Pe-bo crouched over the old man lying beside Edward. He had retrieved a kit from a pack against the wall and had something in his hand he waved under the man’s nose. The man woke quickly and panicked. Pe-bo rested his hand on the old man’s chest, holding him down. It didn’t seem to be a great deal of effort to him.
“Calm down little ape-man,” Pe-bo said in a voice as soothing as he could muster. He held the old man down until he stopped struggling, then helped him to sit up. “I’m not going to hurt you. Chhw-nopi agrees that unconscious, injured critters will only slow us down. So, no more harm will be coming to you, and I get to fix you up.”
The old man looked to Edward, who just shrugged his shoulders noncommittedly. Pe-bo pulled a tube from his kit and lathered his finger with a goo before trying to apply it to the man’s face. The man leaned away and Pe-bo frowned, lowering his hand.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” Pe-bo said. He sounded sincere. “Trust me; I’m a Doctor.”
Again the old man looked to Edward who just nodded his head; go for it. He stiffened his back and held his place as Pe-bo reached for his face again. The goo stung a little and the man winced. It only lasted a second, then the pain faded and he could feel nothing in that area.
“What’s your name?” Pe-bo asked him as he spread the cream. “I am Pe-bo,” he quickly pressed a hand to the old man’s lips to silence him. “I know you’re going to mess that up. It sounds exotic in your head, but it’s not that hard. Peh, Boh. Two syllables. Easy; even you can do it. Go ahead.” He lifts his hand off the man’s face, reaching for a napkin from his kit to clean his hand. He nods encouragingly to the old man. “Come on.”
“Peh… boh,” the man says, uncertainly. Pe-bo smiles and nods.
“You got it, first try. Good for you. And what is your name?”
“I’m Jim,” the old man says quietly, confusion crawling across his face. “Jim Garette. I do,” he paused, catching his words. “I did mechanical work on-“
“Are you done, yet?” Chhw-nopi stood over Pe-bo, staring down at him and the two he was working with. “We’re ready to move out.”
“Just about, sir.” Pe-bo popped a small pill into Jim’s mouth, catching the man by surprise who gagged before swallowing it. “Pain and anti-biotic. Won’t kill you. He’s good to go. This one needs a few stitches. Go ahead, we’ll catch up in a minute.”
Chhw-nopi frowned but didn’t say anything before he turned around and moved away. He raised an arm and circled it over his head. All but two of the tall men immediately started moving toward the door, following him. The last two barked orders to the prisoners to rise and fall in line. Jim stood and followed them out.
Edward frowned at Pe-bo as he considered his chances of escape. As though reading his mind, Pe-bo shook his head at him as he reapplied the numbing cream to his finger.
“You’re weak right now. Your species is weak already, but you’re weaker at the moment. Your muscles will take a few days to regain their full strength and mobility. Think of it as warming up.” Pe-bo applied the cream to a cut around Edward’s face. Edward winced at the sting, but it faded quickly. “I introduced myself,” Pe-bo continued. “Who are you?”
“Edward,” he responded, saying nothing more until Pe-bo pulled a small metallic gun from the kit. He stumbled backward, falling off his knees onto his rear.
“Oh, knock it off,” Pe-bo muttered as he reached out. He took Edward by the shoulder and pulled him forward. Despite Edward’s resistance, Pe-bo did not struggle to hold him. “This will stitch your face back together. You’ve got a gash in your nose, if I don’t seal it, it’ll bleed into your eye… you won’t feel it.”
Edward took a deep breath and decided to trust him. He braced himself as Pe-bo brought the device to his face, resting the flat edge against the open wound, and he cried out when it punctured his face with a loud snap.
“What the hell?!” Edward yelled, jerking his head away. He tried to raise his arm to fend Pe-bo off but with it tied to his neck, he couldn’t do much.
“Huh,” Pe-bo said, astonished. He examined the device, then stuck it back in the kit. “Guess I lied. That must not be the good numbing salve.” He pulled the tube out to inspect it as well. “Ah, yeah. This is shit.”