Dash was frozen as Kaydee interrogated Delphina. Warring emotions in Dash's mind, completely opposed and compelling different courses of action, left her paralyzed and unable to act on either one.
Dash's anger hadn't dissipated. If anything, it had gotten stronger and started burning brighter now that she was finally able to act on it. The sight of the blood affected Dash on a visceral level, slowing her conscious mind and making her coldly focused. There was nothing in her tunnel-narrow line of thought but the woman on the ground before her, what that woman had done, and Dash's desire to spill more blood. In that moment, the sensitive and thoughtful artist had vanished, and the purpose-bred assassin stood in her place.
But the assassin was not alone. With her, in her, part of her was the damaged child, the one who, in spite of her apparent physical age, had experienced less than a year of life, the first few months of which had been blood-soaked and brutal. Despite being created for and in the midst of violence, Dash had been completely unprepared for it mentally, and still was. Unprepared even to see it, let alone to be the violent one herself. Dash was reminded of her creator, The General, and his harsh brutality. She felt like she was back there, unable to move, unable to save herself and her siblings. Just watching, incapable of action. Paralyzed, like a mesmerized victim staring into the eyes of a snake. Wishing desperately for escape, to flee to somewhere, anywhere but here.
The two Dashes watched from inside one skull, one straining like a hound on a leash and the other cowering like a frightened child, unable to run.
When Kaydee addressed her, Dash's painfully divided mind merged again, and the taut paralysis snapped. Dash knelt by Delphina and ran the blade across her cheek, firmly enough to draw small red beads of blood. "Who was it?" Dash demanded with complete calm.
"I don't know! I told you I didn't!" Delphina's desperation was mounting, but it was also turning into anger. "I didn't know he was going to lose his hand, though! I didn't know!"
That had never occurred to Dash. She had assumed Delphina had been in on the whole plan all along. Was it possible Del had been drawn in without meaning to be, as Dash had been drawn into The General's schemes? Dash moved the blade so it rested against Delphina's throat, creasing the skin but not drawing blood this time. "Who was it, then? Who did know?"
Del didn't have any information, but she still hoped she could ingratiate herself. "I feel right bad for the old man, I do. Must be hard for him. And no doubt the fairy would be hurting too, if she had a soul..."
Dash snarled, and Delphina, accurately sensing danger and how utterly she had erred, abruptly tried to get up, jerking away from Dash and Kaydee. Del aimed a kick in Kaydee's direction, then her hand snaked toward the club, planning to smash it across Dash's face.
But Dash hadn't chosen her self-given name at random. She was fast, faster than Delphina, and she managed to use her knife again, striking hard and fast and low, aiming to incapacitate rather than to kill. The knife stuck in and deeply gashed Delphina's thigh... and to Dash's surprise, a fountain of bright-red blood erupted. Dash realized, with not a small amount of detachment, that she must have hit Del's femoral artery, ripping it wide open.
It seemed like mere seconds before it was over. Maybe it really was seconds. There had been no last words. Dash knelt in a pool of blood, soaked in blood, not touching the body that had been Delphina, staring at it. Just staring. Dash's previous paralysis was back, now transmuted into what was essentially catatonia. How had this happened again? How had Dash, after all her attempts to be normal, caused another death in spite of all the vows made to herself and the people she loved that the killing part of her life was over? How...?