The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
CHAPTER
13
And so it begins...
Archer woke up because his stomach rumbled so bad it not only echoed inside the cave, it echoed inside his head. Or at least it felt that way. What he wouldn’t give for a big fat juicy hamburger. Or one of those rolls with the brown sugar and butter that Cook loved to bake. At this point even peas were looking pretty good and Archer hated them.
He’d eaten everything Del had brought the day before. Which was so stupid. Why hadn’t he left something for this morning?
His belly rumbled again as he tried to get a few more drops of jupe juice out of his canter, and he winced. He needed food and he needed to get his plan of action rolling. Tumbling over and nearly whacking his head, he reached for his bot and powered up Dash.
A series of whirrs and beeps followed, with a not so random sequence of lights hitting the walls of the cave as Dash came to life. Blue. Red. Yellow. They flashed faster and faster, his little bot humming to life. And then Dash shot across the large cave, emitting a high pitched sound that faded as he scanned the entire area.
“Anything?” Archer asked, scratching his head and thinking he should have maybe brought a comb. Using his fingers he tried to tame his waves but gave up. Whatever. It’s not as if Cook was around to give him an earful about being groomed and that kind of stuff.
“All clear, Archer.”
Dash floated down until he was level with Archer. “We need to charge our lumen energy.”
“I know.” He was nervous. There was so much to do and…
“I’m guessing the only place we can do that is the pirate ship,” he said, more to himself than anything.
Dash beeped. “Affirmative.”
“Good,” Archer replied, reaching for his backpack. “Because I’m hungry and I’d really like some jupe juice or maybe some carbonated stuff. And once we have that looked after we’ll figure out how to get Del’s dad away from the pirates.”
He hiked the backpack up onto his shoulders and grinned up at his bot. “So, you gonna give me a lift down or what?”
But Dash was already lowering a long, heavy rope and as Archer grabbed hold of it they moved toward the waterfall. “Okay,” he mumbled “This will be more fun going down than it was coming up, right?” He tugged on the rope.
“I cannot answer that as I have no point of comparison,” Dash replied, zooming toward the edge.
Archer felt water slap his face and then he was shooting through the air, slicing through the falling water, and his last thought as they erupted from behind the waterfall was, ‘I hope Del isn’t close by to hear me scream like a wuss.’
As it turned out, Del wasn’t close by. In fact they trudged through the soft green jungle, Archer’s eyes moving ahead, he couldn’t hear anything or see anything. Not one sign of Del.
He kept his eyes moving. Always looking for danger. They passed the big tree he’d spent his first night in and he was very careful not to step on the little colourful red and purple spider-like bugs that were making their way across the jungle floor in order to get to the rotting fruit.
He thought briefly of scooping up some of the fruit for himself (you know, the ones that didn’t look so ripe) but didn’t. They could be poisonous and he had no way of knowing. Wouldn’t that be silly. Archibald McTavish the fourth, killed by a purplish squishy fruit.
They made it to the cave, the one he’d explored the first day that seemed like weeks ago, but no Del. The entrance to the cave was once again open and he thought of the crystalline creatures…the creepy crawlies, and with a shudder turned away.
“Dash,” he said, glancing up at his robot. “Can you scan a couple of miles in all directions and inside the cave for Del?”
Dash floated above the canopy of trees and it only took him a few moments before the bot came back down. “She’s not here, Archer. I would assume she’s still with the ship.”
“Okay,” Archer said, his face tight with resolve. “Let’s do this.”
“This?” Dash repeated. “Can you be more specific?”
“We’re gonna head toward the ship and figure out a way to get your lumen energy boosted.” He grinned. “And then we’re going to get some food. And then we’re gonna do something to distract the pirates.”
“If you could be more specific,” Dash replied, following along behind Archer. “About your plan it would be most helpful.”
“I would be,” Archer said. “If I knew what our plan was going to be but since I don’t, we’ll just pretend that it’s the most diabolical plan ever.”
“I can’t pretend.”
“Oh,” Archer frowned. “Right. I’ll pretend for the both of us.”
The remainder of the trip was made in silence and it took nearly an hour for Archer to hike through the jungle, back to the pirate site. He heard the pirates before he saw them. Sounded to Archer like something was up. He crawled along the jungle floor near the edge of the clearing, wiping sweat from his brow and wishing he’d left at least a couple drops of jupe juice.
Another thought struck him. Why hadn’t he filled his canister with the water from the waterfall? Dummy, he thought, slumping behind a felled tree trunk. How am I ever going to rescue Del’s father, save the aliens and Pointy-ears, as well as keep the pirates away from the prisms, when he couldn’t even think ahead enough to fill his own water bottle?
Dejected, he tried to shake away those kinds of thoughts. His father had always told him that being positive was winning half the bottle and that staying focused finished the job.
He peered over the tree trunk and saw the massive pirate ship. It was nestled in the clearing, there along the far edge.
The pirates milled about, eating and joking among themselves, but Archer couldn’t find the leader, Big Bully. Where was he? Where was Del?
That fear that sat in his stomach like a stone returned, but he had to push it away. He had to be strong. He had to focus.
“Dash,” he whispered. “What’s your battery capacity?” He could tell that his bot’s energy was low. His lights were dim.
“An hour at most.”
“Okay,” he said, facing the pirate ship again. “We have to look after you first and then we’ll figure out the rest.”
Archer’s eyes narrowed and he grabbed his electron before taking a big breath.
“Let’s go,” he said, just before inching his way toward the pirate ship.

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Chapter 14

Into the belly of the ship...

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