The voice behind him was scratchy and rough and he was pretty sure that whoever it belonged to looked as bad as his voice sounded.
“I asked you a question.”
Archer gulped, eyes darting to the doorway.
The pirate began to laugh, a low, menacing sound and Archer nearly jumped out of his boots when he felt hot breath on the back of his neck.
“Let’s see what we have here.”
A hand on his shoulder told Archer he wasn’t going anywhere and for one second, he felt the hot sting of tears in his eyes. That big meaty hand whipped him around so fast and hard he nearly lost his balance and by the time Archer got his feet settled, he wasn’t scared anymore. He was mad. No one touched him like that. Not even Cook when he was angry with Archer and truth be told, Cook had reason to get angry with him every now and again.
He glared up into the face of none other than Big Bully.
“You have bad breath,” Archer said without thinking.
Big Bully looked surprised, and then he leaned back on his feet, his big belly jiggling around like Jello, and he laughed so hard that tears filled his eyes. The laughter quickly faded and Big Bully leaned in close, his heavy eyebrows furrowed into a fierce scowl.
“Who are you boy? And why are you stealing from me?”
Now, Archer had always been taught to mind his manners when it came to adults. He called his father, Sir. And Cook, well, just Cook, but he never talked back even when he wanted to. He kept his head low and tried his best to stay out of trouble, but this person right here? He wasn’t like any of the adults that Archer knew. He didn’t deserve any kind of respect. He was trying to destroy the planet and he had Del’s father.
Archer yanked away from Big Bully and took a few steps back and as he did so, he spied Dash floating just inside the doorway, behind Big Bully.
“Spritely little thing, aren’t you?”
“I’m faster than you!” Archer shouted, inching toward the pot of boiling soup.
Big Bully rested his hands onto his hips and glared at Archer. “You don’t belong here.”
“I know,” Archer quipped, eyes moving to Dash, who was floating closer.
“I mean that you don’t belong on this planet, boy.” Big Bully scratched his head and then a slow, menacing grin slid over his face. “You’re from the Reamus.”
“How do you…” But Archer shut his mouth quickly.
“You look just like your father,” Big Bully sneered.
Something cold shot through Archer. Real fear. Not the kind that brings on a few tears, but the kind that can freeze you. The kind that can get you hurt if you don’t figure a way out. Archer took a second and pushed his fear away. He needed to focus. He needed to keep Big Bully occupied long enough for Dash to do whatever it was that he was going to do.
Because, Dash did have a plan. At least Archer hoped so.
“How do you know my father?” Archer asked, glaring up at the pirate.
“We’ve had dealings before.” Big Bully leaned down again. “Long before you, boy.”
“What kind of dealings?” Archer, snuck a peek at Dash. The bot was rising into the air, just behind Big Bully.
“No,” Archer said quickly. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The pirate considered his words for a few moments and then his face got even scarier. “Is the Draykn helping you? The tracker should have found you already.”
“No. She’s not…” Archer groaned, realizing his mistake when a cruel smile appeared on the pirate’s face.
“I never said she was a girl.”
Desperate, Archer tried to appeal to the pirates soft side. “She’s done nothing. You can’t hurt her. There are no prisms and she was just trying to help me survive until…”
Big Bully laughed harshly. “Your father is never coming back for you. His ship was too heavily damaged when I nearly blasted him out of the sky. There’s no way they survived the jump into hyperspace and jumping into hyperspace was his only option.”
“You’re lying,” Archer shouted.
Big Bully took a step toward Archer and two things happened at once.
One, Archer grabbed onto the edge of the pot (even though it was as hot as a volcano and hurt really bad) and tossed it as best he could toward the pirate. And two, Dash whipped around Big Bully three times, encircling the sputtering pirate and tying him up with a rope.
“Ouch,” Archer shouted, flicking his hands and edging past the cursing
pirate. He jumped over Big Bully, wincing at the roar that came from him. He ran as fast as he could and was nearly to entrance when Del appeared, sword out and ready.
“What? No!” Del shouted.
“He knows,” Archer gasped. “About you helping us. I’m sorry but we have to go.”
“But my father,” Del said, her voice breaking.
Shouts from behind them made Archer jump and Del whirred and beeped, his lights going red and blue and then yellow. “We must leave now,” his bot said, zooming out of the pirate ship.
Del jumped behind the bot, sword still drawn and they raced toward the jungle, diving behind the tangle of vines and trees just as a general alarm was sounded.
Archer was just about to move when he heard noises. He lifted his fingers to his mouth, the universal sign of ‘be quiet’ and tried to peer through the water that fell inches from his head. He couldn’t see anything.
Archer and Del were as still as statues and Archer was pretty sure he was going to find out sooner than later. But even he wasn’t sure they could get out of this one.
“It will be okay,” he whispered to Del, again.
Boy, he hated lying.