The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
CHAPTER
25
When All Seems Lost...
Archer had always been taught to mind his manners and to always accept gifts when given. Please and thank-you were always on the tip of his tongue. But sometimes it was hard to think of all the things you were supposed to do or say when all you wanted to do was be somewhere else.
He accepted a mug from one of Sousha’s friends and settled back against a rock, staring at the group below him. “Thank-you,” he murmured, trying to smile but failing miserably. The little alien skipped off to join her friends around a fire and Archer blew out a long breath.
“We need to find Del and Bruce,” he said to Dash, who floated above his head as if everything was right in the universe.
“Agreed, Archibald. However, the likelihood of us finding them on our own in this intricate myriad of underground caves, is a, as your father likes to say, long shot. I compute the odds at ninety to one.”
“Well, that’s just great now, isn’t it.”
“Is that a question?”
“No,” Archer said in disgust. “It’s a fact. Why won’t they help us find them? I’ve asked Sousha at least ten times and each time that I ask she just smiles and dances away.”
Archer frowned. “Maybe she doesn’t understand everything I say. Maybe she doesn’t know how dangerous the situation is. Not only do we have to find Del and Bruce, we have to get back in time to the meet up with the pirates.”
“Agreed.”
“And before we do that we have to come up with a plan.” Archer’s head hurt just thinking about it. “Maybe we should just go and find them on our own. You can scan for life forms and—“
“Archibald, my readings aren’t at 100% capability down here. The walls of the caves interfere greatly, as does the power from the prisms.”
Archer jumped to his feet. “But we can’t just do nothing. They might have fallen into an underground river or something and everyone knows that cats can’t swim. What if Bruce drowns? What if Del gets hurt trying to save him?”
Archer spied Sousha chatting with one of the guards and decided that he had to take things into his own hands. He jumped down the path and ran toward her, Dash zooming behind him.
Waving his hands like a crazy person, he supposed he must have looked threatening. Why else would the guards point their weapons at him? Why else would they start shouting?
Archer came to an abrupt halt, realizing he was making things worse.
“Sousha,” he shouted, out of breath and more than a little scared that he’d just screwed things up. “I need to find my friends. We need to get a plan ready for today. Do you understand? Not tomorrow or the day after. Today. The pirates are expecting a trade and if we don’t deliver…”
Archer glanced back at Dash, his throat tight, his eyes stinging. Crapper. Now was not the time for him to get upset and freak out. But really, who would blame him? He’d been alone on this planet for days. How many? He didn’t even know anymore.
I just want my dad, he thought. “I just want to be back on the Reamus,” he whispered to himself. “In my bedroom or even in class. I don’t even care if Cook McDaniels carries through with his threats to cut my hair all off. I’d be bald if it meant that I was home again. If it meant that I was with my dad.”

Archer scrubbed at his eyes and glanced around, his gaze fierce. “He lost my mom you know. She got sick and she went away and…and she’s not coming back. My dad needs me. He needs me to figure this out and stay safe because he’s coming back for me. He’s coming back!”Archer didn’t know he’d been shouting until he heard his words echo in the vast chamber.
Embarrassed, he turned away, stumbling over his feet in an effort to hide.
Running back up the path he ducked behind a large boulder and sank to the ground, his body shaking, his heart beating so fast that it hurt. For the first time since he’d been left behind, Archer felt hopeless.
He wasn’t sure how long he sat there, alone with his thoughts, but eventually he became aware that a pair of eyes was studying him.
Sousha.
She smiled, making soft sounds, her large eyes dewy and trusting. And then she hopped over the boulder and jumped right into his lap. Her little arms crept around Archer’s neck and she hugged him until he hugged her back.
“I’m sorry,” Archer said gruffly. “That wasn’t cool.”
“Cool?” she asked.
He shrugged. “I was acting like a baby and it won’t happen again.”
Sousha stared up at him and patted his face. “You are sad.”
He nodded. “Yes. I just want to help my friends and then I want my dad to come for me. Sometimes I think that maybe he’s not. Maybe he won’t find his way back to this planet or if he does, maybe it will be too late.”
“Too late?” Sousha’s eyes were huge and then a smile swept across her face. Her big ears trembled and she jumped up, clapping her hands before reaching for him. “It’s never too late, Archer.”
Archer let his alien friend lead him out from his hiding spot. He took two, maybe three steps and then froze. There were twenty or thirty spiders below. They were small, at least compared to the mighty Magnar, and were about twice the size of Archer. Their long legs were gangly and they rubbed them together, creating a hum that filled the entire chamber.
Several of them were still spilling into the great room when Magnar appeared..
Archer watched the great spider with a bit of fear and a whole lot of awe. Magnar was on the opposite side of the cave and yet he looked bigger than ever.
The spider made a series of noises—like a violin that wasn’t quite tuned—and all the little spiders stopped rubbing their legs. They stopped humming.
Magnar spread his own legs and dipped his massive head, allowing his cargo to slide from his back onto the ground in front of him.Del and Bruce.
“Guys!” Archer yelled, taking off with Dash close at his back. He ran through the crowd of spiders, past the prisms and guards. And he didn’t stop until he was standing in front of his friends.
“Miss us?” Del asked, punching him softly in the shoulder.
“What do you think?” he answered with a grin. Wait. Were those tears in Del’s eyes.
Bruce was purring, rubbing his purple body along Archer’s legs and Archer petted his head. “I’m glad you guys made it here.”
“Yes, Archibald. We had some help, but we’re in one piece.”
“And we’re ready to go get my dad,” Del said.
Archer nodded. It was time. “Okay. Let’s do it.”
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