The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
A Plan forms...
“I have an hour or so and then I’ve got to bring something back or…they’ll…I don’t know what they’ll do but it will be bad.”
Del’s voice trailed off and Archer looked away for a moment because he was pretty sure she was going to cry and he didn’t know what he should do about that.
He fingered the edge of his bag and bit his bottom lip. Once, on board the Reamus, Cook McDaniel’s cat had given birth to five little kittens. They were so small and helpless, little puff balls of fur. One of them was smaller than the rest and wasn’t getting enough food. Even though Archer and Cook tried to feed the little puff ball on their own, the kitten died. Cook’s assistant, Melanie, had cried until her face was blotchy with mad looking red spots.
Archer wanted to make Del feel better but sometimes it was weird with girls. They either liked when you helped them or they were insulted.
Cook had…he’d kind of…
Archer reached for Del and patted her on the shoulder. It was an awkward kind of thing but he was hoping she wouldn’t notice that part.
“What are you doing?” she asked, scrubbing at her face as she turned away.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Trying to make you feel better?”
“I’m just fine,” she mumbled. But they both knew that wasn’t the truth.
Neither one of them was just fine. Archer was alone on a planet full of mean, angry pirates and at the moment his father was lost to him, somewhere out there in space. And Del, well, she was trapped.
They had to figure a way out of this and they needed to make sure the little inhabitants of the planet didn’t get hurt or worse…
Once again Archer thought of the slave planet in the neighboring galaxy and shuddered. No way would little pointy-ear survive that kind of place. Archer wasn’t sure how anyone could.
Little pointy-ear burped and for a second Del and Archer were silent but then Del started to giggle and before long they were both laughing so hard that tears rolled down both of their faces. He clutched his stomach and fell onto his back.
“I never thought,” Del said, out of breath beside him. “I didn’t think such a big sound could come out of such a little person.”
“I know,” Archer managed to say when he caught his breath.
He propped himself up on his elbows and stared at the creature, who was smiling and stroking the ends of her ears, obviously happy with herself.
“We can’t let anything happen to them,” he said, turning to Del. He felt that right down to his bones.
“Agreed,” she said sitting up. “I think we need to create some sort of diversion.”
“Something to keep the pirate’s minds on other things,” Archer added.
“Exactly,” Del replied.
“Dash?” Archer looked up at his bot, who was zooming here and there like a rocket shooting across the sky. “Hey,” Archer shouted. “Dash!”
The little bot came to a complete halt and gently floated down to their level. He whirred and beeped for a few seconds and then spoke. “All scans are clear. There is no immediate danger.”
“Good,” Archer said, his mind already thinking ahead. “Maybe it’s time the pirates knew I was here.”
“Wait. What?” Del asked, a perplexed look on her face. “Why would you want them to know that?”
“Well, maybe the distraction we need is for them to know they’re not alone so that they start tracking me instead of looking for the prisms. Or better yet they’ll have you tracking me and we can just waste all of their time until my father comes for us.”
“I don’t follow,” Del replied, her face all screwed up like Cook McDaniel’s when he was thinking really hard.
Archer was onto something. He just knew it.
“Okay. But what if it wasn’t me exactly.” He thought of the giant beast that had tried to attack him the day before. “What if they thought they were in danger? What if they thought they were being hunted instead of the other way around?”
But Del was shaking her head. “I still don’t get it.”
“Dash and I could create all sorts of trouble for them if we tried and maybe they’d be so busy dealing with all that kind of stuff that they’ll forget all about the prisms.”
“Not gonna happen,” Del said, picking at more grass. “They want those prisms more than anything and they have my dad. I can’t let them hurt my dad.”
Archer jumped to his feet and began to walk a circle. Deep in thought he didn’t notice little pointy-ears following him until he came to an abrupt halt and the little creature slammed into the back of his legs. He grabbed her so that she wouldn’t fall but when he tried to let go, she wasn’t having any of it.

Pointy-ears made a soft little sound and smiled up at him and darn it, Archer felt his heart get big and goofy. It was almost like she was his little sister or something and he thought that maybe this was how he’d feel. You know, if he actually had a little sister.
“What if we took your dad away from them?” he said suddenly.
Del froze. “What do you mean?”
“What if find a base camp, some place really well hidden and we like, take your dad and hide him there.”
He thought of those strawberries again. “We can take a bunch of stuff and make it look like someone or something dangerous is hunting them and maybe they’ll just leave.”
“They watch my father every minute of every day. How would we even get close?”
“Don’t worry about that. Dash and I will come up with something.” He kicked his feet into the dirt. “What do you think? I mean, if the only thing they have over your head is your father it makes sense to eliminate him. That way they can’t force you to find the prisms.”
Del was quiet for a few seconds. “So, if this plan works’—her eyebrow shot up—‘and I’m not saying that it will because it sounds kind of crazy to me. But if it did and the pirates just left here without us…how are we ever going to get home?”
Okay. That was a stupid thing for Del to say to Archer. “Uh, because my dad will come back for me.”
“Archibald, I must inform you that there is a probability your father will never return and if he does it might not be for many months or even years.”
Archer glared up at Dash. He didn’t want to hear Dash’s complicated calculations. He didn’t care about those at all.
“He’ll come back,” he said fiercely. Archer swung his gaze back to Del. “If you have another plan I’d like to hear it.”
She gripped her weapon and shrugged. “We could steal their ship and just leave.”
Pointy-ears made a growly sound and yanked on his arm.
“That’s not an option,” Archer said. They’d hurt them.”
Sighing, Del nodded. “You’re right. I guess I’ll feel better about things if my dad isn’t their prisoner anymore.”
“Okay,” Archer said, excited about having a mission. “We’ve got to find shelter for the night and you need to return to the ship. Why don’t we meet in the morning near the cave I first explored. It’s about three miles from where the pirate ship is now. We can look for a safe place to set up a temporary home and then we can plan your dad’s escape.”
“For tomorrow night?” Del asked.
Archer nodded. “Yep. Tomorrow night.”
Del glanced up at his robot. “What is the probability that my father…that they’ll hurt him if I don’t lead them to the prisms?”
Dash didn’t hesitate. “One hundred percent.”
Del shuddered and nodded “Okay, Archer. We’ve got a plan or at least the beginning of one.” She gave a small, sad wave. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Archer watched her disappear into the jungle. It was getting dark and they needed to find a place to sleep. He was just about to tell Dash to start scanning when pointy-ears yanked on his arm once more. She pulled hard and he stumbled forward, surprised to hear her chirping, quick little sounds, as if she was trying to talk to him.
“We need shelter,” he said gently.
The little creature grinned and looked back at him, pointing into the darkness.
“I think she wants us to follow her,” Archer murmured, eyes looking ahead.
“I believe her gestures indicate this,” Dash replied.
“Well what are we waiting for?” Archer grinned and motioned for Dash to follow.
As the moon began to inch forward, bringing with it a blanket of darkness to wipe out the sun, Archer and Dash followed their new friend into the unknown.
And for one small moment Archer was scared. He hoped that his plan would work because if it didn’t...
Well, he wouldn’t think about that right now. Not even for one second.
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