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Part Three

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!

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