The Archer chronicles
Lost Boy
The End...Or Is It?
Hours later, just as the first rays of sunlight lit up the planet, Archer and his father were alone in the home Sousha had given him. Dash, Del, and her father were below, having their last meal with Sousha and the rest of the Pointy-ears.
There had already been much merriment and so many goodbyes. And now…well, now he was packing up his things for the last time.
Archer sifted through his bag, fingering the small prism Sousha had given him only a few minutes ago. Already the light was a little bit dimmer and Archer shook his head, a crooked smile on his face. Only now did he know that the prisms lost all power when taken away from their power source—namely, the planet. And shielding this very small sample in his bag was enough to drain some of it.
Of course it worked both ways. If the prisms were all taken the planet would die.
Stupid pirates. They would have destroyed this planet for nothing.
“So that’s what they were after,” his father said kneeling down beside Archer.
Archer nodded. “Yes.”
His dad rested a big hand on Archer’s shoulder. “They have you to thank for saving their world.”
Archer shrugged. He didn’t speak because of that big old lump in his throat. For days he’d been surviving on hope. Hope that his father would find his way back to him and now that it happened, he realized just how scared he’d been that he might not ever see his dad again.
“Hey,” his father said hoarsely. “You okay, son?”
Archer swallowed and shook his head. He spied something in his bag and reached in, retrieving his hologram. Very carefully he opened it and watched the moving picture of him, his father and his mother.
“I didn’t…” His father said before pausing. “I didn’t know you had this.”
Archer sniffled. “I took it from your room months ago. You had it in the drawer and I…I took it.”
For a moment there was silence and then Archer’s father squeezed his shoulder. “You’re a lot like your mother, Archibald. You’re the very best that she was.”
“I miss her,” he blurted, eyes wide as he looked up at his father.
“I do too,” his dad murmured. “I do too.”
They both looked behind them, toward the entrance of the cave. Mr. Lawson, the first officer of the Reamus stood there, a look of concern on his face. “Sorry to interrupt, Captain.”
His father shook his head. “It’s all right, Mr. Lawson. Go ahead.”
“We’ve got to leave if we mean to answer the distress signal. The frequency has increased.”
Archer’s head whipped back to his father. He’d forgotten all about the distress signal. “Where’s it coming from?”
Archer’s father’s eyebrows furrowed. “Remember the planet we surveyed a few months ago?”
Archer thought back. He’d only been allowed on planet a few times and the last time had been—
“You mean the abandoned planet?” His eyes widened. “The ghost planet?” he whispered.
“That’s the one,” his father said, taking a step forward. With a curt nod he spoke to his first officer. “Round up the crew. We make way in thirty minutes.”
Archer watched Mr. Lawson leave and turned to his father. So many questions crowding his brain, though one was louder than the rest.
“But, there was no one there except lost souls.” He paused. “No one,” he whispered.
“Apparently that’s no longer the case.” His father ruffled his hair. “No worries, Archibald. I’m sure it’s nothing. Could even be an anomaly. And trust me, I’m not letting you out of my sight.” His father paused. “Actually, you’ll be restricted to the ship for the next while.”
“But,” Archer said.
“No buts, Archer. There will be a punishment for your actions.”
“I know,” he mumbled.
“Let’s say goodbye to your friends and head to the fourth quadrant.”
Archer stuffed his hologram picture back into his bag and shoved the small prism fragment into the front pocket of his pants. He stood, hiked his bag over his shoulder and followed his dad from the cavern.
Down below a large fire burned brightly and gathered around were Sousha and her friends and family. Del and her father were off to the side, speaking quietly and Dash…
Archer smiled, watching his bot zip back and forth in zig zags, making all the little Pointy-ears clap their hands and giggle hysterically. It only took him and his father a few minutes to reach the main fire and silence fell over the entire crowd as Dash settled in behind Archer, floating a few inches above his head.
Sousha walked over to Archer, her big eyes dewy and wet looking as if she was about to—-
“Don’t cry,” Archer said, kneeling in front of his friend. “I’ll be back some day. I promise.” He hugged the little Pointy-ear tightly, wishing that she could come with him but he knew that she needed to be here with her family.
“Don’t sneak off your ship again,” Sousha whispered fiercely, before kissing Archer on the cheek.
“I will try not to,” Archer answered with a smile.
“Try?” Del repeated, eyebrows arched.
Archer’s father shook hands with Sousha’s parents and the guards on duty. Above them, perched along the top of the cavern, Archer spied Magnar and all his babies, as well as a horde of creepy crawlies. He tipped his head and waved.
It took several minutes for everyone to say goodbye and by the time it was all over, Archer’s throat was tight and his eyes burned.
“So, Del,” his father said, nodding to Archer’s friend. “There’s room on my ship for you and your father. I can’t give you a time frame for returning you to your home planet. We’re an exploratory vessel and have several missions to attend to before we return to our home galaxy.”
Del’s father nodded. “We’d be honored to accompany you.”
“All right then,” Archer’s father said, patting Archer on the shoulder. “It’s time.”
With one more hug to Sousha Archer waved goodbye and followed his father, Cook McDaniel and the first officer Mr. Lawson out of the caves. Dash floated beside him, with Del and her father just behind him.
They moved through the jungle at a fast pace, but Archer knew that the distress signal was making his father anxious and so he had no time to appreciate the beauty of the jungle. In the last five minutes the distress signal ramped up to every ten seconds.
They boarded the Reamus and there was no time to show Del and her father this ship. In fact there was no time for Archer to go to his room and stow away his stuff. They were ordered to secure themselves on the bridge and he slid into a seat beside Del and her father.
The Reamus shuddered as the engines roared to life and once Mr. Lawson instructed the crew to make way, they lifted off and slowly rose into the air, careful to keep the heat from the engines away from the foliage.
Archer glanced through the window, eyes on the place that had been his home for so many days he’d lost count.
“Planet number eight,” he murmured.
“What?” Del asked.
“Planet number eight,” he repeated turning to his friend. “That’s what this place was called.”
“That doesn’t really describe it,” Del replied.
“No,” Archer said, watching as the trees got smaller. As the planet got smaller. “It doesn’t.”
Once they cleared the upper atmosphere, the Reamus kicked into full power and they shot straight up. Higher and higher until the sunlight disappeared leaving only darkness and stars and space surrounding them.
“Set a course for planet number eleven,” his father instructed.
“Ghost planet,” Archer mumbled.
“What was that?” Del asked.
“The planet that we’re investigating. I’ve been there before.”
Del shrugged. “And?”
He paused, unsure of his friend’s reaction. “It’s full of ghosts.”
“Excuse me?”
How else could he describe it?
“Entities that hold no solid form,” Dash said floating near them.
“For real?” Del asked, a gleam in her eye.
Archer nodded. “For real.”
“Wow,” she replied, sitting back in her chair. “Wow.” A few seconds ticked by and she glanced over to her father. “But there’s only one problem.”
“What’s that?” Archer asked, following her gaze.
“How are we going to convince your father to let us explore?”
Archer sighed and pondered an answer, because truthfully he knew his father wasn’t going to let him out of his sight for a very, very, long time. He thought of the great, crumbling buildings he’s witness briefly. Of the treasure that might be there. The clues to a long ago civilization.
No way was he staying on board the Reamus and missing all that.
“We’ll think of something,” he said slowly.
Archer smiled. He would be smart. No way was he getting left behind again. No way at all.
He settled back into his chair and didn’t even mind when Cook McDaniel started fussing over him. His head was already on the next adventure and this time, he had a new friend along for the ride.
“Ghost planet, here we come,” he whispered.
Here we come.

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Chapter 35


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