In Huaxia, all the land’s young boys would love to be Chrysalis pilots. To have the kind of spirit pressure, the mental power, to move and control one of those gigantic war machines would be a rare and wonderful treat.
Sure, the boys have to partner with a girl concubine-pilot—for it takes a great deal of joined mental energy (or qi) to move those mighty vessels—but it’s the boy who becomes almost an instant hero after fighting off giant alien invaders. The girls who slip into the seat next to them … generally end up dead. Or at least, very soon. It takes such a huge quantity of the incredibly vital qi to move those transforming machines that when the two pair, the weaker female very often loses both her qi and her mind as well.
So yeah, it’s an easy call to say young boys would jump at the chance. And equally easy to suggest that girls have very little desire to be Chrysalis pilots. Very, very little. In fact, most girls have to actually be sold into service by their family before they’d get anywhere near a pilot’s seat. And most would far rather be sold into marriage or some other form of bondage before heading into the army.
Of course, 18-year-old Wu Zetian is not most young women. Not only is she willing, she is eager to be sold to the government. Her parents may think it’s out of loyalty to the family: She has unnaturally high levels of qi and might earn them more in monthly payments by surviving longer. But she has a completely different reason for going: She wants blood!
You see, Zetian’s big sister was also sold to the government not all that long ago. And before she even got a chance to step into the Chrysalis seat, she was abused and killed by a pilot named Yang Guang. And because this foul young man is revered for his high qi, he wasn’t even reprimanded, much less punished. Girls are disposable. They’re replaceable. High-qi boys, meanwhile, are valued.
If Wu Zetian has anything to say about it, however, this particular high-qi boy will die a horrible death.
Her plans for revenge involve a small metal spike hidden in a hairpin, a moment of intimacy, and a ripped-open jugular. But she isn’t picky. She’ll use anything in the moment: a club, a plate, her teeth. She’ll do whatever it takes. She’s determined to show a privileged male what pain feels like. With any luck she’ll even let the world see the kill through government cameras.
It will take lies, manipulation and flirtations. But she’ll let the world see what disposable looks like.