The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
CHAPTER
6
Let’s Make A Deal...
The huge animal growled and pawed at the earth, bending low as it sniffed the ground. Its nostrils quivered and balls of mist puffed out of them, like little clouds dancing in the sky. Except they weren’t clouds and if they were, they’d be angry ones. Stormy ones. Archer gulped. Mean ones.
When it opened its mouth Archer’s eyes widened because, WOW, the teeth were scary. Like crazy scary. There were three rows of them. Three dangerous rows of teeth that looked as if they could rip into anything with no problem. Just like Cook’s favorite knife that he used in the kitchen.
Which Archer didn’t want to think about, at least not right now.
“Okay, do we have a plan?” Archer whispered to Del.
“Sure,” Del said. “My plan includes not being dinner for that hairy, smelly creature who looks like he could eat both of us in one gulp.”
The creature growled as if it knew exactly what they were talking about and the sound was a low rumbling that Archer felt all the way to his toes.
“Archibald,” Dash said from just behind them. “I suggest you stay very still. Any movement could set the animal off.”
Del snorted. “Archibald?”
Archer didn’t have to be told twice to remain still, though really with a set of demon-red eyes staring at him from only a few feet away it wasn’t that hard to do.
“Archibald McTavish the third,” he whispered. “So what?”
“It sounds kind of stuck up,” she replied.
Archer wanted to be ticked off at Del’s comment but since she was sort of right about his name he decided to let it slide.
This time.
“That’s why I like, Archer,” he said. “Look, we can talk about our names later. Right now we need to get out of here before that thing decides that it’s hungry and that we look good enough to eat.”
Just then the beast pawed the earth once more, blowing out a long, hot breath and sending up those angry clouds again.
“Like we need to get out of here right now,” Archer whispered.
Del waved her blade slowly in the air and the animal’s eyes followed the pale blue glowing edge.
“There’s no way out though,” she said. “It’s blocking our escape and the only way out of here is to go up.”
“Dash, drop a line will ya?”
“Will do,” Dash said as he rose a few inches into the air. “However I feel I must point out that the added weight might make it difficult for me to get both of you to the top of the ridge. I’m only a class 2 bot.”
The animal’s snorts turned into a full-on growl and it began to move forward, long claws digging into the ground as it pushed off into a run.
“Guess we’ll take our chances. Now, Dash!”
A sturdy thick rope fell between Archer and Del. Archer grabbed it and wrapped it around his wrist just as the animal charged. Dash beeped loudly and shot straight into the air, giving Archer barely enough time to grab Del’s hand. She kept her weapon trained on the beast and when it lunged into the air, she tapped it on the nose, not hard enough to do any real harm, but still enough so that the beast felt it.
The thing screamed in fury but Archer and Del rose into the air, out of its reach and after a few more scary moments of dangling and wiggling, Dash set them down safely, several hundred feet away.
For a few seconds Archer and Del stared at each other and then she started to giggle. Her whole body rocked back and forth and when she fell onto her back, Archer couldn’t help it…he joined in and the two of them rolled around laughing like they were crazy.
“That was so cool,” Archer said.
“Yeah, it was,” Del grinned.
“It was like we were flying or something,” Archer managed to say between giggles.
“We kind of was,” Del replied. “I mean, with the help of your bot.”
Dash floated down between them as the heavy duty string slowly rolled back up into the compartment located on the bot’s back. “Archer, a word.”
Archer’s laughter died and he sat up, pushing his hair out of his face as he stared up at his bot.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“In private,” Dash responded.
Archer was silent for a moment and then got to his feet. He glanced at Del and shrugged. “This won’t take long.” He followed his bot to the other side of the clearing. “Okay, Dash, what’s bothering you?”
“It would be in your best interest to proceed with caution, Archer. We don’t know anything about this pirate girl.”
“Del,” Archer said.
“Excuse me?”
“Her name is Del and she’s not one of the pirates.”
Dash’s eyes glowed red once more and the little bot made a series of beeps and whirrs as it rose into the air and then fell back level with Archer’s eyes.
“We do not know what her agenda is.”
Archer frowned. Crap. Dash was right. But still…Archer usually knew when someone was lying and he didn’t think that Del was. Why would she risk her life for them if she was one of the bad guys?
“Well,” Archer replied, scratching his head. “I guess there’s only one way to find out.”
“Archer,” Dash warned. “What are you planning to do?”
Archer shrugged, because well, what else could he do? “I’m going to ask her.” It really was a no-brainer and sometimes he wondered why his super smart robot couldn’t figure out what seemed so obvious to Archer.
“I’d like to point out that all known life forms are adept at hiding the truth.”
“Sure, but I have a plan,” he said as he turned back toward Del.
“Please include me in on the details.”
“Just don’t say anything, okay? Not even if your programming is screaming at you to butt in. Just go along with whatever I say.”
“Archibald…”
But Archer was already pushing his way through the underbrush and a few moments later he was facing Del. He thought of the man he’d seen Big Bully push to the ground.
“So, I need to know why you are following me.” Archer said without wasting any time.
If Del was surprised at his question, she didn’t show it.
“I wasn’t following you. I was following that beast.”
Huh. Archer shoved his hands into his front pocket. “Are you looking for the prisms?”
Del’s eyes widened and he knew that he was onto something. “I know about them.”
Del was silent for a few moments, fiddling with the end of her Drakyn sword. “Do you know where they are?”
“If I did, why should I tell you?”
Her nose scrunched up and she kind of cocked her head to the side. “How do you know about the prisms? Is that why you’re here?”
“No,” Archer said. “I already told you. I got left behind. But why are you here? You said that you weren’t one of the pirates and yet you’re after these prisms and following me.”
“I’m not one of the pirates.” Del stomped her foot and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that she was really mad.
“My bot can sense emotion, and…” Archer thought hard. “Uh, he knows about how your heart speeds up and stuff when you’re lying. So, if you’re lying to me Dash will know.”
Archer wasn’t much for lies, but it was all he had right now. Of course his bot couldn’t tell if someone was lying or not, but Del didn’t have to know that.
“Was that your dad back there?” he asked watching her closely. “I snuck up to the ship and I saw them…Big Bully and a man who was tied up.”
Del nodded. “Yes.”
“Are you their prisoner?”
Again she nodded. “Yes.”
“And they want you to find these prisms?”
“Yes,” Del said, voice kind of wonky. “But even if I do find them I won’t let the pirates near them because…” She looked pale and kind of scared.
“Because why?” Archer asked, taking a step closer.
“Because I know why they want them.”
Now Archer was more than a little bit curious. “Why do they want them?”
Del sighed. “They want to use the power in these prisms to destroy most of my home planet.”
“But why would they do that?” Archer asked.
“There are rumors that gold and treasure are buried deep within our mountains and the only way to bring the mountain down is to totally destroy them. Do you know how many creatures, animals and Drakyns live on those mountains? I used to live on those mountains until they kidnapped us.” She was shaking now. “I won’t let them do it.”
“We’ll help you,” Archer said without thinking.
“Archibald McTavish!” Dash zipped around them, yet both Del and Archer ignored the little bot.
“You can’t help me,” Del said, her eyes dropping to the ground. “No one can,” she whispered, so low that Archer barely heard her. “I have to protect my planet and my father.”
“I think you’re wrong,” Archer said slowly. “I think we can help each other.”
The two of them stared at each other for a long time and Archer thought that maybe Del was one of the prettiest girls he’d ever seen. Not that he thought about those kinds of things a lot but still...
“Deal?” he asked hopefully. “A team is better than going it alone, don’t you think?”
Del bit her bottom lip and shrugged, but even though she looked away, he saw the soft smile and he knew that he’d done the right thing. “Deal,” she whispered.
Archer nodded. “Okay,” he said, ignoring the furious beeps coming from Dash, because the truth of it was, being with someone was better than being alone. And if he and Dash were going to beat the pirates at their own game, they could use Del’s help.
He opened his backpack and offered Del the other half of his protein bar. His stomach rumbled and he thought of those luscious strawberries. “Let’s figure out our next move and I hope it involves some food from that ship.”
Del grinned. “Sounds like a plan.”
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