(A/N): No, I'm not dead and my story's not dead; we just sleep more often. Levity aside, I once thought it likely that I could have this chapter posted at the end of November, but then life got in the way. Again. Moreover, when you have the procrastinator's gene and a lifestyle where one day is much like the next, days can become months before you know it. Nevertheless, you have the chapter now, though, so without further ado …
The next day was not a school day, so Brett and his mother spent the day engaged in their own affairs. That night, after they had dined and Brett had finished what homework he had for the weekend, he approached his mother and asked to hear more about her experience on Total Drama Island. Brett sat in his favorite chair, and his mother sat on the sofa. She took a few moments to collect her thoughts, and then she began to speak.
Cody waited nervously for his sometime ally to dictate terms. A few weeks before, when Heather needed Cody's help to backstab Sadie, Cody had set a price Heather considered harsh, knowing full well that Heather was in no position to refuse. Now, the shoe was on the other foot.
"Okay, here's the deal. Take it or leave it," the Dragon Queen said. "If I can bail you out, then you stop trying to protect Gwen." Cody started to protest, but Heather silenced him with a gesture and continued. "If you get voted off tomorrow, you won't be able to protect her anymore, anyway.
"I won't ask you to actually vote against her, because you've made it pretty clear you won't, so it would be pointless. And, I'll still try to be civil to her, as a favor to you, since I might need your help again sometime. But it's getting close to the end, and I need the flexibility to decide who goes and when."
Cody pleaded, "Can you at least promise me you won't get her booted before we get to the 'cash zone'? Her family doesn't have a lot of money."
"No promises," Heather replied with iron in her voice. "I do have higher-priority targets, but if they happen to be invincible for some reason, I'm not going to vote off one of my allies just to keep Gwen around. So, do we have a deal?"
Cody considered Heather's terms. As much as it galled him to leave his crush girl to Heather's tender mercies, Cody had to admit the queen bee was right. He really had nothing to lose.
Heather, who was taller than Cody, stepped forward and kissed him on his forehead. It was a gesture not of affection, but of dominance.
The next night came the elimination ceremony. Chris took his customary place behind the bonfire and called for attention. "I have nine marshmallows, and there are ten of you. Seven of you have invincibility, so obviously this challenge was way too easy.
"Whatever. You know the drill. First, the campers invincible. Courtney … D.J. … Duncan … Heather … Katie … Leshawna … and Lindsay.
With these seven standing safely behind him, Chris addressed the three on the block. "Gwen, Trent, Cody, your love triangle has given our viewers some awesome drama. Sadly, though, it's time to break it up. I have two marshmallows on my plate, and there are three of you, but only two of you had votes against you. Our voteless wonder is … Gwen."
The Goth stepped forward and received her talisman of life, then stood with the others and kept her eyes nervously on Trent.
"No real surprise there," Chris admitted. "Anywho, the final marshmallow goes to …"
As usual, Chris mugged the camera and milked the tension; and in truth, the campers were not certain how the vote would pan out. Both of Gwen's suitors were sweating bullets, looking first to Gwen, then to that last marshmallow, and back again.
At last, the Arbiter of Fates handed down the verdict. "Cody, on a tiebreaker."
Gwen groaned in despair. "Not again."
Cody stepped forward to claim his prize. Trent also stood even as his heart sank. Turning his gaze from his love to his executioner, the axboy asked, "Chris, what was the tiebreaker?"
"You're not going to believe this," the host replied with a smirk. "Cody actually voted against himself because of some lame 'debt of honor' or something. He promised way back when that he would never vote against either Gwen or you. Not very smart in a game like this, but it did make for good drama, I'll give him that. So, I decided if he wound up in a tie with you or Gwen, I'd ignore his attempt to fall on his sword. If his vote had been the deciding one, I would have let it stand."
"Wow," Gwen said, forgetting her disappointment for a moment. She turned to Cody and said, "I guess I did sort of make you promise that, but I didn't think you'd actually do it."
"I gave my word. What can I say?" Cody replied.
"And some things are more important than winning," Katie chimed in.
"That's a matter of opinion," Heather said.
Trent turned to Cody. "Dude, maybe I misjudged you."
"I can't really blame you," Cody admitted.
The nine remaining campers accompanied their ex-colleague to the dock to see him off. As everyone gathered at the base of the dock, Trent turned to Gwen and lightly grasped her wrists.
"Promise me you'll stay strong and win for both of us," Trent charged his lady.
Gwen managed a smile and softly replied, "I will."
Trent gently cupped Gwen's head in his hands and drew her to him, and the lovebirds shared a long, tender farewell kiss. They parted in the fullness of time, and Trent accepted his fate. Turning toward the dock at last, he began the lonely trek to the Boat of Losers as the bell began to toll.
As the boat pulled away from the dock and set forth on the Voyage of the Damned, Gwen led the singing of the Pie Jesu for the first time because, as Trent's girlfriend, it was her place. Tears began to well in her eyes, but she managed to keep her voice steady, for she thought Trent deserved nothing less. There would be time enough to grieve later.
As the surviving campers returned to the bonfire to toast their marshmallows and contemplate what lay ahead, Courtney pulled Cody aside, and Heather as well. "I had to agree to go on a date with Duncan to get his vote," the future speaker of laws informed them, "and knowing him, I'm expecting a wrestling match. You two owe me big time."
"Cody actually went through with it," Brett said rhetorically, shaking his head slightly in quiet amazement. "You did say he'd be as good as his word, but that's pretty extreme with a hundred grand at stake."
"I know, right?" his mother conceded. "But it can be that way with people who don't make promises lightly. And … he got more extreme than that."
"Seriously?!" Brett blurted out reflexively. "All for a crush?!"
"Well, not quite, but we're getting ahead of ourselves," his mother replied cryptically.
The hour was not late, so Brett's mother paused a few moments to collect her thoughts, and then resumed her tale.
EPISODE #18: THE TALE OF THE TOUR DE WAWANAKWA
Original title: That's Off the Chain!
The next day, Courtney made good her bargain with Duncan. After breakfast, they "negotiated terms", as Courtney later put it. Duncan suggested a hike into the woods, much as Courtney had previously done with Ezekiel, albeit without the camping. Courtney gave Duncan an odd look and suggested lunch on the lake.
The delinquent grinned wolfishly. "You don't trust me, do you?
Courtney saw no reason to deceive him. "As a matter of fact, I do … but only to a certain point."
Duncan had not really expected Courtney to go for his risqué proposal, so he shrugged and said, "Fair enough. I doubt Chef will make separate lunches for us, so we'll get something from the Tuck Shoppe." The delinquent grinned another wolfish grin as he added, "Unless you're up to raiding Craft Services."
"In broad daylight?!" Courtney asked incredulously. "The Tuck Shoppe will do fine. Serving detention together isn't my idea of a date. If you want to try raiding Craft Services, be my guest; but if you get caught and miss our date, my obligation is discharged. I don't take kindly to being stood up." Courtney smiled slightly to take some of the sting out of her words, but her smile did not reach her eyes.
When the other campers answered the luncheon bell, Courtney and Duncan met at the Tuck Shoppe. Although their date was nominally Dutch treat, Courtney suggested they buy different foods so they would have a greater selection if they wished to share anything. Duncan thought her plan a good one, and was well pleased at Courtney's apparent intention to honor the spirit of her commitment as well as the letter.
Their next stop was the boathouse, for Courtney had proposed lunch on the lake, not merely by it. They outfitted themselves with fishing gear as well as boating essentials, and presently paddled a canoe to a particularly scenic spot. There they passed the afternoon snacking, talking, and catch-and-release fishing.
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'
Before the afternoon was done, Duncan had figured out why Courtney wanted a date on the lake. The canoe constrained mobility, and with their food and cooler between them, Duncan was forced by circumstance to keep his hands to himself. Well played, he thought and later admitted in the confessional.
"That went well," Courtney said in her confessional spot. "I was pleasantly surprised. He's still not my type, and I have no desire to go out with him again, but I have to give credit where it's due. He was actually trying."
The following morning, the campers made their thrice-daily pilgrimage to the lodge, where an unusual breakfast awaited them. It was no more appetizing than usual, except perhaps by default, but it was unusual nonetheless because the protein dishes were missing. The menu offered neither eggs nor meat nor dairy, but plenty of underdone pancakes, overdone hash browns and stale pastries. Several campers commented on this.
"I think I know what's going on," Katie ventured. All eyes were on her at once, for the campers were never displeased when one of them saw through a trick of Chris' and chose to share that insight. Chef looked on with an expression of mild interest.
"Do tell, bra," Duncan prompted around a mouthful of pancakes.
"The last challenge was three days ago, so we'll probably have one today," the Thin Twin began.
"Yes, yes, we know that," Heather interjected impatiently.
"I think breakfast is a clue about the challenge," Katie explained. "Ever heard of 'carbo loading'?"
"That's something jocks do, isn't it?" Leshawna guessed.
"That's right," Katie replied. "Racers, especially. They'll eat mainly carbs before a big race, because carbs are easier to digest and give you quick energy. Which means … today's challenge is probably something sports-related."
From the kitchen, Chef flashed a finger gun at her, as if to say, "Got it in one."
Not long after, Chris summoned the campers to the Arts and Crafts tent, where D.J. joined them. His breakfast at the reward trailer had been as carbohydrate-heavy as everyone else's, but of much higher quality perforce; and D.J., like his fellow athlete, Katie, had guessed the meaning behind it.
Chris appeared and called for attention. "Today's challenge," he declaimed, "is a tribute to one of the most storied events in competitive cycling: the Tour de France. This year's Tour just ran Stage Eleven, so it's more or less as far along as our elimination game. Therefore, in honor of the Tour de France, today's challenge is … building your own wheels!"
Tourmaster Chris motioned to a large pile of bicycle parts nearby. "You'll find all the parts you need in the bike depot. Once you've collected the basics, you can trick out your bike any way you like with supplies from the Arts and Crafts Center. Best design wins.
"Oh, and if anyone is thinking about hoarding parts so someone else can't get the parts they need, keep in mind that you're expected to use all the parts you take."
An intern handed out generic assembly instructions, and Chris said, "One more thing: you may have heard about a doping scandal related to the Tour de France, where some big name riders allegedly used shady methods to give themselves an unfair advantage. We have our own version, which you'll recognize when you see it.
"You have until high noon. Good luck."
"We get first dibs!" Heather called.
"Nice try, sister," Duncan shot back. "It's free for all."
None of the other campers ventured opinions, but their behavior made it clear they had sided with Duncan. Free for all it was.
The campers crowded around the 'bike depot" like hyenas around a zebra carcass and began extracting parts from the pile. This was occasionally hazardous, as this or that coveted part sometimes carried the risk of triggering a partslide.
Suddenly, Duncan's eyes lit up like the sun. "No way!" he cried as he pulled a small electric motor from the pile.
"That must be the 'doping' advantage," Courtney surmised. She and the other campers searched the pile with renewed vigor.
There were three motors in all. Leshawna and Katie found the others, although Heather quickly commandeered Katie's. As for standard bicycle parts, there were more than enough to go around, and nothing to gain by hoarding.
In the fullness of time, Heather and her vassals moved a little way off and quickly took inventory. Katie said, "I'm going to build my dream bike, just like the one my dad had when he was a kid!"
"Oh, so am I!" Lindsay cooed. "Every year when I was little, I would ask for a Sunset Sally bike for Christmas, and my birthday, but I never got one."
"Seriously?" Katie asked incredulously. "Your Sweet Sixteen birthday party cost more than my house, yet your dad wouldn't spring for a Sunset Sally bike?"
"My dad said it was important to show status, and a nonentity bike wouldn't do that, but a huge party would," Lindsay explained wistfully.
"Can't argue with that," Heather said, "but first things first. You need me, and I need to win this challenge so I can get invincibility, which means you need to build my bike first."
"Why can't you build your own bike?" Katie challenged.
"Because I'm sure you two can do it better and faster than I could," Heather explained. She held up her perfectly manicured hands and asked, "Seriously, do these hands look like manual labor is their thing?"
Lindsay seemed convinced, but Katie was not ready to back down. "Lindsay's hands are as pretty as yours."
Heather gasped in feigned horror, but quickly composed herself. "What does that have to do with anything? I'm the brains of our alliance. Lindsiot's not. I thought you understood that."
Katie started to protest further, but Heather silenced her with a gesture. "You're wasting time. I'm the captain of this alliance, so what I say goes. That's just how it works. You know that."
Katie was not ready to abandon Heather's alliance, so she glared and flashed the "I'm watching you" sign, but said no more. Heather, unimpressed, scowled and returned Katie's sign in kind.
"Once, I braked too hard on a steep hill and flew right over the handlebars. By the time I stopped skidding, skin was hanging off me in chunks."
"One time, I 'ate a rock' a car in front of me kicked up. It took out four of my teeth, so I had to get surgical implants."
"I wiped out so badly once, it popped my arm right out of my socket. It took two orderlies to hold me down while the doctor slingshotted it back into place."
"There was this one time I wiped out so bad, I broke my collarbone. You could see it sticking right out of my shoulder. It was wicked."
The three boys had moved off by themselves, much as Heather and her posse had. Duncan and Cody had extensive riding experience, and swapped "war stories" as they worked. Their tales grew increasingly outlandish as they fell into a game of "Can You Top This?" The naturally timid D.J., who had relatively little riding experience, listened with growing apprehension.
"Good times," Duncan and Cody finally sighed in near-unison.
Courtney had joined Gwen and Leshawna more or less by default, for none of these girls were planning anything requiring secrecy. They worked efficiently, making small talk the while, but Leshawna was ambivalent about her advantage.
"Don't get me wrong; I want to win as much as the next camper, but this just doesn't seem right," the homegirl lamented as she regarded her motor.
"Neither is doping, which is what those motors represent," Courtney observed. "But fair or not, Chris clearly intended it to be part of the challenge. He's handed out advantages before. This one is just more random than most."
"Besides," Gwen reminded the homegirl, "Katie got one of the others, which means it will probably end up on Heather's bike—Heather's—unless Katie grew a spine."
Courtney added, "So yes, you have an unfair advantage over Gwen and me, and some of the others; but against Heather and Duncan—the people you really need to beat—your playing field is level. I'll be happy to take the motor if you don't want it; but if you don't mind my saying so, you'd be a fool to give it up."
Courtney thumbed through her manual to find a tidbit she had previously noticed. When she found it, she showed it to the reluctant homegirl. "I don't know about your manual, but mine has instructions on how to install a motor."
"So does mine," Gwen said. "She's right, Shawnee. It was meant to be."
The sun stood at its zenith when the P.A. system squealed to life. "Time, campers! Come to the Arts and Crafts Center for the judging. Be there or be square … and DQed."
A few minutes later, Chris stood before the assembled campers and asked, "Who wants to be judged first?"
"Might as well get this over with," Gwen muttered. Her bike was a recumbent, with aspen wood paneling that partially enclosed the rider in a way that suggested a coffin without adding much weight. Large, batlike wings projected from the rear, stretching backward along the bike's axis.
Chris nodded. "Spooky, yet practical. Well done."
Heather's bike looked every centimeter a racer, complete with drop handlebars. Apart from decorative racing stripes of glitter glue, long a guilty pleasure of the normally haughty queen bee, every feature minimized weight or maximized performance or both.
"Excellent aerodynamics, Heather," the Tourmaster observed.
"It only weighs two ounces," the queen bee claimed smugly and implausibly.
"Like her brain," Leshawna muttered.
"Not her brain," Gwen replied with a sigh, "her heart."
Leshawna presented a solidly built all-purpose bike, christened the Ghetto Blaster and decorated in a "loud and proud" motif featuring fluorescent green paint so bright it was almost painful to look at. Heeding Courtney and Gwen's counsel, Leshawna had installed her motor. Chris made a show of shielding his eyes as he gave the "Ghetto Blaster" thumbs up.
Courtney had built a mountain bike, for she, like Heather, expected a race to follow the judging; but whereas Heather expected a relatively straightforward speed race with perhaps a few obstacles, Courtney expected a full-fledged obstacle course or some other test emphasizing maneuverability. The onetime CIT had largely eschewed decoration, for hers was a practical nature, but she had painted the motto, "Excelsior" on the frame. The Lord of Wawanakwa beheld this bike and saw that it was good.
D.J.'s creation emphasized rider safety above all else, and the result was not so much a bicycle as a tank. A protective cage enclosed the rider, with heavy padding on all sides. This added a good deal of weight, so D.J. had reinforced the frame and added double wheels, much as one sees on large trucks. Training wheels, both fore and aft, helped stabilize the severely top-heavy design.
Chris took one look at this travesty and said, "Dude, seriously? This is lame … but I have to admit, it just might work for you."
The host did not make cryptic remarks without purpose, so his admission that D.J.'s ungainly but nigh-invulnerable so-called bike might actually be effective touched off a buzz of speculation among the campers. Heather, in particular, was having second thoughts about staking her fortunes on a specialized design, but what was done was done.
Duncan's bike had a rugged, off-road design broadly similar to Courtney's, but tricked out as a post-apocalyptic war machine with large knifelike projections on the wheel hubs, a sheet metal fairing between the "ape hanger" handlebars, and lengths of barbed wire that would whip about in the wind behind to discourage close pursuit. It even had a hardpoint on each side—a feature that would stand the delinquent in good stead, although he could not have known this. At the moment, these hardpoints sported reasonable facsimiles of Sidewinder missiles.
"Wicked Mad Max Mobile, dude!" Chris pronounced gleefully.
At first glance, Cody's bike looked conceptually similar to D.J.'s, but much more stylish, if "stylish" is the correct word. Whereas D.J.'s design choices stemmed from his natural timidity, Cody had given his bike an enclosed, vaguely humanoid-shaped cockpit that amounted to an oversized suit of armor. Overall, his design suggested Robby the Robot … on a bicycle.
Understandably, Chris did not quite know what to make of this admittedly strange and wondrous contraption. "Cody, I have to admit, this is … this is extraordinary."
Lindsay had indeed built a reasonable facsimile of the bicycle marketed as part of the Sunset Sally line of girls' toys. She had painted the step-through frame in a pastel pink that was a near match for the line's equine mascot. The stuffed head of a small hobby horse, pinkified and purpleized with pastel chalk, projected from the frame, above the front wheel.
The hobby horse's detached pole was mounted horizontally above the rear wheel, with a clump of hair tied to the end to serve as the "tail"; and here Lindsay had done the original one better, for hers sported genuine (albeit purple) horsehair. The interns maintained a stable of horses, which they used for various tasks as has been told of before, and the need to groom those horses meant there was always a certain amount of loose horsehair lying about the stable; so when Lindsay had gone to the stable and asked Sky for some horsehair, the redshirt had little trouble accommodating her.
The right handlebar mounted a bell, which perforce lacked the horselike sound effects of the genuine article. The seat was a wide, soft mattress saddle shaped vaguely like … well, a saddle. Lindsay had cut away the front of the toe clips on her pedals, the better to suggest the stirrup-like construction of the original Sunset Sally's pedals.
Chris smiled warmly and said, "I can see this was a real labor of love."
"I know, right?" Lindsay replied.
Katie presented a wheelie bike any fifth-grader would have been proud to call their own. It had an extended fork in imitation of a chopper motorcycle, holding a front wheel significantly smaller than the rear. This retro roadrunner also sported ape hanger handlebars, a banana seat, and a meter-high passenger backrest. The handlebars had a plastic fairing between, on which Katie had mounted a high-quality drawing of Sadie as a sort of figurehead. This drawing, which Gwen had provided as a favor to Katie, depicted the butterball with an angrier demeanor than most of the campers had ever seen from her.
Chris declared, "Now this is a hot rod! Nice!"
"I call it 'Sadie's Revenge'," Katie explained.
Duncan quipped, "So, Katie has a cool streak. Who'd have guessed?"
The Tourmaster said, "This is a tough decision. Most of you did excellent jobs. We have Katie's fun machine, Heather's speed machine, Courtney's mountain climber, Leshawna's Ghetto Blaster, Gwen's Vampirebatmobile, Lindsay's Sunset Sally, D.J.'s safe room on wheels, Cody's half-transformed Transformer, and Duncan's lethal weapon. Go grab some lunch while I confer with my panel of experts."
Chris' "experts", using the term loosely, consisted of Chef Hatchet and the three interns—Alejandro, Scarlett and Sky—who, for one reason or another, knew the most about bicycles. As these worthies and their overlord conducted a closer inspection of the campers' handiwork, the campers went to the lodge to face the ritual ordeal known as "lunch".
On this day, that noontide nastiness consisted of cold, self-serve leftovers from that morning's breakfast, for Chef was busy with the bikes and even he could not be in two places at once. As the campers ate, they speculated on why Chris had chosen the interns he did, what those worthies would be looking for, and (naturally) on who was likely to win the challenge. This discussion helped divert the campers' attention from the quality (or lack thereof) of the food, and had entertainment value in its own right.
Alejandro's inclusion was no surprise, for the big Latino seemed as much a Renaissance man as Chef Hatchet and over time had become the de facto Intern in Chief. Sky likewise seemed a logical choice because her gymnastics background meant she was highly coordinated, so she was presumably a skilled rider. The consensus was that she would probably test ride the bikes, although any or all of the others judges might do so as well.
Scarlett seemed the oddest choice, for she seemed more inclined to academic pursuits. On the other hand, she had served as the boys' horse racing opponent in the Labors of Heracles challenge, so perhaps her interests extended to mechanical steeds as well. With her injured knee, she seemed unlikely to test ride the bikes, but the campers supposed she might perform all sorts of calculations related to the technical aspects of bicycle design.
In any case, the campers assumed the challenge would have a second part, else Chris would probably have given them the whole day to build their bikes instead of just the morning; but what the afternoon session held in store, the teens could only guess.
In the fullness of time, the public address system squealed to life and the Tourmaster summoned the campers to the Arts and Crafts tent to hear the verdict.
"After due consideration," Chris informed the assembled campers with his standard bland smile in place, "We have a winner. The best bike is … Heather's."
"Yes!" exclaimed the queen bee. "Eat my dust, losers!"
"Which means Lindsay will have an advantage in the second part of the challenge." Chris' bland smile did not change a whit as he dropped the other shoe.
Gwen was first to ask the obvious question. "Why Lindsay?"
"Glad you asked," Chris said. "The challenge was to build your own 'wheels'. Those were my exact words, which I'm sure our lawyer-to-be will be happy to corroborate."
The Tourmaster nodded toward Courtney, who smirked at Heather and affirmed, "That's exactly what he said."
"Thank you, Courtney," Chris said with exaggerated politeness. "Heather had her staff build her bike for her instead of doing it herself, which means she did not participate in the challenge; so although she gets to use that fine bike for the rest of the challenge, she obviously can't get the reward for building it."
"I did so participate. I decorated it," Heather protested.
"And nicely done," Chris admitted, "but I hardly think squirting on a little glitter glue qualifies as helping build it. As I was saying, Lindsay and Katie built Heather's bike, so I used their own bikes as the tiebreaker. Lindsay gets the Part Two advantage because her horse-themed bike is a better fit for Part Two of today's challenge."
"Which is …?" Duncan prompted.
Chris said only, "Follow me."
The Tourmaster led his young charges to a construct that resembled a section of a snowboarder's halfpipe, but with sides less steep and access ramps on each side. A small rack holding wooden poles tipped with boxing gloves stood in front of one ramp.
"This is where it gets good," Chris assured the campers. "Because we're going to race these babies hard!"
"Awesome! My bike is built for speed!" Heather declared with a confidence she did not entirely feel.
"But that's Part Three. First, you have to survive Part Two: a jousting tournament!"
"And that's why you said D.J.'s tank might work for him," Duncan surmised. "Well, bring it!"
Chris motioned to the rack and explained, "You'll be using blunted lances because, as much as bloody impalings would boost our ratings, the party poopers at Legal … well, you know the drill by now.
"We'll give you some armor because, even though your lances are blunted, there's still the chance someone's lance could splinter on impact. Besides, it'll look cool. You can also have shields if you can figure out a way to handle both that and your lance, and also steer your bike.
"The winner of this tournament, along with our Master Builder, gets an advantage in the third and final part of the challenge. If Lindsay wins, she'll have a double advantage. Anyone who chickens out gets hit with a penalty in the third part.
"I was going to have you pull names out of a helmet to determine the first-round pairings, but Chef suggested we seed you according to how well we think your bikes are suited to jousting, so blame him if you don't like your draw.
"As I'm sure you know, a three-round tournament bracket has eight spots, and there are nine of you, so that's where Lindsay's Part Two advantage comes in. Because she won the building phase, she gets a bye to the final round of this tournament. That means she only needs to win one joust, whereas anyone else will have to win four.
There were none, so Chris continued. "The seeding is: first seed, D.J.; second seed, Duncan; third, Cody; fourth, Gwen; fifth, Katie; sixth, Leshawna; seventh, Courtney; and eighth, Heather.
"Gwen and Katie, you're up first. Gwen, if you want your shoulder taped, ask your squire."
"Squires" from the intern corps—Alejandro and the bodybuilder Ryan, to be precise—provided Gwen and Katie with white plastic cuirasses that probably came from Star Wars stormtrooper costumes, but with a metal flange bolted to one flank. These flanges, the squires explained, were lance rests. The purpose of these rests was to help hold the lance in position as the knight charged, as well as to add force to the blow by bracing the lance against the weight of the knight's torso, as opposed to relying entirely on the knight's arm strength.
Katie regarded her lance and observed rhetorically, "So that's what the notch behind the grip is for."
After the girls had put on their cuirasses, their squires helped them don coats of scale armor, short-sleeved pullover shirts of canvas with overlapping rows of soda can or beer can tabs sewn on as the "scales". The flanks of these shirts were partially open to accommodate the lance rest.
The jousters then donned bicycle helmets and clear plastic face shields of the type first used in the paintball deer hunt. Thick, padded gauntlets, which in another context would be called oven mitts, completed the panoply. Gwen took a shield, which was merely a large plastic trash can lid with arm straps attached, and using those straps affixed it to her handlebars. Katie eschewed her shield, for the fairing between her handlebars would serve just as well. The Thin Twin did remove her Sadie "figurehead" from the fairing, for she did not wish to risk damaging it.
With the knights ready for battle, the squires affixed heraldic flags to their bikes, partly for pageantry and partly as a mnemonic for the viewing audience. Katie's flag, which would fly from the tall passenger backrest, bore the yin-yang symbol. Gwen's flag, bearing a scythe, would fly from a thin pole affixed to her bike's frame and the back of the seat.
The jousters took their places atop opposite ends of the jousting halfpipe, and the squires handed them their lances. Gwen quickly realized she could further brace her lance within the wooden "coffin" that surrounded her seat. Across the way, Katie realized her passenger backrest could perform the same function, for the lances had beanbag butts able to conform to any bracing surface. With this feature, jousters could put not only their body weights, but also the weights of their bikes behind their lances if their bikes had features suitable to brace the lance, and the tournament seedings had taken this into account.
At a signal from Chris McLean, Lord of the Lists, "Dame Gwendolyn" and "Dame Kathleen" launched themselves down the slopes. Faster and faster raced the warcycles, with little need for the riders to pedal. At the bottom, on flat ground more or less midway between the launch points, the jousters met with teeth-rattling impact.
Both lances struck true, but only Katie was thrown from her bike. Victor and vanquished were dazed for a moment, but unhurt, nor did their solidly built bikes sustain more than cosmetic damage.
"And the winner is Dame Gwendolyn!" the Lord of the Lists announced theatrically.
In the fullness of time, the next pair of jousters waited at their starting gates: the third-seeded Sir Cody and the sixth-seeded Dame Leshawna. Cody's enclosed cockpit did not have room for the scale armor, so he had to make do with the cuirass. That mattered little, though, for the cockpit provided ample protection. Cody likewise had no need for the face shield, although he did wear the helmet, which he had designed the cockpit with enough headroom to accommodate.
Cody wondered at first how he was going to handle the lance, but his squire helpfully pointed out that someone had drilled good-sized holes through the cockpit on one side to accommodate the lance, presumably whilst the bike judges had been doing their work. This was why Cody was seeded higher than Leshawna. The homegirl's bike, for all its merits, had no features that would give her an advantage in a joust, whereas Cody' enclosed cockpit meant he could not be unseated, so the only way to beat him was to make him wipe out.
The flag on Cody's bike bore the image of a calculator as his heraldic device. Someone had originally suggested the three-point Klingon star of Star Trek lore for Cody's flag, but Legal had vetoed that idea for the simple and eminently logical reason that the Klingon star is trademarked intellectual property, and the producers were unwilling to pay royalties for such trivial use. Leshawna's flag bore the most complex device in the field, bearing testament to her African-Quebecois heritage. Based on the spears-and-shield crest adorning the flag of Kenya, the Masai-style shield bore Quebec's colors of blue and white; and while one spear bore a typical point, the other was tipped with a fleur de lis. Leshawna's flag hung from an add-on pole, much as Gwen's had, whereas Cody's hung from the back of his cockpit.
At Chris' signal, the jousters launched themselves down the acceleration slopes. Both lances struck true. The impact all but turned Cody's bike about, but the science geek was a skilled rider and did not fall. Leshawna lost her grip on her lance and steered a wobbly course past the impact point, but she likewise did not fall.
"Another lance!" cried the Lord of the Lists. "There must be a winner!"
So it was that Cody and Leshawna did it all again, but this time the powerful homegirl knocked Cody down, enclosed cockpit and all.
"We have our first upset!" proclaimed the Lord of the Lists. "Dame Leshawna advances to the second round!"
When Chris called the second-seeded Duncan and the seventh-seeded Courtney to the lists, Duncan had an idea. After he and Ryan verified that a lance could be mounted on one of his bike's hardpoints in place of the mockup missile, the scorner of laws asked for and received two additional lances, one for the other hardpoint and one to carry normally. The hardpoints did not mount gear horizontally, but at a slight upward angle, so any knight facing the scorner of laws would have to deal not with one lance, but three. Well, two, because one mounted lance would be out of play perforce, but it looked intimidating and left Duncan's bike without a weak side. Nevertheless, something was amiss.
"Dude, where are my hub knives?" Duncan asked.
"Bicycle tires are expensive, and you can't win your joust by slashing your opponent's tires," Ryan explained.
"Will I get them back for the race?"
"You'll have to ask Chris."
Courtney did not see what her opponent was up to, else she would surely have protested, but the spectators did see. Heather asked, "Can he do that?"
The other campers replied, almost in unison with Chris but in a more resigned tone, "No rule against it."
Meanwhile, Courtney was admiring her scale armor. "My compliments to the armorer," she said. "Somebody put a lot of work into this."
"I'll pass that on," Alejandro assured her. "Several of us put in time making them, but B came up with the design."
"I might have known," Courtney said.
Presently, the jousters were ready. Courtney' heraldic device was a flag on a mountaintop, and Duncan flew the Jolly Roger. Duncan's barbed wire trailers were wrapped around the mounted lances, lest they interfere with the joust.
At Chris' signal, the jousters launched themselves down the slopes, for Courtney's inevitable protests had fallen on deaf ears. The diminutive dynamo struck the scorner of laws fairly with her lance, but never had a chance. Courtney fell with honor, but she fell nevertheless.
The Lord of the Lists formally proclaimed "Sir Duncan" the victor and said, "One more joust to wrap up the first round, and I have to say this could get ugly. D.J. and Heather, you're up."
In the fullness of time, the jousters were ready. Heather's flag bore the image of a bee, presumably a queen, arched to sting with its barbless stinger bared. D.J.'s flag bore the image of a bunny.
The Lord of the Lists signaled top seed and bottom seed to begin their runs. As the knights rolled down their launch slopes, Heather played her ace, realizing it might do more harm than good, but seeing no alternative. The motor buzzed to life, and her racer fairly leapt forward to meet whatever fate awaited.
There are times when size does matter. When the jousters met, Heather was thrown and her featherweight speed steed was crushed and mangled beyond repair, although Heather herself suffered only minor injuries. D.J.'s massive, overbuilt destrier did not even slow down.
In the second round, Leshawna faced D.J., for the homegirl was the lowest surviving seed, and Gwen faced Duncan. Neither match offered much suspense. Duncan dispatched Gwen with little trouble; and while Leshawna's sturdy steed was not damaged in her joust with D.J., the homegirl otherwise fared no better than Heather had. Gwen's bike did suffer extensive cosmetic damage at Duncan's hands, but this did not impair its performance.
The stage was set for the top seeds to settle matters.
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Logicians will tell you such a meeting is impossible because these are mutually exclusive concepts; but the colloquial answer is, "Something's got to give."
In the third round, Duncan's irresistible force thrice met D.J.'s immovable object, and thrice bikes and riders came away little the worse. Whatever advantage there may have been lay with D.J., for the normally timid brickhouse was gaining confidence with each joust.
On the fourth joust, one of Duncan's mounted lances splintered on impact, leaving an icepick-like shard that drove through D.J.'s protective cage and into his chest. This fell shiver snapped off as Duncan passed, which nearly caused the scorner of laws to fall as the sundered lance was torn from its mount.
D.J. was unhurt, for his coat of scale proved more than a match for the unhardened wood, but the incident seemed to unnerve him. The gentle giant's natural timidity reasserted itself with a vengeance, and on the next joust he gave way. The Lord of the Lists declared Duncan the winner by default, and cast the obligatory aspersions on D.J.'s manhood.
The stage was set for the final confrontation between tournament champion Duncan and master builder Lindsay. In the fullness of time, these worthies took their places atop the launch ramps, and at Chris' signal they launched their bikes toward destiny. Lindsay's flag displayed her heraldic device, a crossed pair of lipstick tubes.
To no one's surprise, Duncan unhorsed the buxom equestrienne, but it took him three jousts to do so; for Lindsay, besides being well coordinated, knew how to follow instructions in spite of her mental deficiencies, so she had taken to heart the tips Alejandro had given her. So it was that, when the formerly blonde bombshell finally fell, everyone else—not least Duncan—held that she had acquitted herself well.
Chris, who had strapped a wooden sword to his hip before the final joust, called Duncan to kneel before him. The street tough had a fair idea what was about to happen, so he complied without protest, still wearing his scale armor, and bowed his head before his overlord.
The Lord of the Lists drew his sword and touched the flat of the blade to Duncan's shoulders, the right and the left, as he intoned, "In the name of Saint George and Saint Numeris, for valor in the joust, I pronounce thee Sir Duncan, wielder of advantage in the third part of the bicycle challenge and guardian of awesome ratings!"
THE CHARGE OF THE CAMPER BRIGADE
This bit of ceremony concluded, Ryan and Alejandro provided the campers with fencing foils and shoulder belts, by which the foils would remain strapped to the campers' backs until the time came to use them.
Chris said, "The third and final part of the Tour de Wawanakwa is based on a famous military action that was immortalized in an even more famous poem: the Charge of the Light Brigade."
"Didn't the Light Brigade get, like, wiped out?" D.J. asked nervously,
"Not 'wiped out', really," Courtney corrected, "but their casualties were high enough that they couldn't be an effective fighting force afterward."
"About a third of the riders were killed or wounded," Chris explained, "and most of the survivors lost their horses. I'm expecting a similar result today."
"Regarding our bikes or our lives?" Leshawna asked nervously.
Chris said rhetorically, "I love this show."
After giving the riders a few moments to make of his response what they would, the Lord of the Game continued. "This race consists of three parts. First, you'll ride through the cannon fire in the 'valley of death'. Since cannons and gunnery crews are too expensive, we'll be using mines instead. They'll go off if you hit one or get too close, and we can also detonate them remotely. For effect," he added with an expectant grin. "They're concussion mines that don't throw off shrapnel, because we're not trying to kill you." The host paused for effect. "Not trying."
"At the end of the valley, you will take a narrow catwalk over the piranha pool—"
"I'm pretty sure the Light Brigade never had to deal with piranhas," Courtney objected.
"Ah-ah-ah," Chris clucked, wagging a finger at her. "Theirs not to make reply/ Theirs not to reason why," he admonished.
"Theirs but to do and die," Courtney replied sullenly, completing the triplet.
Chris resumed the briefing. "Beyond the piranha pool are the 'Russian lines'. Each 'soldier' has a large ring attached to one side. If you skewer the ring with your foil, the ring will come right off. Once you have nine rings, you'll return to the starting point. The first one back wins."
"Why nine rings?" Duncan asked warily, not sure he wanted to know the answer.
"Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die," Cody recited. "Is that it?"
"Very good, Cody," Chris affirmed with that bland smile of his.
"You're not going to be happy unless someone buys it in this challenge, are you?" Heather challenged testily.
"Which is unusual how, exactly?" Gwen asked caustically.
Chris did not deign to reply, instead returning to the briefing. "As I was saying, the first one back with nine rings wins. You have sixty 'Russian troops' waiting for you, so if you do the math …" Chris looked expectantly at Cody, as if expecting him to do the math.
The science geek did not disappoint. "There aren't enough rings to go around."
"Exactamundo," Chris affirmed with a pair of finger guns. "Which means at least one of you will come up short. Anyone who does will go into the elimination ceremony with one penalty vote against them for every ring they were short. Of those who get all their rings, the last to finish will also have one penalty vote. That's your incentive to get there first."
"What if nobody gets all their rings?" Cody asked. "With only sixty rings available, that's theoretically possible."
"If nobody gets all their rings, then nobody will get invincibility. Beyond that, I'll decide what to do if it happens." With an unsettling grin, the host concluded, "You don't want that."
Chris McLean did not have a reputation for honesty, but this warning was one every camper took at face value.
"Whether you're in the minefield or collecting rings, you must stay on your bike at all times. If any part of your body touches the ground for any reason, it means you had your mount shot out from under you. If that happens, you'll have to complete the challenge on foot, and I don't imagine I need to tell you what that would do to your chances of winning. Or of getting all your rings, for that matter.
"A couple more things: because Lindsay won the first part of the challenge and Duncan won the second, they only need seven rings instead of nine."
"Biggest dwarves I've ever seen," Cody quipped.
"On the other hand, D.J. chickened out in the jousting tournament, so he will have sixty seconds added to his final time; and because Heather's bike did not survive the jousting, she will have to ride a child's tricycle."
"You're kidding, right?" Heather challenged, but in her heart she knew the answer.
"Because it's too small for you, even though it's the biggest we could find, it won't be an easy ride, or dignified, but it can be done. Theoretically," Chris explained as if he had not heard Heather's challenge. "And before you ask, no, I'm not picking on you. I was expecting more than one bike to get wrecked."
Ever the strategist, Heather was thinking furiously about how she might overcome what promised to be a significant handicap, and an idea quickly came to her. "We can help each other get our rings, right?"
"Not sure why anyone would want to, seeing as they'd be pretty much throwing away their own shot at invincibility," Chris answered, "but if it was voluntary, I'd allow it. But if it was under duress, well … you'd have to change your name and move to another Province so Chef doesn't find you. Nothing sets him off like stolen valor."
"But Helga has been making us help her all summer, and Chef's never gotten mad," Lindsay observed innocently. Heather scowled.
"Not in a military-themed challenge, she hasn't," Chris observed.
"In other words, Heather can't make us do the work for her," Katie surmised.
"Not this time," affirmed the Lord of the Game. "Stolen valor is serious business. If there are no further questions … riders up!"
As the campers moved to their bikes, Heather said to Katie and Lindsay, "Here's the plan: I need invincibility because anyone with half a brain knows by now that I'm a threat; so if either of you can get invincibility, you have to give it to me. I don't care about the trailer this time, but I need invincibility."
"But what if we need it?" Lindsay asked.
"You won't, because nobody's going to vote you off. Nobody sees you or Katie as threats. They get that I'm the brains of this alliance."
"But Lindsay nearly got kicked off a couple of challenges ago," Katie reminded her liege.
"Only because Duncan tried to blindside us with his boys' alliance. He doesn't have the votes to try that again."
"Okay, I guess I can buy that," Katie admitted slowly. "But what if we can't get invincibility?"
Heather's answer was a fateful one, with consequences none of the girls could have guessed, for they did not have the gift of prescience.
"Then we need to be sure someone has a lot of penalty votes, since I'm probably going to have some," the queen bee explained. "Katie, I want you to shadow Leshawna. When she goes for a ring, you need to get it first. That'll slow her down, and with any luck she won't get all the rings she needs. Lindsay, you only need seven rings, so you go for the win. And whatever you do, don't lose count.
"I'm counting on you two. If you drop the ball, we're all screwed."
Presently, the riders waited at the starting line. Chris fired the thunder-pistol he had first used to start the Boney Island challenge, and the race for invincibility was on.
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
`Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Chris and Hatchet boarded their helicopter and rose above the "battlefield", the better to monitor the riders' progress. By the time they were in position, the peloton had already started to break up. Courtney and Duncan were in the vanguard, with Katie and Leshawna not far behind. Katie could probably have paced the leaders, but was hanging back because she needed to watch Leshawna. Neither Duncan nor Leshawna were using their motors, for those "doping" devices were powered by batteries, not the pedals, and neither punk boy nor homegirl had any idea how long the motors could run before their batteries were depleted.
Lindsay had been saving ground, tailing Gwen, but was starting to move up. Cody and D.J. lagged behind because their bikes were big and slow, more suited to the Heavy Brigade than to the Light, though the interns had removed enough of the cockpits to allow the riders' sword arms their full range of motion. Heather was a little ahead of these laggards, pedaling furiously on her undersized steed.
The first mine exploded hard by. Courtney flinched and might have steered into Duncan's path; but because they had been forewarned, most of the riders were keeping respectful distances between them, so both leaders were able to correct their courses in time to avert disaster. Chris detonated a mine remotely, near Lindsay, but Sunset Sally proved a doughty warhorse and stayed her course as Lindsay winced, but did not flinch.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
To Chris' disappointment, none of the riders fell to the mines, despite a full score of blasts. The riders emerged from the minefield and crossed the piranha pool without incident. The catwalk over the pool was narrow enough that the riders were obliged to cross single file, but the loose spacing between riders made for little question concerning who should cross before whom.
As Duncan approached the "Russian troops", he had an idea. He was practiced at wielding knives, as has been told of before, but fencing foils are much longer and the mechanics of using them are very different. The delinquent decided to stick to what he knew.
Duncan came to his first target, but instead of trying to skewer the ring, he simply reached out to grab it. The advantage of this technique was that he could pass at full speed, whereas he would have had to slow down to be sure of scoring a hit with his foil. Just like snatching a purse, he thought as he grabbed his first ring.
The ring did not come loose from its mount. Duncan cried out in pain and surprise as the unexpected resistance wrenched his arm back and pulled him off his bike.
Duncan winced and muttered a censorable oath as he clutched his shoulder, fearing he had dislocated it. Spotting Chris' helicopter close at hand, the enraged delinquent shouted, "McLean, you said the rings were supposed to come right off!"
Thanks to the small wireless throat microphones the campers were wearing for the race, Chris had no trouble hearing the fallen rider. "The rings are held in place with magnetic locks that your foils are designed to neutralize," the host explained via his trusty bullhorn. "Seriously, dude, would you really try to kill an enemy soldier with your bare hands when you have a sword?"
Duncan had no answer to this, so he grumbled a few more expletives as he tested his arm and verified that it was still usable. There was nothing for it but to complete the challenge on foot.
Katie and Leshawna rode neck and neck as they rapidly closed on Heather's tricycle, unaware that all three were intent on the same "soldier".
"Eat my dust, homie!" Katie cried good-naturedly.
"Bring it, sister!" Leshawna called back, matching Katie's fiendish grin with one of her own. "Let's see if your swordplay is as good as your trash talk!"
"Watch and learn!"
As the three approached their target and Heather prepared to stab, Katie made her move. With a burst of speed, she overtook her liege and swerved in front, deftly skewering and collecting her third ring. Unfortunately, she had misjudged the clearance. Heather had begun her stab even as Katie cut her off, so the dragon girl's foil ended up in the spokes of Katie's rear wheel. Leshawna had come up hard by on Heather's opposite flank, so in a trice the three girls and their mounts were on the ground in a heap. No one was seriously hurt, though.
"Why don't you watch where you're going, you brain-damaged little twit?" Heather railed at her vassal. "And I thought you were dumb before you got your little pea brain frozen! Seriously, you've turned into another Lindsiot!"
Katie took little notice of this invective, for she had come to expect nothing less from her overlord, although Heather's choice of insults did seem strange to her. Leshawna, however, pounced on the Dragon Queen with a feral snarl and murderous fury on her face.
"Sacredam!" the dusky homegirl cried. "Is nothing beneath you? You've had this coming all summer!" With that, Leshawna, now straddling Heather across her chest, cocked her arm and smashed her beefy fist into Heather's face.
All the world wonder'd
The hour was growing late, so Brett's mother left off her tale and suggested that he prepare for bed.
 When Dawn assured the injured Gwen (episode 11, Seventeenth Night) that her "guardian angel" would not allow her to be eliminated soon, there was nothing supernatural about that protection. Dawn was referring to Cody and how he uses his influence with Heather.
 Cody voting against himself for the sake of keeping his word to Gwen was foreshadowed as "another story for another time" when he made that promise (episode 5, Seventh Night) and the Storyteller noted that Cody would prove as good as his word. Chris recaps the pertinent details of Cody's pledge.
 The vote totals were:
** Trent: 5 (Courtney, Duncan, Heather, Katie, Lindsay)
** Cody: 5 (Cody, D.J., Gwen, Leshawna, Trent)
 Courtney's date with Duncan is a nod to their canonical relationship.
 Duncan's challenge that Courtney doesn't trust him, and Courtney's partial acknowledgement, are based on a bit of dialogue in the (original) Star Trek episode, "Tomorrow is Yesterday". The original exchange was between the main guest character and Spock.
 Duncan's proposal to raid Craft Services to provision his date with Courtney refers to their canonical raid in the boot camp challenge ("Basic Straining").
 The verse accompanying Duncan and Courtney's date scene comes from "The Owl and the Pussy-cat" by Edward Lear. The line, "What a beautiful Pussy you are", combined with Duncan's tendency to view girls as objects, introduces a double entendre that Lear did not intend.
 Lindsay's absurdly expensive birthday party comes from her pseudo-canonical text biography on the show's website, whereas her unrequited desire for a Sunset Sally bicycle comes from the original episode. The cast's text biographies were frequently inconsistent with the show's events.
 When Lindsay speaks of a "nonentity bike", she is trying to say "novelty bike".
 The "ate a rock" cycling injury story is based on an injury suffered by the author's former brother in law. The other "war stories" are more or less canonical, albeit not necessarily from the same characters as relate them here.
 Most of the campers who were still in the game during the canonical version of this challenge build bikes at least broadly similar to their canonical designs. Leshawna is the major exception, as she did not build a bike at all in the original (and was inexplicably not penalized in any way for that).
 Heather's fondness for glitter glue is canonical, revealed in the Total Drama World Tour episode, "Awwwwww, Drumheller".
 Heather's implausible claim that her bike weighs only two ounces is canonical. Leshawna's dig at Heather's intelligence is likewise canonical, although the line was originally Gwen's. Gwen's observation that Heather's underdeveloped part is her heart, as opposed to her brain, is closely based on an exchange in the (original) Star Trek episode, "The Galileo Seven", with Heather standing in for Spock, Gwen for Dr. McCoy, and Leshawna for the episode's main guest character (who, quite coincidentally, was also black).
 A "ghetto blaster" is a portable music player with large speakers. More generic names include "master blaster" and "boombox".
 "Excelsior", a Latin word literally meaning "higher" or "superior" but commonly translated "ever upward", was a catchphrase of the late comic book icon, Stan Lee (1922-2018). It is also the official motto of the U.S. State of New York, among other things.
 A hardpoint is a spot on a vehicle, e.g. on the wing of an airplane, designed to mount external weapons or other gear.
 The Sidewinder missile is a relatively small, short-range heat-seeking missile. Although designed and primarily used for air-to-air combat, it also makes a passable light antitank missile, which is how Duncan's bike is implied to use it.
 Mad Max is the protagonist of a series of Australian films set in a post-collapse Australia. The first film (Mad Max) is not widely known in North America, but the second (called Mad Max 2 in Australia and The Road Warrior in the U.S.) put the franchise on the proverbial map.
 Robby the Robot is a character in the classic 1956 science fiction film, Forbidden Planet.
 Katie's bike is similar to Geoff's in the original, and gets a similar reaction from Chris. Wheelie bikes are generally regarded as a children's bike design, which fits the child-at-heart Katie.
 Chris dubbing Gwen's bike the Vampirebatmobile is a mashup of "vampire bat" (alluding to the bike's Gothic décor) and "Batmobile", Batman's iconic car.
 The canonical bicycle challenge is infamous for its poor execution, which is the main reason the reimagined challenge is as different as it is. The jousting tournament replaces a preliminary race wherein the campers rode each other's bikes. When development of this reimagining began in 2010, jousting on bicycles, with lances blunted with boxing gloves, was one of the author's very first ideas. It seemed a perfect fit for Total Drama's sensibilities.
 The boys getting all the top seeds in the jousting tournament is a coincidence. Seeding the bikes, as opposed to random pairings, was a late addition made well after the bike designs had been set, and helped resolve the question of who should joust against whom.
 Seeds 1-5 in the jousting tournament all have bikes with features that can serve as a supplemental lance rest, or provide more protection for the rider, or both. Seeds 6-8 lack such features.
 A worker bee's stinger is barbed, but a queen bee's is not. As a result, a queen can sting repeatedly, whereas a worker can normally sting but once.
 A destrier is a type of heavy warhorse.
 Single-elimination tournaments are sometimes reseeded after each round, albeit more commonly not. (The smaller the field, or the more time elapses between rounds, the more likely reseeding becomes.) Had the jousting tournament not been reseeded, #1 D.J. would have faced #4 Gwen instead of #6 Leshawna in the second round, and #2 Duncan would have faced Leshawna.
 Saint George is the patron saint of knights. The invented "Saint Numeris" refers to the Canadian audience measurement organization, Numeris. (The U.S. counterpart is Nielsen Media Research, for which the Nielsen rating system is named.) The name "Numeris" is an anachronism here, and suggests an embellishment by the Storyteller, because this story is set in 2007 and the Bureau of Broadcast Measurement (later BBM Canada) did not rebrand itself as Numeris until 2014.
 The piranha pool and the minefield are retained from the canonical final race, which is a straightforward albeit hazard-laden speed race.
 The line Cody recites, "Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die" comes from the poem that prefaces The Lord of the Rings and is inscribed on the One Ring.
 Cody likening Lindsay and Duncan to dwarves also alludes to the preface poem in The Lord of the Rings: "Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone".
 In horse racing, "riders up" is the command for the jockeys to mount their horses. This command is normally given immediately before the "parade to the post".
 Heather addresses Lindsay by her proper name, as opposed to the usual "Lindsiot", because Heather is desperate and understands that she genuinely needs Lindsay's help.
 The verses quoted in the "Charge of the Light Brigade" challenge are, of course, taken from the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem.
 "Saving ground" is horse racing terminology, and refers to a jockey hanging back and conserving their horse's energy for a more advantageous moment.
 Despite some similarities, Leshawna's assault on Heather is not based on the canonical incident in Season 3 (Total Drama World Tour). The assault scene, including the cliffhanger placement and resolution, was one of this story's first finished scenes, written before World Tour premiered and with only minor revisions since.
Harold (Muskies): Eaten by sharks. (Beth reprieved after being voted off)
*Owen (Eagles): Believed to have cost his team the challenge when he gassed Gwen and Trent
*Trent (Eagles): Blindsided by Heather and Cody. Heather wanted to hurt Gwen, and Cody wanted to get a romantic rival out of the way.
Bridgette (Muskies): Injured Courtney and was believed to have indirectly cost her team the challenge as a result
Geoff (Muskies): Too distractible for his team's liking. Lost the tiebreaker.
Justin (Eagles): Wimped out of his phobia test, and got the girls mad at him when they heard how badly he dissed Beth
**Izzy (Muskies): The RCMP came for her after she set off a nuclear bomb, so she fled. (Courtney reprieved after being voted off)
Sadie (Eagles): Backstabbed by Heather and Cody. Heather saw her as a potential betrayal threat, and Cody saw her as an obstacle to Noah hooking up with Katie.
Noah (Eagles): Injured and not expected to recover before the merge. His shorthanded team didn't want to risk trying to carry a nonperformer.
Eva (Muskies): Her temper got the better of her once too often.
Beth (Muskies): Enabled underage drinking at the boot camp party, so when her team lost the challenge, Chris coerced her teammates into voting her off.
Tyler (Muskies): Performed poorly in the challenge. Implied to be on the wrong side of a majority alliance.
— EATING CHALLENGE – NO ELIMINATION — Owen and Trent return
— TEAMS MERGED — Izzy returns
Ezekiel: Party to multiple incompatible alliances; forced to betray one
Owen*: Summarily eliminated by a challenge twist
Izzy**: Sacrificed herself by tanking a potentially dangerous attack meant for Heather
Trent*: Perceived as a threat due to the knowledge he presumably gained at the losers' compound; and with seven of the ten campers earning invincibility, there were few alternatives in any case.
REMAINING BOYS (3): Cody, D.J., Duncan
REMAINING GIRLS (6): Courtney, Gwen, Heather, Katie, Leshawna, Lindsay
* Returned at "halftime", a.k.a. the eating challenge
** Returned after the eating challenge, but was not eligible to win the game
Confirmed dead (7): Anne Maria, Cameron, Dave, Jo, Lightning, Max, Scott
Presumably dead (1): Brick
Define "dead" (1): Ella
Status uncertain (1): Staci
Presumably alive (9): B, Beardo, Carrie, Dawn (departed), Ennui, Jasmine, Leonard, Rodney (injured, departed), Shawn
Confirmed alive (4): Alejandro, Ryan, Scarlett (injured), Sky
NOTE: Although it is technically possible for an intern to die within seconds of their last "sighting", for purposes of this listing anyone appearing on the most recent day of the story's chronology is "confirmed alive" unless otherwise noted. Interns who have appeared or been stated to be alive in the latest week or so of the story's chronology, or who have left the island, are "presumably alive" unless otherwise noted.
In addition to numerous brief changes, due mainly to various campers and interns appearing in nonstandard outfits for one challenge or another, several characters have more or less permanent changes to their appearance:
Intern uniforms (and life expectancies) are similar to those of Captain Kirk's security personnel in the original Star Trek.
Lindsay has a short, brunette hairdo, resulting from her hair being burned in a challenge accident.
Katie and Sadie got makeovers after giving one to Lindsay. They now wear big hair and visibly mended sundresses.
Gwen has her left wrist in a cast, lost the pinky finger from her left hand, and for a time had her left arm in a sling after being seriously injured in a challenge accident. Her arm is healing nicely, but she still does not have full use of it.
Scarlett's knee injury, suffered during setup for the Labors of Heracles challenge, is serious enough to require a brace.
Additional changes pertain to characters currently out of the story.
A/N: Well, the fat's in the fire now. What will be the fallout from Leshawna beating up Heather? Does Heather deserve a beatdown? Which rider will be covered in martial glory? Who will get voted off? Will there even be a vote? The answers to these and other questions next time. In the meantime, I'm happy to hear your theories and opinions.
Most of you who offered opinions last time correctly surmised that Cody would survive because he has more story left (although that hasn't stopped me before) but didn't necessarily foresee how the swing votes would play out. My gratitude to you for sticking with my story despite its increasingly irregular update schedule. I'm not sure when the next chapter will be posted, because there are a couple of directions it could go (i.e. heavy or light on purely original content) but I can assure you it won't take another nine months.