stood in front of Rydell and Beck. “Hi you guys. Congratulations and everything. I guess I want to know why one of you deserves to win this any more than the rest of us.”
“We don’t,” Rydell said. “We’re just the two who made it to the finish line. It could have been any of you.”
“I agree,” Beck said.
“Thank you, Captain Baxter,” Jeff said, a hint of edge in his voice. He leaned down to Beck and Rydell. “You two do realize that you’re supposed to be competing against each other, not backing each other up.”
“Oh really?” Beck replied innocently.
“Guess we should have read the rules,” Rydell added. “Oh well. Too late now. Next!”
“I believe that’s me,” Captain Reginald Bain said, lifting his burly frame out of his chair. “I have more comments really than a question.”
“Questions only,” Jeff said. “Sit down, Captain.”
“Now see here!” Bain protested. “I almost went loony because of this blasted game, so I’m bloody well going to apologize to these people for going off my duff and congratulate them for making it this far.”
“Fine. Make your statement,” Jeff acquiesced.
“Right…well…it seems I just did. Thank you very much,” Bain said, returning to his seat. “You’re up, Prosak.”
“So it would seem,” Prosak said, rising from her seat. “My question is for Captain Rydell.”
Rydell winced. This could not be good.
“If you were stranded on a desert island with only Captain Beck and myself for the rest of your life, whom would you chose to mate with?”
Urk. It was even worse than Rydell imagined.
“I can’t have both?” he replied, smiling weakly.
“No. You must make a decision.”
“Wow. That’s really tough. I’ve only known you a short time, but you seem like a wonderful person. Meanwhile, I’ve known Lisa for years, and we get along really well. With you, I’d have the pleasure of learning all about you and getting to know who you are. With Lisa, I’d have the familiarity and comfort that comes with a friendship as long as ours.”
“Thank you, Captain Rydell,” Jeff said.
“But he did not answer my question,” Prosak protested.
“Sure he did.”
“No he didn’t.”
“Yes he did.”
“No he didn’t.”
“Now you’re just being difficult, Commander. Please sit down.”
“Make him choose!” Prosak shouted.
“You’re not being logical.”
“ME?” Prosak cried, positively aghast. “This whole thing is SO not logical that I can’t even begin to explain the illogic of it. I should have smoke coming out of my ears from the illogic of it all.”
“Would it come out of the points like little chimneys?” Conway prodded.
“This is why the past should stay dead,” Prosak muttered as she plopped back down in her chair.
For Rydell, it was only a temporary reprieve. Walter Morales was next, and he had the potential to make things even more uncomfortable than Prosak had.
“I would like to follow up on Commander Prosak’s question,” Morales began.
“Goody,” Rydell mumbled, sinking lower in his seat.
“And this is for both of you,” Morales continued.
“Lovely,” Beck said.
“You spent a lot of time insisting that you’ve been just friends during your time here, but I have to know, did you two ever, and I mean ever, um…” Morales shifted uncomfortably, hesitant to finish his question. “…have sex?”
The entire jury leaned forward in their chairs, eager to hear the answer.
“Nope,” Rydell said simply.
“Sorry,” Beck added.
“But did you want to?” Morales demanded.
“Only one question per juror, Commander,” Jeff said.
Morales turned on Jeff, eye blazing. “You stay out of this!” Back to Rydell and Beck. “Did you want to? DID YOU WANT TO? DON’T LOOK AT EACH OTHER! ANSWER ME NOW!”
“Yes!” Rydell and Beck shouted in unison.
“We wanted to slip away and have an all-out f***fest,” Rydell said.
“It would have been fun,” Beck said. “Now are you happy?”
“Actually, no,” Morales said deflated. “But, if that’s the case, why didn’t you?”
“Because even though we may be physically attracted to each other,” Beck explained. “At the end of the day, we’re friends, nothing more. I don’t have those kinds of feelings for Alex, or for anyone else right now for that matter. I’m sorry, but that’s how it is.”
“No further questions,” Morales said flatly and returned to his seat.
Jeff, meanwhile, seemed positively giddy. “Wow! Did you feel that? That was drama! That was tension! We’re going to have one usable clip from this rotten mess after all. Let’s get to the voting.”
“I have not asked my question,” 4 of 8 piped up.
“You have one?” Jeff said surprised.
“Of course,” 4 of 8 said, approaching Beck and Rydell in the standard unsettling Borg stride. Actually, his response was a bit of a lie. He did not really know either Beck or Rydell except from exceptionally brief interactions with them during incidents he, and the entire Collective, would prefer to forget. However, since he had two humans there to answer his queries, he decided to ask them about a problem that had been vexing Cube 347 for ages now.
“This is a history question,” 4 of 8 began. Rydell and Beck looked at each other and groaned. “We have viewed records of Earth transmissions dating back to your 20th century, but one thing puzzles us. Why does Wile E. Coyote continue to purchase items from ACME when none of them seem to function properly?”
Rydell and Beck sat in stunned silence for a moment.
“Who the hell is Wile E. Coyote?” Beck demanded.
Rydell suddenly started laughing. “He’s a cartoon character.”
“Borg watch cartoons?” Beck asked.
“Only in the morning once a week,” 4 of 8 replied defensively. “Answer my question. Comply.”
“All right,” Rydell said. “Uh…well…I’d guess he’s their Beta tester.”
“He tests out their products to make sure they work before ACME sells them to the general public. That’s how a coyote without a job can afford all that stuff.”
4 of 8 pondered this for a moment. “Your answer is reasonable. Would you like to respond, Captain Beck?”
“Let’s see. It’s a stupid cartoon. Shouldn’t you Borg be dealing with matters that are, oh I don’t know, RELEVANT!”
4 of 8 pondered this for a moment as well. “Interesting. I am finished. We may now vote.”
“You heard the Borg,” Jeff said. “Let’s get to it one more time. Commander Dillon, you’re first.”
THE FINAL VOTES:
DILLON: It is my duty to vote for Captain Rydell. Beyond that, though, I’d just like to say that I don’t approve of how… <Remainder of statement unintelligible since we turned off the microphone. Whatever he said went on for a good ten minutes, though.>
CONWAY: I form an alliance; I get voted off. They lounge around the beach; they get to the finals. No fair. But if I have to pick one of them, I’m going with Rydell. He bailed me out of a tough spot when I was stationed on the Secondprize temporarily a while back, so I owe him.
BAXTER: Yikes. This is a tough one. Neither of them really likes me. Actually, Beck has made it plain that she downright hates me. This voting is anonymous right? In that case, I choose Captain Rydell. It’s because I was the Inventory Officer on his ship that I have the life I have today.
BAIN: Let me make it clear that I think these are both top-notch officers. I’d gladly serve with either of them any day of the week. Absolutely first rate. But Beck can be a bit cranky and negative. She was mean to my monkeys. And Rydell didn’t even want to be here at all. I can understand his feelings, but he shouldn’t have let it detract from the group. It’s bad for morale. With that in mind, I’ll select Captain Beck.
PROSAK: Let’s see. I have the man who was willing to engage in sexual activities even though he was attracted to someone else, or the woman he was attracted to. I am so pleased with these choices. However, considering that Rydell voted me off the planet, I will select Beck to win…yes, I know she voted for me too! Just leave me alone!
MORALES: Beck Beck Beck Beck Beck Beck Beck. I don’t care that she doesn’t want a relationship with me. I still love her, I’m still her first officer, and dammit I’m going to stand by her.
4 OF 8: <In the interest of drama, we aren’t going to reveal 4 of 8’s vote just yet. Hey, we’ve got to inject some suspense into this thing somehow.>
“I’ll tally the votes,” Jeff said after retrieving the voting jar and mixing them up real well with his hand. “The first vote is for Beck. Second, Rydell. Third, Beck. Fourth, Rydell. Fifth, Beck.”
“Is anybody else seeing a pattern here?” Rydell said.
“Sixth, Rydell. And the seventh and final vote is for…”
Everyone was at the edge of their seat, except of course for 4 of 8, who was standing, and Rydell, who really didn’t care all that much.
“…Rydell,” Jeff finished after what seemed like an eternity of silence.
FLASHBACK! FLASHBACK! FLASHBACK! 4 OF 8’S VOTE: Both captains gave response worthy of analysis. And while Captain Beck is probably correct in suggesting that Wile E. Coyote is irrelevant, I cannot deny the simple pleasure of watching a cartoon animal fall off a cliff and smash into the ground in a cloud of dust. Therefore, I must select Captain Rydell.
BACK TO THE PRESENT:
“Congrats, Alex,” Beck said, reaching over and giving Rydell a big hug, an action that did not go unnoticed by Morales.
“So that’s it?” Conway said. “We just go home empty handed?”
“Not quite,” Jeff said. “Each of you will receive a quantity of credits to be determined by how long you stayed on the planet. Captain Beck, you will receive 100,000 credits.”
“Holy sh**!” Beck exclaimed, suddenly a lot happier about the whole Survivor experience.
“Commander Dillon,” Jeff contined. “You will get five.”
“Noooo,” Dillon whined.
“Oh great,” Conway groused. “How much am I getting?”
Jeff clapped his hands together. “Well, I guess that about wraps it up for Survivor Traks.”
“Wait a second.” Rydell said. “What is this supposedly Pretty Good Looking Prize I won for going through all this.”
“Oh yes! I almost forgot. Alexander Rydell, as our big winner, this planet is yours. Enjoy.”
“The planet?” Rydell cried. “I don’t want…”
But then he was back on the beach alone.
The waves crashed against the shore.
The wind rustled through the palm trees.”