Loving a Killer

Chapter 8

Someone's posted a video of a beating. It's a man in a helmet who's attacked a girl and killed her in the middle of the streets. It isn't the violence that shocks me, rather, the ignorance of those watching. Sybil has kept them so protected and closed off from any form of crime that they don't know what's going on. None of their expressions register the horror of witnessing a murder. Instead, they look on blankly.

I find the comments on the video and scroll through, not seeing the words 'murder' or 'beating' anywhere. It's just a ton of confused sheep tossed into an unfamiliar situation. They can't comprehend the brutality of what they're being shown. If anything, this proves just how naïve humankind has become thanks to the almighty Sybil system.

My phone clicks off and I reach for my own helmet. Shogo and his primary hacker, whose name I can never remember, have created a computer system to wear that tricks the Sybil system by stealing the psycho pass of a clear person nearby. The video spreading across the Internet is proof it's effective.

The existence of such an accessory has thrown the area into chaos. On our bus ride, we've passed multiple street riots. Shogo has succeeded to sink a part of society into pandemonium for a short while, and that's all the opening that's needed. The NONA tower has been left unguarded. Without our hues being legible, we're free to waltz in and roam the building as much as we need. All inspectors and enforcers are out trying to contain the rioters.

The tower grows taller as we approach it, illuminated with neon blue lights. Most lights are blue because of the calming effect the color has. It's suiting that the building controlling everyone gives off such a glow, keeping its followers docile and complacent. From what I've read, the suicide rates in Japan have dramatically dropped due to the change in lighting. Although I don't doubt the blue has made a difference, I'm more inclined to believe it has more to do with the Sybil system and the medication people take to keep their psycho pass low.

I tuck my phone into my jacket pocket and lift the headgear on. Everyone in this bus looks ridiculous, but Shogo wasn't really concerned with the fashion appeal when he was designing these. We look like a ton of metallic-headed aliens waiting for orders to destroy the world. We're armed like a military, ranged and blunt weapons alike, with no opposing army to stop us. I carry a pistol in a holster and a taser hidden under my outer layer. With the plan, I shouldn't have to use either. I'm hoping we'll pull it off without a hitch, but that's fairly unreasonable. Shogo has planned around Kougami returning, but who he'll come with is unknown. There are too many variables. It's more likely something will go terribly wrong than for everything to go smoothly, but risks are a given with our goals. The vehicle jolts to a stop and I suck in a deep breath.

Here we go.

I'm the last off the bus, having been in the back. Shogo, the Korean hacker and I are the only ones dressed in regular, everyday clothes. The others are all wearing odd red suits, almost like a uniform. They're the 'special' team put together for infiltrating. Really, they're just like all the other hopeless bums we gave the other helmets to. The only difference is that they're a little easier to manipulate, and a little more physically fit. They're perfect pawns for his game.

We get split into two groups, Shogo and the hacker being the leaders. The plan is for Shogo to go to the top floor, where there's a radio tower. It's an important part of society, but us going up there is only a distraction. When Kougami returns, he'll want to chase Shogo. There are surely cameras capturing our movements, so it likely won't take long for him to discover our positions. Even if he figures out our diversion, he won't be able to help himself. While that's going on, the hacker can go down to the secret levels of the basement uninterrupted. His objective is to find Sybil's heart. We're here to find what the governing system is really. I, of course, am going with Shogo.

We walk right by the police drones standing guard, as they read all our psycho passes as white as Shogo's. Immediately, we split off as one group heads down and the other up. I trail directly behind Shogo, his toy soldiers clumped together behind us.

"Hey." One of the pawns addresses Shogo. "You never did tell us why the girl is here."

I answer for him so we don't have to slow down. "I wasn't going to just let him do something this dangerous while I sat at home," I explain, composed. "He said I could come as long as I don't interfere."

"Ha ha! So even he has a woman tying him down!" another man muses.

"Don't misunderstand," I glare, "we aren't a couple." Much to my displeasure. I only wish we were. He isn't the first to be mistaken about that, which pleases me, but at the same time, whenever someone mentions that I'm reminded of the impossibility of a relationship between us. It stings no less than it did the first time someone said that.

"So what, then? Are you his sister?"

"Something of the sort," Shogo responds before I can open my mouth. Blood rushes to my face. Sister. He sees me as his sister. I guess I don't have the right to complain. He doesn't even consider his real family as his family, so it's special for him to think of me so highly, but I've never once thought of him as a brother. As a child, I looked up to and admired him. The older I grew, the more those feelings developed and the more complicated they got. I would never call him a sibling, because he's so much more than that to me.

"We aren't actually blood related," I point out, feeling the need to refute his statement. With that, the conversation is ended. The air between Shogo and I seems tense, but I'd bet I'm the only one who feels it. I'm the only one who has any reason to feel so awkward.

The men behind me snicker, whispering to each other. "So, he likes the little sister type."

Something in my snaps and I whip out my gun, aiming at the group of men. They come to a halt, looks of surprise probably forming under their masks. "Shut up. You aren't here to gossip, you're here to do something that's highly illegal, so be quiet." I tuck the pistol back into its holster and we continue to an elevator, all chattering from behind me silenced. The safety never came off the gun, and even if it had I wouldn't have shot, but they don't know that.

We crowd onto the elevator, crammed together. I do my best to ignore the smell of sweaty men and press the button to the top. The ride is uncomfortable, but I try not to shift around. I am well aware of my being the only female here. The last thing I want to do is tempt any of these strangers into doing something I'd make them regret.

When the doors finally slide open, I take a deep breath of the clean air and step out. I have to say, I'm impressed these helmets don't impede my ability to breathe in the slightest.

Shogo begins to hand out orders. "You three go hide around this room the best you can. I want a few people on the stairs to slow the enforcer on his way up. Esther, you are to hide until the very end. No matter what happens, you're forbidden from coming out. Do you understand?"

"Yeah, I got it," I sigh, glancing around. The only places to hide are behind the pillars or up the stairs, but the stairs are a 'no' because I'd be easy enough to discover. All a person would have to do is look up. So instead I choose the pillar farthest from the elevator and stairs. I'll have to stand the entire time, because there isn't enough room for me to sit. Not only would I be noticeable, but the pillar is right up against the wall. Most of the walls are glass, but around that pillar it conveniently isn't. That way, my reflection won't give away my location. I wedge myself into my spot and relax the best I can. In tight situations (figuratively speaking), it's best to have a clear mind so you can act rationally. I even my breathing and close my eyes, listening intently. I won't be able to see what's going on unless I catch a glimpse of reflections in the glass that's within my line of sight. My ears will be my best companion for now.

It isn't long before I hear the sounds of fighting. Kougami has arrived. It's muffled, so that would mean he's still in the stairway, but that won't last. He'll burn through the first few masked pawns fast enough. He managed to take down those infernal metal dogs by himself, so he has to be amazingly skilled with hand to hand combat. Either that, or he has luck that far surpasses that of any Irish leprechaun.

He's soon made his way onto this floor, and the soldiers lying in wait are quickly thrown into battle. I hear metal grating across the floor and realize he's thrown away his dominator. Smart. It's useless in a situation like this, and it'll only restrict his movements to carry it.

Someone crashes into my pillar and my eyes jerk open. I search for a reflection and find it in the wall to my right. The man is ripped away from the pillar and punched back into a window. It shatters and I cover my face instinctively. The action is too close for comfort, but I have nowhere to go. My eyes widen as I watch Kougami shoot the helmeted man. His skin boils, turning inside out and bubbling until he explodes with blood and guts. I feel bile rising in my throat, but force it back down. Falling to his death would've been much worse.

I must've been wrong about him discarding his dominator. Or, maybe he picked it back up at some point. I'm not sure, but it doesn't really matter. I'm not sure if he kills the others, or just knocks them out, but it isn't long before he's defeated Shogo's minions. Then, footsteps echo from above.

"You fought rather well, considering your wounds."

"You," Kougami growls, "Are Shogo Makashima."

I can hear his chuckle. "And you are Shinya Kougami." He begins to quote another person I've probably never heard of, and to my surprise, Kougami identifies who it is. I'm tempted to peek around the pillar to look at him, but stop myself. How is it Kougami knows who Shogo's quoting? Very few people do. I figured out he was smart pretty quickly, but this exceeds my expectations.

"Us having the same taste in books doesn't exactly thrill me." So they're quoting books. I wonder if I've read them. I've read so many I've forgotten half of them. I don't have memory as retaining as Shogo's.

I stiffen when Kougami starts spouting death threats. I was under the impression they'd try to take him alive, but Kougami doesn't even mention letting him live. He's intent on killing him right here and now. I strain to see their reflections, becoming more nervous by the minute. Shogo can take care of himself, and the enforcer is injured, but still...I can sense the blood thirst in Kougami.

He makes the first move, going to kick Shogo. He's easily blocked and the battle begins. They start off with Kougami on the offensive, Shogo simply blocking and retaliating, but it quickly switches to Shogo's control. As they fight, Shogo talks.

"Don't you wish to know they truth about the Sybil system?" he asks, preforming a move that might break Kougami's arm. His movements are graceful and fluid, compared to Kougami's blundering, but they're well matched. I imagine the fight would be a lot more fair if Kougami hadn't been injured beforehand.

Shogo gets him to the ground and kicks him without hesitation. He isn't one for honor. To win a fight, you have to finish it. He doesn't leave his opponent once they're down. His breath comes labored, but the entire fight he's had a grin of enthusiasm I rarely ever see. For the time being, his eternal boredom is relieved. He's actually having fun! As much as it took for it to happen, I feel my heart lighten at the sight of it. This is why I help him. This is the joy I want to see in him. It might be selfish of me, since it took someone getting beat to achieve it, but I don't care. It isn't the violence I'm happy about.

He takes out his razor, the telltale sign he's going to kill. Even so, the smile doesn't fade from my face. I look away, though. I don't want to see Kougami die. He doesn't deserve it, but Shogo...

"I was hoping this wouldn't end in such a disappointing way," he says to the enforcer, "but for a moment I forgot my boredom. Thanks for that."

Sudden rushing footsteps shock me and I pop from my hiding place without thinking. Just as I turn, I see Akane swinging one of the helmets and knocking it against Shogo's head. I'm unable to stop a gasp when he collapses to the floor. I remove my gun, releasing the trigger, and aim.

"Inspector Tsunemori, put down the helmet and step away from Shogo." She turns to me in surprise, dropping the metal mask. I glance down at him, relieved to see he's still breathing, then bring my attention back to the able inspector. "Enforcer Kougami, are you okay?"

He doesn't respond for a second, baffled by my concern. "I'll live."

Well, at least I won't have to see another death tonight.

"Who are you?" Akane asks, stepping towards me.

"Don't come any closer," I command. "Tell me, what do you plan to do with him?"

"We're only going to take him in for questioning. Please, put down the gun and hand yourself over. If you do, the punishment won't be so severe."

"You won't kill him?"

"No, we need him to answer some questions."

Underneath my mask, my smile returns. "Thank you. That's all I needed to know." With that, I turn and run to the glass, which has already repaired itself. I break through it again, diving from the building to the water below. Being on the top floor, this is a gamble, but I can't let myself be captured. Shogo wouldn't want it.

I keep my breathing deep and calm my racing heart. It'll all be fine. The water is deep enough that I won't hit the bottom. Even if I pass out, I'll float. Someone might pull me out of the water so I don't drown. Then again, maybe I won't pass out. Then I can swim to shore and discard my helmet and useless weapons. I'll be fine.

I won't die.

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