Chapter 17: Sister is Brother’s nemesis (1)

Anyone with a discerning eye could see Bai Qingqing was doing it on purpose.
Shen Mingxuan’s face darkened at once, cold light flickered in his peach blossom eyes, and his expression became exceptionally grim, just like Yama the king of Hell.
Bai Tiantian bit her lip; she thought of picking vegetables for Shen Mingxuan but because of her shy nature, she did not dare to do it.

It had been several months since the end of days had come.
She and her sister Bai Qingqing had been rescued by the Thunder Squad and thanks to her space ability, the members of the team looked at her differently.
In addition, Bai Tiantian was soft-tempered, sincere, and kind, and compared to Bai Qingqing’s constant flirting and challenging the bottom line of the men, she naturally looked better and more likable; she could feel that the members of the Thunder Squad had a very good impression of her and truth was, she kind of liked Fu Chen in particular, who was both decisive and powerful.
But ever since Bai Qingqing had started to pester their captain after losing her memory, Bai Tiantian had discovered the always indifferent and cold man had such a gentle side, pampering and protecting Bai Qingqing just like a real baby sister.
Bai Tiantian’s heart was full of loss and envy, yet she could only hide her thoughts carefully.
These past few days, she had noticed a change in everybody’s mind.
Except for Shen Mingxuan, who hated Bai Qingqing to the core, the other men did not dislike her as much as before.
This was a good thing, Bai Tiantian did not have to worry about her sister being abandoned again, but she couldn’t help but feel bitter.
She used to only feel pity and heartache but now jealousy had spread all over, what was wrong with her? Bai Tiantian’s thoughts were heavy and she was completely lost in self-doubt.

After A-mei brought the last dish, everyone sat together to have dinner happily, except for Shen Mingxuan who still had a terrible expression.
Since the end of the world, everybody was too busy fleeing, fighting, gathering supplies, or rushing to safe areas.
There was no time to just sit down and enjoy a meal but with tonight’s specialty dishes, the Thunder Squad felt rather relaxed.
Bai Qingqing ate two bowls of spicy food made by A-mei and hiccuped when she was done.
The others looked at her and she lowered her head in embarrassment, looking both cute and timid: “I have eaten too much.”
Xiao Yang glanced at the leftover food on the table and laughed: “So it turns out Sister Qingqing liked spicy food.”
The members of the Thunder Squad, including her half-sister Bai Tiantian, were not very familiar with Bai Qingqing and knew nothing of her personal habits.
Her eyes were bright and she admitted: “I don’t dislike it.” She looked at her teammates, “What about you?”
“I like it too.
Hardcore food!” Xiao Yang answered with a smile.
Cheng Rui: “I can eat anything.”
During field training, he would eat grass roots and leaves.
As long as it was edible and he could swallow it, he was not picky.
“I like relatively lighter food, like hot soup.” Liang Zhiyu smiled and added, “But I can eat spicy ones too.”
Bai Tiantian was full of apologies: “Why didn’t you tell me earlier? If I knew you liked spicy food, I would have added chili when cooking.”
Shen Mingxuan sneered: “She already has food yet she wants to be picky.”
Bai Qingqing ignored him and turned to look at Fu Chen’s beautiful facial features, who was sitting next to her: “Brother, what about you?”
Fu Chen replied, indifferently: “Why are you asking so much? Are you going to cook?”

Bai Qingqing hiccuped again and lowered her eyelashes: “I don’t know how to cook…” She raised her bright eyes again, joy sparkling in them, “But what you want to eat, I can learn!”
It was pleasing to hear and Fu Chen looked at her: “No need.
I don’t want to be poisoned to death by you.”
“…” Bai Qingqing was caught off guard.
The others laughed when she choked but understood in their hearts: what Fu Chen meant was that his “sister” was not allowed to cook.


After the meal, everyone helped tidy up the table together and went to rest.
The girls were staying in the same room, Awang was locked in the woodshed by himself, and the men had bunked up together.
It was a simple and crude arrangement, yet the best considering the circumstances.

It was around 8 pm when they were done.
In her previous life, Bai Qingqing would have been laying on the couch, eating snacks and watching a drama, but in the apocalypse world, there was nothing to do after dinner.
Bai Qingqing couldn’t fall asleep and kept tossing in her bed, her thoughts on her side tasks than on her main mission.
So far, the little puppy Xiao Yang and the blockhead Cheng Rui seemed to be the easiest to seduce and she had to decide which one was better to target first.
“Qingqing, are you awake?” A-mei’s voice came.
“Did I wake you up?” Bai Qingqing answered.
“No.” A-mei’s voice was very soft.
“I’m not sleeping either.” Bai Tiantian’s voice was even softer. 
Bai Qingqing was kind of speechless.
If the three of them were not sleeping, did they really need to whisper so low?

Between the disappearance of the children, the strange traditions of the villagers, and the man-eating Sacred Tree, these past few days in Zhou village could be described as eventful.
The sins committed by the villagers during the end of days were very deep, yet she was not judge, jury nor executioner; even if she had the moral high ground, she was not qualified to punish them.
Moreover, half of mankind had already died in this apocalypse.
The Elder had died but the patriarchal and misogynistic customs were deeply-rooted in the men’s behaviors; dogs couldn’t stop themselves from eating shit1 and the women who gave birth to their children were to be trampled on.
The pitiful image of Abao’s mother being beaten by her husband earlier today was engraved in Bai Qingqing’s mind.
Perhaps it was human nature, but even if their survival conditions were already difficult, she felt compassion for those women and did not want them to suffer more than they already had.

Bai Qingqing’s temper was not quiet, otherwise she would have never accepted the system’s task in order to survive and dared to provoke future big shots.
She did not like Bai Tiantian but she didn’t dislike her either.
Her Virgin Mary halo was a little too intense but as long as she didn’t harm her, Bai Qingqing didn’t really care.
But thanks to Bai Tiantian’s female lead halo, whether it was supporting characters or passersby, everybody would have strange goodwill towards her and, with a little guidance, it could be used to her advantage.
“Bai Tiantian.”

“Yes?” Bai Tiantian was puzzled.
Bai Qingqing sat up and leaned against the wall: “I want to discuss something with you.”
“What is it? Tell me.” Feeling needed by others, Bai Tiantian was instantly full of energy.
She was the kind of person who didn’t know how to refuse; whether it was a shortcoming or an advantage was not certain but as long as the request was not too much, she would become soft-hearted and agree to anything.
A-mei also looked at Bai Qingqing with curiosity.
“A-mei, you thought the village’s rules and traditions were inhuman and you tried to escape.”
A-mei sat up in her turn: “Yes! My mother…” She gritted her teeth before saying in a bitter voice, “My mother was beaten to death by my father.”
“How can this be!” Bai Tiantian let out a shocked cry.
The men beat their wives to death or those who couldn’t stand being abused and tortured every day would jump into the river, hang themselves, or drink medicine.
Their status in this village was no better than cattle.
Bai Qingqing raised her hand and patted A-mei on the shoulder.
“We are going to do something big tomorrow.” She looked at Bai Tiantian and added, “Didn’t you give a lecture to the women a few days ago? You will give another one tomorrow.”
Bai Tiantian was confused: “What kind of lesson? The same harmful one as last time?”
Bai Qinqging leaned closer to the two other girls: “Listen to me…”
After she shared her plan, the girls were shocked and looked at her before asking with some hesitation: “Are you sure it’s a good idea?”
Bai Qingqing nodded and smiled: “Just do it.”


The next day.

Sunlight filtered through a layer of clouds and scattered over the mountains of Zhou village.
People got up early to eat and smoke rose from every house.
Bai Qingqing and A-mei went door to door to inform the women of the upcoming lesson.
Hearing they were going back to class and that the lecture was given by the Holy Maiden, the men readily agreed, eager to have their wives and future daughters-in-law learn more about rules and female virtue.
The women gathered in the previous room.
A-mei and Bai Qingqing stood on the side and Bai Tiantian was in the middle.
“I will be leaving today, but before I go, I will give you one last class.”
Because the Elder had shaped a particularly noble image of Bai Tiantian, the women were all looking at her like she was the reincarnation of Bodhisattva.
“Lesson one: Awareness of oneself.”
The women were very puzzled.
Was the Holy Maiden going to talk about Sister Hong’s previous lecture, when she had told all of them to recognize their lower status and treat men as the sky?
Bai Tiantian looked at Bai Qingqing and said: “Please, come here to give an example.”
“Yes.” Bai Qingqing smiled and this smile reminded all the women of her outburst from a few days ago.
Their memory was still very fresh and they had all thought she was crazy; otherwise, why would she have cried out to get married and be eager to be killed by her husband?

“The truth is that I was married once.” Bai Qingqing lowered her eyes, her voice full of emotions, just like an actor, “I gave birth to a daughter for him but he thought of her as waste and would punch and kick me every day.
Even when I served him with all my heart, I couldn’t change his mind and he threw my daughter into the pond one night.”
When the women heard this, sympathy appeared in their eyes.
The pain of losing a child, only mothers who had could understand.
Men were too much, how could they kill their own children!?
Bai Qingqing raised her head and said in a bitter voice: “My poor baby… She didn’t even get a chance to touch the flowers and grass of this world, nor look at the birds and the fishes, she just died like that in the cold pond…”
Women were soft-hearted by nature and as they listened, those words resonated with everyone, and hatred spread uncontrollably in their hearts.
Even if she knew it was only an act, Bai Tiantian also shed tears.
Bai Qingqing’s big eyes were hollow and desperate.
She took a sharp breath and continued in a soft voice: “I cried all day and he beat me again.
When he fell asleep, I took advantage of it.
I tied him up, took a knife, and stabbed him a few times.
The bed was full of blood.”
Everyone felt chills on their backs.
Bai Qingqing smiled, both beautiful and bizarre: “Guess what happened in the end?”

“Did you kill him?”
“Did he die?”
Although this story was terrible, the women had a hint of joy in their hearts.
Bai Qingqing had a blank expression on her face: “He didn’t die.”
Everybody was confused.
Bai Qingqing: “Of course I wouldn’t let him die so easily.
After he was sent to the hospital, I cried and told him I was sleepwalking.
He was broken and had to rely on me for the rest of his life.
Fearing I would abandon him, his attitude towards me became better and better.
But it was far from enough to make up for the harm and grief he had caused me.”
Led by her story and understanding her thoughts, the women felt good.
Bai Qingqing: “After experiencing these things, I realized I was no worse than a man.
And if I had realized that earlier, my daughter would not have died.”
“Then why did you scream you wanted to get married and be beaten to death by a man before?”
Bai Qingqing laughed: “If I don’t make trouble this way, how will you see these rules are wrong?”
Bai Tiantian used this perfect timing to say: “Men are not the sky and women are not the earth.
You need to learn to love yourself and be independent in order to protect yourself and the people you love.”
The men of the village were lazy and the women were the one working and taking care of the children.
They relied on ancestral customs and rules to get away with it and the time to break those had come.

After concluding the lecture, the three girls walked down the mountain.
Bai Tiantiant couldn’t help asking: “Qingqing, did you make up the story yourself?”
A-mei was also wondering the same thing; the whole thing had felt too real.
Bai Qingqing answered indifferently: “Doesn’t this happen everywhere in the world?”
With the end of days, the environment had become more severe and difficult to live in.
Most women were reduced to animals to be disposed of at will; their only values were to comfort men or become broodmares in fertility camps.
Truth was Bai Qinqging had based this story on the experience of one of her classmates.
After she had been born, she had been thrown into the pond by her grandmother but fortunately, her fate had been to be picked up and raised by a better family.

狗改不了吃屎 (gǒugǎibùliǎochīshǐ): lit.
a dog can’t stop himself from eating shit (idiom) / fig.
bad habits are hard to change

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