The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
CHAPTER
16
To the rescue...
The pirates lingered along the edge of the jungle, their voices rising and falling as their anger increased. Archer kept his fear buried deep inside, but it didn’t matter. He knew it was there…waiting until he was alone and though he tried to block it out, he couldn’t help but remember Big Bully’s words.
“Your father is never coming back for you. His ship was too heavily damaged and there’s no way they survived the jump into hyperspace.”
He glanced at Del, but her face was tense, her exotic eyes closed as they waited for the pirates to either leave, or to find them. And the waiting was long, so long that Archer’s legs began to cramp and that fear that sat in his belly was making him sick. Sweat broke out along his forehead and just when he thought that he might pass out or worse, maybe cry, the pirates left and he fell to his knees.
“I’m so sorry, Del,” he whispered.
She didn’t answer him and he glanced up. She was sniffling and wiping at her face, and when she opened her eyes Archer saw how scared she was.
“I know you’re scared,” he said slowly. “I am too. I thought my dad would have come back for me by now, but…” He stopped and inhaled a shaky breath.
“But?” Del asked quietly.
“Maybe he’s not coming back,” Archer managed to say. It was kind of hard to talk on account of the large lump in his throat.
For several moments all he heard was the sound of water falling. He felt the rush of coolness against his skin but it didn’t make him feel better. He thought of Big Bully and his threats. Of Del’s father who was still a prisoner. Archer’s dad might be lost to him but they still had a chance to save Del’s father.
“We gotta get your father out of there,” he whispered fiercely.
“They’ll never let us near the ship,” Del said, kicking at the dirt. “And now that they know I’ve betrayed them…” Her voice wavered and Archer leapt to his feet.

“We’ll get him,” Archer said, mind working furiously. “We will get him away from Big Bully, don’t you worry.” He glanced over to Dash. “Dash, I need you to do something.” His bot floated down until he was level with Archer’s head, emitting a series of beeps as his eyes changed colour.
“I need you to give the pirates a message from me.”
“What?” Del said, her voice rising. “Are you crazy?”
He shrugged. “Maybe, but as far as I can tell we only have one option. We need to get your dad away from them and since we can’t just walk onto that ship and snatch him we’ll have to give them something that they want.”
Del’s eyes were huge. “And what would that be?”
He waited a moment. “Prisms.”
“But,” Del sputtered, pushing back a big chunk of hair as she began to pace along the narrow pathway. The water still fell inches from their heads and the sound was loud.
She threw her hands up into the air and looked at him as if he was crazy. Maybe Archer was, but he could only see one way out of their predicament.
“First of all,” she said. “We don’t even know where the prisms are and secondly, even if we did there is no way I’m going to let you hand over that information. They’ll destroy everything here and use it to destroy my planet.”
“I know,” Archer replied.
“Well then if you know that why are you even talking about this stupid plan of yours?” Her hand tightened around the edge of her sword. “I’m not only a tracker, I can fight too. I’ll do whatever it takes to get my father back.” She paused and lifted her chin. “Alive.”
“Del, we have to be smart about this,” Archer said. “There are too many of them for us to try to sneak onto that ship and rescue your father.”
“Who said anything about sneaking?” she said. “I’m done letting them control me. Done letting them hold my father over my head as if he was some kind of toy.”
“But Del,” Archer said gently. “Listen to me before you run off and make things worse.”
“Oh,” she said roughly, cheeks red. “Like you did? Why were you in the kitchen long enough to get caught? Wasn’t one bag of food enough?”
For once Archer was speechless and it took a few moments for him to get his thoughts organized. “You’re right. I screwed up so at least give me the chance to make things right.”
Del’s eyes narrowed. “What’s your plan?”
Archer exhaled and glanced back at Dash. “Like I said, we’ll give them something they want in exchange for your father.”
“Prisms,” Del said.
Archer nodded. “Yes. But they won’t exactly be the real thing.” He motioned toward Dash. “If we get our hands on some of those prisms, do you think that you can replicate them?”
“Negative,” Dash replied. “I’m not capable of manipulating matter.”
Archer scratched his head. “What about draining their power? Can you do that?”
Dash’s eyes glowed and he floated in the air as the beeps and whirrs continued. “That is a possibility. If I can analyze one of the prisms, I could theoretically strip the power source.”
“Okay. Good,” Archer said with a smile.
“I don’t get it,” Del replied.
“We’ll give them prisms that don’t work. They’ll think they are the real deal and we’ll trade them for your father.”
“Archibald, I must point out that the chance of this plan working is less than thirty-five percent.”
“I can deal with that,” he said, eyes on Del. “Can you? If you’ve got another idea let’s hear it.”
Del sheathed her sword and crossed her arms. “If we do this, it has to be right away. They won’t hesitate to hurt my father.”
“Got it,” Archer said, turning to Dash. “Get the message to the pirates. Tell them we’ll trade prisms for Del’s father tomorrow morning in the clearing.”
Dash zoomed past them and disappeared within seconds.
“Okay,” Del said slowly. “Your plan might work but there’s one big problem.”
“What’s that?”
“We don’t know where the prisms are.”
Archer thought of pointy-ears and her home. He thought of the prisms that he’d seen in their village. He couldn’t take them and he sure as heck couldn’t risk the pirates following their trail to their dwellings.
No. He needed to find the source and that meant dealing with the cave he’d first tumbled through when he’d arrived on the planet. He had to go with his gut. Everything told him that the cave was connected to the prisms.
“I have a pretty good idea where we can find some.”
“Pretty good doesn’t sound nearly good enough and I don’t think this plan of yours is full proof.”
He shrugged. “It’s all we got and besides,” he said with a grin. “I’ve heard my dad tell his crew over and over again that they’ve got to trust their instincts. And right now my instincts are telling me that this is the right thing for us to do. Are you in?”
Del bit her bottom lip and Archer thought that maybe it was trembling a bit. He put his hands on her shoulders. He wouldn’t let her down.
“Okay,” Del said slowly. “I’m in.”
Archer scooped up his backpack. “Let’s go.”
“What about Dash?”
“He’ll find us.”
Archer started toward the exit and then paused. “You don’t have another sword do you?”
Del shook her head. “No. Why?”
He thought of the creepy crawlies from that first day and swallowed hard. “No reason. I’m sure one will be enough.”
At least he hoped so.
He set his sights on the jungle beyond the waterfall and with Del a few inches behind him, set out to save her father.
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