By the next morning, the storm was over, as was any traces of it. The Marvel was once again sailing very smoothly across the water like nothing had happened at all. The same could not be said for everyone on board, though.

The news eventually got out about what happened to Evan and Shannon. Everyone saw Evan was dead when they went out onto the deck and saw his body. And they couldn't find Shannon, and no one had been out on the deck that night, so they deduced that Shannon died out there that night along with him.

There were a series of "whoa's" and a long, deathly silence that seemed to tell the whole story of the events that had happened. Everyone understood the struggle that had to have taken place on the deck the night before when both "leaders" ended up dead.

The silence lasted for what seemed like hours. Finally, someone just walked away, and a lot of other people quickly followed. Little by little, everyone started leaving the deck and went inside as they tried to get on with their day and hoped to figure out what was going to happen.

It was such a strange feeling. The corruption and the plots had been figured out. The bizarre twists of events where the elementary and middle schoolers somehow managed to overthrow the oldest kids in a contest of smarts turned out to be too much for a lot of the children to understand or comprehend.

As everyone walked away, only a select few people remained on the deck of the boat. The clear, blue sky and the bright sun made everything seem peaceful, almost like the reversal in fortune of the two leaders caused a reversal in the weather conditions.

It had been all figured out. The murders, the plots, the behind-the-scenes actions…all of it was uncovered in a most unlikely manner.

"Heh," Pat said to Nicole. The two of them were some of the last people to remain outside after everyone else had gone in. "Who'd of thought it? Evan and Shannon's plan undone by a bunch of kids our age. I'm sure they would've been very happy to know that."

"Pat, don't be so cocky," Nicole said surprisingly casually. "Yeah, we turned them against each other and freed ourselves from their reign, but was it really the right thing to do?"

Pat's expression suddenly turned to one of concern. "What do you mean?"

"I mean, was it right for us to interfere like that? I mean, Evan was just trying to make sure everyone stayed in line and he realized he had to enforce a few rules very strictly to do it. And Shannon was just trying to get rid of someone who she thought would bring danger and disorder or chaos to everyone on the ship."

"What's your point?"

"Well, they both had good reasons to do what they were doing, despite some of the obvious problems with it. So…were we right?"

Pat smiled slightly. "Nicole, lemme tell you something, all right? If we didn't step in and ruin both of their plans and ultimately finish them both, then we'd both have to live under them, right?"

"Well…"

"Come on, you and I both know it. Now wouldn't your rather be living on your own without some crazed big kid telling you what to do?"

"Yes, but…"

"Then don't feel too bad about it, all right? Besides, you weren't the one who killed Evan and Shannon; they killed each other. So God shouldn't hold it against you."

Nicole was silent and some of the remarks Pat was making. How could he seem so easy after what just happened? He was proud that he and several other kids undid plans that seemed so full proof and flawless in just a matter of days, as well he should have been. But did he have to be so thrilled? It didn't seem right to Nicole. She had always been told to make the right decision, even when it wasn't an easy thing to do.

"Are you absolutely sure we weren't the bad guys?" Nicole asked.

Pat let out a pleased, yet exasperated chuckle. "Don't worry about it, 'kay? Yes, we were the good guys."

Pat started walking away. As he walked off, Nicole muttered under her breath, "I dunno…"

And then one last question struck her. "Wait! Pat!"

Pat stopped walking and turned around. He gave her a friendly smile. "What?"

"Do you think…we'll ever get home?"

Pat was unsure how to answer this question. He was pretty much the oldest one on the boat now (at the very advanced age of eleven years) and he had to be careful to be a good leader. (The other four who were older than he was were killed) He also knew he had to watch out for Ryan, another eleven year old on the boat who probably felt he had some responsibilities as a leader now as well. Pat finally decided that he had to keep everyone as optimistic as possible. There was still food. There was still morale. There was still hope.

Giving Nicole a gentle smile, he said, "Of course we'll get home."

Pat started walking back to the inside of the ship again, but he was stopped yet another time.

"But if we get home, who'll take care of us?" Nicole asked, strongly emphasizing the "if".

Pat gave her one more smile. "You got relatives, right? Aunts? Uncles? Cousins? An older sibling that moved out? Grandparents? Or maybe neighbors?"

"…Yeah."

Pat gave a very easy laugh. "So, if we get home, one of those people will take care of you. Simple as that."

Pat and Nicole stared at each other for a short while. Then, Pat turned around one more time and walked away. This time, he was able to go back inside the ship, uninterrupted.

THE END

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Oh yes, you guys don't know this yet, do you? Well, whenever I finish writing a story, I usually like to just give a few comments about how I felt writing it, how I came up with the idea, and just a few general things like that.

Either way, that's it. There's the end to my first serious attempt at writing a story on FictionPress. I owe a big thank you to all you guys who read this story and stuck with it after a while. And it's a good thing you guys gave me some of the pointers you did. Since you guys really stressed that the characters need some more development, I'll try to keep that in mind for the next story I post, which should go up very soon.

This was more of a minor story than a bigger one. In fact, this story was just used as something to put up here while I worked on my major project. (You know, the one that I've had in my profile for weeks now?) I've had a plot in mind for that story for months now, but it took me much longer than I thought to get it together, so this story was just used as something to keep my FictionPress profile active while I worked on the bigger one.

But it's a good thing I did this, because I learned a lot of good stuff from writing this. Like I said, I've been told that my characters could use some work, so I'll gladly work on that.

Believe it or not, most of my stories actually are much more centered on plot than this one. This one I felt was more of a story where characters interacted with each other as opposed to a story that was centered in on a plot. (Although I guess it got a bit heavier on the story as it neared the end) Not only that, but this also turned out to be shorter than a lot of the other stories I've written. (But then again, that's why it's a minor project, right?) Despite that, it actually turned out to be two chapters longer than I had outlined it to be.

It's been a tradition of mine to talk about how I came up with the idea for a story once I've finished it. Hey, why not continue the tradition now?

To those of you guys who said it sounded a bit like Lord of the Flies at the beginning…well, give yourselves a pat on the back. I liked the idea of a group of kids having to work together while living in circumstances with no adult supervision. Unfortunately, it'd be more my style to put them on an island or something like that with a monster on it, but that would be WAY too much of a carbon-copy, so I had to change a few things around. There were a lot of other things I tried to switch so it would be more like an original work than a rip-off, so if you know the story, then some of the differences should be obvious.

Well, there's how I came up with the plot, as well as why I decided to put it up. But now it's time for this project to come to an end. Yes, Strong to Save took only half the time it takes me to normally write one of my stories, but that's because it was half as long.

Once again, thank you so, SO much to everyone who reviewed this. And don't worry about sounding critical, because as I've said in the past, that's what reviews are for. They're meant as a way to give the writer tips, and that's what you guys did. You utilized the reviews system and gave me advice, so don't worry about me being upset just because you guys were honest and good reviewers.

Thank you to all!

-Velkan the Impaler

Sunday, April 15, 2007, 10:12 p.m. E.S.T.

…andnow, for the second sneak peak at my next upcoming major project…

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A large craft is flying above the still night sky, thousands of feet off the ground. A giant cannon or some similar device is popping out of the top of the craft and appears to be charging a bright orange laser, illuminating the dark sky around it.

A countdown clock is ticking away. The units of time it counts from go down to mere fractions of a second.

13:21.92…

A young man who looks no older than nineteen is suddenly shown on the bridge of the craft.

"That's it! You can't get away now!"

The man has spikey blonde hair and he pulls out a gun on the person at the bridge's controls. His teeth are grit and his eyes show signs of determination.

12:06.13…

The giant orange laser is charging more and more, getting ready to fire at its set target.

The blond haired man is fighting fist-to-fist with the person at the controls. The fight could go either way.

"Why are you doing this?! Your plan is going to bring more suffering than…"

"I don't need your opinion on my plans, Renald!" the young man's opponent in the fight said. "You don't know a single thing about the world!"

"I know enough to know you're crazy!"

The two of them continue fighting each other, exchanging numerous blows.

10:07.49…The laser continues getting ready to blast.

The world's strongest…on the brink of despair…

Hero…or villain?...villain…or hero?

The time for revenge draws near.

One who held so much promise…so much joy…so much hope…

05:11.83…

The bright orange laser continues charging, getting brighter and brighter with every passing second.

Is it a coincidence two of them met? Was it fate that brought them together to end it? To end the suffering? Or the threat?

A car with blood on the hood is seen storming down the road. The driver slams on the breaks and stops the car right underneath the giant craft in the air, the laser charging.

01:06.21…

The driver stares up at the craft as it gets ready to charge and fire the laser. He looks determined, yet terrified of what's going on.

"Grrrrr…hurry up, Renald!" he curses.

0:04.19…

There's a large explosion in the sky that lights it up. It's the same bright orange as the mysterious laser-like thing charging on the craft.

A massive, pendulum-like device is seen, swinging back and forth. First slow, then incredibly fast.