Author's Note: One-shot loosely connected to "What Lies Beneath", taking place during the first summer of Kogami's role as Enforcer.

How does light turn to dark? Flick a switch enough times and the damn bulb burns out.

It may surprise some, especially with my crime coefficient, that I'm not compelled to hurt people. Well, that's not precisely true. I've come to comprehend that sometimes the mere act of protecting society requires an act violence.

Ironic, huh.

Yeah, I would be laughing about it, cept from my perspective the humor is entirely lost. Beneath the barely muzzled aggression that now plagues my pysche, I'm still a detective, still determined to help people despite this despicable collar on my wrist marking me a deviant. Marking me a potential threat. Were it not for this role I fill, I would be no different from the targets I am charged to bring in. I'd be just as useless and isolated as they are, well beyond the hope of rehabilitation.

Latent criminal. A damning label once it slaps you across the face. In possession of a mind set up to toe the line that shall not be crossed. And there is no doubt, my toe is wedged firmly there according to accepted standards. At any moment a single decision could launch me over that barrier and into the act itself. No longer a statistical potential, but a proven point on the graph written in blood. I can't do shit about that now, it's far too late to even look back at what I sacrificed … all for an abysmal loss.

I suppose had I managed to actually solve the case in the process of eroding my stability it may have proven worth standing on the ground I do now. The PSB doesn't officially call us prisoners, but seriously—what a joke. Are we not locked inside the building, access restricted to the CID and our quarters? Only allowed out on a damn leash? That's marginally better than lockdown in isolation. But we're still largely forbidden from interacting with normal people. An act of insubordination, even an attempt to gain treatment like a human being, is enough to earn a harsh punishment from our superiors. Trust me, I've blatantly asked for enough of those now to know. I regret every time I pulled the trigger on an Enforcer under my watch. Shit, too late for that perspective to do any good. It's proven a lot harder to change a system clinging to the bottom wrung of the ladder.

So here I am. The leash snapped on my collar, out for a hunt. The system utilizing my condemned mindset to track down the prey that only differs by one step; Sibyl still sees a use for me. Once that changes, once I push that line too many times I know either the door will shut me away locking me in permanent solitary confinement, or I'll watch a bright blue bolt casting me into a screaming oblivion.

I have yet to decide which fate is worse. After all, six years as an Inspector I did gaze inside the isolation facilities enough times. Hell, I'd already been involuntarily confined to one for three fuckin' months! Can't say that was a thrill ride I care to repeat.

The directional voice interrupted my thoughts.

Crime Coefficient is over 330. Enforcement action required. The current enforcement mode is Lethal Eliminator. Trigger safety is released. Please aim carefully and eliminate the target.

Well, someone was about to learn the answer to my question. The Dominator in my hands rearranged itself smoothly into the higher level. The eyes of the target widened in terror. I inhaled the putrid scent of his fear not even seeing his face, just his shivering eyes.

"Nothing personal," I grumbled, squaring up the target.

He held out a splayed palm to me. There was a time when I would have hesitated. A time when I would have spared a thought for my own hue. It made no difference now. My finger punched the trigger.

The bolt kicked out of the muzzle and drove down his arm into the core of his body. I didn't even blink as an instant later his flesh bloated, tearing his upper body to shreds. Waist down what remained flopped over to join the spattered mass.

Cold as ever, it barely registered. After all, Sibyl had made the judgment call. All I did was aim and shoot. My job. The only thing I was allowed to do because Ginoza refused to see me as anything by a damn attack dog. My lips curled into a snarl. Sibyl wasn't wrong about me, the more the months ground on, the more damning her judgment became. If left to my own devices even I no longer knew what I would do. I suspected it wouldn't be pleasant.

Target has been eliminated.

Yeah, that's kinda what happens at the other end of this thing. Thanks for overstating the obvious.

Holstering the Dominator behind my back, I heaved a sigh, scanning the cordoned off area that protected the public from witnessing our essential behavior, least they freak out. Psycho-hazards were a real thing. I'd been the source of more than one, something Gino would not let me forget every time I stepped out of the paddy wagon.

At least this time there were no side casualties on my account. The only one to see the hit was me. No damage done to anything that mattered.

"Another mess?" Gino approached from over my shoulder.

I thrust a thumb at the cast off mortal coil. "Don't look at me. Apparently it was his decision."

He glared over the rim of his glasses. A gaze that had no effect on me. "I doubt it was his choice to venture into the eliminator range."

Shoving my hands in my pockets, I half hooded my eyes. "Oh yeah? Why don't you tell me that again when you actually put stock into that belief."

The gesture of his hand drifting to his Dominator's trigger didn't escape me. He broke the stare off and ordered the drones in for cleanup. That action alone spoke volumes to me. The harshest being the unspoken command that I 'stay' like an obedient dog.

I leaned against a light post, savoring a rare moment outside of a building, even if it was behind a security barrier. Fresh air, not processed through a filtration system. The warm breeze bearing the scents of local park a welcome change bringing bitter memories from my life before … when I still had a life.

My pulse still thrummed in my veins. I still breathed. Inside my head the same analytic mind resided that had out-witted many a criminal guilty of acting on the vile beneath. I was still the same Shinya Kogami … with one undeniable difference.

I'd stepped over one line and now toed another. The final mark drawn in the sand. I only awaited one thing. The day the Dominator's judgment ended this shameful life-sentence and I no longer hunted my fellow man.