Our avatar thief got caught. Or, I guess it'd be more accurate to say Shogo grew bored of him. He found the answer he'd been looking for, and didn't like it. His new plaything is a teenage girl obsessed with art. She has a wonderful talent for it, taking after her father, but her works are creepy to say the least. I feel for her, though. She's a daddy's girl, and her father has long been in a comatose state called Serenity. He might as well be dead already.
It's a growing epidemic, Serenity. People don't get hooked on alcohol or smoking anymore. Instead, it's pills that keep your hue clear. Almost everyone takes them, including me. They're a staple of everyday life, but the effects can be disastrous if taken too routinely. They do exactly what they're made for, which is reduce stress. It numbs you to it. After a while, it numbs you to the world completely. That is what Serenity is. It's just one more way Sybil has been destroying lives under the mask of helping civilization.
Cases like this girl's father's are the reason we are doing this. To keep an eye on her, Rikako Oryo, Shogo has gone incognito as a teacher at her prestigious school.
"You're up early," he notes, coming into the kitchen. "Is there something you want to talk to me about?"
Right on the mark as always. "I was wondering if I could accompany you today, sensei." I pass him a plate of toast. "It's not everyday you participate in society like this. This might be my first and only chance to see you like this."
He considers this for a minute, flipping through the possibilities in his mind. "You can be a student teacher. I doubt anyone will notice anything unusual about it." I scarf down the rest of my breakfast happily. It should be easy enough for me to act like a teacher. After all, teaching was one of the jobs Sybil declared I have an aptitude for.
I quickly dress, braiding my hair and choosing my glasses over my regular contacts. Shogo wears a tan vest, with a button-down white shirt beneath. I smile, wondering if we'll maybe look like a couple to the students. Unfortunately, neither of our lives would allow for that. A romance with Shogo is nothing but a mere fantasy, admittedly one I enjoy indulging in. We slip on our jackets and head out.
"Bye, you three," I nod to my birds. "Be good while we're gone."
I close the door behind me and rush with a skip in my step to catch up with Shogo. The school he's working at is one of a kind, a boarding school for girls. It's meant to keep them isolated, so that their psycho passes remain low. The students are given the luxury of school clubs, like art and music, along with an old style of teaching that has been all but abandoned.
As we approach the gates of the school, young girls crowd to meet us. "Good morning, sensei!" He smiles to them kindly, and I marvel at how naturally this comes to him.
"You're popular with the students," I state, not at all surprised. To them, he's a handsome, young, and charismatic teacher. If only they knew what he was really like.
"They're eager to learn," he tells me. "They remind me of you, in that way."
"Is that so?" I chuckle, remembering how fervently I learned to read when I first met Shogo. Yes, I've always loved gaining new knowledge, especially when the end result was praise from him. If there's one thing I've learned growing up with him, it's that nothing should stand in the way of what you want. An odd lesson coming from such a manipulative personality.
The classroom is already filled when we enter. "Okay class, have a seat. We have a guest today." They scramble into their spots. "This is Ms. Rui Oshida. She is studying to be a teacher and has come to observe our class for the time being. Please show her the proper respect."
I bow. "Please take care of me." And with that, I'm pretty much stuck standing in the back of the room for the rest of the period. Shogo leads the lesson wonderfully. He explains everything so thoroughly that few raise their hands with questions, and the students participate both actively and willingly. My guess is the girls' reasons for being so attentive have something to do with their teacher's age and appearance.
When the bell rings for lunch, they get up and file out orderly. One of them breaks away from the rest and steps over to me.
"Ms. Oshida, are you and sensei dating?"
I can't keep a grin from growing on my face. "No, we aren't, but he's handsome isn't he?" She nods sharply, returning my grin, and rejoins the others. Towards the back of the line I spot the girl who is currently causing the police havoc, replicating the specimen case. That's what the inspectors called it, I believe. I motion her over.
"How is your father doing, Rikako?"
She studies me for a moment, choosing her words carefully. "He's the same as always." I lower my voice so that, when I talk, the microphones won't pick me up.
"I'm here with Mr. Makashima, so if you ever need to talk, please come and find me."
She smiles at me like I'm completely oblivious. "Don't worry about me, Ms. Oshida. If that is your name, that is. I can handle myself."
I blink, straightening my back. "Alright, but if you need anything..." She walks away from me before I can finish. When all the students are gone, I go over to Shogo.
"You've chose an interesting toy."
"Isn't she?" he laughs. "But the police are getting close. It won't be long before they find her."
"And when they do?" I ask.
He thinks for a second, taking out his lunch. "I'll keep her until I find someone more entertaining."
I pull out my lunch as well, sighing. He's just like a child in some ways. He obsesses over a toy until a shiny new one comes along, and then the old one is discarded as useless. But, at the same time, he's more mature than most people I've come across. He's ingenious, determined, calculative, and overall patient. However, he lacks an understanding of emotions. He knows this without me telling, and it's one of the many reasons he takes such an interest in people. We both believe people should act on their emotions, no matter the outcome. The difference is, I don't always like the resulting action.
"So," I begin, "do you enjoy being a teacher?"
"It's interesting," he responds. That's the end of that topic.
"How is everything coming along? I mean, other than that girl?"
"It has been progressing well, but I will be loosing many of them soon. They are not the kinds of people to back down in the face of what many consider justice.
"Which is why you chose them, isn't it?" I conclude. It's difficult to find people these days who will act despite the law. Shogo's favorite was a man from three years ago, from this very school. His psycho pass was as unreadable as Shogo's, which made them unstoppable as a pair. Unfortunately, the man grew tired of such a life and decided to turn himself in. I didn't say anything to stop him, because he was a criminal, but I heavily regret that decision. We haven't heard a word about him since. It's as if he just up and vanished. He was a nice guy, too. A bit opinionated, but accepting and humorous. He and I had become good friends. His name was Touma.
"Huh?" I glance up from my meal to see Shogo looking out the window. I follow his gaze to find police cars pulling into the entrance. For a single moment, my heart stops beating. Then Shogo stands, saying,
"I think I'll head to the teacher's lounge. Are you coming?"
"Oh, yes." I stuff the remainder of my lunch back into my bag and stand to follow him. Shortly after we settle into the lounge, the chairman barges in and announces the MWPSB's presence.
"There is no need to worry, it is just an inspection," he lies. "You'll see inspectors and enforcers alike, but there is no cause for alarm." A couple of the teachers bother to ask questions, but most go back to what they are doing. I finish my lunch and toss my bag into the trashcan. It bounces off the edge and I groan, going to pick it up. I'm about to return to my seat when a crumpled drawing catches my eye. I unfold it, then immediately shove it back in the trash. It's a piece of that girl Rikako's art, a picture of another girl her age. She was probably a past victim.
When I get back to my chair, I realize Shogo is listening to something with headphones. I tap him on the shoulder and, when he turns to look, I point to the device in his hands. He pulls out one of the earbuds and offers it to me. Someone is speaking on the other end. I slip in the earbud and listen intently.
"...the places weren't elaborate enough. Our old perpetrator wouldn't set two of his crime scenes in a regular park." Shogo's smiling. He's watching the device in his hands with satisfaction, so I sneak a peek. What I see in the middle of the screen is one of the enforcers from the other day. He had been the one to point his dominator at me, if I remember correctly.
"His name is...?" I inquire.
"Kougami. Shinya Kougami." Interesting. I guess an enforcer is a latent criminal, but for Shogo to take such a liking towards a hunting dog... It makes me curious. What is it about this guy that has Shogo so fascinated?
"So Rikako Oryo is done?"
"She didn't preform as well as I had hoped," he admits. "So, shall we leave the destruction to ensue?"
"Another body has been discovered on the school grounds!" The chairman is back, and his words work the other teachers into a frenzy. They all dash out of the lounge, leaving Shogo and me alone.
He stands, waiting for me. I gather together my things and get up to follow him. As we walk through the hallways, I wonder,
"What about the security cameras? Will you be able to destroy both video and sound before the MWPSB can get to it?"
"I have a hacker working on that." Figures as much. He's having someone else do the actual work again, even though he's the one on the scene. Although, I guess I can't be sure the hacker isn't here.
Whatever route we're taking is probably predetermined to avoid encounters with the police. The entire way out of the school, we see no one except students. Most of them greet us, a few asking about the MWPSB. I'd think that we should keep moving, but we stop to tell them what the chairman told us.
"You shouldn't worry about it," I assure them. "Nothing bad will happen." I opt to exclude the bit about another body being found. Well, nothing bad should happen to them. Poor Rikako, on the other hand, has been abandoned with her hue murky in the middle of an area swarming with hunting dogs. Even if by chance she manages to escape, Shogo won't let her live. She'd give the inspectors too much of a clue too soon. Everything has to and will go the way Shogo desires. That's just the way he works.
He brings me to an underground system, a maze consisting of sewers and pipes. I dance around the puddles he ignores until I collide with him, having not been paying attention. He doesn't flinch, but I stumble back and check to make sure my nose isn't broken.
"Sorry," I apologize, rubbing my nose. I hit his shoulder blade. He's incredibly lean for someone of his strength, so a lot of people would be surprised how muscular he really is. We've trained together before, and if he had been seriously trying to fight me, I would've ended up with more than just bruises. I've been mock fighting for nine years, and he could still take me down in seconds if he tried.
I glance around him to see why we've stopped. A man I vaguely recognize, eyes unblinking, stares back at me. I have to bite my cheek to stop myself from letting out a yelp. For some reason, this man terrifies me.
"Oh, and who is this young lady?" Even his voice sounds familiar, and yet wrong at the same time. I extend my hand to him anyway. He isn't the first oddball I've met the acquaintance of.
"The name's Esther Bryant. Pardon me for asking, but you seem familiar. Have we met before?"
He smiles and I wince. "You've probably seen me on TV," he tells me, shaking my hand. "My name is Toyohisa Senguji." My brain instantly makes the connection. He's the man almost entirely made up of metal, the cyborg! I can't even remember how long he's lived.
"Wow, that's amazing!" I exclaim. "It really is a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Senguji!" Of course, if we're meeting like this, it means he's more likely than not a latent criminal. It's unfortunate, because he has the chance to extend the lives of many. People don't exactly fancy the idea of replacing their body parts with robotics, but he could've convinced them it isn't so bad. He could save lives, but now he's technically wanted by the government.
"He's here to dispose of an unneeded limb," Shogo explains before I can ask. I pause for a second, sorting out the meaning behind his words, then sigh. My eyes cast downwards.
"The poor girl," I murmur.
"Now, we should go claim our seats before the show begins."
"Hey!" I grab Shogo's arm before he can walk away. "You know I can't watch a murder! It'll cloud my hue!"
Normally, he wouldn't care about someone's crime coefficient, but mine being clear is beneficial. It helps me blend into society and gather both information and supplies. He, of course, has the clearest psycho pass of anyone, but he prefers to avoid the cameras. That's where he sends me in his place. If my intention was to commit a crime, I'd be caught immediately, but he's careful not to let me know his plans until after I've returned.
"You don't have to watch," he tells me, "if you don't want to. I'm only staying to make certain it all comes to pass without interruption." I let out a deep breath. I can't watch, but there's nothing stopping me from staying with him. I follow Shogo deeper into the darkness, leaving Mr. Senguji behind. Eventually, he pulls out his phone and makes a call. On the other side, I can faintly hear the voice of a girl.
"Do you know what you've done wrong?" he questions her. After a few more words from her, he says, "Well, we can't discuss it if you don't know." He quotes a Shakespearean play, then hangs up. "And now we wait as she's sought out, and devoured."
I jerk. "You aren't actually going to set animals on her, are you?"
"Of course not," he chuckles.
Thank god, it's only a figure of speech. I hope her death will be one quick, and painless. Despite all she's done, she's suffered enough. I can't imagine what she had to go through at such a young age. I wait anxiously, watching Shogo use his binoculars. I don't want to know what he's seeing.
Suddenly, a scream splits the silence. I cringe and lower my head. Soon after, there are two gunshots. After the first, I jump. The second causes me to grab at my ears to block them out. Please, let it be over!
A hand on my head slows my breathing. "We can go back."
I release a long breath, nodding as he removes his hand. My heart won't slow its rapid pace and my hue has probably darkened significantly, but I'm alright. I want to go home.