The trial was about to begin. Miles Edgeworth of the Ace Attorney franchise met with us as Richard, Emily, Batman, Wyldstyle, Gandalf, Hongo, Rusty, Elphaba, and I were witnesses. “I understand this is hard,” he advised, “but I need you to stick to the truth in this case.”
“We are aware of what we need to do,” I replied. “I want to find the truth of why X-PO did all this.”
“That is my goal as well,” assured Edgeworth. “Hopefully, that is the Defense Attorney’s goal too.”
“The trial is about to begin,” called the Bailiff.
“Understood,” answered Edgeworth. He then turned to us. “Shall we?” We entered the Courtroom. The audience chatted amongst itself.
“All rise for the Honorable Judge Legowltor!” called the Bailiff. We all stood as a Tarlaxian with an owl motif took the Judge’s seat. He was a recluse, usually preferring to stay out of society in general because, in his head, society destroys impartiality. He only graces any sort of civilization with his presence when a trial needed someone so impartial.
“Please be seated,” he directed. We sat down as he pounded the gavel. “Court is now in session for the trial of the Experimental Portal Operator. Are the Prosecution and Defense ready?”
“The Prosecution is ready, Your Honor,” replied Edgeworth.
“The Defense is equally ready, Your Honor,” answered Elkrandek, the Deer Imagin. I noticed that he had a suit on.
“Would the Prosecution please give his opening statements?” requested Legowltor.
“As we are well aware,” began Edgeworth, “the witnesses and defendant are all veterans of the Vortech Wars that ravaged many universes, my own included.” I had no idea Vortech got that far. “The Feudal Nerd Society, as the witnesses usually call themselves, has been hailed as heroic for their actions against Vortech. However, there IS one thing to consider, what could possibly prompt a robot to alter results so the F.N.S would almost turn against each other? The Prosecution shall prove that X-PO has intentionally put the F.N.S in harm’s way to satisfy some sort of itch in his programming.”
“Thank you, Mr. Edgeworth,” bid Legowltor. “Defense, your rebuttal?”
“The Prosecution claims that my client did all this out of purely selfish reasons,” answered Elkrandek. “However, what seems to be ignored here is that a legitimate terrorist threat, one that he and the witnesses are familiar with, was about to take Foundation Prime. The Defense argues that necessity is the motivation and that he had no choice, thus leading to a plea of innocence.”
“Innocence because he lied out of necessity?” remarked Legowltor. “That is the Defense’s stance?”
“Yes, Your Honor,” confirmed Elkrandek.
“Now THIS, I have to see,” I muttered to myself.
“Very well, with all statements made,” declared Legowltor, “we begin with the first witness.” My cue. I took the Stand.
“State your name and occupations for the Court Record,” directed Edgeworth.
“Hishikawa Megumi,” I began, “leader of the Feudal Nerd Society, Freshman at After Academy, and part-time store clerk at Tentallia’s Groceries.”
“Ms. Hishikawa,” began Edgeworth, “you have known the Defendant for a while now, yes?”
“Known him for two years,” I confirmed.
“Has anything like this ever happened before?” questioned Edgeworth.
“Not to this extreme,” I replied.
“Could you elaborate on that?” asked Edgeworth. Testimony time.
“The original circumstances were that X-PO was planted inside Vortech and Hiro’s operation by the late Queen Vortoranii, the ruler of the now-extinct Vortonians,” I began. “He had brought 16 prototype versions of the Vortex Driver with him to increase surveillance. He was discovered and the 16 prototypes had gained intelligence that our parents and loved ones were taken hostage. X-PO had programmed a distress signal into them. He then programmed them to send us across the multiverse to find allies. When we finally found our allies, we had broken the Gateway and scattered the Keystones holding it up across five different universes. All that time, he was connected to the Gateway to extend his life. After testing out the Keystone that bonded to me and our first fight with Vortech, he explained why he found allies and brought us together; we needed to gather the Foundation Elements so we could get our loved ones out of Vortech’s clutches while he was on Foundation Prime. The rest is, quite literally, history.”
“Yes, the start of the Vortech Wars,” remarked Edgeworth. “Tell me, did he make any attempt to lie to you during that time?”
“No,” I answered. “He could get snarky at times, but that was the worst he could get.”
“Your witness,” offered Edgeworth to Elkrandek.
“Ms. Hishikawa,” pressed Elkrandek, “you began with my client being planted in Vortech’s operation by Vortoranii. Tell me, wouldn’t that require some amount of lying?”
“Not the lying that I was assaulted with,” I replied.
“To be frank, I see no difference,” declared Elkrandek.
“Objection!” called Edgeworth. “History has proven, time and again, that intelligence gathering is necessary. Gathering intelligence on the enemy and fudging the results on your friends’ vote are two totally separate things!”
“Objection sustained,” replied Legowltor.
“…Very well,” conceded Elkrandek before continuing. “Ms. Hishikawa, tell me, did you not also keep a secret from your friends?”
“…A disgusting act,” I answered.
“You didn’t answer my question,” remarked Elkrandek.
“I did, and the guilt of it haunts me to this day,” I replied, fully answering him.
“Do you truly believe that this is any different than that?” quizzed Elkrandek.
“Objection!” declared Edgeworth. “The Defense is trying to lead the witness!”
“Your Honor, can we truly say that these two incidents are truly different in principle?” asked Elkrandek.
“I can, quite clearly!” I declared.
“Then if you could add such a statement to your testimony,” offered Elkrandek.
“The Prosecution has no objections to that,” replied Edgeworth.
“Request granted,” replied Legowltor.
“All right,” I resolved. “After it was revealed that I had kept a secret, I had an emotional breakdown and apologized immediately.”
“Objection!” called Elkrandek. “Your Honor, there is evidence of a contradiction in that statement!”
“And WHERE, pray tell, is my contradiction?” I challenged.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the court,” began Elkrandek, “my client has offered something from his memory banks relating to that incident! With the court’s permission, I will show it! The police can verify that this was not tampered in any way!”
“No objections, Your Honor,” replied Edgeworth.
“Then, by all means, play on,” instructed Legowltor. Elkrandek pressed a button on the railing, making a screen come down. It displayed what happened after Hill Valley when we got off the Den-Liner.
“Yeah,” sighed Wyldstyle. “I think running away was the right idea.”
“That wasn’t running away!” protested Batman. “That was a…tactical retreat!”
“Remind me,” countered Wyldstyle as Gandalf decided to examine the apparatus on the Gateway, “what’s the difference?”
“There’s none,” affirmed the Brigadier as he and Rusty came up, having heard our arrival.
“Batman doesn’t run away!” protested Batman.
“Seriously?” I asked. “That’s the best defense for your fragile ego?”
“That’s not a difference,” observed Wyldstyle.
“Well, if you can’t see the difference,” hissed Batman, “then, maybe, that’s your failing!”
“You want to talk failing?” asked Wyldstyle. “Megumi’s a shining example!”
“Excuse me?!” I snarled.
“You didn’t tell us about Vortech!” explained Wyldstyle.
“She’s right,” agreed Batman. “You dragged us along for the ride! You knew about Vortech and how you got your belts! Why did you withhold that kind of information?!”
“You’re the last person to accuse me of withholding information!” I roared. “You’ve kept your countermeasures for the Justice League from your friends!”
“They’re gods among men!” protested Batman. “We need countermeasures!”
“You don’t need any for Vortech!” I argued. “This was supposed to be the F.N.S’ fight, not yours! Hongo decided to tag along and start us on this rift-hopping insanity!”
“Ichimonji was kidnapped right before my eyes, in case you forgot!” shouted Hongo. “I’m not going to sit and wait while someone inexperienced in Kamen Rider matters goes off to rescue him!”
“Well, if you can’t just be patient in terms of rescue,” I hissed, “maybe that’s your failing!”
“Says the one that used the Super Charge so recklessly after Hongo said not to!” called Emily.
“Oh, don’t you start!” I growled.
“In case you didn’t notice,” Emily pointed out, “your new form is as bulky as me! I’m used to my body weight because I trained myself, which is why I move as fluidly as I do! You don’t have any training of that kind!”
“I beat Hiro with it once before, remember?!” I argued.
“That was in a dream world,” countered Emily, “where anything is possible! You caught him off guard, and he prepared himself for the next encounter! He toyed with you back in Hill Valley!” The video then ended.
“I think it’s safe to say that Megumi is no different than X-PO when it comes to secret keeping,” remarked Elkrandek.
“Objection!” called Edgeworth. “Your Honor, that incident does not correlate to what is being discussed today! Besides, the fact remains that the witness regretted her actions and apologized while X-PO tried to excuse his actions.”
“You have proof of X-PO excusing his actions?” asked Legowltor.
“As a matter of fact, I have a selection of witnesses who can attest to that fact,” replied Edgeworth. Elkrandek arched his eyebrow. “The one we can most rely on is…I never thought I’d say this in court…Batman.”
“…I trust this isn’t a joke?” asked Legowltor.
“No, Your Honor,” answered Edgeworth. “Batman is one of the witnesses.”
“Call him in, then,” instructed Legowltor. I sat down as Batman took the Stand. “You ARE familiar with the Identity Disclosure Act, correct?” asked Legowltor.
“I’m not under any obligation to reveal my true identity should I deem it too dangerous to my loved ones,” replied Batman.
“Good,” bid Legowltor. “Then please give your preferred name and occupation for the Court Record.”
“Batman, vigilante hero of the city of Gotham in the state of New Jersey,” answered Batman.
“Batman, it’s well known that you have a database of your allies’ weaknesses,” recalled Edgeworth.
“Yes. It’s been a source of contention amongst the Justice League,” confirmed Batman.
“If you can, could you tell the court what a typical entry entails?” asked Edgeworth. Testimony time.
“It usually consists of my observations of the subject written in note form,” began Batman. “Common knowledge, what the public knows about the subject, is also included. Sparring details are also on the entry. Videos are rare, but there ARE entries that have them. The Feudal Nerd Society handed me a warrant so I could gather information on them.”
“I presume that warrant is to avoid contention like you experience with the Justice League?” inquired Edgeworth.
“That’s correct,” confirmed Batman.
“Your witness,” offered Edgeworth.
“Why on Earth would the F.N.S allow you to spy on them?” quizzed Elkrandek.
“They said it would make them more comfortable that I have such a database rather than one of them,” explained Batman. “They told me they don’t feel their security is as tight as mine. As such, I recorded the most important aspects of what went on before today.”
“Objection!” called Elkrandek. “Mr. Batman, I’m not sure if you realize this, but recording any organization, even if said organization is okay with it, is against After Academy law!”
“As I’ve mentioned, I have a warrant to do so,” argued Batman. “The F.N.S went out of their way to obtain the warrant from the Judicial Tribunal itself.”
“Is this warrant available on the Judiciary Data Store?” asked Legowltor.
“It should be,” replied Batman. “Look up Megumi Hishikawa as a start.” Legowltor did as advised and found the warrant I had obtained.
“Since this is, indeed, surveillance protected by a warrant,” declared Legowltor, “objection overruled.”
“Understood,” sighed Elkrandek.
“Batman,” continued Edgeworth, “since you were the subject of the recording we witnessed previously, tell us, did Megumi apologize?”
“She did,” confirmed Batman. “She made no attempt to cover it up. X-PO, on the other hand, tried to excuse what he did. I have visual evidence that, like X-PO’s memory, was examined by the police and determined not to be tampered with.”
“Let us see it,” directed Legowltor. The screen came down and Batman activated a projector from his eyes to show what happened after we had gathered all the Sources.
“What in the name of all nine circles of Hell made you want ANY of that back?!” growled Richard.
“What I wanted was for you guys to be happy!” shouted X-PO. “I want you to be happy for me! I want me to be happy for you! I want us to come together and riff on bad movies! Celebrate a birthday! Be normal people! I want us to come together and feel like a family and not a bunch of war veterans! I’m not blind to what happened, but sometimes, I felt like the only thing keeping us as friends! I want that feeling back! I want things back the way they were!”
“No, that doesn’t justify a DAMN thing!” snarled Alesandro. “You gathered us here with a lie from long ago! You decided to play the long game with us and waited for some grand adventure! We’ve sent you numerous invitations for those things you mentioned. If you REALLY wanted to continue feeling that, then you would have accepted them! But, no! That wasn’t enough for you! You wanted to relive the glory days with the lies, the threats, the people getting angry with each other, things that some of us were trying to get away from! You’re only concerned with what YOU want! To be frank, I see no difference between you and what Death lectured about Vortech in her classes!”
“Still waiting on that essay on Skrandepede from you,” whispered Death.
“Dude, shut up,” grunted War.
“That’s…that’s not fair at all!” argued X-PO.
“I think what Alesandro said was VERY fair!” I hissed.
“I was NEVER going to put you in any danger!” insisted X-PO. “The adventure I had planned was just some haunted house malarkey! I would tell you guys of the supposed ‘Danger’ and you guys would solve it, and we’d have a big laugh! I never wanted you guys to be on Shocker Rift’s radar!”
“Then why did you hack into the Tarlaxian scout ship missions?” demanded Scorpainia. X-PO sighed.
“Technarain gave me a way into it,” he finally revealed.
“Oh, throw me into the warp core, why don’t you?!” snarled Technarain.
“Whoa! Hold on!” called Turretorg. “Technarain, you let him in?!”
“I couldn’t have the missions be unobserved,” replied Technarain. The video ended.
“Quite honestly, I saw no attempt to, at least, apologize to Megumi and the F.N.S,” remarked Edgeworth.
“Objection!” called Elkrandek. “Your Honor, what I saw was that my client was forced into it by Technarain!”
“Objection!” replied Edgeworth. “Your Honor, there is a witness that is just as intimately acquainted with the Gateway’s Main Computer! Produce this witness and we produce the logs and find out who contacted who first!”
“Then let’s hear from this witness,” declared Legowltor. Batman sat down while Rusty took the Stand. “State your name and occupation,” directed Legowltor.
“Rusty, Secondary Operator of the Vorton Gateway,” replied Rusty.
“Ms. Rusty, how long have you worked with the Defendant?” asked Edgeworth.
“Only during the Vortech Wars,” replied Rusty. “However, I’m sent updates on Vorton’s conditions. Lately, I’ve had my function restored.”
“Perhaps you could tell us what your duties entail?” invited Edgeworth.
“General maintenance, computer defragmenting, virus scans, all things necessary to keep the Gateway operational,” explained Rusty.
“In the time you’ve known him,” continued Edgeworth, “has the Defendant ever tampered with the functions of the Gateway?”
“No, so it surprised me that he would do something like this,” answered Rusty.
“Was there any indication that he fixed the results of the vote?” asked Edgeworth.
“In all honesty, there was,” replied Rusty. “I’m just mad at myself that I didn’t notice it until Pup-X5 brought it to my attention.”
“If it pleases you,” invited Edgeworth, “tell us what that little hint was.” Rusty’s turn for testimony.
“There was a little bit of code that made absolutely no sense,” she began. “It registered as harmless to me, so I thought nothing of it. After Pup-X5 presented the findings of the original results and demonstrated a discrepancy between that and the current results before and after a computer defragmentation, I then pointed out the bit of code. Upon further examination, it was determined to be an algorithm that changed the results after defragmentation. My team had determined it to be the handiwork of X-PO.”
“Objection!” called Elkrandek.
“Now what?!” groaned Edgeworth.
“Your Honor, I have the investigator’s report on the Gateway computer,” explained Elkrandek. “There WAS an algorithm that did as the witness testified, however its origins are NOT of my client. The code works on an algorithm similar to those found within Pathweb, the shared datastore of the Dalek Empire! Considering the witness’ origins, it is safe to believe that she planted the idea into X-PO! Why, you ask? Because, at heart, she is still a soldier of the Dalek Empire!” The audience then started talking and Edgeworth was glaring at Elkrandek.
“ORDER! ORDER!” called Legowltor. The audience was still chattering about what Elkrandek said. “ORDER IN THIS COURT! I WILL HAVE ORDER!” The courtroom then went quiet.
“Your Honor,” called Rusty, “I can prove that I didn’t plant the idea into the Defendant!”
“Then you won’t mind a complete investigation into that theory tomorrow?” asked Elkrandek.
“Not at all! I will cheerfully cooperate!” declared Rusty.
“Then tomorrow’s proceedings will examine whether or not you did so,” resolved Legowltor. He banged the gavel. “Court is adjourned for today.” We all filed out of the room as X-PO was led to the Detention Center.
“I take it, you didn’t anticipate that,” I quizzed Edgeworth.
“No, I didn’t,” remarked Edgeworth.
“Typical,” I grumbled. “Whenever you or Wright are involved, trials go completely off the rails!”
“Hold it!” called Edgeworth. “I can hardly be blamed when a trial goes in a different direction!”
“It IS mainly Wright who does that,” supplied Batman.
“It doesn’t matter,” I resolved, “we need to get Rusty’s good name cleared.”
“And it will be, I promise you,” assured Edgeworth.
“I’m gonna hold you to that,” I replied.