Still, I can't wait until we return home and I can drown out the memory of her screams with nightmares that are sure to come. Sometimes people just need to slip from reality for a bit. It's actually a recognized treatment that I've learned. Sleep is already beneficial, but vivid dreaming can help restore someone's stability. The same effects can be found with online gaming. It gives the brain a break from the real issues at hand and helps it sort out solutions.
"Where were you shot?" Shogo asks me as we walk. "You said your side, but where?"
I shake my head. "It was just a scrape. There isn't even a full hole."
"Restrain her for a minute." He transfers Yuki to me and I do as he says, keeping her away from my bullet wound. She's a smart enough girl to take advantage of my injury and escape. "Let me see it, Esther."
"Unless you want me to let go of your hostage, you're going to have to check it yourself." Yuki won't stop tugging against me, but I hold firm. "Don't worry, Yuki, this will be over soon." Unfortunately, it'll end with her death. I could change that if I felt I needed to, but it isn't need I feel. It's want. I want to change that, but in comparison to all humanity, this is a small sacrifice. I just wish it wasn't one that was essential. If Shogo thinks that it needs to happen, I have no arguments.
It might seem like my relationship with him is a lot like society's with Sybil, but it's not. I questions his actions, not following him blindly. I've reason to trust him. He's gotten me this far in life. He's protected me and done his best to better society. I agree that Sybil needs to be destroyed not because he told me, but because I've seen what it does.
He kneels at my side, lifting my shirt to study my wound. I find a spot on the ground and stare at it, doing my best not to think about what he's doing. His finger grazes over my makeshift bandage and I cringe back reflexively.
"Can I undo it?" he requests, ready to remove the cloth. I nod and he proceeds to untie it. When it falls to the ground, a rush of cold air flows against the skin that had been covered up and I shiver. He takes out his flashlight to lighten the injured area and flips it on. "You're right in not being worried. It didn't reach anything vital, nor did the bullet stay in. The bleeding has mostly stopped, but-" he rips the other leg of my jeans, "-it's better to keep it covered."
I wait while he creates a second bandage, unsuccessfully trying to keep my thoughts away from his hands. Everyone once in a while, he accidentally brushes his hands against my side and I tense. Here we are in a dark place, Shogo so close and touching me, my shirt bunched up...
But we're also escaping a crime scene, in underground passageways, with a hostage that I have little doubt is going to survive to see another sunrise. Not to mention I've been shot. No, it really isn't the most romantic setting.
"Are you done?" I breathe, keeping my voice from wavering.
"Yes." He stands and I hand Yuki back to him. Our footsteps echo around the empty tunnels, making me think it might draw the police to us. Are they not able to hear us? A light grows towards the end of our path, opening into lighted room. We'd have to pass through it to continue, but there'd be no escaping if we were to be caught there. They'd see our faces and identify us. Shogo peeks out into it, then turns to me. "Stay here and I'll return to get you."
Confused, I consent. "Um, okay?"
He drags Yuki out into the light and I watch from the shadows, unsure of what to do. He told me to wait, but what am I to do until he gets back?
"Halt! This is the MWPSB! Release the hostage and come peacefully, or I will have to use force!" That's Akane's voice! I adjust my view to see her below the bridge Shogo is crossing. She's holding her badge and a dominator, wielding it like it actually is effective in such a situation. I guess she doesn't know it isn't. I look back to Shogo and realize he's holding the double barreled shotgun Mr. Senguji had been using. I'd completely missed that he'd picked that up.
"Akane!" Yuki calls out to her friend.
"Just hold on, you'll be alright!"
"Ah." He stops to face the inspector. "I know your face. You're inspector Akane Tsunemori."
"And you're the psycho path that's dragged Yuki into this."
"My name is Shogo Makashima." This seems to startle Akane. "Oh? So you've heard my name? How encouraging. It's good you aren't completely clueless." She's heard of Shogo? How? So few people are even aware of his existence, so how is it she knows his name? Did he slip up somewhere? I mean, it's possible. He's human too, after all.
"I demand that you come with me for questioning and punishment for you crimes."
I can almost visibly see the laughter Shogo isn't vocalizing. "If we are to talk, we can do so right here. Aren't you trained to buy time for you backup to arrive?" He continues to make jabs at her, mentioning the avatar stealer and Rikako. "People only have real value when they act on their impulses. I ask them about their suppressed freewill. I simply encourage and facilitate them. I bring out their true selves."
"Don't talk about yourself as if your a hero," Akane scolds him. "You're nothing but a criminal, that needs to be brought to justice!"
"That's interesting," Shogo states, swinging around the riffle. "How do we define criminal? Shall we try to let the Sybil system, which you carry within that dominator, decide what I am?"
I see her point it at him, her arms beginning to shake. He's gotten to her. Manipulating is what he does best, so there's no reason Akane wouldn't be affected. I don't care how clear her hue is.
He explains his beliefs to her, posing her the question he's been searching to solve for countless years. If we don't act, if we don't do as we desire, how can our souls have value? Where is our freewill? Although peaceful, society has become without ambition. Everything is decided for you. Where is the freedom in that? He drops the riffle down to where Akane can pick it up and I panic. It's loaded, she could shoot him! If she can't use her dominator, the real gun is her only option!
"I might as well test you, while we're here," he decides nonchalantly. "I'm going to stand next to this girl Yuki, and I'm going to kill her. Right before your eyes. If you want to stop me, I just gave you a gun. Shoot me."
"I can't! I don't have the right to decide if you live or die!"
"Because I'm a good, upstanding citizen?" He takes out his razor, which I know is the weapon he uses for bloodshed. He isn't bluffing.
"Why?" she whispers, eyes darting between him and her dominator. "Why isn't it working?"
"I've been wondering that since I was a child, actually. My psycho pass has always been nothing but pure white. It's never gotten even relatively cloudy. Maybe my body is deluding itself, making me able to continue whatever I want with a clear conscious." He pretends to comb Yuki's hair with his blade, and I can see her shaking. She begs for Akane to save her but that won't happen. A tear streams down the side of my face and I bite my cheek, keeping myself from speaking. I have to remain hidden, or Akane will see me.
He provokes Akane more, telling her she doesn't have the right to judge him, and she finally picks up the gun. It takes everything in my power not to run out and shield him. I lean forward, but keep my feet planted where they are. I don't dare to take even a single step forward.
"Will you kill me, inspector? Will you break free of the chains and make your own decision? Do you feel it, the weight of the decision? That is freewill." He quotes a person from history, who I'm not sure. It's no one I've heard of. "Hold the gun firmly, Tsunemori, or the bullet will miss. Aim with the intent to kill!" He stands separately from Yuki, prepared to take in the hit. I close my eyes and reassure myself. Akane won't be able to do it. She could never take a life!
Two shots go off and I pry my eyes open. I nearly collapse to the floor when I see Shogo is still standing, completely unharmed. He may be disappointed, but I'm not. I don't think I've ever felt so relieved!
"Not enough resolve, how regrettable. You failure has cost your friend her life." He yanks Yuki's head back by her hair, exposing her neck for Akane to see. I don't miss her glistening wet tears streaking down her face as she cries to be saved. I don't look away. I'll watch her death, because I can at least respect her life. She was a good person. Akane resorts to begging, trembling as much as Yuki, but Shogo doesn't relent.
He holds the blade to her neck, and with a final scream from Akane, her throat is slit. Blood spurts out and the inspector falls to her knees on the floor, eyes wide in shock. Yes, her hue is most definitely clouded, as is mine. I choke back sobs of my own, face wet with tears. My legs shake like a newborn foal's, and I only just manage to keep myself upright. You'd think that after all I've seen, I'd be used to this, but every time I witness it the horror is fresh.
Through my blurred vision, I see Shogo holding out his hand to me. He completely ignores the broken policewoman and the dead body, waiting for me to come to him. I jerk my feet into motion, stumbling forward. Even now I have the sense to lower my head and raise my arm to hide my face as I half fall into the light. My hand reaches out to his and grabs it, but I don't stop. I collapse against him, bawling. His arms wrap around me and for a minute, he lets my tears soak his shirt.
Not letting go of my hand, he breaks away and leads me across the rest of the bridge. I keep my crying to a minimum, as not to attract attention, but every once in a while a gasp escapes me.
I realize we've arrived home when I hear Hunter's childish voice say, "Your hue has turned navy blue. It is suggested you seek immediate counseling." Of course at this point, I'd more likely be shot with a dominator than treated. I'm thankful it wouldn't turn to an eliminator, but I'm not too far from that.
Finally, my legs give out from under me and Shogo has to pick me up and carry me to the couch. There, I clutch the stuffed bluebird I've yet to get rid of and let it out. I eventually wear myself out and begin to doze off, but not before I feel the light touch of a caring hand on my hair. I can vaguely hear Song singing somewhere far away and cling to that sound as I fade from reality.