Pat was walking through the deep woods and repeatedly looked down at bushes to see if there were any berries growing on it. However, much to his dismay, he couldn't find any at all.

"Oh, man…" Pat moaned after several hours of just looking at one bushel after another. If he was lucky, he could find a few clumps of berries that wouldn't even satisfy any of the younger children.

"Pat…" asked a small girl, "Are we going to be okay?"

Pat put on a strong face. "Of course we'll be fine, Meryn. Come on. After everything we've been through, this is nothing."

"Okay…"

It was obvious that she didn't believe him, and Pat knew that he couldn't just keep saying everything would be fine and expect everyone to listen. Now he knew he'd have to do something if he were to keep everyone's spirits up.

"Ugh…oh boy. Um…Jen, have you found any water yet?" Pat asked as he turned to en eight year old girl.

Jen shook her head.

"Um…ugh…"

"Pat? Are you okay?" Jen asked.

"I'm fine. I just…want to see how Alex is doing right now, okay?"

"What for?"

"I just want to make sure he's doing his job, okay?"

"Pat, he probably is."

"Still…"

Pat turned around and started walking away from his small band and headed out of the woods. He walked to the front of the island and saw Alex was still sitting around with an equally small group of his helpers, and he seemed to be discussing something very intently with them.

"Okay…you guys really don't have any idea what we're going to do?" he asked hopefully, even though he already knew the answer.

The boys and girls around him shook their heads.

"Ugh…alright. Oh, hey, Pat."

"Hi," Pat weakly nodded and walked over to him. "You're having a bit of rough luck, too?"

"Rough luck? What do you mean?"

"You look like you're having trouble thinking of a way to get us off this place."

"Oh…well, I don't think we're having trouble, but yeah, we haven't figured anything out yet."

"Could you try getting an idea faster?"

"Hey!" Alex yelled, somewhat offended. "You don't just pull an idea out of nowhere, you know! I'd like to see you come up with something!"

"I know, but…"

"And from the sounds of it, I don't think you've found us any food yet."

"…No, I haven't."

"Then quit telling me what to do when you can't even do anything yourself!"

"Hey! Watch it! Don't forget that you're the reason we're stuck here in the first place!"

"Oh, yeah! Like it's my fault we're…"

At that moment, a helicopter was suddenly heard hovering around. That was all it took for Pat and Alex to stop their bickering and look up. Just as Alex had expected, a coast guard was hovering about a mile out at sea.

"Hey! Hey!" Alex yelled. He started jumping up and down as if he were doing an aerobics workout. "Over here! Hey!"

"Over here!" Pat joined in the screaming, even though he knew that they wouldn't be heard over the loud blades. "No! They can't hear us!...wait! Alex, do you still have those matches that you set the ship on fire with?!"

"Yeah…hey, good thinking!"

Alex sprinted over to the beginning of the woods and snapped a long branch off one of the trees. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out the box of matches that he used to turn the ship into a would-be crematorium.

Irving was piloting the helicopter and looking around for any signs of life. It was at that moment that he turned his head and saw the lit branch that Alex was waving in the air.

After slightly gasping, Irving started steering towards the island and pulled out his radio. "Base, this is Milhaust-One. I've found an island with some people on it. I'm going in. I'll keep you updated."

The radio began clicking. "Yes, sir."

All of the kids were staring in awe and disbelief at the site of the helicopter coming towards them, but their shock was quickly turned to cheer and happiness. Many of them started jumping up and down and screaming "Yeeeeahhh!" at the top of their lungs.

Pat stared in awe, as did Alex. After a while, Pat sat down on the ground and started rubbing his eyes, which had just gotten a little misty at the sight of seeing the helicopter come towards them. He then looked up and saw Alex was extending him a hand to help him get up. Pat grabbed onto it and was pulled up back on his two feet.

The helicopter soon landed and Irving got out. He was smiling at the kids, but was obviously confused. "What are you guys doing?" he asked.

Everyone started talking at once, but Alex promptly spoke up and yelled, "Everyone! Be quiet and let Pat explain!"

Pat was surprised and turned to Alex, who was giving him a "go ahead" expression with a head nod to accompany it.

"What happened?" Irving asked.

"Well…"

Pat told the whole story about how the storm had hit the boat and killed all their parents (Irving looked especially concerned about that part), how everyone had a rough time when they tried managing the ship, how it was set on fire and how they had just been stranded. He left out all the gory details.

"Ha. Sounds like you kids need to be getting home."

"What about our parents?" Clark asked.

"When we get home, we'll contact all your relatives and see if any of them will take you in. I'm sure they'll be very surprised to hear you're alright."

Everyone was silent and breathless. They couldn't believe that, after all that had happened, it was all over now.

Irving walked back to his helicopter and pulled out the radio. "Base, this is Milhaust-One. The island is inhabited with kids who were shipwrecked. I'll give you a full report back at base. We're gonna need some more choppers and ships. Here, let me give you the coordinates…"

Before long, more ships and helicopters had arrived to pick up the castaway kids. All of them were organized and evenly distributed. Pat was given the privilege of riding with Irving because he was the one who explained the situation and would need to do some more explaining about what happened.

"Hey! I want to ride in a helicopter, too!" Alex yelled, covering up the fact that he thought he deserved to explain just as much as Pat did.

Pat had no objections.

Soon, Pat and Alex were in the helicopter with Irving and on their way back to civilization. After answering a few questions about the trip, Pat had his own question to ask.

"Sir…how did you know where we were?"

"Last night, a distress signal from your ship's radar came out of nowhere and disappeared after less than a second. I told my boss about it and he told me to investigate it."

Pat's eyes widened and turned to Alex. Alex seemed just as shocked as Pat did that his plan had worked, but he certainly seemed more delighted than Pat.

-

It was now two days after the kids had been rescued and brought back to civilization. Many of them were so excited to be home that they literally had not stopped smiling since getting rescued.

Now, all of them were standing in front of city hall with thousands of people crowded around. There were several writers, journalists, and family members watching. The kids were about to be recognized by the mayor of the city the ship departed from, mayor Monine.

Monine stepped up to the podium with his back to all the kids behind them. He was met with a round of applause and looked at everyone in the audience several times before it finally died down.

"Thank you, uh…thank you all fa bein' with us this afternoon," he greeted in less than three seconds. "Today, we're here to welcome home these lost girls and boys. They've been shipwrecked and stranded on desert islands in the last two weeks, and now they're finally home."

There was another round of applause.

"The military has kwata…quartered them for the last two days and helped save them from…thyland." (He meant that to mean "the island") "Now, it's time for them to go home to where they belong. With their loved ones and everyone else. We're busy findin' relatives to be their parents, and the number of people we've searched is several. But these kids have earned it and showed great bravery and courage…"

Monine's speech went on for several minutes and he basically repeated the same thing. At long last, his speech ended and the kids were greeted with one long round of applause. A few of them smiled and waved while others sat there and absorbed all the attention.

The kids were quickly disbanded and were getting picked up by their relatives or anyone who would act as a guardian now without their parents. Clark went home with his grandmother, Nicole went home with her older sister, Max went home with his uncle, Shelby went home with her step-dad, and Lyle went home with both of his grandparents.

Pat was getting ready to leave with his aunt and uncle until he was stopped as he was walking away with them.

"Pat!"

Pat turned around and saw Alex was staring at him. Curious as to what he wanted, Pat started walking towards him. "What's up, Alex?"

"I, uh…who are you going home with?"

"My aunt and uncle. You?"

"…the same. Look, Pat…I know I've put you through a lot this last week or so, and I wanted to just say…thanks."

Pat looked confused. "For what?"

"For…you know. Forgiving me after everything I put you through."

Pat made a face. "Forgive you? When did I say anything about that?"

The shy smile faded from Alex's face. "Well…it's just you worked with me at the end, and…"

"You mean on the island? Dude, just because I worked with you doesn't mean I forgive you."

"But…"

"The only reason I did that is because I thought it would be smart if one half worked on the rescue thing and the other worked on surviving."

"So…what are you saying?" Alex asked.

"I'm saying…I don't forgive you."

"What?!"

"Alex, you stole my position, locked me up in a room and nearly killed everyone on the ship. That's too much for me to just say, 'ah, whatever' to."

"Hey! Watch it!" Alex loudly exclaimed. "If I hadn't done all that stuff, we never would've gotten rescued! If I just sat around and didn't try to take over, we'd still be on that ship!"

"Come on. Just accept that you got lucky and that it's a miracle we're not all dead because of you."

Alex looked like he was ready to fight Pat one more time, but Pat spoke up. "But…you did help get us saved. I think you were wrong to do what you did…"

"I wasn't wrong!" Alex interrupted.

"Whatever you say," Pat sarcastically answered. "But we're home now, and that's all that matters, if you ask me. So…"

Pat put out his hand. "Goodbye, Alex."

Alex stared at Pat for a few seconds, unsure of what he was supposed to do. Finally, he put out his hand and shook. "Goodbye, Pat."

They shook hands for a few seconds before Pat turned around and walked away. Almost coldly, Alex turned around and started walking in the opposite direction.

THE END

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And so ends another story.

Well, as always, I'll talk about how Strong to Save II came to be. Last Winter, I finished up my first new story of Fictionpress, which was the prequel to this one. It was after that was finished that distant ideas of writing a sequel started coming to me. I got these ideas for two reasons: first, people seemed to think that I left the ending too open ended or that there wasn't enough closure to it. Second, many people had complaints about the way the story was written and how the characters were portrayed.

So, in short, people thought the story needed proper closure, and I thought adding to the story would be an opportunity to make amends for doing what (as I guess some people say) was a pretty underwhelming job at writing the first one.

However, that only provided a motive for writing a sequel. I didn't actually decide to make one until the middle of the summer, and it came from a pretty unlikely source. I was just relaxing one night and watching videos on Youtube, and while watching some, I stumbled across one that was a montage of clips from the 1990 version of "Lord of the Flies". After clicking on it and just seeing one of the opening shots of all the boys walking on to the island once they were shipwrecked on it, it just jolted in my mind that the "Strong to Save" story was unfinished.

The main reason that that one particular shot of the shipwrecked boys made it click in my mind that I wanted to do a sequel was because I was toying with the idea that, if I did do a sequel, I was considering having it take place on an island.

But that's how I decided on writing a sequel. But at the same time, I also wanted to work on my first go at a mystery story, which was "The Night Shift." TNS won out over StSII and went up first. (However, I didn't expect it to take this long for StSII to be completed; both stories took longer to write than I had anticipated)

Since the very beginning, I knew that, if I went on to write a sequel, Pat would be the protagonist. That was pretty much the only thought that stayed consistent during the whole planning process. It took a surprisingly long time for me to string the events together, and after months of thinking, I only knew two things: the main character would be Pat, and the villain would be named Alex.

I eventually just threw ideas together about why Alex would act as an adversary until I came up with an idea that I liked and thought I could work with, and that's how it got to where it did.

Now that I've finished up that rant, time to move on to the thanks. Sadly, this section will be short due to the shockingly disappointing amount of reviews this got. But anyway, thank you to all who read it. (and a special thanks to Bob Evans for reviewing)

After some thinking, I've decided I'm taking the summer off from writing on FP, although I'll still read and review others' work. But, in any case, look for my next story coming up in the Fall. There won't be a preview of it, but I know what it's going to be about and what the plot will be. Hopefully that'll give me all summer to refine it.

-Silent Will
Wednesday, May 28, 2008