Apollo Justice sighed, not sure at all if his client was listening to a damn thing he was saying. If he was sure he was speaking to Phoenix Wright, he'd have stopped long ago; but he wasn't sure this was Phoenix Wright. He knew the man's diagnoses; for now, they all believed that it would be best to talk to him as if he was Ashe Sanguine. There was little point in upsetting him by insisting that he was Phoenix Wright.
"One last thing I need to make sure you know, Mr. Sanguine," he said awkwardly, "is that Mr. Wright will be arguing quite vehemently against you. Understand that he is on your side. It might not appear so at points, but this is the role he is required to play. I need you to cooperate with him, as well as with me, unless I instruct you otherwise. Understood?"
Phoenix nodded absently, still staring around the room. “Mr. Justice,” he said distractedly, “may I ask a question?”
“Mr. Wright, the prosecutor… he is Phoenix Wright’s son, is he not?”
This question struck Apollo as odd. “Yes, he is.”
“If that’s the case, and he really believes that I am Phoenix… why is he prosecuting me?”
Apollo watched the man carefully; he’d given no indication that he was lying, but this was interesting. “He is the prosecutor assigned to this case,” Apollo finally answered. “Another prosecutor offered to take it from him, but he declined; I don’t know his reasons.” That was a lie; Nicky knew Phoenix was innocent, and he was the only prosecutor he trusted to get to the bottom of the crimes instead of just seeking a conviction.
But Phoenix didn’t need to know that. He probably wouldn’t understand right now. “Come on. It’s time. Remember: follow my lead, cooperate with Prosecutor Wright, and stay calm. Everything will be okay.”
“The prosecution is ready, your honor.”
“The defense is ready, your honor.”
The judge looked from the Prosecutor’s bench to the defendant’s chair and back a few times. “Mr. Wright,” the judge said, wide-eyed. “Are you sure you’re okay with this?”
“I wouldn’t be standing here if I wasn’t?” Nicky replied smugly. Apollo had faced off against Phoenix’s son before, and he always had an air of arrogance during trials. It was an act, and one that was devastatingly easy to see through today. Nicky was terrified. Doing this was tearing him apart already. Don’t worry, Nicky… we have everything under control. We always do.
“Very well, then. Your opening statement?”
Nicky shifted on his feet. “On the night of September 20, two women were brutally raped and murdered. This pattern continued every night, until September 28, when an as of yet unidentified man rescued one Megan Lies from a similar fate, knocking her attacker out. The prosecution’s claim is that the defendant, Mr. Phoenix Wright, was that attacker, and that is what we will try to prove today.”
The judge nodded. “Mr. Justice. You have a request to make.”
“Yes, your honor,” Apollo answered, pulling a packet of papers from his files. “The defense believes that Mr. Wright is not fit to stand trial at this time and asks that the court delay the trial until he is.”
“Ah, a cry of insanity,” Nicky drawled from the other end of the courtroom. Yeah, the act was really thick today. “The trumpet sound of the guilty.”
“Take a look at the casework again, Mr. Wright,” Apollo replied. “We’re pleading ‘Not guilty’. This request is only to postpone the trial until the defendant has been declared mentally fit to stand trial, and his physician has said exactly the opposite.”
The judge cleared his throat. “Do you have anything from his physician to this effect, Mr. Justice?”
Apollo nodded, handing a packet to the bailiff, who passed it to the judge. “You’ll see, your honor, that the defendant has a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Both disorders are, as of right now, assumed to be the result of being abducted and held in and tortured at an undisclosed location against his will for three years.” Apollo paused at the judge made a distressed noise, fixing his gaze on the defendant’s chair. “Mr. Wright should have a copy of this report as well.”
“Well, Mr. Wright?” The judge asked. “Is the prosecution willing to postpone this matter until-“
“No, your honor, I’m not.” Nicky narrowed his eyes across the courtroom, and added, “He’s lying anyway.”
“Wh- how can you say that?” Apollo demanded angrily.
Nicholas pulled a few sheets from his own stack and handed them to the bailiff. “The prosecution presents Phoenix Wright’s college transcript.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Apollo asked credulously as he accepted his copy of the document.
Nicky tapped the page impatiently. “If you would turn your attention to his grades. Pick out the highest grade, Mr. Justice, and tell the court what class it was in.”
Apollo looked over the transcript, muttering to himself, and paused as he saw what Nicky was getting at. “He got a 98% percent in each speech and drama course he took,” Apollo said flatly.
“Exactly. He’s acting.”
“You just cannot be serious,” Apollo gasped in frustration. He really really wished Trucy was there beside him, but she’d taken off for Kurain when he got the call that he needed to defend Phoenix. She was to be helping Pearl out there, and keeping the woman at the village because they all knew that the moment Pearl heard how bad of shape Phoenix was in, she’d hightail it to the city, seven months pregnant or not.
“I am quite serious,” Nicky replied smugly. There he goes again. What are you trying to prove, Nicholas? You know he’s not faking this!
“Well, this does certainly give us pause to take this psychological evaluation at face value,” the judge rumbled. “Although I find it hard to believe that someone could fool a forensic psychiatrist, no matter how good of an actor he was in college… how long ago? Twenty years?”
Nicky shrugged, crossing his arms over his chest. “And yet, as you said, it should give us pause,” he said thoughtfully. Bullshit, Nicholas! You KNOW he’s not faking! What are you DOING?! “The prosecution would like to call Phoenix Wright himself to the stand, if there are no objections. We should be able to get a feel for how ill Mr. Wright truly is.”
Nicky looked at Apollo questioningly. All right… I’ll go along with this for not… “Fine,” Apollo replied shortly. “The defense will allow Phoenix Wright to testify. On the matter of his mental health only.”
“Of course,” Nicky replied smoothly. “We need to establish that he’s fit to stand trial before we can begin the trial. If the bailiff could escort the defendant to the stand, please.” An older officer did just that, leaving Phoenix at the stand, looking around in intimidated wonder. “Your name and occupation, if you-“
“Wait a sec,” Phoenix cut Nicky off quickly. “Look, guys, I don’t know why you keep saying I’m Phoenix Wright, because I’m not. I don’t look anything like him. I don’t even have the same hair color! I don’t remember coming to the city, I have no idea why Ms. Lies is accusing me of attacking her, and- and I don’t really know what’s going on, since I was never abducted or held anywhere against my will. Caduta Scura has always been my home. And I’ve certainly never been tortured before! Where you’re getting that, I have no idea.”
Phoenix looked around the courtroom. The judge stared wide-eyed at him, Nicky was holding himself up with the prosecutor’s bench, leaning heavily against it, and even the bailiff was shaking his head sadly. Only Apollo was calm, examining his fingernails in a bored fashion. The defense attorney broke the tense silence by saying, smugly, “Told you so.”
There was a bit more silence in the courtroom. Nicky recovered from his own surprise at Phoenix’s outburst and cleared his throat. “Well. That was… interesting. Thank you, Mr. Wright.”
“Do you need a cross-examination, Mr. Justice?” the judge asked wearily. He was hoping that Apollo would say no.
Well, nope. Nicky wanted him to establish that Phoenix was sick. That outburst alone wasn’t enough. “Yes, your honor. There are a few things the defense needs to respond to.”
There was a heavy sigh and a muttering that he needed to retire. “Very well. Your cross-examination, if you please.”
Apollo looked around the courtroom, not knowing how this would be taken. “Ashe,” he said as gently as he could; his voice wasn’t suitable for “gentle” but he did the best he could. “You made three statements that really struck me as… quite relevant, actually. The first, that you’re not Phoenix Wright.”
Phoenix nodded. “That’s right. I’m not. You even used me name, Mr. Justice. Surely you-“
The attorney cut him off with a shake of his head. “I’m afraid not, Ashe. I have here three tests that were run to confirm your identity when you were in a coma. Your fingerprints, dental records, and DNA all match Phoenix Wright’s exactly. Any one of these alone suffices to prove your identity; together they are irrefutable.”
The dark-haired man put a hand to his mouth, looking confused. “B-but that’s impossible!” he gasped. “I’m not Phoenix Wright! I’m not!”
Apollo watched Nicky closely, more interested in the prosecutor’s reaction than Phoenix’s. He already knew that Phoenix wasn’t lying, that this was what he believed. Nicky was staring intently at Phoenix, though, his expression thoughtful.
There was little point in pressing the matter of Phoenix’s identity. Phoenix’s insistence that he wasn’t Phoenix was enough. There was no way to prove that he wasn’t just continuing an act, but it seemed genuine enough to Apollo. “Moving on,” Apollo said, pulling up another piece of evidence, “you claim you were never tortured. And yet, Ashe, your scars say otherwise.”
“I don’t have any scars,” Phoenix replied in confusion. “Aren’t you supposed to be helping me?”
“I am helping you,” Apollo reassured him. “And you do have scars, they’re all over your back and abdomen. You also have several ill-healed broken bones, injuries that you couldn’t have gotten unless they were inflicted intentionally.”
Phoenix had no response to this. He was completely baffled. “Well, Ashe?”
“I… I don’t know what you’re talking about-“
“The prosecution has photographs of the defendant’s back and torso,” Nicky interrupted. “I’d like to submit them as evidence.”
As the judge accepted them, and Phoenix shook his head and murmured that something was very wrong, Apollo finally figured out what Nicky’s deal was. He wanted to stop the trial, but he couldn’t. Being the only active prosecutor who could take the case and would seek the truth of the matter, Nicky had no choice. But Phoenix was his father. Cave too easily and there would be accusations.
One the photos were passed around, Nicky prompted, “You said there were three things. What is the other?”
Apollo smiled, grateful that Nicky had willingly turned over all of his research on this matter. “If Ashe has spent his whole life in Caduta Scura, then he should know Megan Lies.”
This was met with blank surprise. “Of course I know Ms. Lies. She’s my adoptive sister.”
The court murmured, and Nicky tilted his head to the side slightly. “Ms. Lies never mentioned that to me,” he said, his voice reflecting confusion.
Phoenix grimaced. “I would imagine not, if she’s accusing me of this,” he replied. “But she is. She was adopted by a family in the village when she was a newborn, then when her parents died, my family took her in. That was when she was ten.” The man put a hand to his mouth in thought. “None of this makes any sense…”
“Do you know the circumstances in which Ms. Lies came to the village as an infant?” Nicky asked. Was it relevant? Who knew, at this point…
The man on the shook his head at this. “No, I’m afraid I don’t,” he answered, “but I know everyone involved was terribly secretive about it. My older brother and I were told to keep her existence hush-hush to the outside world.”
“Then why are you telling us now?” Apollo asked.
Phoenix shrugged. “You already know about her and I’m under oath. I’d rather not get in more trouble than I already am, thanks.”
The judge shook his head. “Well, this is certainly interesting. Mr. Wright? Your thoughts?”
Nicky crossed his arms over his chest again, bowing his head in thought. Stop the trial, Apollo begged silently. It’s obvious he’s severely mentally ill now. You can’t continue this!
Finally, the prosecutor shook his head. “I’d like the defendant to testify about the fake ID he was carrying when we found him. The name he gave us- fake in and of itself- was different than the name on that ID.”
Apollo groaned in frustration. “Objection!” he cried. “Mr. Wright, we’ve established that the defendant is completely insane. Do we really have to continue this farce?”
“Objection!” Nicky returned harshly. “We’ve established that the defendant still has as active an imagination as ever, and that’s all we’ve established! I want to hear about the fake name!”
“Objection! Are you implying that Phoenix Wright, of all people, would make a mistake as stupid as that one?!”
“I am not implying any such thing! It’s a contradiction that makes no sense and I want to hear and explanation for it!”
“And how is the fake ID relevant?”
“You just established relevancy, Mr. Justice! He claims that he knows Ms. Lies, that he spent his whole life in that village. If this is the case, he should be able to explain the fake ID!”
“Actually, I can,” Phoenix interrupted timidly.
“Shut up, Ashe,” Apollo snapped. “Nicholas, this is your father.”
“Don’t you think I know that?!”
The judge, who had been watching the exchange, finally said, “If it is a contradiction, it must be addressed. Objection overruled; the defendant will testify about his fake identification.”
“Yes, your honor,” Phoenix replied, his hand still at his mouth.
Apollo scowled, hoping that Nicky was just trying to drive the point of Phoenix’s illness into the ground. Because if not…
Phoenix took a deep breath. “Caduta Scura is seen as a cult,” he answered finally. “We’ve been investigated before. Of course, they found nothing untoward happening, but some of our people are rather… private. When the village was founded, some of the people stopped interacting with the government. Births and deaths go unreported all the time; as far as the government is concerned, we don’t exist. The fake ID is for situations in which such persons need to leave the village. As for the name, well… Sanguine is my real surname. It’s… special to the village.”
Well, that accounts nicely for the name not existing in any records, Apollo thought to himself. Doesn’t help him look insane, though. In fact, that testimony made it sound like he wove this elaborate story just to give that impression. “I'm sorry, Ashe, but if your village really withholds such critical information, then why was information on Ms. Lies readily available?”
Phoenix looked at Apollo blankly. “You guys did a background check on the victim?”
“Of course,” Nicky replied in amusement. “We would have done one on you, but you don't exist.”
“Right. I'm from one of the families that stopped reporting births and deaths. Megan wasn't from a Caduta Scura family at all, and her foster parents were two of the more 'progressive' people in the village. Only a handful of those who 'don't exist' but want to even bother trying. You people make it too hard to fix that.”
That sounds awfully like something the elder Wright would say if something's wrong with the system. With a sigh, Apollo took his answer at face value and cleared his throat. “Very well, then. You have a fake ID because, according to the government, you don't exist.”
“So what's so special about your surname?”
Phoenix fidgeted on the stand. “The Sanguines are... well, my brother... Are you familiar with the Master of the Kurain School of Channeling?”
Nicky nodded. “I am her son.”
“Yes, of course... My brother is our family's equivalent to your Master. The fake name is to protect the real one.”
“Seems terribly cloak and dagger to me,” Nicky replied.
Phoenix dropped his gaze to the side. “It is. Needlessly so.”
There was a moment of awkward silence. “Mr. Wright?” Apollo prompted. “Have you heard enough yet?”
Nicky looked him dead in the eyes, somehow, from across the courtroom, and said, “No, I have not.”
“You have got to be kidding!”
“I'm not. I don't believe the defendant to be mentally ill and insist that the trial continues.”
Apollo was ready to tear his hair out. “You don't believe he's mentally ill?! He's created an entire life-”
“Mr. Justice, you of all people should know how high the potential for conflict of interest is here,” Nicky replied hotly. “If I let something go too easily, I'd be accused of manipulating the evidence and rightly so! It's my job as a prosecutor-”
“You know, you could be accused of manipulating evidence anyway,” Apollo growled. “In the other direction.”
Nicky paled. “How-how dare you...”
The sound of the gavel interrupted the argument. “Mr. Wright. Mr. Justice. I would speak with you two in my chambers immediately.” And the judge rose. The two attorneys eyed each other mistrustfully and followed the judge.
"What the hell are you doing, Nicholas?!"
The Judge simply seated himself at his desk. He was old. He was old-fashioned, and despite having witnessed Phoenix Wright almost literally perform an exorcism in his early career, he still had trouble believing some of the absurdity that passed through his courtroom every time the man was involved.
But he could see "what the hell" the young prosecutor was doing and he didn't like it. Regardless, he would let the two men talk it out, if they could. He knew that was what would happen if he called them into his chambers. "I'm trying to get the truth," Nicholas Wright replied hotly. "The truth doesn't wait for anything. And it's urgent that we get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible because I guarantee you: if we stop the trial in anticipation of the defendant getting well, we will never start the trial again!"
"Nicky, I know you're mad at him," Apollo replied, trying to sound patient and utterly failing, "but don't you think you're selling him just a tad bit short there?"
Nicholas shook his head vehemently. "You don't get it," he replied. "That's not Dad."
Apollo sighed, and the Judge's heart ached for the young man. He'd been hurt by seeing Phoenix in that condition as well; he'd grown to have a certain affection for the defense attorney, like a distant nephew or son he never had a chance to get to know. He could only imagine how hard it was for young Wright to see his father like this. "Look, I know it sucks," Apollo tried again, "but we've already established that-"
"No, I mean it. He's not mentally ill. He is exactly who he claims to be. That isn't Phoenix Wright."
Now the Judge thought that insanity might run in the Wright family. Yes... the man on the stand thought he was from a school of spirit manipulation, just like Maya Fey. Nicky clearly thought that someone else's soul was in his father's body. But... "We established that Ashe Sanguine doesn't exist," Apollo protested slowly. "How in the world do you figure that he actually is Ashe Sanguine, then?"
"If he's telling the truth about members of that village not being recorded by the government," Nicky replied. "And if that's the case, the only way that he's going to get 'better' is to figure out how the hell Ashe got where he is and remove him. That's not going to happen if they're trying to treat Dad in a psyche ward for disorders he doesn't have!"
"Mr. Wright," the Judge said, finally choosing to intervene. "Even if what you say is true, that still means that he's not in any condition to stand trial until this Ashe spirit is removed-"
"And how are we supposed to figure out how to do that as things are, your honor?" Nicky demanded. "We can't! We have to figure out where he's been these last three years and what happened-"
"And your motivations are finally revealed," Apollo cut him off irritably. "Nicholas, he's on trial for a string of abhorrent crimes, not for abandoning you." Nicky flinched, and murmured a half-hearted protest, but Apollo continued, "If you figure that out through the trial, great. I want to know where the hell he's been, too. But you must stay focused on the actual purpose of this trial!"
"I am focused on it," Nicky replied through gritted teeth. "And that's why the trial needs to continue. Phoenix Wright isn't even here to stand trial, and the person who is standing there is clearly competent as well."
The Judge grimaced. Yep. Insanity ran in the Wright family. That was the only explanation. He was about to declare that he disagreed on both counts and would order the trial to stop in order Phoenix to be treated, when Apollo cleared his throat. "I'm willing to continue the trial," he said, "as long as my client doesn't take the stand again, for any reason. We both already know he claims he can't remember leaving that village, let alone the attack on Megan. There should be no reason for him to testify again."
"Agreed," Nicky responded quickly. "Your honor?"
He sat back in his chair, looking from one attorney to the other. This was another thing he was used to: losing control of his courtroom when Phoenix Wright was involved. And there weren't two men more ethical and virtuous on either side that he could think of, so he didn't mind letting them call the shots, as long as they agreed. But to let a clearly mentally ill man stand trial and his son, whom was starting to show signs of mental illness as well, continue to prosecute him?
The judge stood with a sigh, nodding. "As long as the defendant doesn't take the stand again, I'll allow it," he said wearily. He'd seen stranger things.
Phoenix had been escorted back to the defendant's chair by the time the trio emerged from the judge's chambers. "This court is once again in session for the trial of Mr. Phoenix Wright," the judge said, banging his gavel. "Prosecutor Wright? Do you have another witness prepared?"
"Yes, your honor," Nicky replied evenly.
Nicky took a deep breath. He noticed how the judge was looking at him and he knew this wasn't going to go over well. "The prosecution calls Ms. Megan Lies to the stand." Behind the defense bench, Apollo gritted his teeth and balled a hand in a fist. Don't worry, Nicky tried to convey silently. She doesn't have a clue what she's talking about.
There was a bit of shuffling in the courtroom, and soon the cute black-haired woman was on the stand. Nicky ignored how his stomach did a bit of a flip and a bit of inappropriate tension entered his shoulders and torso, and said flatly, "Name and occupation, please."
"Megan Lies," she said, her voice low and melodic and alluring and- Knock it off, Wright! "I'm a... well, a therapist, of sorts, I suppose..."
"Are you licensed in any way?" Nicky asked.
"I am not, not officially. But I'm working on it."
Nicky sighed. "Very well. Please testify about the night of the incident, if you will."
Megan looked at her hands. "Y-yes, sir... I was out walking with my boyfriend, Alex, as you already know, Mr. Prosecutor." At this, Apollo glanced over as Phoenix sat completely upright in the defendant’s chair, his whole body tense, talking silently to himself. The attorney thought he could read What the hell is she talking about?, but he could figure out what bothered Phoenix about that particular sentence later, and turned his attention back to the witness. "Alex made a pit stop in a liquor store, and told me to keep walking, he'd catch up, since it was a fairly safe area of town-"
"Hold it!" Apollo snapped. "What do you mean, it's a fairly safe area of town? Were you somehow just not aware of the rash of sexual assaults and murders in that very area?"
"Objection!" Nicky cried before she could answer. "That area of town is normally quite safe. If she and her boyfriend have lived here for a significant amount of time-"
"Objection!" Apollo cut him off. "That's irrelevant! You'd have to have been living under a rock not to know that the area was not safe at the time, especially not for a woman of Ms. Lies' stature!"
“We knew,” Megan interrupted calmly, albeit timidly. “It was just… he was going to be away from me for five minutes, tops. We didn’t think anything would happen in such a short time.”
“But something did happen,” Nicky prompted.
“Right,” Megan replied, nodding. “I was just passing the alley between the liquor store and the theater when… when that man grabbed me around my shoulders and yanked me down into the alley.”
“Wait.” Apollo raised an eyebrow; Nicky usually didn’t interrupt the witnesses, let alone his own. “You told me a few days ago that you didn’t see your attacker’s face.”
Megan’s face flushed a pretty pink. “I must have been repressing the memory,” she said, pouting slightly. “Seeing his face again… it reminded me. It was him. It was definitely that man who dragged me into the alley and… and tried to-“
The witness stopped, floundering. Apollo scowled, shooting a glance at Nicky, and his heart almost stopped. The prosecutor’s expression was soft and compassionate, despite the fact that Megan was clearly acting, or at least hamming it up. How could Nicky not see that? He didn’t need his bracelet to tell him that something was off, the prosecutor should have seen it! “I’m sorry, Ms. Lies, but we need your testimony, in as great of detail as possible.”
Megan nodded, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. “Right. Okay, I’m okay. He yanked me into the alley, one hand on my mouth and the other grabbing at my clothes. I started fighting back as best I could, but he was holding me from behind; I couldn’t do much. I managed to get my fingers under his hand and pry it away from my mouth long enough to scream for help. That’s why my rescuer showed up, and screamed at my attacker to let me go; Mr. Wright did so and turned to face the other man, and I ran.”
Apollo was bluffing, and he was bluffing hard, but he had to try. “Ms. Lies,” he said, scrabbling in his papers; across from him, Nicky had already procured his copy of the document Apollo was using in his objection. He sees this coming, the defense attorney thought grimly, but he plowed on. “Are you aware of the injuries Mr. Wright sustained during this altercation?”
Megan shook her head; “Answer verbally, please,” Nicky ordered, and Megan said, “No, I have no idea. I ran as soon as I was free.”
“Did you hear any of the altercation between your rescuer and Mr. Wright?”
“Objection!” Nicky crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m disappointed in you, Mr. Justice. I know you know better than that!”
Damn! “Question withdrawn,” Apollo conceded. Attempting to trap the witness in that fashion was a no-no and he knew it. He was hoping Nicky would let it slide, considering what was at stake, but apparently not. “Let’s try this again,” he said, trying to keep the tinge of frustration out of his voice. “You’re not aware of the defendant’s injuries.”
“No, I’m not,” Megan replied in confusion.
Apollo picked up the page again. “And you say that Mr. Wright turned to the other man as soon as he heard that person yell.”
“So, if he was facing the third person, how is it that his only injury is to the back of the head?”
Megan looked stricken. “He- he was hit in the back of the head?”
“Objection!” Apollo was quickly getting aggravated with Nicky. He never objected this much. “It’s entirely possible that Mr. Wright was struck on the back of the head,” he asserted.
“That’s right!” Megan said. “They fought for a few minutes! I know, I didn’t have anywhere to go!”
“Objection! My question stands,” Apollo said fiercely. “If they fought for a few minutes, how is the blow to the back of the head the defendant’s only injury?”
“Maybe he tried to run away?” Nicky suggested.
Apollo hit the defense bench. “Then how did Ms. Lies hear them fight for a few minutes?” he demanded. “Furthermore, why did Ms. Lies think she had nowhere to go? The alley in question opens up on the other side to a rear parking lot for the theater!”
Nicky had no response for this, and Megan looked like she was near a panic. “Maybe… maybe I’m remembering it wrong,” she said. “Yes… yes, I was just confused. Let me try again, please!”
“Very well,” the Judge said. “Please try to testify as to what you clearly remember, Ms. Lies.”
“Y-yes, your honor.”