The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
CHAPTER
14
Into the belly of the ship...
Archer crawled all the way around the clearing, eyes peeking through the vines that tangled along the bottom of the jungle floor. The pirates were hanging by the fire eating and drinking and laughing as if they had nothing better to do.
And that skinny one was stuffing his face with strawberries and, Archer’s mouth watered, biscuits.
Totally not fair.
The sun was still making its way across the sky and Archer figured it was only a few hours past breakfast. Geez. It seemed to him that the pirates did nothing but fool around and eat.
Kind of made sneaking into their ship a whole lot easier. He just wished he knew where Del was.
“Dash,” Archer whispered as they neared the far side of the ship. “Can you scan for life forms?”
His bot floated past Archer and zipped along the ground. When he returned Dash’s eyes glowed red. “There is one life form in the cargo hold and two in the rear of the ship.”
“The one in cargo must be Del’s father.”
“I don’t make assumptions but according to my calculations that seems probable.”
“Do you know if one of the others is Del?”
“Negative. I can’t distinguish the difference in their genetic makeup. I don’t know if the life forms are humanoid like the pirates, or Draken like Del.”
“Okay, we’ll worry about that later. Right now we need to get to the main deck and power up your lumen energy and my extra batteries before we do anything else. It will pull much faster from their main control board don’t you think?”
“Affirmative.”
“Okay,” Archer said, eyes on the ship. “Let’s do this. We’ve got to make a run for it while they’re eating and telling their stupid stories.” He hiked up his backpack and slowly got to his feet. From this vantage point he couldn’t see the pirates but he sure as heck heard them.
One was laughing so hard he began to cough and then someone said something that he didn’t like and it sounded to Archer as if they were fighting. Like rolling in the dirt kind of fighting.
“Now, Dash,” he said, sprinting from under the cover of the jungle and running as fast as he could toward the ship. He jumped over a dead tree trunk and hopped onto the steps that led up into the belly of the ship.
His heart was pounding so hard that he was sure the pirates on board would hear him and he tucked into a small nook just inside the entrance, trying to catch his breath. It was dark and he wrinkled his nose at the smell.
Ugh. Cook would never stand for such a…a bad odor. It smelled as if the pirates hadn’t had a bath in days.
He waited for his eyes to adjust to the lighting (Dash was on low power) and then motioned his bot forward. He banged his toe against a heavy steel rod, and winced as the sound echoed into the ship.
Heart still pounding he waited a few seconds but heard nothing and then followed Dash toward the command center of the ship. They slipped down a narrow passageway and then climbed up rickety metal stairs. Once up here he looked around in wonder.
The pirate ship may look beat up and yucky on the outside, but this here was state of the art. He spied a symbol from the Federation and shook his head. No wonder. It was all stolen.
“Over there Dash,” he whispered.
Dash zipped across the room and was already hooked up to the main power source at the control board when Archer reached him. He yanked off his bag and set out his lumen batteries.
“Here,” he whispered. “Charge these when you’re done, and….” He frowned, glancing around. “Do you think you could tap into their main computers? See what information is there?”
“Will do,” Dash replied.
“Okay. I’m going to find the galley. I want me some of those strawberries and biscuits.”
He left Dash hooked up to the power grid and flew back down the stairs, careful to avoid the heavy steel rod he’d banged his toe on. The galley on his father’s ship, the Reamus, was below the main deck so he figured it was as good a place as any to check out. He decided not to take elevator down and instead found the stairs to the right of them.
Once below the main deck it didn’t take Archer long to find the galley. It was the biggest open space there, and well, he could smell something cooking. Seriously, all these pirates did was eat. He was starting to think they were the laziest, least scary pirates he’d ever come across. Well, all save for Big Bully.

Something was bubbling in a big pot on the stove and he took a second for a taste. Couldn’t help himself because it smelled like something from his grandparent’s kitchen. It was some kind of soup and he would have loved to eat more but there was no time. Archer flew to the pantry and his eyes nearly popped out of his head when he spied all the food.
Strawberries. Bread. Cheese. Crackers. And… holy space balls! Chocolate! Boxes and boxes of chocolate.
Archer got busy filling his bag and when it was so full he wasn’t sure he could fit his lumen batteries back inside, he grabbed another bag and stuffed it full of fruit, cookies, cake and more chocolate. Once that bag was nearly full he glanced around, fist pumping when he found the cold space.
He yanked on the door and grabbed some juice (they even had jupe juice) and then tossed in as many water containers as he could. Was he being greedy? Probably. Did he care? Heck no!
Archer slipped his backpack on and hiked the second bag over his shoulders, glancing around one more time before making his getaway. Dash should be done powering up by now.
Did he have time for one more sip of soup?
Rushing back across the room he dipped the ladle back into the thick mixture, mouth watering as the scent filled his nostrils.
“So good,” he murmured.
He had the spoon inches from his mouth when he paused, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. Hairs that worked like a radar. A radar that told him danger was close by.
Setting the ladle back into the pot Archer stepped down. He paused, listening hard for several seconds and hoped that his internal radar was all wrong.
He listened so hard that his ears hurt. About ten seconds passed and Archer was about to head back up to Dash when he heard a scuffing sound, like a boot across the floor. A shadow appeared, the outline scary big and well, Archer’s stomach dropped all the way to the floor.
He wasn’t alone. His radar had been right.
A voice whispered to him. A scratchy rough voice that made those hairs stand on end again. “Needs a bit of salt don’t you think?”

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Chapter 15

Fear doesn’t taste so good...

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