the pile of limbs and blood that was the boy

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[the boys]

The cute boys arrive at the Arena Mall like: extremely f*ck this. It is bodies on top of bodies and stores on top of stores. Every step is a fight through the crowd - traveling the swifts of the human current as they wind their way up into the building itself, the stream opening up inside the mall and splitting off in every direction, bodies flowing outward into every available centimeter of space. There's a tight ring of people clinging to the circular railing that overlooks the arena at the center of the mall, and looser eddies of people gathered farther back, traveling in and out of the stores that form the outer wall of the structure. And as far up as they can see it's like this on every floor. And overhead and filling the center expanse of the arena are the robot bugs, hovering everywhere, filming everything. It's so many people and so much stuff, all violently competing for their attention. It's immediately exhausting but also so curious and entrancing. The boys could easily see themselves spending the rest of their lives here, moving from store to store, picking up and examining each item and just wondering at the creation of it all, the availability of everything, so unlike everything they've ever experienced. They can hardly believe there used to be places like this in every town.

It's: a lot.

They push against the crowds and use their screens to navigate to a store called Potato Juice, outside of which Beastro and a few of his friends have carved out space, their bodies in a circle to form a barrier against the crowds.

"Is everything all set?" the boy with the eyes asks, instead of a formal greeting.

Beastro glances to his friends. "Yeah man we've got people all set up strategically but like....are you sure this is what you want to do?"

The question is an attack on the cute boys' honor. "Yes we are sure," the boy with the eyes replies curtly. "We have traveled very far and made impossible sacrifices to get here. We are sure."

Beastro backpedals. "No, not about the plan, but are you sure about the target?"

The boy with the eyes looks at him like he doesn't understand the question.

"You're sure we're talking about the right person? The girl you're after?"

"Of course we're sure why wouldn't we be sure?"

Beastro gestures vaguely around the entire mall. "There's more famous people here. And they're not located in secure and difficult to access locations."

"You lack context. She is connected to everything. She's the most important person here. I assure you."

Beastro gives his friends a look like Well, I tried. "OK. We'll wait for the battle to start then we'll go in, kill her, boom."

"NO," the boy with the eyes says. "No one is dying today. No killing. We need her alive. We're kidnapping her."

"What's kidnappinger?"

"We'll take her to a secret location."

"What's a secret location? I,, these words are like,,," Beastro looks to his friends for help translating.

"Look, none of that is your concern. Let us worry about what happens after we have her. Just worry about getting us to her."

Beastro exhales and shakes his head wearily. "I'm going to be real honest here, the idea that a woman is even worth this much attention goes against everything Conspirasan holds sacred."

"Luckily you're not Conspirasan yet."

"Dude can you be cool???" Beastro whispers, motioning to quiet down. "Please stop saying that."

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