(Q&Q) a compelling case for mental telepathy amongst siblings

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bingey is talking about whatever, his last bit of crowd-pumping before the battle starts. He goes over the rules quickly:

-3 levels,

-each with different stores,

-you never know how many stores will open on each level,

-each store usually only offers one item,

-you race each other to the stores and choose your items wisely,

-some items will help you in the battle and some will hinder you,

-first one to get the item in the last store wins,

-today's final item is sponsored by blah blah blah.

Qynka knows the basic drill but can barely focus, there's too much other stuff happening. Zonnys and the screams of bloodthirsty fandoms fill the air above them. The crowds jumping up and down in the stands overhead, contorting their bodies in impossible angles to take selfies with themselves in the foreground and the contestants in the background.

She poses gamely with her sister and they go about their social media business, taking pics of and with each other, posting about how excited they are and how much they love the crowd, being as chill and cool and unnervous as possible. And still, somehow, failing to look even half as chill and cool and unnervous as the Superfine Trio.

The 3 sisters stand huddled at the far end of the platform. Each seemingly over 7 feet tall and under 10 pounds. They're like wraiths, shadows that have freed themselves from the slavery of human bodies. Sinewy suggestions of black fabric that move like eyelashes, a flirtatious wink across a crowded room that you're not sure you actually saw but will definitely think about for the rest of your life.

Qynka tries not to look or notice them while also very extremely definitely looking at and noticing them. She's not quite sure from this distance which is Arkkelina ("the positive one"), which is Anhedine ("the funny one"), and which is Azelbeth ("the emotional one"), but she knows admitting that would get her flayed online.

They just stand there, looking bored at their screens, not interacting with each other, not even tapping. Seemingly doing nothing at all to produce content beyond the mere act of existing. As though their lives and futures don't depend on the next few minutes, they just saw people headed to the Arena Mall and decided to follow along on the random chance that something interesting might happen.

And then the alarm sounds - the screens of literally everyone in the arena produce the new store alert. Three stores light up on the first level: FacialPlay (makeup), Moondrop (jewelry), Paape (shoes). Everyone's screens flash a green strobe effect and everyone is screaming. The Superfine Trio are gone, without even a word to each other, setting off in 3 different directions towards each store.

If the Superfine Trio make a compelling case for mental telepathy amongst siblings, Qannen and Qynka disprove it. They stand indecisively for a moment, which is a moment too long. 3 stores though, seems a bit unfair.

"We should split up," Qynka says. "Which store do you want?"

"No," Qannen says, already pulling her sister along. "We both go to FacialPlay and pick off the weak one."

In Moondrop, Arkkelina rushes in to find a single pair of earrings on display on the sole table in the center of the bright and mirror-lined-store. With a quick glance back to ensure neither of the Trrashicans have followed, she picks the earrings up and gazes at them. Soooo silver and sparkly, intricately curved and dotted with expensive looking crystals. She gets some video for the TL of the way the light clings to them. Then she places them through her lobes and feels them dangling gently. Honestly they feel so sexy and powerful, like they belong nowhere else but on her ears.

She turns to admire herself in one of the mirrors that line the entire inside of the store. The moment her eyes land on the mirrored image of the earrings, 2 things happen: 1) a mechanism on the back of the earrings twists and seals, locking them onto her ears, and 2) an electromagnetic force from behind the mirror connects to the earrings, locking Arkkelina's head in place. She can move her arms and body, but is unable to move her head or neck, unable to look anywhere else but at herself. She strains to wrench her head away and the earrings begin to burn, tearing at her ears. She screams and the crowd screams back.

Qannen and Qynka arrive at FacialPlay just as Azelbeth is opening the top of a tiny jar of glitter foundation, the only item on display in this store. She dabs at the makeup and swipes it quickly under her eyes. The makeup sparkles and embeds itself into her skin.

Qannen kicks at Azelbeth's hand, sending the jar flying. Qynka punches Azelbeth directly in the face and then screams, drawing her hand back in pain. The glitter makeup has formed a protective shield on Azelbeth's face. Azelbeth uses Qynka's surprise to her advantage, kicking her directly in the stomach and sending her sprawling across a countertop.

Qannen backs up, rethinking her plan, and dives to reach the makeup where it's rolled along the wall. Azelbeth's leg whips out and catches Qannen in the side, sending her flying into the wall. Azelbeth turns and stalks toward the door, headed back out to the mall, but Qynka dives for her legs and brings her to the ground. Qannen drags herself over to the discarded makeup jar and dips her fingers in while Azelbeth and Qynka tangle, with Azelbeth decidedly kicking Qynka's ass. Qannen hesitates, the makeup on her fingertips, then applies it directly to her knuckles on each hand. It sparkles and she can feel it turning her fists to metal.

Over in Paape, Anhedine carefully examines a glorious pair of strappy heels before trying them on. She catches video of the way they hold her feet and nods approvingly. She walks out of the store and the crowd screams in enchanted approval. She pauses, then smiles and waves and does a dorky exaggerated pose with the shoes, anachronistically chill and happy for being in the midst of a life or death battle. But the fans lovvvvve it, and the stadium is filled with the ear-piercing screams of devotion. Then Anhedine taps her heels together and a quick burst of energy releases, sending her flying up into the air. She touches down gracefully on the 2nd level to await the next round of openings. Everyone continues to freak out while she goes back to lazily scrolling her screen.

In FacialPlay, Azelbeth is on top of Qynka, punching her and head-butting her. Qynka looks not just dazed but trashed. Her hairstyle and makeup already a forgotten memory. Qannen comes up behind Azelbeth and punches her as hard as she can in the side of the head, knocking her clean off her sister.

She helps Qynka to her feet. "Are you OK?" she asks, as Azelbeth reappears, grabs Qannen, and throws her against the wall. Qynka moves to help but Qannen waves her off. "GO!" Qannen yells. "2nd floor!" Qynka watches as Azelbeth grabs Qannen with her claws and drags her sister deeper into the store, then she turns and races out.



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