The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
And then there were pirates...
Archer scrubbed at his face again, blinking rapidly as he tried see better.
Were those really eyes? He squinted but it was no use because it was so dark a giant monster could have been standing a few feet from him and he wouldn’t have known.
“Dash,” he shouted. “Did you see…” But Dash was floating several feet away, his eyes glowing an eerie red.
Archer glanced around and tugged a piece of hair from his eyes. There was no time to be scared and he stepped sideways as a few bits of debris crashed to the ground. The rumbling was long gone, the dust had settled, and now he wasn’t sure he’d seen anything.
“Wow,” he joked, though truthfully, Archer wasn’t feeling all that funny. “What do you think that was?”
Dash floated down until he was level with Archer’s eyes. His robot resembled a small humanoid, one with no hair, no mouth and no real color. He was gray, a sturdy, dependable gray, and his eyes glowed, either red, yellow, or blue depending on his mood.
And yes, Archer’s robot experienced moods. Archer had tweaked that program himself.
“I don’t want to hypothesize. We’re too far below the surface.”
Archer shrugged. “Doesn’t matter I guess. We’re both in one piece and the tunnel is still intact.” He paused. “You didn’t see…”
He scratched at his chin. “You didn’t see anything did you, Dash?”
“You’ll have to be more specific, Archer.”
Sure. Eyes in the dark. Big ones.
“Never mind.” Archer nodded toward the boulders. “What did the other clump of rocks look like?”
The robot whirred and made a clicking noise. “It looks like a circle.”
Archer frowned. “A circle?” And scratched his head.
The excitement inside Archer tripled and he peered into the darkness, but there were no eyes staring back at him. Still... “You know what that means?”
He whooped and jumped up and down. “It means that someone placed them like that.” His voice lowered a bit. “Someone’s been here before us.”
Dash moved up a few feet and broadened the scope of light that fell from his lumen. “Or rather someone or something inhabits this planet.”
Archer didn’t get a chance to think about Dash’s hypothesis because at that exact moment another blast sounded from the surface, traveled down the tunnel and started another round of vibrations that shot up Archer’s legs, and nearly had him falling on his butt. This time he didn’t shrug it off so quickly. Something was up. He thought of the shuttle. Of Hank the engineer and Shandy the scientist.
He glanced back at the boulders, at the sheer awesomeness of the cave and frowned. “That doesn’t sound so good, Dash. Do you think it’s an earthquake or something?”
“I can’t say without further study but the intensity of the blast suggests something powerful.”
The rumblings beneath his feet increased and Archer glanced around wildly, the light from his lumen headgear bouncing along the walls and lighting up crystals he’d never noticed before.
When he could steady himself, Archer took a step closer and his eyes widened. “Holy cow, Dash. Look at this.”
The walls looked as if they were moving and the dull, gray rock had morphed into a stunning array of crystal-like brilliance that shone in a whole rainbow of color.
“Wow,” Archer murmured, his hand reaching for the walls, his tongue licking the side of his mouth as he inched closer.
“Archer, I would advise you to step back.”
“Don’t be silly, Dash. I need you to run diagnostics of this whole place. Pay special attention to the walls…”
The robot’s tone hardened a bit and Archer frowned. He was going to have to play with the program when he got back on the ship. Dash was starting to sound like his father.
“Please look up.”
“What?” Archer took a step back, glanced up, and for the first time since he’d fallen into the cave a sliver of fear rolled through him. The long, tubular spiky things spun slowly, a low-key hum emanating from within them. Now he could see the difference between the outer layer and the inner.
A solid column slid from within and the glint from Dash’s lumen told Archer that the pointy end looked sharp.
Really sharp. Like Jaleeki steel sharp.
“It would be best if we put off exploring this cave for now, Archer.”
Archer swallowed thickly and nodded. Oh yeah. This wasn’t looking good. There were hundreds of the cylinders and they were all evolving into what looked like one heavy duty defense mechanism.
One meant to hurt, or, he gulped, do something even worse.
He pointed toward the tunnel. “I think now is a good time to get out of here.”
Archer took off and then stopped in his tracks, whirling around, looking madly for his bag. There was no way he’d leave it behind. No way at all.
He ran toward it and was nearly there when something made him glance to his right—a feeling like he was being watched.
For that one second he thought he saw those eyes staring back at him again from behind the boulders. This time they were clearer, larger, soft blue and dewy.
His throat squeezed and he blinked as dust rose up from the ground and stuck to his eyeballs. Frantically he scrubbed at his face but when he focused again there was nothing. No eyes and no life-form.
Was he going crazy? Was this a cave delusion? He’d heard of them. Of how being underground messed with your head and made you act stupid.
He ducked just in time as one of the massive spikes crashed into the ground. It crystallized into small, bug like creatures that made a clacking noise as they scrambled toward him.
Archer’s heart beat fast, pumping adrenaline through his body and he scooped up his bag, avoiding another spike and ran like crazy for the tunnel.
“Watch out to your left!” Dash warned.
Archer wove crazily, ducking between the massive spikes as they crashed to the ground unleashing hordes of the creepy crawlies. He hated the sound the little things made as they scampered after him, their claws much like the crabs he used to catch with his grandfather at home on Earth.
He dove for the tunnel, just behind Dash and grabbed hold of the steel twine that his bot dropped for him. Between the robot and his mad effort to get away from the little monsters that clacked loudly behind him, Archer managed to crawl up the tunnel in less time than it took him to run from the classroom to the lunchroom on the Reamus.
Which was a good thing too, because the creepy crawlies weren’t his only problem. The tunnel was shrinking and if he didn’t hurry, there was no way he would make it out.
“Faster, Dash,” he yelled, clinging to the heavy duty twine, while pushing with his legs and wriggling like mad. When they finally shot out of the tunnel there was literally seconds to spare before it slammed shut.
For a few moments he stared back at the gray rock, amazed that the way was shut and hidden, almost like it had never been there.
Archer hugged his bag closely and blinked into the hot, humid sun. Dark clouds of smoke fell across the landscape, coating everything in a haze of black. What had happened out here?
He took a few steps, stumbled and fell to his knees. Dazed and maybe more than a little confused he shook his head, staring at the empty clearing in front of him.
The shuttle was gone.
He rubbed his eyes hard. That wasn’t possible. They’d not been scheduled to leave for another three hours.
“Dash,” he said and shot to his feet, tripping over long vines that ran along the ground. Planet number 8 was a lot like the jungles of South America on earth. It was lush, tropical, and—a screech rolled through the trees above him—probably really dangerous.
His robot floated in the air, lights flashing and loud, clicking sounds emitting at a high frequency.
“Dash, where’s the shuttle?’ Archer took several more steps but he knew what his robot’s answer was going to be before he heard it.
There was no shuttle.
There was nothing but the smell of burning foliage and a cloud of smoke that hung over the trees. And neither one of those things did anything to hide the huge brigadier hovering in the sky.
“Crapper,” Archer whispered. “This isn’t good.”
He melted into the heavy brush that lined the forest floor with Dash beside him and tried to squash the fear that stabbed him in the heart. But it was hard to do with the big lump in his throat.
And he kind of felt sick, like he was going to puke or something.
The shuttle was gone and he knew that the Reamus had most likely left the immediate airspace too. They couldn’t win a battle against something like the ship that blackened the sky. They would have jumped into hyperspace, maybe caught a wormhole and who knows where they were by now.
“Space balls,” he whispered hoarsely, almost wishing Cook McDaniel was close enough to frown at his words and tug on his ear in disgust. Space balls didn’t even come close to describing the dilemma that faced him.
Archibald McTavish the 4th was all alone on Planet #8 with a limited amount of supplies, in a possibly hostile environment, and his father had no idea that Archer was on the planet.
All of which sounded bad, like he was going to be grounded until he was at least sixteen kind of bad. But it was nothing compared to the fact that he was stuck here…alone…
With a brigadier full of nasty, mean, pirates.

Keep Reading

Chapter 3

Along came a spider...

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