The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
CHAPTER
27
The Plan Becomes Real...
It took less than an hour for Archer and his pals to exit the tunnels with Magnar leading the way. After a while Magnar headed to the right and they went to the left with Sousha and the guards. Eventually they ended up in the original cave Archer had fallen through—how many days ago? He didn’t even know anymore, but the sadness that sat inside his chest was awful and it was hard to stay focused.
More than anything he wanted his father back. Heck, even the thought of how much trouble he was going to be in didn’t bother him. He’d take a grounding for a month…no, two months, just to see his father’s face and feel his arms around him again. When he finally saw his dad he was going to tell him how much he loved him and that he was sorry for every naughty thing he’d ever done.
Even the time when he’d put a pack of worms in his cousin’s spaghetti.
“Hey,” Del said softly, knocking him in the elbow. “Are you all right?”
Archer nodded. “Yeah. I’m good. I’m just…” He glanced at Del and the two of them stared at each other for so long that his eyes began to itch. How did he put into words the way he felt? You know, without sounding like a baby?
“I know,” Del said quietly, nudging him with her elbow.
“Thanks,” he managed to say.
“What for?” she asked.
“For being here. For being my friend. For just…” Archer kicked at the ground beneath his feet. “For knowing what it feels like to be scared and alone and not making me feel stupid because of it.”
Del punched him in the shoulder—softly of course. “I’d never make you feel stupid, Archer. Right now we’re family. We need to help each other and I know that you and Dash and Bruce are with me all the way. We’ll get my dad back and then we’ll survive for however long we need to.”
Archer shook away the melancholy. “You’re right. We will. We’ll start with your dad and then we’ll wait for mine.”
“Sounds like a plan,” she said with a grin and then turned in a full circle, her eyes sweeping across the cave walls. “This place looks amazing.”
Archer glanced up, eyes on the long cylinder tubes that slowly spun above his head. “Yeah. It’s cool. But those things.” He pointed to the ceiling. “Those things are scary.”
Bruce, Dash, several of the guards, and his little buddy Sousha joined them. Magnar had exited through another tunnel, probably because there was no way he could fit inside this one, and Archer had no idea where the massive spider was.
For a few moments there was silence and then the humming started. Alarmed, Archer glanced around, tugging at that stupid piece of hair that fell into his eyes. They widened when he noticed the cylinders were moving. Rotating. Humming.
He knew what that meant and he knew that it was time to make a getaway.
“Guys, we gotta go,” Archer shouted, pointing toward the exit.
“No,” Sousha said in her little sing-song voice. “Not yet.”
“Not yet. Not yet,” Bruce mimicked, his tail flicking outward before he settled down and began to lick his paw.
Okay, Archer thought. Were they all crazy? Nervously he watched his friends and when the first cylinder crashed to the ground he couldn’t help it. He began to run. That clack-a-lack-a-lack sound echoed against the dull, grey cave walls and the hair on the back of his head stood on end. Stomach churning, his legs pumped fast and hard.
“Del, you need to get out of here!” he shouted.
“Not yet, not yet,” Bruce repeated.
“You guys are crazy,” Archer said, glancing over his back in fear.
But what he saw brought him up short and he slowly turned around. Oh he was still scared of the creepy crab-like creatures. He’d be dumb not to be. But they stood at attention just behind Sousha, their small beady eyes glowing in the dim light. Their deadly looking claws clacking slowly in a rhythm that definitely meant something.
The walls of the cave shimmered and the humming increased tenfold. More crashes followed as more and more of the creepies spilled from the cylinders. And all them moved behind Sousha and the guards. They were lined up perfectly, like soldiers waiting to move out.
Archer’s eyes widened. They were soldiers.
He smiled and nodded. They were soldiers marching with him and his friends to make sure the enemy didn’t mess with Del’s dad or do anymore harm to the planet.
When the last once crashed to the ground and the creature moved into place behind Sousha, he heaved a deep breath.
“Okay,” Archer said, his voice a little husky. “I get it now.” He motioned to the cave exit. “We should go.”
“Yes,” Bruce said, big amber eyes blinking slowly. “It’s time. We must go now.”
The cat jumped up into the exit and Dash zoomed past Archer, a long coil dangling in front of him.
Archer glanced at Del. “Um, we’re going to have to…that is I’ll have to…you know, hold you.”
Cheeks burning, he looked away and spied Sousha and the guards settled on top of the creepy crawlies.
An arm grabbed him around the waist and before he could say a word, he and Del were pulled up by Dash, through tunnel and out into the hot jungle.
Bruce was waiting at the edge of the clearing and Archer, Del and Dash joined him as they waited patiently for the creepy crawlies, Sousha and the others to join them. Once they were amassed in a large group, Archer tugged his bag into more comfortable position across his chest and started forward.
“Let’s get this done,” he said, and then glanced at Sousha, who’d slid from her creepy crawlie and joined him. “Where’s Magnar?” Archer asked.
“They’ll meet us there. No worries.” Her huge eyes glistened as she smiled up at him, and in that moment, Archer believed that things had to turn out for the best. They just had to.
The group trudged through the jungle for what seemed like, hours, and felt even longer if that was possible. It was hot and everyone was sweating front he effort it took to make it over the thick jungle floor.
Archer heard no sounds from any jungle creatures. Not the birds or even the insects. He spied a large column of the purple and red spiders he’d first encountered. They were scrambling up a tree until he couldn’t see them. They disappeared among the branches and leaves and they made quick work about it. But they didn’t make a sound.
It’s as if they knew something was going to happen.
Unease rifled through him and he tried to shake it off, but Archer wasn’t so sure that it would ever go away. At least not until he was back on board the Reamus.
A few minutes later, Dash zoomed ahead, his eyes flashing red, yellow and then green. His little bot hovered in the air and then floated a few inches from Archer.
“My scan shows the pirates gathered near their ship. I must make contact and let them know we’re here with the prisms.”
Archer exhaled. “Okay, set up the meet and we’ll wait for you. If you’re not back in five minutes we’re coming in.”
Dash beeped. “I will return, but feel that I must advise you against taking any kind of initiative until all data is gathered.”
“We don’t have time for that Dash, so you better be back in five minutes. The prisms for Del’s father. That’s the deal. Once we have her dad, we’ll send in our friends to get the prisms back and to make sure the pirates don’t ever want to return to this planet again.”
Dash whirred once more and flew back into the jungle, his beeps muffled and then dying out entirely.
“It’ll be fine,” Del said, her voice a little shaky. “I know it will be fine.”
“Yes,” Archer said, touching the prisms in his bag. “We’ll get your dad back.”
And they would. Because there wasn’t another option.
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