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She regretted it instantly.
Dee knew that even if she managed to get the Scarecrow's discarded blade, any confrontation between her and the soldiers would end very quickly and very badly for her.
There were three of them; and they were all distracted by the knife-fight between their leader and the Scarecrow... a fight that seemed evenly matched. The man closest to Dee reached for her the moment she moved, but his fingers grabbed her shirtsleeve instead of her arm. Dee kept moving, and the garment ripped. She slid her arm out of the loop of cloth just as the other two men started to react.
Luck saved her life; the soldier slashed across her exposed back... missing Dee by a fraction of an inch as she dove for the weapon. She landed clumsily on her side and instantly rolled away with the blade in her hand.
She had no idea what to do now.
Three very angry men bore down on her, preparing to literally stab her to pieces as the ground shook-
"STAND CLEAR! CONTINUATION OF HOSTILE ACTIVITIES WILL RESULT IN... EXTREME BLOODSHED."
The Woodsman was heading straight for them. A ring of soldiers had formed around him, thinking that the robotic golem was an easy target now that the rotating blades had been disabled. They were wrong. The Woodsman proved just as deadly using only his oversized arms to bludgeon men into paste... or worse. The soldiers were now scattering, some fleeing entirely while others pulled back to regroup.
That left the three soldiers guarding Dee as the closest hostiles.
"Uh-oh..." One of the men gasped.
He ran. Fast.
The other two turned toward the approaching golem. One man pointed to the other and shouted.
"After the Woman!"
Then he ran toward the golem, shouting and waving his arms. He veered away, and the Woodsman turned to follow him.
Dee was already up and running for the trees!
Yes! If she could get to the-
-why wasn't she running toward the trees?
Confusion swept over Dee as she realized she wasn't taking the most direct route to relative safety. Instead, she was sprinting for her backpack, a short distance away. She didn't know why, but she needed to have it!
"MINE!" she heard someone screech in her voice.
"STOP!" The soldier behind her ordered.
Dee laughed at him as the backpack swelled larger in her vision... filling her mind's eye as if there was nothing else in the clearing but her and it. She heard her laughter disintegrate into a maniacal hiss. The pack was just ahead. Dee reached-
Something heavy hit her from behind. The soldier threw himself shoulder-first into her back, knocking her forward and down as pain exploded along her spine.
Dee landed hard. Her face hit the ground, and she felt something pop. She hoped it was just her nose. She rolled onto her back-
The soldier dropped onto her, knees on either side of her slim hips. He raised his blade and brought it down-
Dee's still had the Scarecrow's knife in her right hand.
She clutched the handle-
The soldier saw the motion. He diverted his killing blow to one side.
The knife sank into Dee's wrist. The blade struck where the two large arm bones met the smaller bones of the hand, severing tendons and shattering bone on its way into...and out of... the joint. The blade's tip buried itself in the ground, pinning Dee's arm like a bug.
There was an odd moment when Dee felt almost nothing.
Then agony poured into Dee's mind. She screamed into the soldier's face, then closed her eyes and screamed again as tears sprang from her eyes.
The soldier reached calmly to one side and plucked the Scarecrow's knife from Dee's pinned hand.
"You are not allowed to touch weapons," he said. "You know the punishment as well as I. But seeing as how you're going to die anyway... I'll only take one."
Dee was in too much pain to be confused. She barely knew the man had spoken.
But when the soldier grasped her little finger of her right hand, pulled it straight, and placed the knife against it, everything became clear.
She reached for his face with her left hand, but he swatted her blow away like a fly. Then he pressed down with the knife.
Dee thought she was in too much pain to even feel anything else. But she wasn't... and she did. The soldier sliced off her finger and held it in front of her eyes, focusing first on it... then on her.
Dee had already been screaming. Now she stopped. Her left hand brushed against something, but Dee didn't notice. Her mind was full of horror. He had... he had cut off her finger! She was LOOKING at it in is hand! Her FINGER!
"Souvenir," he said. He tucked the bloody digit into a pocket. Then he put the blade to her throat.
"Now," he said. "Shhhh...." Dee felt him shift his weight on top of her, preparing to put his weight down on the blade.
The fingers of Dee's left hand began fumbling with something. Slipping... inside something. The soldier, preoccupied with impending murder, didn't see. And Dee was unaware that she even HAD a left hand.
He wasn't about to slit her throat.
He was going to cut her head OFF.
"...please," she whispered. "I'm just lost... please don't..."
Dee's left hand brushed against something hard wrapped in cloth. Fingers dug into the folds...
The soldier's arm tightened and he began to press down as Dee's wayward fingers touched the object beneath the cloth.
Red light blazed... not out of the backpack, but out of Dee's eyes. A glowing, blood-red inferno burned through her thoughts, pushing away fear and pain and replacing it with searing hunger and a cold, detached malice.
The soldier blinked as light bathed his face. He recoiled for a second, then, not realizing what he was seeing but not liking it at all, decided to finish the job at hand before things got any stranger.
Had he done so an instant sooner-
-but he hadn't.
Dee's left hand slipped out of the backpack holding the glowing red gem.
Her right arm pulled free of the ground. The embedded knife slid free of the shattered wrist... not pulled out, but PUSHED free by some force within the flesh itself. Bones and tendons clicked into place with a blast of pain that Dee sensed.... but didn't actually feel. The hand closed around the soldier's throat, squeezing as Dee began to smile.