Loving a Killer

Chapter 4

I'm in an abandoned subway line, inside the front car of the train. Shogo wanted somewhere off the maps to lure his new toy into. I've yet to figure out exactly what he's got planned, but he's been gone for well over an hour now. He said he had to go get a few things. He brought me here telling me he has a job for me to do, but he left out the details of what it is. It must be something important, because we had one hell of a time making sure I avoided all of the scanners on the way here.

When we got back to the house a few nights ago, Hunter told me my hue had become violet,and it hasn't recovered to the extent I need yet. At this point, I'd still get drones walking up to me and telling me to seek counseling. I should be okay sometime within the next few days, though.

I sit down in the driver's chair, tired. The birds can be so noisy when I'm trying to sleep. Seconds later, the door swings open and Shogo steps in. With him he has a person, evidently a girl, bound at the legs and wrists and a bag pulled over her head.

"What the...why?" I stutter, leaping to my feet. He shoves her towards me and I catch her, but not without effort. She's unconscious. I go to yank the bag off, but he stops me.

"She can breathe through it," he assures me.

"I thought you wanted Kougami!"

"I do," he confirms, setting something on the train's control panel. "I'm confident he'll show with her here."

I sit her in the seat I was just in. "Is she his girlfriend, then? A relative?"

"They've never met, I believe. We are not baiting Kougami directly, or else he'd never come." So that means there's someone who links this girl and the enforcer, right? A friend of theirs? But enforcers are locked up, and only ever have the chance to socialize with others like them. Then if the link was an inspector...

"Is this a friend of Akane's?" I inquire, feeling a little queasy. He sends me a look that tells me I'm correct. Great, that means I probably know her as well. "What is it you brought me here for?"

"This." He tosses me a sack and I peer inside. It contains only a pale blue bra.

"Pervert," I joke nervously. Who is it under the bag?

"Why do you think I brought you along?" he responds. He snaps something off the device he put on the panel and holds it out for me to take. "Slip this into the lining and change her into it." I take the antennae and find a place to put it, feeling uneasy. It's going to be a bit longer than I'd first hoped for before I can go out in public again. While Shogo dissects whatever the antennae came off of, I change the girl's bra and redress her in her nightgown.

"Are you going to explain now?" I demand, taking a step back.

He smiles. "We're giving our fox a puzzle to solve. If he figures it out, he lives." That's as much as he's likely to tell me, so I leave it at that. Whatever the game, I won't be watching. I pat the girl's knee reassuringly, but it only makes me feel helpless. My only comfort is that she has a chance, since her role is only as bait. Kougami might be able to save her.

"Can you tell me that she won't be harmed?" I request. It doesn't matter if it's a lie, I still want to hear it.

He says, "I could, but that would not make it truthful." Message received, then. There's a high likelihood she'll die. "Shall we be going?"

"Where to?"

"The hunting grounds." I assume there'll be a place for me so I can wait for it all to be over. I grab the sack that now holds the girl's actual bra and go with him.

We walk in the darkness along the subway rails, no end in sight. Shogo carries a flashlight, and I grip his hand to keep from falling. He said we're going to the hunting grounds, but where will that be? An old station, perhaps? And what about Kougami? I understand how he'll be enticed into the tunnels, but how will he get to the arena? What really surprises me is that Shogo hasn't made any actual contact with the enforcer. Whenever he takes an interest in a person, he approaches them without hesitation, and it's only those who fascinate him that he keeps at his side. Considering that, I might as well ask him the question that has for so long refused to leave me in peace.

"Hey, Shogo? Why is it that you keep me around?"

He glances back at me, meeting my eyes. "Because you'd never betray me." He turns back forwards. "And you'd be absolutely helpless without me. Have you ever even imagined what you would do if I were to suddenly let you go?"

"No," I admit. It's a topic I don't like to think about.

"Besides, it never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes and ears. Does my answer satisfy you?"

I repeat myself. "No."

"That's why I keep you around," he chuckles. What's that supposed to mean?

He suddenly pulls me to the wall, where there's a single door. When he opens it, a lion sized, metal dog prowls out. Shogo and I step out of its way, and it heads deeper into the tunnels in the opposite direction than the way we came. I don't get the chance to ask about it as Shogo brings me through the doorway.

"Where are we?" I gasp. The place is huge, filled with complicated twists and turns like a labyrinth. There are random walls, barrels and ledges, almost like a digital world for gaming. Only, this is entirely real. Then I realize Shogo hasn't stopped like I have. I half trip over my own feet, not letting go of his hand. It's not often he allows people to touch him.

He brings us to a ramp that leads us up along the wall. As we continue up, it gets unceasingly steeper. Soon, it's no different than hiking up a mountainside. It eventually levels out to a small platform with a railing, and by that time I've begun to run out of breath. Waiting for us is Mr. Senguji.

"What an interesting game you've prepared, Mr. Makashima," he says, cleaning the barrel of a two round shotgun. "Are you sure you yourself do not wish to participate?"

"No, I am content simply to watch."

"If you say so. I don't think I mind this observer stance you like to take." He loads his gun. "Good luck with him, little miss. This man is one of a kind." Somehow, I get the feeling he's saying goodbye. He doesn't expect to converse with me again.

"Yes, he is," I agree. "Good luck to you as well, with whatever it is you're doing." He tips his hat and walks away down the ramp. I take a seat on the ground, wondering what it is I just wished him luck for. "So, how long should I expect to be here?" I ask.

"That depends on inspector Tsunemori and our hacker." Wonderful. So we don't know how long we have to camp here. I should've thought to bring a snack, or something to drink.

"What makes you think Akane will bring Kougami?" I wonder aloud.

He leans against the rail, a thoughtful look on his face. "The two of them are alike," he notifies me. "Both of them seem to hold an understanding of human impulses, which is something Sybil has taken away from society. The difference is that Kougami fell to such impulses, while the inspector has not. She has potential, but she will need a push for it to be unleashed."

"So," I connect the pieces in my head, "you mean to make Akane into a latent criminal." It appears he's taken an interest in her as well.

"I plan to reveal to her her true desires."

I lapse into silence. Back in school, Akane was renown for her clear psycho pass. She isn't like Shogo, but she has a gift for keeping a low crime coefficient. I can't imagine her becoming a latent criminal, but if anyone can do it, it's Shogo.

I rest my cheek on my knee, closing my eyes. Last night was another late one, and we ran out of cream for my coffee. I can't stand to drink it bitter. The birds wouldn't shut up, either. Needless to say, I'm dead tired and without caffeine. There might as well be a ball and chain tied to my foot for all the desire I have to move. Maybe I can catch some shuteye before the action begins.

"You won't want to fall asleep," Shogo warns me, reading my mind. "We might need to leave in a hurry."

"You can't just wake me up?" I mumble.

"You can sleep the rest of the day when we get home."

"Fine, then. Help me up." I hold out my hands and he hoists me to my feet. "Next time you forget the cream, I'm going to eat your tomatoes." He grins. I've threatened to withhold his favorite foods many times before, but I've never actually gone through with it.

The sound of slamming draws my attention and I rush to the railing. Nothing moves.

"The game has begun," Shogo announces to himself. That means Kougami is here, but where is he? Movement catches my eye and I see the metal dog from before. Is it hunting him? Another one joins it before they split up, searching in opposite directions. There are two? Could there be more? I turn to look at Shogo, but he shakes his head. Those are the only two.

A pale blue light grows below the perch we're situated on, drawing my gaze downwards. Below us are two people; a boy and a girl. I can quickly assume who they are.

"She's being hunted, too?" I hiss, whirling around. Kougami, I understand, but why does she have to be thrust onto a battlefield? She's only just starting her adult life!

Unfortunately when I turn, a wave of dizziness hits me and I stagger. Shogo darts forward, but it's too late. The railing is too low, and I'm putting too much of my weight on it. I tumble over the edge, my breath catching and eyes going wide. Time seems to slow and I catch the panic in Shogo's expression. This wasn't a factor he'd anticipated.

I squeeze my eyes shut and do what anyone would do. I clench my fists in desperation and scream.


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