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"WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE!" Dee shouted at the soldier and jammed the stun baton against his chin. Her finger wasn't on the button, and she doubted baton had enough power left for another shock... but the soldier didn't know that. He was conscious, but weak and still trembling from the first jolt. He gasped and tried to squirm away. "ANSWER ME!" Dee screamed at him.
"P-Please... please don't..."
"Begging?" Dee hissed. "You come at me with knives, try to stab my dog, and now you're begging!? You sacrifice naked, unarmed people to a giant bug-lady... and now you're BEGGING!? REALLY?!"
"The... The Covenant!" The soldier gasped in horror. He looked around... Dee couldn't tell what for. She'd pulled Treach off of him while he was flopping around in the dirt after the first shock. The dog stood nearby, having unknowingly positioned himself between the soldier and his blade. The soldier had no weapon. Two of his friends were dead, and the third...
Dee looked up to see what was happening.
The older soldier and the man she'd rescued earlier were circling one another in the center of the road. They had each assumed a fighter's stance, presenting as narrow a profile to their opponent as possible. The old soldier's stance was altered to compensate for an injured arm, but his blade was held ready.
The scarecrow had two knives. Each blade danced across his deft fingers in a pattern of flips and twirls. Both blades had blood on them.
The older soldier was speaking. Before Dee could make out what he was saying, the man charged.
At first it looked like the fighters were going run past each other, but at the last minute their vectors changed. One man spun, the other slashed. Knives lashed out so fast that the blades made whistling noises in the air. The old soldier's rough coat flapped noisily-
-then came apart in two halves when it was slit neatly up the back. The shirt and skin beneath it were unharmed. Barely.
The men separated, and then instantly went after one another again. The old soldier threw part of his ruined coat at his opponent. The scarecrow sidestepped the feint, and immediately twisted away from the soldier's thrust. His fist lashed out. Metal met flesh in a brief flash of red. His blade didn't cut... it CARVED a horizontal line across the soldier's face, just under his nose, giving him a second mouth. The soldier quickly backpedaled out of range, but his opponent didn't follow. The scarecrow fixed the bleeding face with an evil smile, and waited...
Dee returned her attention to her prisoner.
"Okay, gimme nice, short answers. WHERE am I? WHO are you? And WHAT the hell is going on here! Start talking!"
"T-Torce Phall," the man said. Dee assumed it was his name. "This is... this is.... how can you not know where you-"
"The Golden Road!"
"Where is THAT!"
The soldier looked confused.
"You don't know?"
"Unless you want to start pissing yourself AGAIN-" Dee jabbed him with the stun baton. "You'll switch from questions to answers real quick."
"The People of the Covenant?" He phrased it as a question, but Dee let it slide. "In the land that was once ruled by Queen-"
Someone screamed. Dee looked up and saw that the fighter was not going well for the soldier. He now had two more red lines on his face. Blood gushed from all three wounds, and it was clear that he was losing. Losing... but still fighting. Still determined to kill the man that was cutting him to ribbons. The scarecrow grinned. He lunged, twisted, and slashed. His blade bisected the old soldier's face, cutting his nose in half vertically.
Dee winced and pulled away from the sight.
The scarecrow's other hand kept twirling his second blade. The blade he wasn't even using...
A hand closed around the front of Dee's shirt. The soldier below her pulled her down toward him-
"FLEE!" he hissed.
"W-What?" Dee was expecting an attack... a head-butt or a throat-grab. Not a warning.
"That man! He is ridden!"
"Ridden? Is that his name-"
"No! Ridden! Punished! Damned! He is the walking d-"
Another scream. This one went on... increasing in octave as the air escaped the old soldier's lungs. When Dee looked up, she added her scream to his.
The old man had lost his fight. He'd probably lost it before it had begun, but the man that Dee had rescued from the crucifix finally finished with him. He'd bled the old soldier with deep, but non-fatal cuts, mostly to the face. When the soldier weakened, he'd gone in for a slow, gruesome kill.
The scarecrow's blade moved with quick, upward slashes... each slash peeled a meaty curl of fat and flesh off the old man's face. Half his skull gleamed wet and red in the otherworldly sun. The scarecrow kept the old soldier upright with vicious kicks and sharp stabs with his other blade... each direction the old man fell only brought more pain as his face was literally carved from his skull.
"Oh. My. God."
Dee pulled herself up and away from the young soldier she'd been questioning.
"He's a killer... he's a..."
"Run..." the word came not from the soldier on the ground, but from the old man. His one remaining eye fixed on Dee as the word gurgled from his lipless mouth. "...hor...too late..."
The scarecrow paused. He turned to follow the old soldier's bloody gaze, and found Dee. The small upward curl of his lips erupted into a wide, sinister grin.
"Treach!" She shouted. "Let's GO!"
The old soldier's body hit the ground... finally. The scarecrow abandoned it and started toward Dee.
No... not Dee. As she backed away, she saw that her 'patient' kept on his original course... toward the one remaining soldier.
Dee didn't want to see what he had in mind for the man. She certainly didn't want to be around when he finished and turned his attention to her but what happened was too fast for her to avoid either.
"GET AWAY!" The soldier screamed. He scrambled to his feet, but Dee's shock had left him weak and clumsy. The instant he started rising, the scarecrow broke into a run. By the time he was upright, it was too late.
The scarecrow collided with him. It wasn't the bone-crunching impact that he'd used before, but it was enough to knock the soldier off balance. The scarecrow caught his arm and pulled it straight. With his other hand he yanked the coat and shirt sleeve's back, exposing the bare flesh.
"LEAVE HIM ALONE!" Dee shouted. "HE'S UNARMED!"
Apparently, the soldier realized what was happening before Dee. He started screaming even before the scarecrow's teeth bit down into the flesh of his forearm.
"NOOOO!! Not MEEE! Not MEEE!"
Blood lined the scarecrow's lips as his jaws clamped shut. Dee's stomach churned.
She expected him to pull away with a mouth full of the soldier's flesh... but that wasn't what happened. The scarecrow opened his mouth, freeing the soldier with a hard shove. He spat out a mouth full of blood while the bitten man looked at his arm.
He kept screaming. The red marks from the scarecrow's teeth were clearly visible. Aside from infection it was by no means a fatal or even serious wound, but the soldier screamed as if he were being burned alive.
"PLEASE, NOOO!!" The man staggered, flailing his arm wildly. He caught sight of his own blade on the ground where he'd dropped it. He lunged for it, but the scarecrow slipped between him and the weapon. The soldier halted, and backed away.
"Let me end it!" the soldier whimpered, pleading. "PLEASE!"
The scarecrow pointed toward the wall of strange crops.
The scarecrow took a step toward him, and the soldier turned and ran. He darted into the fields, and Dee heard the plants rustling in his wake as he fled.
Then the scarecrow turned toward her.