“I’m so sorry, Del,” he whispered.
She didn’t answer him and he glanced up. She was sniffling and wiping at her face, and when she opened her eyes Archer saw how scared she was.
“I know you’re scared,” he said slowly. “I am too. I thought my dad would have come back for me by now, but…” He stopped and inhaled a shaky breath.
“But?” Del asked quietly.
“Maybe he’s not coming back,” Archer managed to say. It was kind of hard to talk on account of the large lump in his throat.
“They’ll never let us near the ship,” Del said, kicking at the dirt. “And now that they know I’ve betrayed them…” Her voice wavered and Archer leapt to his feet.
“We’ll get him,” Archer said, mind working furiously. “We will get him away from Big Bully, don’t you worry.” He glanced over to Dash. “Dash, I need you to do something.” His bot floated down until he was level with Archer’s head, emitting a series of beeps as his eyes changed colour.
She threw her hands up into the air and looked at him as if he was crazy. Maybe Archer was, but he could only see one way out of their predicament.
“Who said anything about sneaking?” she said. “I’m done letting them control me. Done letting them hold my father over my head as if he was some kind of toy.”
“But Del,” Archer said gently. “Listen to me before you run off and make things worse.”
“Oh,” she said roughly, cheeks red. “Like you did? Why were you in the kitchen long enough to get caught? Wasn’t one bag of food enough?”
For once Archer was speechless and it took a few moments for him to get his thoughts organized. “You’re right. I screwed up so at least give me the chance to make things right.”
Del’s eyes narrowed. “What’s your plan?”
Archer exhaled and glanced back at Dash. “Like I said, we’ll give them something they want in exchange for your father.”
“Prisms,” Del said.
Archer scratched his head. “What about draining their power? Can you do that?”
Dash’s eyes glowed and he floated in the air as the beeps and whirrs continued. “That is a possibility. If I can analyze one of the prisms, I could theoretically strip the power source.”
“I don’t get it,” Del replied.
“We’ll give them prisms that don’t work. They’ll think they are the real deal and we’ll trade them for your father.”
“Archibald, I must point out that the chance of this plan working is less than thirty-five percent.”
“I can deal with that,” he said, eyes on Del. “Can you? If you’ve got another idea let’s hear it.”
Del sheathed her sword and crossed her arms. “If we do this, it has to be right away. They won’t hesitate to hurt my father.”
“Got it,” Archer said, turning to Dash. “Get the message to the pirates. Tell them we’ll trade prisms for Del’s father tomorrow morning in the clearing.”
“Okay,” Del said slowly. “Your plan might work but there’s one big problem.”
“We don’t know where the prisms are.”
Archer thought of pointy-ears and her home. He thought of the prisms that he’d seen in their village. He couldn’t take them and he sure as heck couldn’t risk the pirates following their trail to their dwellings.
“I have a pretty good idea where we can find some.”
“Pretty good doesn’t sound nearly good enough and I don’t think this plan of yours is full proof.”
He shrugged. “It’s all we got and besides,” he said with a grin. “I’ve heard my dad tell his crew over and over again that they’ve got to trust their instincts. And right now my instincts are telling me that this is the right thing for us to do. Are you in?”
“Okay,” Del said slowly. “I’m in.”
“What about Dash?”
“He’ll find us.”
Archer started toward the exit and then paused. “You don’t have another sword do you?”
Del shook her head. “No. Why?”
He thought of the creepy crawlies from that first day and swallowed hard. “No reason. I’m sure one will be enough.”
He set his sights on the jungle beyond the waterfall and with Del a few inches behind him, set out to save her father.