Female Chinese Engineers X and Y have been friends since high school, having both grown up in Si Chuan China, Cheng du area, to be specific. X grew up in the countryside, plying the 4 rivers of the provence now and then with her uncle, who moved goods from place to place, sometimes having to protect them from pirating. To protect his goods, her uncle was proficient both with guns and in a very street wise form of kung fu. Since he had no children of his own, he passed this knowledge on to X after she begged a bit, but really, he was happy to do it. By the time she was a teenager, X was already an accomplished martial artist, and had had ample opportunity to use her skills in real life. At the same time, their travels sometimes took her and her uncle into the Western regions of Sichuan, bordering Tibet. Since she grew up under the communist regime, she was not taught any religion, other than a bit of lighting of incense for household gods her grandmother still did. X was fascinated and enamored by the Le Shan Giant Buddha statue, and took the time to talk to local minority Tibetans about their religion, which made total sense to her. She began meditating at a young age, and progressed well with occasional teachings from learned Buddhists in the West.
Y, on the other hand, grew up right in the city of Cheng Du, crowded and dirty. She also learned martial arts as a child, but the highly acrobatic and showy form of Wu Shu. A friend of the family had a school that made some money putting on shows, and occasionally someone from the school was chosen for the bigger Wu Shu demonstration groups in China, or even for making movies. Y’s parents hoped for this for her, since they themselves had not been allowed to be educated during the cultural revolution, but were rather sent to work in the fields. That’s how they met and ended up in Si chuan, but they were both children of wealthy, intellectual families. Y inherited their intelligence, and was actually quite a genius. She had also been exposed to spirituality, from the local herbalist on the corner of the street where they lived, a kind old man who was secretly still Taoist. When Y showed interest in the herbs, he was only too eager to teach her, and eventually also taught her some esoteric Taoist rituals and meditations.
Around the age of 15, both girls ended up at the same high school in Cheng Du. X’s parents had had enough of her wild ways, and wanted her to settle down, so sent her to stay with some relatives in Cheng Du proper and go to high school. It happened to be the same one Y was going to. They noticed each other in the courtyard, thinking the other was a martial artist, and quickly became good friends. X taught Y some of her rougher but more effective on the street style, while Y taught X her refined forms, which brought more discipline and precision. It turned out the girls were equally smart, and ended up studying together as well. Both were good at math and science, and dreamed of somehow going to university in the United States. They wanted to get away from the increasing pollution of Cheng Du, everyone was getting asthma, and the lack of privacy. Both girls had to share small rooms with 3 siblings or cousins.
Their plans were thwarted by politics, since they needed recommendations from the principal, who was also the local party chairman, and didn’t like them. Instead, they ended up going to a university in London, since the British government had offered a small number of scholarships. This is how they ended up meeting R and O, who were doing advanced studies with Professor L. At first, X and Y were intent on their studies, and ignored the advances of R and O. However, they soon became intrigued, and began to join in on the discussions between R and O about the nature of reality, Buddhism, and Western Computer Science. One thing led to another, and they ended up in bed together in various configurations. As time went on, R and X particularly hit it off, whereas Y became attached to someone else, and O was left out. This is part of what turned O towards anger and assassination.