The Ancient 4.1

Pe-bo lowered himself beside the old man laying beside Edward. He had left them briefly to retrieve his pack from where it lay by the wall and set it between Edward and the man. He sifted through the pack and pulled a small tube, which he unscrewed and waved under the man’s nose. The man woke instantly, his arms flailing as best they could within the confines of their restraints. Pe-bo rested his hand on the man’s chest effortlessly held him in place.

“Calm down, little wrinkly man,” Pe-bo said. His voice was softer than it had been before as he took on a soothing tone. “I am not going to hurt you. Chhw-nopi agrees that unconscious, injured critters will only serve to slow us down. You will suffer no further harm. If you calm down I can get you fixed up.”

Pe-bo kept his hand in place until the older man regained his senses, remembered where he was and what was happening, and stopped struggling. He sat upright again with Pe-bo’s help.

Pe-bo reached into his pack again and removed two bottles, setting them on the ground beside him. He pops open the cap of one bottle and squirts a clear fluid into his palms. He rubs the sanitizer over his hands, then take sup the second bottle, which he squeezes onto his fingertips.

Pe-bo extended his hand towards the old man’s face, but the man leans back, away from him.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Pe-bo repeated. “I’m a Doctor. You can trust me.”

The old man looked to Edward who shrugged noncommittally.  With one deep breath, the man stiffened his back and held his place, nodding to Pe-bo. Pe-bo proceeded. The man winced as his wounds made contact with the yellowish goo on Pe-bo’s hand, but the pain lasted only a second before fading away to nothingness; his wounds numbed.

“What’s your name?” Pe-bo asked him as he spread the cream. “I am Pe-bo.” Before the man could respond, Pe-bo quickly pressed a hand to the old mans 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 the cream from his fingers. He nods encouragingly to the old man. “Come on.”

“Peh… boh,” the man says, uncertainly.

“You got it, first try. Good for you!” Pe-bo smiles. “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.” Pe-bo turned to face Edward, addressing Chhw-nopi without looking at him. “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 as he walked toward the exit. 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 nose. 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 backwards, 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 recovered the tube, holding it up in the light to inspect it. “Ah, yes. This is shit.” He turned the tube so Edward could see. “Expired.”

“Damn it!” Edward yelled again, he sprawled on his back and tried to kick Pe-bo but the tall man brushed his leg away like he was swatting a mildly obnoxious fly.

“Knock it off, come on.” Pe-bo took the loose length of rope from the ground and stood. “It’ll stop hurting in a sec. At least it won’t bleed, right?”

Edward groaned for a few seconds until the pain finally faded. He glared up at Pe-bo, who tugged gently at the rope.

“Come on,” the tall man said. “I could drag you out, but that defeats the efforts I just made to undo your injuries.” The rope was tugged again and Edward complied, standing and following the tall man.

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