Here’s the next part of the story I posted a few days ago. . . .

Xen told himself that it didn’t matter anymore, as he watched the ship come closer to its final destination.

He turned to Tok and Raguan. You guys okay?

Raguan nodded, “yeah.” Then turned to Tok and said, “You okay, man?”

Tok didn’t let go of the handles, his hands still clenched tightly. He nodded, short, jerky nods.

Xen looked around the room. It was a mess. Scattered pieces of the T.V. lay on the floor, surrounded by sheets, pillows, chairs and trash.

He took a deep breath. The worst was over now.

Suddenly, Xen felt like his head was splitting. The loudest sound he’d ever heard, for sure. He looked out the window, still reeling from the blast of sound.

He saw the ship, or what was left of it, shattered and broken on the ground. It had crumpled on impact, throwing up dirt, debris, fire, and metal. It had crashed through the trees, leaving a gaping hole in the green. Small fires had caught around the initial crater, and there were several large craters where other pieces had landed. On one side of the main clearing, the twin engines had turned into twin infernos. Blazing away, a thick stream of smoke began to rise above the canopy.

“There it goes,” murmured Raguan.

Xen scoffed and continued to stare out the window. He could see the other pods, spread out for miles and miles. The farthest were dots on the horizon.

Xen couldn’t think of a worse landing scenario. He felt numb inside, still in shock. He didn’t know what to think or how to feel yet.

The canopy was fast approaching, and the pod pushed down on the top leaves and broke through. The pod bumped one final time as it came to rest in the trees, stuck halfway in the top layer of leaves. The door attempted to slide to the side, but got stuck halfway, and gave up with a mechanical hiss.

Xen looked at Tok and Raguan.

“Guess we should. . . .“

“Yeah.” Raguan nodded, eyes fixed on the door.

Xen unlatched his safety belt and stood up. He walked across the room, stepping over a chair, and looked out the wedged door. He saw thick smoke rising like a gravestone for the ship. He crouched on the edge of the floor and peered into the dense leaves as Tok and Raguan got to their feet as well.

He couldn’t even see the forest floor. The trees were thick and knotted. He couldn’t tell where one tree began and the other ended. It was like a living net.

“We should make our way to the ship; regroup with the others,” Tok suggested.

The two other boys nodded in agreement and Xen slid off the ledge and onto the nearest tree. He stood and balanced while he helped the twins get onto the branch. They agreed that it’d be much quicker walking along the top of the trees than trying to climb down and walk on the ground. Xen couldn’t tell how far the ground was from where they were, and he didn’t want to get stuck between two trunks half way down.

They began the trek, jumping from branch to branch. They were thick enough to put an entire foot on, so slipping or losing balance wasn’t much of a problem. The only problem they had was that where the branches were thick enough to walk on, leaves made visibility almost impossible. They kept direction by staring at the steady stream of smoke rising from the wreckage.

I have to go! I’ll be back!