Her elbows buckled and her bust heaved and shuddered. Qinyang pushed off from the ground, but it was no use. The rubble pinned her cruelly. She had just enough room to move, and the exit was barely a hundred feet away. She screamed in pain and felt tears flow down her soft cheeks. The debris shifted above her, spinning her around. Her cries of terror gave Qinyang a headache. Her blonde hair blew into her face as the room heated up.
It used to be black hair in her face. She always used to keep the bangs in front of her eyes at home, so that she did not have to make eye contact.
“Look at me,” a voice echoed in Qinyang’s mind.
“Look at me!” the woman screeched.
Qinyang winced in fear as the woman screamed at her. Her small hands were an easily broken shield. By comparison, the older woman’s massive fists battered the young girl’s abdomen and arms. She coughed and bent forward. She felt the woman tug her hair and throw her to the floor. It was what her mother did every day. Nothing surprised Qinyang anymore. She went to school the following morning.
“Well, well, well…” Qinyang mused as a young man entered the classroom.
Everyone was already at their seats, except the boy. He was late again, but the instructor had not arrived.
“Oh come on, Qinyang; please don’t give me a hard time,” the boy sighed deeply, gazing at the short girl.
Qinyang pulled her dark hair back, out of her face as she stood up, “If you are late this many times in a row, I wonder if they will suspend you even longer this time…”
The boy shook his head, “No, no come on, the teacher is not even here yet!”
“If the teacher is busy right now, that is his business. You should have been at your seat waiting. Shouldn’t you?” she snickered sadistically.
The young man shook his head, “I didn’t skip class; I am here now! Just leave me alone…”
Qinyang looked around at their silent classmates, “I wonder if the instructor will have mercy on you if we all turn you in together. You guys will back me up, right?”
She glared at the entire room, and everyone nodded, keeping their eyes forward.
“See? So maybe you should start begging.” Qinyang clenched her teeth, “Since the instructor is incapable of mercy, that really only leaves you with one option.”
“What do you want, already?” the young man set down his bag.
“Grovel,” Qinyang crossed her arms.
A minute passed, “I can almost hear the teacher walking down the hallway now…” she grinned.
“Ok, ok already!” her classmate walked over and dropped to his knees, bowing forward.
Qinyang sat down again, kicking her feet up and resting them on the boy’s shoulders.
“You make a half-decent footrest. Maybe you have just discovered a future career opportunity?” Qinyang taunted.
He sighed and shut his eyes in defeat.
“You’re welcome,” she spat, and the rest of the class chuckled with her.
Suddenly, the teacher walked into the room. Qinyang kicked the boy away and he collapsed to the floor, wincing. The teacher blinked, seeing one of the children sprawling on the dirty floor without context.
“Oh get up, we don’t have time for weakness,” the teacher grumbled and walked over to the computer.
The boy rolled over and clambered to his feet. He shuffled away from Qinyang and buried his head in his hands the entire class period. After the class ended, the boy was about to get up, when he was blocked by Qinyang.
“Where do you think you’re going, footstool?” she scowled at him.
The boy shuddered, “N-nowhere, please… Please, just leave me alone,” he whispered.
“Like the teacher said, we don’t have time for weakness,” Qinyang sneered, “If you aren’t going to get your act together and follow the rules, you might as well just go kill yourself.”
She glared down at him and smirked as he avoided making eye contact with her.
“I try to follow the rules-”
“Trying isn’t good enough. You know I only crush you because I have to, right?” Qinyang scoffed, crossing her arms.
The boy tried to slink away from his abuser, but she blocked his movement again.
“The strong people in this world have a duty to teach the weak people a lesson,” Qinyang shoved the young man in his chair, and he toppled to the floor.
He yelped, clutching the side of his head. Blood graced his palm as he cupped the wound.
“Maybe next time you look in the mirror, that will be a helpful reminder,” Qinyang smiled wickedly down at the boy on the floor.
“Hey, look at me when I am talking to you!” she glared at him.
“Look at me!”
The same words her mother repeated, over and over.
“The strong people in this world have a duty to teach the weak people a lesson,” the woman sneered and kicked her daughter.
Qinyang cowered on the floor, tucking her body up against the bed. She tasted blood and cringed.
“I beat you for your own good, useless girl,” Qinyang’s mother left her sniffling on the floor.
Her mind kept going to the boy. She couldn’t stop thinking about him begging. It never made a difference with her mother, so why did the begging faze her? Qinyang had no idea why the phenomenon could occur. She had to get stronger. Eventually, her mother broke the rules. Qinyang watched the executioners beat her to death with electrified rods. Qinyang’s smooth face cracked a smile.
“Looks like you were the weak one this time, mom,” she hissed.
The smell overcame her sooner or later, and Qinyang heaved, throwing up at the ordeal.
Qinyang’s mind wandered hazily through her past as she struggled in the rubble of the building. Could there be another kind of strength? She felt the rubble begin to shift again. There was not much time as the building was collapsing.
“Murchadh… how would he get out of this one?” Qinyang winced, brushing her bleached hair out of her face.
“How would he…?” she mumbled, “Get out!” she twisted her arm a little, on purpose, screaming in pain.
Tucking her head down, the inquisitor managed to slide out of the bulletproof vest and roll quickly to the side. The debris cracked and the building shuddered. Qinyang screamed and clutched her injured arm as she charged out of the building. The fires jumped across the room as she stumbled into the street. Qinyang collapsed to her knees and looked up as she was pelted by rain. She scrambled away from the building and curled up in a filthy alleyway. She closed her eyes tightly. Tears poured out of the cracks anyway, no matter how tightly she shut them.
“We… We deserve this, don’t we?” she hiccupped and sniffled, shaking in the darkness.
The fire on the other side of the street roared in reply.
“No…” she gulped, tasting blood as some dribbled out of her soft, pink lips.
“I deserve this.”
The motorcycle engine roared as Inquisitor Josephs sped down the streets. Unlike most vehicles, he got to pilot it himself. His gloved hands tightened around the handles as his jacket flapped in the high-speed winds. Murchadh knew exactly where to find one of the suppliers. He was unaware if they would be able to tell him how to find the gang leaders, but he had to try. Eventually, the cycle rolled to a halt and stopped as the inquisitor disembarked. Leaving the executioner helmet on, he stalked into a residential building. He stopped suddenly, receiving a call.
“Wait. Wait where you are, I am coming,” Qinyang winced, pouting her bloody lip.
“You can catch up,” Murchadh answered simply, turning off the communicator.
Qinyang sighed and leaned forward, tucking her face into her knees. With a grunt, the young woman heaved herself to her feet. Her clothing was damaged, scrapes all over her body. She clutched her injured arm as she walked along. Qinyang opened the door to the backup station. She collapsed in the entryway, coughing. The two executioners ran over and helped her up.
“Are you alright, inquisitor?” they asked.
Qinyang nodded, silently lying. She pointed to an armored truck. The two executioners looked around in confusion.
“Take me to that vehicle, now!” she grumbled.
They nodded, carrying her to the vehicle and climbing in carefully.
“One of you is going to drive. Follow this beacon,” she handed over her communications device, which currently displayed a map of the city.
The beacon highlighted in red was labeled “M. Josephs”. The executioners nodded, getting in the front of the vehicle and leaving the safe garage.
“Is she really going to be ok?” one of the executioners asked the other.
“I mean if she managed to drag herself out of that building and walk all the way here… Yeah.”
There was a silence in the vehicle.
“She is pretty…” One of them remarked quietly.
“Yeah, pretty out of your league.”
“What do you mean?!”
“Stick to androids.”
“Shut up, man.”
The two chuckled, checking over their shoulder and seeing the inquisitor in the back was unconscious. Qinyang’s chest gently rose and fell, but she winced with every bump in the pavement.
“I bet she could kick your ass,” one of the executioners teased the other.
“What? No way,” he shoved his comrade playfully as they drove through the chaotic city. The blinking beacon on the map was not moving.
“If he is in one spot, it will be easy to catch up to him,” one of the executioners mumbled.
The other nodded in agreement.