The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
CHAPTER
7
Who’s out there?
“You didn’t tell Del about the small life-form we’re tracking.”
His new friend Del had just left andArcher glanced up at Dash and shrugged. “I trust Del, I really do but…” He paused and scrunched up his face. “I don’t trust the pirates. If she knew about the little creature the pirates might find out. By accident of course, but I would feel awful. Can you imagine what they’d do to something so small and helpless?”
“They’d probably transport it to the slave planet.”
Archer nodded. “Exactly. That’s why I couldn’t take a chance and tell her. At least not yet.”
“Understandable,” Dash said floating a few feet away.
Del had gone back to the pirate ship. They didn’t want Big Bully and the others to come looking for Del so the three of them decided that for now she’d return to the pirate ship and pretend she hadn’t found anything.
Which she hadn’t. Not exactly. Since the pirates had no idea Archer and Dash were on the planet it wasn’t really a lie. She’d calibrated a communication device so that Dash could contact her and they would decide where to meet up the next day. The plan was to come up with a way of keeping the pirates from finding the prisms without hurting Del’s father and the only way to do that was to find them first.
Once they did that they would do whatever it took to keep the pirates away. Of course, as Archer’s father would say, ‘there were a lot of holes in their plan’ but they decided to worry about all that stuff later.
And there was a lot to worry about. How were they going to rescue Del’s father without getting captured first? And once they did get him away from Big Bully and the rest of the pirates, how were they going to stay hidden and safe until Archer’s father came back for them?
Archer’s head hurt just thinking about it. Besides, there was a lot of other stull on his mind. Like food. And, well, his stomach.
It rumbled. For at least the tenth time. Del had promised to bring as much food as she could back with her but that wouldn’t be until tomorrow. Until then he was going to have to be satisfied with the little bit of food that he had. And that sucked because it wasn’t nearly enough. He was a growing kid after all. At least that’s what Cook said whenever Archer asked for seconds.
Archer glanced down at himself. Sure didn’t look like he was growing much even Del wasn’t that small next to him and she was a girl!
“So, I guess we should try tracking the little alien until it gets dark?” he asked, munching on the last bit of the last protein bar in his bag.
It was late afternoon and the sun was starting to set in the distance. Archer thought of the beast that had cornered him hours ago. “And maybe we should scout out a safe place to sleep because I really don’t want to meet that hairy Rhino wannabe again.”
Dash beeped and chirped. Archer was gonna take that as a ‘yes’.
Archer swallowed the last bit of food and sat still for a moment, his eyes on the sky. “I guess you haven’t picked up any readings from the Reamus.”
“That would be negative, Archer.”
“Huh,” he said softly. “I wonder where dad is.”
“Archer, Commander McTavish could be in an entirely different solar system altogether. It might takes weeks for him to find his way back.”
Or even months, Archer thought. How was he going to survive out here on his own?
Something itchy poked at the edges of Archer’s eyes and he sniffled, scrubbing at his face as he looked down at the ground. There was a big old lump in his throat and he had to clear it before he could speak.
“Can you scan for life-forms? Like maybe in a ten mile radius?” he asked, shoving his jupe-juice bottle back into his bag. “And maybe some fresh water? I’m almost out of juice.”
Dash rose into the air, flitting around the clearing until he disappeared from view. For several long moments Archer stared into the surrounding jungle, eyes itchy and (okay now that Dash wasn’t around he could admit they were full of tears). After sniffling and cleaning the corners of his eyes for like, the tenth time, he sighed and got to his feet.
But then froze when he thought he heard a sound. Kind of like the one he’d just done. A long, drawn out sigh full of sadness and maybe a little bit of fear.
Slowly, he turned in a full circle, eyes darting everywhere. The jungle floor. The trees above him. The dark nooks and crannies in between.
He cleared his throat.
And so did someone else. Or maybe something else.
Scratching his head Archer took a few steps and paused, listening as hard as he could. He wasn’t scared and usually his stomach was pretty good at warning him when danger was close by but right now he was just…curious.
“Something’s out there,” he murmured.
‘Something’s out there’, a voice echoed.
Okay, that wasn’t what he’d expected. Archer’s belly lurched a bit and a sliver of fear had him sweating. Pushing at that stupid lock of hair that hung in his face he searched the immediate ground. He needed his bag. And maybe his electron weapon. You know, just in case.
But the bag was nowhere to be found. Had Dash taken off with it? Archer immediately shoved that thought aside. No way would Dash take Archer’s bag. But he could have sworn he’d set it down near the rotted tree stump.
“Where are you?” he whispered.
‘Where are you?’ Someone mimicked in a voice that sounded just like Archer’s.
He frowned, annoyed and more than a little angry. It had to be Del. She was playing a game on him. “Where are you Del?”
‘Where are you Del?’
“Give me back my bag,” he said angrily.
‘Give me back my bag.’
Archer whipped his head around. “That’s not funny.”
‘That’s not funny.’
Just then Dash zipped back into the clearing and came to a stop just behind Archer. The little bot was flashing red and beeping and whirring as if it had a big secret to tell.
“Archibald there are several life forms in the immediate area.”
“No kidding,” Archer mumbled.
‘No kidding.’ Came the voice.
“Space balls,” he exclaimed. “Did you hear that Dash?”
But Dash didn’t get a chance to answer because the voice repeated exactly what Archer had just said.
“Is that her? The little alien?” Who else could it be?
“Archibald there are several life forms in the immediate area but none match the composition of the one we spotted earlier. None are remotely humanoid.”
“Then who’s making fun of me and where is my bag?”
Archer glared up at the trees, at the long spindly branches that hung over his head like giant spider legs. “I know you’re up there somewhere!” he shouted.
This time there was no answer and Archer hopped up onto a rotted stump near the edge of the clearing. “Dash can you locate my bag?” There was no way he was letting anyone or anything take that from him. No way at all.
“It’s several feet above you.”
Archer leaned back. Way, way back and peered up into the thick leaves and vines. He saw a few rows of the red and purple spiders marching along like soldiers, heading down the trunk toward the jungle floor.
“But I don’t see anything,” he complained, tugging on his hair harder and thinking that he wouldn’t care if Cook McDaniel shaved his head the next time he saw him.
Dash floated higher. “To the right.”
Archer was just about to climb the tree when a bunch of leaves moved and he caught sight of his bag hanging from a branch even higher. “How did that get up there?”
‘How did that get up there?’
Again came the voice and again it sounded exactly like Archer.
“Archibald, there is a life form just above your bag, but it’s one that’s constantly changing.”
“What do you mean?” he asked, squinting and trying his best to see.
“I can’t explain it any other way than to say that it seems to be constantly evolving somehow. It’s composition changes making it hard to track.”
Maybe Archer should have been scared. Maybe he should have retreated. But the truth of it was, Archer was mad and he was determined to get his bag back.
“I’m coming up there,” he whispered and this time there was no echo. This time there was nothing but his bag swaying gently in the breeze.
Archer jumped up and caught at the lower branch just as Dash zipped past and scolded him.
“This is not the course of action I would suggest,” the bot said.
“I don’t care,” Archer responded, eyes on his bag. “That’s mine and I want it back.”
The leaves above him trembled slightly and he caught sight of the brightest purple he’d ever seen. It was fur. At least Archer thought so.
Was it a big animal? A predator waiting to pounce? His eyes rested on his bag. A bag that contained the only hologram photo of his mom. He gritted his teeth and took a big gulp of air.
And began to climb higher.

Keep Reading

Chapter 8

The Plot Thickens...

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