QZ Chapter 19
First Published on Ainushi.
“…our friend, we will cherish our memories of him forever and wish him well in his next life. Bow.”
After the host finished, Ling Xiao bowed deeply together with everyone else. By the time he got up again, his face was already covered in tears.
The students waited in lines to present the flowers in their hand, and then returned quietly to give Ling Xiao, who was standing in front of the line, a hug in silence. Ling Xiao attended as Ping Zong’s best friend. As for Lan Sheng, after that event, he was forcibly isolated by the school’s side, and wasn’t even allowed to attend the farewell ceremony.
Ying Feng was the last one to come up and say goodbye. He didn’t bring any flowers; instead, he gave something to Ling Xiao. Ling Xiao stared at the fragment of cloth in his hand–it was a piece cut off from the corner of Lan Sheng’s sleeve–and, in an instant, his tears fell down like rain.
Tianxiu had no funerals. Sometimes, people would even gather together to celebrate death. However, a tragedy like Ping Zong, who had passed away before his story could even begun, would only make people lament.
Many people attended this farewell ceremony, including the principal, the military instructors, their classmates, and even the school doctor and her Qizi who didn’t belong to this Institute. They stood at the end of the line and watched silently as the students passed them on their way out–everyone looked so grieved. This was the first time these Nestlings had seen death, and the person who died was someone whom they were closely associated with. All the girls had tear stains on their face, and some of the boys had red rims around their eyes. This was the real first lesson of Tianxiu’s cruel Adult Ceremony.
In the end, there were only a few people left in the hall: Ling Xiao and his friends, who couldn’t feel confident enough to leave him on his own. To everyone’s surprise, Ying Feng also stayed. The principal exchanged looks with Yao Tai, they both sighed as he walked to Ling Xiao’s side.
“Please don’t blame Dr. Yao. This whole thing was my idea. I thought a gentle mobilization would lessen the student’s resentment towards the Adult Ceremony so that they would be able to pass this stage in a mild way. I didn’t expect it to have the opposite effect.
“Were it not for me insisting on doing it my way, Lan Sheng probably wouldn’t have a psychological disparity as severe as this. Then he wouldn’t have taken actions as aggressive, and Ping Zong wouldn’t have died for him. I am the one responsible for all of these. I apologize to you, and to all of my students from the deepest of my heart.”
The principal sincerely bowed his head. Yao Tai wanted to step forward, but Zhi Shang stopped her.
He shook his head in silence, signaling her not to disturb them at this moment. Yao Tai clenched her teeth and restrained herself. In the case of this incident, no one could tell who was right and who was wrong. Every year’s Adult Ceremony would lead to tragedies, and the principal’s starting point was also hoping that this kind of tragedy could be reduced as much as possible. No one was able to foresee things that hadn’t happened yet.
Now, as Yao Tai saw the principal taking the initiative to bow his head and admit his mistake to the students, she felt an indescribable frustration. Moreover, if anyone should be made to take responsibility, it should be her, she was the biggest accomplice throughout the entire incident. She should be the one to apologize.
Ling Xiao turned around. Because the principal had never matured, his height was almost the same as Ling Xiao’s. When they were facing each other, their eyes were practically on the same level, as if they were of the same generation.
“Principal, you don’t need to apologize to me. Even if time could be reversed and you hadn’t made that kind of decision, even if you had let us know the truth beforehand, they would still hold the Adult Ceremony.
“I’m quite aware of their strength. Ping Zong would win, and Lan Sheng would lose. The result would not have been any different. Lan Sheng’s unwillingness to become Qizi wouldn’t change. No matter which way you chose, it would lead to the same ending.”
He turned his face with tears still glistening in his eyes, and gazed at Ping Zong’s photo. “Perhaps, ever since the moment they decided to be together, they were already destined to have such an ending. Other people’s mistakes merely hastened their journey towards the end a little faster.”
He walked towards Zhi Shang. The other person was wearing a different pair of glasses, the one before was smashed by Ling Xiao outside the emergency room.
“I was the one who owes you an apology, Doctor.”
“Please let me finish.” Ling Xiao interrupted him, “Not only do I need to apologize, I have to thank you as well. Thank you for the first lesson you have given me for the Adult Ceremony. The cost for this lesson was so great that it will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life.
“If I haven’t experienced it so personally, so emotionally, I probably wouldn’t realize the cruelness of the Adult Ceremony. I would stayed as dim-witted Nestling who knew nothing. I would make fun of the relationship between Qizhu and Qizi, space out during Health Class. My body hasn’t developed into an Adult yet, and my mentality is even further from being mature. I really appreciate that all of you have helped me make such a big progress, letting me see clearly how childish and ignorant I was.”
His eyes were so penetrating, tears still clinging to his lashes, that Zhi Shang couldn’t bear to look at him face to face.
“But now I understand what Dr. Yao said about the lifelong goal of Tianxiu people to become strong, to conquer the strong, and become stronger.
“I once thought ‘to become strong’ meant not to lose to anyone in any event. But that was just a type of showing off. Thank you all, using this way to let me realize my goal.”
He raised his fist, and tightly clenched inside was the sleeve fragment. “I swear that in this life of mine, I will never, ever be anyone’s Qizi. I will become the dominator of my own fate, not letting anyone else decide my life or death. No matter whom I face in Adult Ceremony, even if it’s my true love, I will never, ever lose.”
It had been a while since Yao Tai walked out with a heavy load on her mind before she realized someone was following her.
“Is there something?” She stopped and asked Ying Feng.
“It seems like the injection you gave me last time has lost its effectiveness.”
Yao Tai was surprised. “How come? It has only been a few days.”
“I’ve been having abnormal physiological reactions for two days in a role now.”
Yao Tai thought for a moment, “Were you in close contact with anyone who has already awakened?”
Ying Feng tried to remember. The only thing came to his mind was that night when Zhu Yue told him he had entered awakening stage already. The medicine also started to lose its effectiveness around that time.
“There was once.” He confessed.
Yao Tai suggested, “If the other person has no intention of suppressing his awakening, and you don’t want to be bothered by the physiological reactions caused by awakening as well, I suggest you keep distance with the other party.”
Ying Feng wasn’t planning to have contact with Zhu Yue in the first place, so he agreed, “I will.”
“Then follow me, I’ll give you another injection.”
Ying Feng followed Yao Tai back to the medical building. He could tell there were lots of things on her mind, but Ying Feng was not a talkative person, therefore neither of them said anything on their way to Yao Tai’s office.
The refreshing, transparent liquid was once again injected into his body, accompanied by Yao Tai’s warnings, “Normal contact will not cause the medicine to lose its effectiveness, only close body contact can cause hormone level to fluctuate. So you only need to watch out for those.”
Ying Feng wanted to say that all he did was to exchange a few sentences with Zhu Yue face to face, but he was too lazy to open his mouth in the end. Anyway, he had already decided to keep his distance from him, there was no need to explain anymore.
“Done.” Yao Tai finished the injection. Ying Feng slowly rolled down his sleeve; he got up and was ready to leave.
“Thanks a lot for last night.” Yao Tai suddenly spoke.
Ying Feng knew she was referring to taking care of Ling Xiao, “It’s nothing.”
“I know, you’re the type of person who likes to stay alone. If I didn’t force you to come, you definitely wouldn’t take care of other people’s business. Not to mention that I am aware you’re not getting along with Ling Xiao, but please excuse me, I was really way too busy at that time. I couldn’t drive him away while he was like that.”
“I understand.” Ying Feng replied with two simple words.
Yao Tai was still deeply worried, “Ever since the incident of Ping Zong, lots of students who had already registered requested to postpone their Adult Ceremonies. The awakening season this year had a very poor start, I can foresee the amount of difficulties and challenges we are going to face afterwards. But this is a step that every Tianxiu person has to face eventually. Escaping won’t solve anything.”
“I think they just want to get ready again. I believe that the mind of our race won’t be so fragile. They will face their own future when they’re fully prepared.”
“I hope so.” Yao Tai looked at this Nestling to whom she had been paying extra attention with concern, “Even though you haven’t found the person you’re interested in yet, you need to stay fully prepared as well.”
“I still remember what Dr. Yao has warned me about before. After yesterday, I became even more resolute about it,” Ying Feng said, “What Ling Xiao said just now is exactly what I feel. No matter whom I face in Adult Ceremony, I too will never lose.”
By the time Ying Feng came out from the medical building, it was already dusk. Lights had already lit up everywhere inside the campus. There was still some time before they were required to return to their dorms. Ying Feng had nothing to do anyway, so he decided to go to the training hall. Too many things happened one after another in these two days, he only wanted to sweat a little before going to bed. It might help him sleep better.
When he arrived outside the training hall, however, the lights were on inside the hall and there were sounds of someone hitting something coming out of it.
Someone had arrived before him. Ying Feng was not interested in sharing the hall with others in his private time, he was just curious who had the same idea as him. He only wanted to take a look before leaving, but to his surprise, the person inside was none other than Ling Xiao, who had just sworn an oath a moment ago on Ping Zong’s farewell ceremony.
Ling Xiao activated two combat robots at the same time. His every punch and kick hit right in the center of their “vital points”. Lying collapsed at the foot of a wall not far from him were a few more scrapped robots. Ling Xiao had clearly been training here for a while now.
Ying Feng had fought with him before, but the Ling Xiao right now was different: his eyes were sharper, his expression more serious, his attacks more accurate–all of these made Ying Feng, who was a wrestling lover just like him, unable to take his eyes off after a glimpse.
He saw the most exciting moment. Ling Xiao turned around with a flying kick, and sent the robot in front of him flying out. It crashed against the wall and fell to the ground. A tiny door on his chest sprung open, and a white flag was raised.
Ling Xiao quickly followed up with another kick, and the other robot flew right at Ying Feng. Ying Feng punched back out of instinct, and the second robot rolled to the side as well.
“You were peeping,” Ling Xiao said from afar.
Ying Feng didn’t bother to retort, let alone admit he was indeed peeping.
“I didn’t expect anyone to be here at such a late hour.”
“I need to become stronger.” Ling Xiao said with a firm tone, “I won’t lose to anyone in Adult Ceremony. I swore it.”
Ling Xiao slanted his head, “Then do you want to train together? Our last fight doesn’t count. I hope you don’t drop the ball again this time.”
Ying Feng slowly unbuttoned his uniform, took it off and threw it to the side, then methodically rolled up his sleeves.
“Last time was an accident. I won’t throw the game this time.”
Inside the training hall, the two people were evenly matched. It was the best fight, the most carefree one they had ever experienced.
They fought until both of them were physically exhausted before the combat practice finally came to an end. Ling Xiao lied on the ground, his limbs eagle-spread. Sweat covered his body, and even drenched the floor while his chest heaved incessantly.
Ying Feng was not much better than him. He was sitting by the wall, with one hand resting on his bent knee. Sweat streamed down like rain as he breathed rapidly.
“I haven’t had a good fight like this for a long time.” Ling Xiao said as he panted.
Ying Feng didn’t express it, but he agreed as well. Fighting with a real person, an evenly-matched opponent in particular, was a completely different experience from fighting a robot that followed a set of rules.
“Even though I don’t think you are any better than me, I have to admit you’re quite strong.” Ling Xiao expressed his appreciation for Ying Feng for the first time.
Ying Feng stayed quiet for a moment. For the first time ever, he actually replied, “You too.”
“But even so, if I am to face you in the Adult Ceremony one day,” Ling Xiao said with extreme confidence, “I am still not going to lose.”
“Same here,” Ying Feng paused for a second before continuing, “But that kind of thing is obviously never going to happen. You are thinking too much.”
It was like a wet blanket was thrown onto Ling Xiao, his body didn’t feel as hot. He stood up in a staggering manner, “I want to fight more, but sadly it’s almost time for dorm check.”
Ying Feng got up as well and picked up his uniform from the floor. His original intention in coming here was to let some sweat out, but he didn’t expect to meet Ling Xiao. After such a physical exhaustion, he was sure to have a very sound sleep tonight.
The two of them returned to the dormitory building one after the other. After they came to the hallway junction, Ling Xiao finally spoke again.
“Hey,” he shouted.
Ying Feng stopped to hear what Ling Xiao wanted to say.
“Are we continuing tomorrow?” He raised his fist, “Training together.”
The hall was dim, his gray eyes appeared to be especially bright. It had nothing to do with the color of his eyeballs, but the spirit inside them.
“Okay,” Ying Feng could not help but accept. He had already ignored the fact that the other person once threatened in front of the entire class to defeat him and become his Qizhu. Their relationship was at its freezing point just not long ago.
After receiving the affirmative answer, Ling Xiao curved up the corner of his mouth from the bottom of his heart. This was the first smile Ying Feng saw on Ling Xiao ever since their last encounter at the medical building. Within just three days, he had witnessed this person’s rebound from the lowest ebb to the summit. It seemed that no negative force could ever knock down such a person, that even the pain of losing one’s best friend would eventually become a force pressing him forward.
Just want to clarify some parts from my point of view.
First of all, Lan Sheng chose to suicide isn’t because he doesn’t love Ping Zong as much. In most cases, after the Adult Ceremony, Qizhu will spend time together with Qizi, and by accompanying, they can comfort Qizi’s hormone disorder and relieve their “depression”. But for their case, because there were too much surprise during their Adult Ceremony, LS’s hormone disorder, his degree of “depression” is several times more than normal people. He couldn’t think rationally, therefore PZ’s only choice is to control him by force, control his actions so LS cannot attempt to suicide. But PZ was too hesitant and soft-hearted, he couldn’t do it, and it led to the tragedy by the end.
Secondly, “wanting to win” is something written in Tianxiu people’s genes. It’s an instinct for most of them. As Dr. Yao Tai said, there are cases like PZ who don’t care as much, and can still live a happy life even if they lost in Adult Ceremony, but for most people, they are not comfortable to be controlled by others. Lan Sheng, Ling Xiao, and Ying Feng are all like this. This is why Zhu Yue is disliked and isolated by all people ever since he was born, because Tianxiu people look down on weak ones.
I just want to remind that even though this is not a real sci-fic, and there are lots of similarities to real society. Please consider the setting of the society before blaming a character. I know you’re all angels and that won’t happen! ٩(๑❛ᴗ❛๑)۶