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Dee waited for the Woodsman to show any signs of life. It didn't. There were numerous pops, clicks, and pings as the metal body cooled, but none of the massive limbs moved.
Green light flashed randomly from within the squat, dome of a head. It hadn't been doing that when she and the Scarecrow first found it, so something was still 'on' within the metal chassis. It was immobile, but not dead.
Dee didn't like that.
She didn't trust it. She didn't trust the way the green light seemed to-
Fingers closed on her shoulder. Dee spun away, and the Scarecrow stepped back, raising both hands innocently.
"Don't TOUCH that!" she spat. Unconsciously she shifted the backpack on her shoulder. It was the same shoulder that her travelling companion had grabbed, and for a moment she'd thought he was trying to take the bag.
Her mouth was clenched tight, and both hands were curled into fists. She felt her heartbeat pounding in her ears.
"...what the hell?" she said, unclenching her fists. She turned to the Woodsman. "That thing. I don't like it; it's got me all nervous. We need to find a way to turn it off or... "
The machine's green eyes gave two rapid flashes, and there was a loud 'PING' from somewhere in the upper chest, like a spring popping out of place. Something rattled.... like tiny parts rolling across the interior metal, bouncing off of other components like pinballs. The damned thing was coming apart.
"...get away from it," Dee finished.
The Scarecrow stared at her.
"What?" she said.
He pointed. First at the Woodsman, and then at Dee. He nodded his head slightly and raised one eyebrow.
"I dunno," said Dee. "I don't know what it wanted. "Whoever's controlling it was... crazy. I don't know what it is about a black backpack that made him loose his-"
Dee froze. The Scarecrow hadn't spoken and neither had she. So unless Treach had been keeping secrets all this time...
It was talking. The voice wasn't the same. It was still loud and metallic... but the grinding of giant gears and whirring of blades had given it an ominous quality before that was lacking now.
Dee was having none of it. She backed away. One hand tightened on the strap of her backpack.
"...Sso-rry." The voice crackled and hissed like an old radio, and the green light in its eyes pulsed with every syllable.
The Scarecrow had a knife in his hand so fast that Dee never saw him move. He approached the motionless machine from the side and peered into the open gap in the torso... clearly looking for a vulnerable spot.
Dee started looking for another long branch.
"For. Give. Me." said the Woodsman.
"Yeah," said Dee. She spotted a suitable piece of wood. It long, thick, and already had a nice point on it. She probably didn't even need do tape a knife to the end... if she could find the right place to jab it. Perfect. "Yeah, okay. Whatever."
She approached side of the machine opposite the Scarecrow. The innards of the Woodsman weren't in motion any more, but the green light was still pulsing from somewhere deeper inside. Much deeper. ...so deep that it seemed to be coming from somewhere else entirely.
Maybe she could find it.
Yes. Yes, that sounded like a stunningly good idea!
Dee raised her spear, but hesitated.
"Is there somebody in there?" Said Dee. "I don't wanna stab anyone. Unless I have to. So if you're in there, come on out."
"I. Am. Here."
"Yeah, so come out where I can see you!"
One of the smaller gears just inside the shoulder joint rattled briefly, unleashing a brief shower of metallic dust. Dee couldn't see what made it move. Then she realized there were other, softer rattling noises from deeper inside, along with an increased volume of pings and clicks.
"Is that you coming out?"
"I. Can. Not."
"Why Not!" Dee heard her own voice echo off the metal giant's frame. Had she meant to be that loud? That... angry? Why was she holding a spear, ready to stab someone?
What the hell was happening here?
"Hey," she said, more softly. "Are you hurt? Are you trapped in that thing?"
There was a long pause, during which several components rattled in place briefly before falling motionless again.
"I. AM. This. Thing."
"What does that mean?"
Another noisy pause.
"...Am. A. Woodsman."
"Uh-huh. Yeah, we got the idea; are you hurt?"
"I. Cannot. Be. Hurt."
"O-kayyy. I AM talking to a person, right? A human?"
"And you're inside the machine?"
"I. AM. The. Machine."
"But you just said..." Something occurred to Dee. "Is your... Is your BODY inside the machine?"
"But... your mind... is?"
"Oh, that's just great. This place just keeps on giving... Crazy on top of crazy. Okay, Robocop, Why did you attack me?"
"I. Don't. Know."
"How do you NOT know why you tried to kill me?!"
"I. Felt.... Some. Thing."
"Oh that clears it all up-"
"I. Do. Not. Feel."
"You... don't feel anything?"
"But then... you did?"
"Yes. You. Have. Some. Thing. That. Is... Drawing... Me."
Dee moved back.
"The green light," she muttered to herself, remembering how it drew her in when she saw it. And also remembering ANOTHER light... ANOTHER color... that had done the same thing.
Somehow, the final moments of her encounter with the bug-creature had hidden themselves. The red gem. She'd had it in her backpack this whole time, but only remembered it until now. It was as if it hadn't wanted her to remember. But now that she did, she remembered how it had pulled at her thoughts. The green light in the creature's eyes and interior had done the same, only much weaker. What if the effect was mutual?
"The green..." she whispered.
The Woodsman heard her and assumed she'd spoken to him.
"The. Spark. Animates. The. Golem. I. Control."
"Yeah," she whispered. "Does it... does it have anything to do with the re-"
Red. The word caught in Dee's throat. Red. She made a choking sound. Red. The world spun... once... twice... then everything settled gracefully back into place as if nothing had happened.
"Wha... I'm sorry. What was I saying?"