I grit my teeth against the sting of the dagger, cursing my position. Had she not brought the dagger, I would have taken her on. I wouldn't be here right now.
Through my peripheral vision, I can make out…buildings? They don't look as ruined as the ones I saw when I was walking with Kyre. These are rectangular, almost sleek in their sharp corners and metallic surfaces. They seem to be made recently, and with purpose. I don't dare to turn my head to look at them, worried that Kat might push the knife deeper. It hurts enough as is.
The air is laden with silence, almost heavy with it. Even our footsteps feel muffled under the roar of blood in my ears. My shoulders ache from being so rigid and my hands shake, the left one throbbing. The handcuffs rattle. I can feel something warm and wet trickling down my fingers, considerably slower than before. My hand feels both frozen and on fire, and worry gnaws at the pit of my stomach.
My thumb can still move, but no matter how much I try, my fingers can't.
I stumble over a brick and cry out when the knife slides upwards, making a gash from high on my back to the nape of my neck. Heat pulses where the blade touches my skin and black dots cloud my vision. A sob fills my throat, chokes out of my mouth. Kat makes an impatient sound.
"Get up, traitor. We're almost there."
I make myself move and we resume our former pattern; she pokes her dagger between my shoulder blades and I rigidly walk, trying not to scream from pain and anger.
Kat forces me into a stop. Pulling the dagger back, she carefully cleans the blade on her shirt and drops it into its sheath. Her glare is poison. I ignore her and look around, trying not to move my head too much. I can vaguely make out the sounds of shackles and the click of a lock. Well, there goes any chance of escaping.
We're standing in front of a heavy metal door, one that very nearly blends into the surrounding wall. There is no knob, and in a moment, I understand why.
Kat places the fingertips of her right hand on the door. Faint blue light forms a circle around her hand before a soft click sounds. The door opens, but Kat waits.
A guard appears from the side of the building and pats me down. His--her?--face is hidden behind a mirrored visor. I can only see a distorted vision of myself reflected.
When he turns his head toward Kat, she scowls and pulls off her weapons belt and hands it to him, then reaches into her boots to draw out a long knife. As she bends, I get a glimpse of multiple piercings in her ears. They glitter in the dull light.
She reaches behind her back and unfastens a pistol from her holster and hands it over. I watch openmouthed as she reaches into her flaming hair to draw out a pair of unusually sharp sticks and tosses them at the guard's feet, then takes off the metal cuffs at her wrists and adds them to the growing pile.
Kat pushes open the door and shoves me forward. I wince as her hands connect with my back. The backs of my eyes sting with the promise of tears.
The room is empty save for a rectangular metal desk that shines under the stark white light that shines from the ceiling. A woman sits behind the desk, and the look in her eyes freezes me. There's something strangely familiar about her, about her face, but my thoughts scatter from the weight of her stare. Kat moves to stand beside me, making no sound. She doesn't seem as affected by the woman. Darkness shrouds the rest of the room, but I can just make out a faint shine on the wall to my left.
"Is this her?" The woman's voice is as cold as her eyes. Her accent is strange, with clearer vowels and some consonants sharpened.
Kat stiffens beside me. "Yes," she says, her voice strong. Her eyes glitter with anticipation.
"Alright. You may leave." Kat's face doesn't change at the abrupt dismissal, but I can see her disappointment in the way her shoulders slightly fall. She gives me one last glare before turning away. I don't hear her leave. The woman pays her no heed and turns to me. "I'd like to ask you a question."
I don't say anything, still trying to place her. Her features are delicate and east-Asian, but her mouth has a cold, hard set. Her dark hair has an almost exaggerated shine under the light.
"You may call me the Inquisitor."
I still don't say anything.
"Do you recognize this?" The Inquisitor does a series of swipes and taps on the surface of the metal desk, and a glowing white screen appears in the air between us. A series of numbers scrolls down it, ending with a message in bright red:
She looks at me with intensity, looking for signs of recognition. Suddenly apprehensive, I shake my head, honestly confused. "This is some of the code that went behind the security breach of classified Government data," she explains, still staring at me with her unnerving gaze.
At that statement, several things click in my mind. My foot getting stuck in the tunnel; the strange red light; Kyre's talent in hacking; the Government erasing his sister. The woman is looking for Kyre because he hacked Government files looking for his sister. The realization must have shown on my face because the woman's eyes narrow. My back involuntarily stiffens.
Kyre's voice floats into my mind, and the fear in it makes me go still. …Cases when people disappear and are never seen again…
I have to get out of here.
My eyes scan the room for potential exits, but meet only darkness. The door from which I had come is invisible; only a smooth, dark wall is in its place. My knees feel weak from the slow panic and I feel myself hyperventilating. The sting in my back is drowned out by the painful thumping of my heart.
The woman speaks quietly into her wrist, then looks at me. Her presence towers over me even though she is sitting in her chair.
Light briefly shines into the room as four guards rush into the room. At me. My scream is muffled by a rough cloth tied over my mouth. My martial arts training kicks in and I punch the attacker in the solar plexus. He doubles over, and I drive my knee into his ribs. The cracks are strangely quiet under the roar of pounding blood in my ears. Adrenaline pulses through me as I whirl around and catch a second guard with a roundhouse kick. She stumbles backward and I drive my fingers, ever so slightly bent, into her throat. Red stains them and she collapses, gasping for breath. I see a dark silhouette at my left and drive my fist towards it, continuing with the momentum and pushing my elbow into the guard's chest. I follow it with a hard kick. My left hand pulses with pain. He falls against the wall, and I can feel the thud as he hits the ground.
Arms wrap around me from behind, restraining me. I pull my knee up and kick back as hard as I can and feel the attacker's knee crack and give. I can feel the air from her scream blow the back of my neck, but my ears don't register sound.
I turn and scan the area. Four guards lay on the ground, unmoving at first glance. Looking closer, I can see their chests rising and falling slightly. Relief flows through me as I realize that they're all alive.
I can hurt people, but can't stand the thought of killing them.
Exhaustion washes over me. Every cut, scrape, and bruise feels amplified and my knees buckle under it all.
I never have the chance to reach the ground.
A hand pushes a cloth over my nose and pushes my jaw closed. A sickly sweet scent drifts into my nose and my mind goes blank. Darkness closes around my vision and my eyelids feel heavy. Against my will, my fists uncurl and my body hangs limp in the guard's arms.
I've been drugged.