The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
Archer and Dash followed their new friend deep into the jungle. It was dark, but Dash’s lumen glowed bright and led their way. Overhead birds chirped, their excited cries sharp. They made Archer nervous because it felt as if they were trying to warn him about something.
He tried to ignore the fear that made his stomach woozy but it was hard and the thing of it was, he missed his dad. Heck, he even missed Cook McDaniel and he was always tugging on Archer’s ear or making bad jokes about Archer’s hair.
And then there was that rustling noise. Sure it could have been the wind in the trees. Except there wasn’t any wind and it sounded as if something or someone was following them in the treetops. He was just about to make Pointy-ears stop when she made a little sound, like a giggle, and danced around in a circle.
Dash hovered over them, lighting the entire area in a soft glow.
Archer heard something different, something new.
“Dash, what is that?”
His bot whirred and beeped, climbing higher until he cleared the tops of the trees (which Archer didn’t really like because now the light that fell from Dash filtered through the branches making every shadow look creepy).
Pointy-ears grinned and yanked on his hand, trying to get Archer to follow her.
“Back the ship up,” he said. “We need to wait for Dash.” No way was he going anywhere until he knew what was out there.
“Dash?” he asked once again, trying to sound as if everything was cool and chill, when in fact the rustling was getting louder and he was starting to get really scared.
The shadows danced crazily as Dash floated back down until he was level with Archer’s head.
“Directly beyond this tree line is a waterfall, Archer. It’s approximately two hundred feet in height which accounts for the thunderous noise.”
“Waterfall? The one back at Pointy-ears home?” (He was gonna have to come up with a better name for her)
“Negative. This one is different. About a mile or so west of her home. I did a scan and there is a large opening behind the waterfall.”
“Like a cave?” he asked.
Hmmm. Archer scratched his head and looked down at his new friend. Sounded like the perfect place to set up a camp and the waterfall would offer a bit of protection.
“I think this is where she was leading us, Dash.”
“Sounds like a logical assumption.”
Archer was about to take a step forward when he heard that rustling noise again. He pushed the little creature behind him and reached into his backpack for his electron weapon. He pressed the button but nothing happened.
“Dash,” he whispered. “Scan the area behind me, like, right now.”
His bot shot past him and the lumen lit up the jungle like a light switch had just been turned on. The tall grass along the bottom shook and that fear inside Archer doubled and then tripled.
He shook his electron and said a word that Cook would have boxed his ears over, but still nothing. Not a great time for his weapon to malfunction.
Archer took a step back, eyes on the tall grass and prepared to fight to the death.
Was it one of the pirates? Had they been followed?
He thought of the beast from the day before and shuddered. Pointy-ears was making all sorts of excited noises and yanked so hard on Archer’s pants that he was darn lucky they didn’t fall off.
“Hey,” Archer said, trying to keep his voice low. “Watch out.”
But Pointy-ears squealed. She actually squealed like the little piglets his grandfather had on the family farm.
The tall grass shuddered and shook. Archer motioned for his little friend to be quiet and just as the little creature tried to run past him, three more of them popped out from the dark.
The relief he felt was overwhelming and he laughed like a crazy person, glancing up at Dash. “It’s just some of her friends I guess.”
He watched as Pointy-ears hugged the newcomers. His little friend pointed toward the waterfall and the four of them took off without warning.
“Hey,” Archer shouted, as he began to run. “Wait up!” Holy cow they were fast.
He had a hard time keeping up, and the darkness didn’t help matters at all. He fell about three times and by the time he reached the bottom of waterfall he wasn’t real happy with his new friend. She waved at him from one hundred feet in the air, her friends jumping up and down as if this was the most fun they’d had in forever.
“How did they get up there?” he asked, scratching his head.
Dash floated just above him. “Their speed is incredible. They move as fast as a cheetah, which is a species found on earth.”
“I know what a cheetah is,” Archer mumbled. “How am I going to get up there. It’s dark and…”
A long rope fell from the sky and nearly slapped him on the face. With a grin he wrapped it around his wrist and a second later, he was being pulled into the air by Dash.
His bot rose steadily in the air and after a couple hairy moments of swaying as a gust of wind came out of nowhere, Dash gently set him down next to Pointy-ears.
Up here the air was heavy with moisture and the sound from the waterfall was deafening. They were so far up that Archer felt a little dizzy.
“I would advise against looking below,” Dash said as he floated down so that he was level with Archer and the aliens.
“Yeah,” Archer said shakily. “I think you’re right.”
Pointy-ears slipped her hand into his and began to lead him behind the waterfall. The ledge was wide enough so that he wasn’t scared of falling, but he was careful nonetheless.
It was weird moving behind water that fell from overtop and as the light Dash provided lit up the inside of the cave his mouth fell open in wonder. The rock formation that made up the walls of the cave shimmered against the light. Every single color you could imagine was there, pink, yellow, purple and blue.
Images and shapes moved as if it was alive and Pointy-ears clapped her hands in glee, her little face alive and happy.
Archer followed her gaze, his mouth open in astonishment as the colors swirled and moved, like the skin of a snake as it slid along the earth. They moved until there was texture.
Until there was an image.
An image of the planet itself. The stars that surrounded it. The sun and the moon that orbited Planet number 8.
There were more images. The walls seemed to constantly change. Aliens. Animals (including the beast who’d tried to attack him.) The jungle. There were images of families. There were images of flowers. There was an image of someone who looked an awful like his very own Pointy-ears, holding a cat-like creature that looked suspiciously like the mysterious Bruce.
And there were a lot of images of the prisms. Detailed depictions of what looked like massive mines somewhere on the planet.
As Archer glanced around this history of the planet, his unease grew. These creatures used the prisms for nearly every aspect of their lives. They used them to power their homes. Heal the sick. Grow their food. They would perish without them.
“Dash, the pirates can never find this cave. It will lead them directly to the prisms.”
“That would be an accurate assessment,” his bot replied.
Pointy-ears walked over to the closest wall and pressed her palm into the stone. A humming noise filled his head and Archer watched in disbelief as the rock seemed to melt or change density.
The entire area about his little friend lit up like lightening bolt had shot through it, and when it finally settled—when the colors found themselves and stopped moving, Archer’s fear tripled.
The image showed a barren planet. One that was dying. In the center of all of that, was his friend. Her big eyes were sunken. Her ears limp.
He walked over to her, his hands fisted, a lump in his throat. “I won’t let this happen,” he whispered.
She blinked a few times and smiled. “I know,” she whispered.
“You can speak?” he stuttered. “Dash did you hear that?”
Dash whirred. “Negative, Archer.”
His little friend, grabbed the others and they disappeared before Archer could say another word. For a few seconds he was quiet. For those few seconds he was afraid that the stupid lump still in his throat would make him do something silly like maybe cry.
“Archer. I need to power down and tomorrow we need to charge our lumen batteries or within three days I will be non-responsive.”
“Okay,” he replied. “Hey,” he said trying real hard not to sniffle like a baby. “Do you think everything is going to be okay?”
“I don’t think, Archer. I can only compute. Would you like to hear a scientific breakdown? I’d be more than happy to provide you with one before I power down for the night.”
Archer thought about it for about two seconds. “Nope,” he replied. “I’d rather not, thanks.”
“Permission to power down?” Dash asked.
Archer glanced around his new home for the next little while. He spotted a little nook that would do for a bed. He had a lot of thinking to do. He had to figure out how to rescue Del’s father and prevent the pirates from finding not only this cave, but the aliens and the prisms. He also needed food real soon.
His head hurt just thinking about all of that.
His stomach rumbled. It was going to be a long night.
“Permission granted,” he said softly, but even he wasn’t ready for the darkness when Dash went into sleep mode. Once his eyes adjusted he crawled over to the little nook, hauled his butt inside and closed his eyes.
He was dead tired.
But it was a long time until he fell asleep.
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