By: Bull Demon Harlan looked at his colleague with a worried eye. He had collapsed on the pile of rags when they got to the cell and hadn't moved since. He feared the worst. His neck had finally started to clot after a solid half hour of bleeding. His mouth was swelled up terribly and blood seeped through his shirt where the lash had landed. Harlan pulled a pile of the rags over his shaking form to keep the drafts away. "I wish you knew how sorry I was.." Harlan whispered, lightly touching his hand. it was horridly cold and lifeless. He turned when a gate opened and felt his heart race when the outline of a Spung came into view. "Harlanband?" a familiar voice said. "Elmira?" Harlan called. "Yeah." He heard keys rustle and then the door swung open. The sleek Spung walked over and knelt next to Radu's still form. "Is he.." she asked and Harlan shook his head. "No but I think he wishes he was," Harlan replied. Elmira rested a hand on his swelled cheek and shut her eyes. "I hate my family," she whispered. "Don't blame your family," Harlan said, not being able to think of anything else. Radu groaned and Elmira moved her hand to his shoulder. "Easy.." He opened his right eye the best he could as the left one had swelled shut totally. "El-Elm-Elmira?" he croaked out, his jaw stiff if not broken. "Yes," she crooned, seeing how he was trying to hide his discomfort. "I'm going to get you out of here." "How?" Harlan demanded. "I'll tell you later. I have a friend who you will meet in a bit. We'll sneak you to a hidden room my father knows nothing about," Elmira said, beginning to get up. "You rest, my dear." Radu nodded and dropped back to sleep as she stood. "How long?" Harlan asked. "Give me an hour. My father will be in bed. My friend is busy with Asheada right now but she will be done soon," she told him. She gave Radu a quick kiss on the forehead and went back for the door. "Keep him still." And she was gone. Harlan went back over and sat down next to Radu, a new feeling forming inside of him. With a shaky sigh, he began to think that the run-down boy beside him might not be so bad after all. * * * * * * Forest rubbed her temples and sighed. She had just spent the past hour and a half repairing Shank's adopted son's hand. He screamed a hollered the whole time, almost as loud as his father yelled. She pushed her auburn hair back and sighed once again. The door opened and Elmira stepped in after having snuck out of her quarters, looking rather upset. "‘Mira!" Forest exclaimed, stepping over to the worried Spung. "Finally got rid of Asheada, I see," She said and Forest nodded. "Thank the stars, yes. It's amazing trying to convince your father that he is not genetically related to that boy," she said. Elmira smiled. "So he told you about the fight, huh?" she asked. "With his own additions I'm sure," Forest replied. "How is the Andromedan?" Elmira just dropped her eyes. "That bad?" "He needs your help," Elmira said. Forest nodded. "I intend to free them both by tonight." "Very risky, ‘Mira," Forest said. She seemed to have a slight English like accent to her voice. She was kind and gentle with great knowledge. She walked over to the wall and pulled a large bag from a hook. She set it on the counter and began to unzip it. Elmira looked at the large array of tools and equipment she had. Everything from needle and thread, vials of colored liquid, and bags that's contents were a secret. "You going to be able to help him?" Elmira asked, hopeful. "Won't know till I see him, my dear," Forest replied, sealing the bag and turning to her friend. "You want me to see them in the cell or the meeting place?" "Meeting place. I'll move them there now," Elmira said, turning to leave. She stopped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. "Careful moving him," she said and Elmira nodded, leaving the room to get her friends. * * * * * * The sounds of metal scraping against concrete woke Harlan from his light doze. His eyes immedately went to the door but found nothing to his relief. "Harlanband," Elmira whispered. Harlan looked all around, not seeing her anyway. "I'm down here." "Huh? Oh," Harlan said, moving over and looking between the drainage grate. He stood up and helped her slide it over to the wall. He offered her a hand to help her up but she refused and does it herself. "You scared me." "Doesn't take much," Elmira muttered and Harlan gave her a dirty look. She moved over to her main concern and knelt down. "How is he?" "I don't know. He hasn't woken up at all since you left," Harlan replied, kneeling next to her. "Radu?" she called quietly, hoping to wake him enough to walk. After a moments wait, he stirred and looked up at her. "Hi, darling. How are you?" "..want to go home.." he muttered, hardly recognizable through the swelling. Elmira placed a green hand on his shoulder. "I know. Hopefully it will happen soon," she told him. "You feel good enough to go for a short walk?" Harlan looked at her, alarmed. "You want to what?" he demanded. "I'm moving you both to a place only Forest and myself know about," Elmira said. "I understand it's not wise to move him but he won't live long in this place. Neither will you. Will you help me?" Harlan sighed and looked at Radu who had slipped out again. "What if.. I mean it could really do some more.." Harlan replied, not knowing how to explain it. "We need to," Elmira said. "I think he'd be willing to take the risk." Harlan thought for another second and nodded. He reached down and wrapped one of his crewmate's arms around the back of his neck, slowly sitting him up. The boy groaned at the sudden movement but stayed asleep. "I'm sorry," Harlan whispered for the millionth time in the past few hours. Elmira took his other arm and with a little work, got him to his unsteady feet. "The drop isn't very far. Why don't you get in first and I'll hold onto him?" Elmira offered. Harlan nodded, pulling out from beneath Radu and he slid into the hole. It was only a few feet down but it was still a substantial drop. "Okay," he called back up. Elmira shifted Radu's dense weight enough to push him forward. "This is going to feel like a long drop, Radu," she whispered to him and slowly edged him toward the hole. After a lot work and a little encouragement, all three where in the drainage way and the grate was back on. "We have to crawl for about 20 yards," Elmira said. Harlan looked thrilled. "Just what I want to do. Crawl around in Spung filth," he grumbled. "Well, in that case you can lead then and clear the way for both of us," she replied. Harlan opened his mouth to protest but decided to save his breath. He dropped to his knees and began to slide through the thick slime that was on the floor. "Ugh.. Man.." he muttered, just having to grin a bear it. He could hear Elmira helping Radu forward and he hoped this wasn't hurting him anymore. After a few minutes of sliding through the sickening sludge, Harlan is able to stand. "Gross!" "Hey, quit complaining and help me," Elmira said. Harlan frowned as he wiped his hands off on the front of his shirt and bent to help pick Radu up. Both he and Elmira were covered in the slime and Harlan could only anticipate what it did to Radu's open sores. Once they had him on his feet again, Elmira pointed down the left tunnel. "This way." They began to walk slowly, Harlan trying to carry as much of the weight as he could. After a few tedious minutes, Elmira motioned to stop and slipped out from beneath her friend. "Hold on a second," she muttered and pried a panel off the wall. "In here," she said and Harlan slowly walked his partner into the small room. Elmira reached up and turned on a light, the room flooding with a warm, yellow color. There were several chairs, a bed, two small tables and a lamp furnishing the room. If the matters had been different, one may have called it cozy. Harlan lead the way over to the bed and sat the sore Andromedan down. "That was fun.." Harlan muttered. Elmira shot him another dirty look and eased her friend back onto the soft mattress. She pushed back his matted bangs and pulled a thick blanket of him. "‘Mira, you beat me here," a new voice said. Harlan turned around to look, seeing Forest for the first time. She was pretty for a Spung, the hostile look of the males eyes missing. "Forest, this is Harlanband. Harlanband, Forest," Elmira introduced. Harlan shook the Spung's small hand and smiled. Another kind Spung to add to the list of misconceptions. "And this..." Elmira said, leading her friend over to the corner. "Is Radu." The older Spung's face dropped immedately. "‘Mira..." she whispered, having not expected what she saw. "Would you fetch me some boiling water and as much clean linen as you can carry?" Elmira nodded and began to leave. She stopped at Harlan who looked rather confused. "She's a bit old fashion but knows her stuff well. She's from an old colony that practiced medicine... don't worry," she assured him. Harlan nodded and watched Elmira leave, placing the panel up behind her. He walked over to the nearest chair and sat down. "Such a wicked man.." Forest was muttering. She turned to Harlan briefly and then back to the mess before her. "You squeamish at all?" she asked. "Not really," Harlan said and she nodded. He watched as she pulled the blanket off him and went to her bag. "I-is he going to be all right?" "I don't know what's wrong with him yet," Forest said with a warm smile. She pulled out a pair of scissors from her bag and turned back to the sleeping Andromedan. "But I always hope people to be all right. It's my nature I guess." "Sounds like Rosie.." Harlan muttered, thinking the crew of the Christa must be worried sick. "Who?" Forest asked, beginning to cut the once sky blue shirt free. "She's a member of the crew we belong to. She's Mercurian," Harlan explained. "Ahh," Forest said. "That explains everything. They're a great group of people." She pulled the cut shirt from beneath him and tossed it in the corner. "Yes, Asheada did get ahold of you, didn't he?" she muttered, seeing the 5 inch long and quarter of an inch deep gash on his chest. It had stopped bleeding for the most part but look dreadfully painful. "He got both of us," Harlan said, rubbing his wrist. Forest looked over and gasped. "My, he did!" she exclaimed and went to her bag again. She pulled out a small wrap and crushed it in her hand. "Here, put this on that sore." Harlan took it, surprised to feel how cold it was. "Thanks...." he replied, great full for the cooling sensation. Forest had gone back to Radu and now saw something that alarmed her greatly. She gently pressed a three fingered hand into the boy's stomach and he groaned in his sleep. She continued to feel for something until a hand came up and touched her's. "I bet that hurts," she said, looking at Radu who had woken up. "Who--who a-are y-you?" he asked, not being able to see her that clearly. "My name is Forest, my dear. I work on the Khain as medical officer," she explained. He nodded and sighed. "Your belly hurt a lot?" "Yeah..kind of..." he muttered and she frowned. She could see the awful bruising that was all over his middle. She imagined Tox had something to do with it. She reached down and popped his belt to relieve the extra pressure on him. "What is it?" Harlan asked. "I'm going to say he's bleeding internally," she replied, back at her bag. She pulled out a small green tank and a plastic bag. She pulled open the bag and dumped out an oxygen mask. Harlan got up and walked over to Radu, who was looking less then thrilled to have as much skin showing as he did. "You okay?" Harlan asked, concerned. "I don't know.." he replied and Harlan nodded. He moved out of the way as Forest fastened the mask over his mouth and nose, setting the connected tank on the table behind his head. "That good?" she asked and he nodded. The panel moved again and Elmira slid in, a bag on her back. "Would you close us in?" she asked Harlan who went over to do so. Elmira went over to Forest and set the bag down. "Thank you, dear," Forest said and opened it to get out the water. Elmira sat next to her friend. His skin was so pale compared to the Spung green she was used to. She ran a hand through his hair. "How are you?" she asked. "Scared," he replied and she kissed him on the forehead. Harlan returned and smiled. "At least you have your lady with you," he said, trying to make the boy smile. Radu did a little but Elmira smacked Harlan in the side. "Ow!" he shouted. "Don't act so petty," she said and Harlan sighed. Forest came over, glad to have clean hands. "I think he's bleeding internally," she told Elmira. "What?" she demanded. "As far as I've gotten it's a slow bleed but anything like that is significant," Forest explained. "He protested a little when I started to put pressure on his middle so I decided to make him more comfortable before going on." "Better a fighter then a wimp," Harlan said. The girls ignored him. On a more serious note, Harlan asked: "Can't you give him something to kill the pain?" "Not until I find out for sure where the bleeding is. Pain killers mask the symptoms, I'm afraid," Forest explained. "You want to sit with him, ‘Mira?" "Yes," Elmira said, not needing to be asked twice. "Anything can do?" Harlan asked, feeling useless. Forest pulled several large towels from the bag Elmira had brought. "Tear these into smaller squares and drop them in the water," she explained. Harlan nodded and went over to where the water sat steaming in a large container. Forest came back to the others and smiled kindly. "I want you to know I hate to cause you more pain and violate your beliefs." "It's fine," Radu replied, the oxygen making him more awake. He felt Elmira squeeze his hand. Forest nodded. Go to part four!