The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
CHAPTER
10
An idea takes shape...
Hours later Archer couldn’t get his mind to shut off. Couldn’t help it. All he saw when he closed his eyes were those little faces, with their little ears and big blue eyes.
“This isn’t gonna work,” he muttered, trying for a better position that wouldn’t leave him stiff in the morning. He was tired. He really was, but there was no way he could sleep.
Once again he was in a tree since they hadn’t had enough time to find a better place to call home.
“Home,” he whispered. Where was his father? How long would it take for him to come back for Archer? Depending on the damage to his father’s ship and the level of anxiety on the Reamus, he might not even be aware that Archer was missing. It had only been two days…or was it three?
He grabbed his bag and rifled through it until he found his hologram.
Glancing around quickly, he decided it was safe enough and activated the device, holding his breath as the moving picture sprang up in front of him.
He stared at the image of his parents for so long that his eyes blurred and then he turned it off, tucking it back into his backpack carefully.
Scratching his head, Archer tried to think but it was kinda hard because all of a sudden there was a stupid lump in his throat. His chest was tight and if he had to speak there was no way words were coming out.
And hey, his eyes were hot and itchy. Thank goodness no one was here to see him blubber like a silly baby. Sniffling he settled back, trying to get as comfortable as he could.
It was evening and the jungle was coming alive once more. Archer blew out a long breath and scrubbed at the corners of his eyes, glancing up at Dash. His bot was on low power-mode, floating above Archer like he was on holiday or something, his eyes almost amber they were so dark. Archer’s stomach grumbled and honestly, he was hungry enough to eat an entire bowl of peas, and he hated peas almost as much as he hated brussel sprouts.
Wouldn’t Cook McDaniel like to see that? Imagine, Archibald McTavish the fourth chowing down on an entire bowl filled with peas and brussel sprouts.
Yuck.
Another grumble and this time his stomach rolled making him feel more than a bit queasy. He wouldn’t have a chance to eat anything until the morning because that’s when Del was supposed to bring them food. He thought of those big, fat, juicy strawberries that big bully had eaten and his mouth watered.
“Oh, not fair,” he said.
“Oh, not fair,” a voice echoed.
Instantly, Archer went still, though he tilted his head toward the sound of the voice and relaxed a bit when he spied…
“What was your name again?” he asked.
The purple and yellow striped animal stretched and then settled back onto his branch. (and Archer was totally going to think of him as a cat from now on because, well, he looked like one)
“Bruce,” the cat answered. “In honor of your fascination of the Batman.”
Batman? Archer shot a glance up at Dash once again, thinking of how he’d programmed his personal bot to sound like the butler from those old earth movies.
“But, how did you?...how did you know?”
The cat grinned (if it was possible for a cat to grin) and stretched out its long claws. “I know many things and many things can sometimes be too much so it’s not always a blessing to know what I know.”
Okay. Archer wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, the cat was talking in riddles…kind of like The Riddler, but suddenly an idea took form in his head.
“Do you know where my father is? Like can you somehow contact the Reamus and tell them they gotta come back right away?”
“No,” Bruce said. “I am not allowed to interfere directly with the way of things. I can only…give a nudge so to speak. Point an arrow in the right direction.”
Another idea fell into Archer’s head. “Are you like…” Okay, this might sound stupid but he had to ask. “Are you like an angel or something?”
Bruce’s yellow eyes shimmered in the dark, almost seeming to glow, but then the cat slowly shook his head. “No.”
“Oh,” Archer answered, a little disappointed. “Then what are you exactly?”
“I’m everything and nothing.”
Irritated, Archer shoved a chunk of hair from his eyes. “Well that doesn’t tell me much.”
“No,” the animal said softly. “I suppose it doesn’t.” A pause. “Did you find the cave?”
Archer nodded. “They’re so gentle. I mean, I couldn’t understand what they were saying but they just seemed so cute and helpless and those prisms…they were everywhere and I think that they power their planet somehow. If the pirates find them…”
“But they won’t.”
“I sure hope not,” Archer replied. “I had Dash show them an image of the pirates and I think they understood that they’re bad people and not to go near them.”
Archer thought of the little alien who’d found them near the pirate ship and he shuddered. The little creature had held Archer’s hand the entire time he’d been in their massive cave and she’d wanted to come with him when he left. In fact she’d followed him out and he had to gently push her back to her home.
“You might have to use devious means to keep them away and devious means to outsmart the pirates.”
“I’m cool with that,” Archer said, grinning when Bruce made a noise that sounded like half of a giggle and half of a growl.
“I must go away for a few days,” Bruce said, rising up.
“What?” Concerned, Archer sat forward and nearly fell out of the tree. “You can’t go away. I need your help. How am I going to keep those creatures safe?”
Bruce yawned, arching his back like grandfather’s cat and then stared at Archer directly. “You’ll find a way. You’re very much like your father.”
“But how do you know that?” Archer asked, blinking his eyes when a blinding light hit him in the face. When he opened them again it was too late. Bruce was gone and for one crazy moment he had to question whether he’d had a real conversation with the creature or if it was all in his head.
“Well, that was interesting. I’ve been to a lot of places and I’ve never seen a talking cat before.”
Archer glanced down and spied Del at the bottom of the tree. “How did you find me?” But as soon as the question was out he shook his head. “Never mind.” She was a master tracker. Of course she would find him.
Archer wriggled his way down from the tree and jumped the last few feet, landing a couple inches from Del. “I thought you weren’t coming back until the morning.”
She shrugged. “I wasn’t going to but big bully had quite a feast and they drank some of that yucky stuff they keep locked away. You should have heard them. I mean, not one of them can hold a note but they were singing like they were performing for the Imperial Ruler himself.” She shuddered. “It was awful. I had to get away so I thought I’d bring you some food.”
If Archer was the kind of boy who kissed girls he would do it right now. “Del, thanks I’m starving.”
“I knew you would be,” she said handing him a bag. “I’ve got something else for you.”
Archer was digging through the bag and had a piece of bread stuffed into his mouth. He was just reaching for a hunk of cheese and, holy space balls, was that cake? Like chocolate cake with strawberries on top?
“Yeah,” he managed to say through a full mouth. “What else you got? Some more jupe-juice?” He swallowed the food and wiped the corner of his mouth. “I’m all out.”
“No,” Del answered slowly. “I found this lurking behind that mess of jungle vines.”
She stepped out of the way and the blue eyes that Archer had been trying not to think about stared up at him in such an adoring way, he felt his heart constrict. It was almost like she was his little sister or something.
That’s if she had a sister.
“I told you to stay at your home.” Archer shook his head. “It’s not safe for you.”
The little alien grinned up at him and then pointed to the hunk of cheese in his hand. She rubbed her stomach.
“So you’re not going back tonight,” he said.
The little alien shook her head as if she understood exactly what he was saying.
“What are you going to do with her?” Del asked.
Archer handed the little alien some cheese and watched her nibble at it, smiling up at him as if he’d just given her the best present ever.
“We are gonna protect her and the rest of her people.”
“The pirates are spreading out their search grid and they’re getting more impatient with me. I’ve given them nothing.”
Archer bit his bottom lip. Shoot. They needed a plan.
Just then Dash floated down and though he was still on low power-mode, the little bot was functional.
“Perhaps we need to give them something. An appeasement so to speak. Something to keep them occupied and searching in another direction.”
“Like what?” Archer asked.
“That is yet to be determined. I would require a higher level of functionality in order to come up with an idea.”
Archer glanced at Del. “Do you need to head back just yet?”
“No,” she said with a grin.
“Okay, Dash,” Archer said. “Power up!”
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