Also, the community has been created on Dreamwidth. I'll import it shortly and post a link for anyone who cares to follow it over yonder. Once again, I am NOT moving the community; this is for back-up purposes and those who prefer Dreamwidth to LJ.
A hush spread over the courtroom as Maya and Miles approached the witness stand together. Some in the gallery were apprehensive; others were excited. All wanted to know what exactly was going on; nothing about this made sense, even if they believed in stuff like spirit channeling.
The Judge looked from one lawyer to the other to see if either would raise the objection he thought was obvious. When neither did, he cleared his throat. “I believe that the prosecution only called Ms. Fey to the stand.”
“Indeed I did,” Nicholas replied. “My mother had an accident thirteen years ago that has left her in poor physical condition. She has trouble standing for extended periods of time; her husband is with her solely to provide physical support.”
“I see,” the judge acknowledged with a nod. “Very well. Ms. Fey, you said while you were in the gallery that Mr. Sanguine has lied about how the Caduta Scura technique of spirit channeling works.”
“That is correct, Your Honor,” she said evenly.
“Please testify to the court regarding this matter, then.”
“Objection!” Alex cried from his place where the prosecution’s witnesses waited. “Ms. Fey is absolutely not any kind of expert on Caduta Scura’s techniques!”
“I don’t need to be!” Maya replied. “Anyone who can read at a high school level can tell that you’re lying through your teeth!”
Apollo gritted his teeth, and then said, “I hate to do this, Your Honor, but… I’m going to have to agree with Mr. Sanguine. Ms. Fey needs to prove that she is an expert in Caduta Scura’s techniques for her testimony to be relevant.”
“Objection! She isn’t testifying as an expert in Caduta Scura’s techniques, she’s testifying as an expert on spirit channeling,” Nicky contradicted. “There can be no doubt that she is an expert on that!”
“She is an expert on the Kurain technique,” Apollo countered. “If it’s specific enough to differentiate, I think it’s specific enough to need her to prove that she has the authority to speak on the latter.”
Maya sighed heavily. “Objection!” she cried, leaning against Miles. His embrace tightened around her in what seemed to be a comforting gesture. “Look, if I can prove that he’s lying, right now, then will you admit that I don’t need to be an expert in Caduta Scura’s techniques to be credible? Because I can.”
“You… you can do that?!” The judge exclaimed, eyes widened.
Alex screamed another objection as Maya gave her affirmative. “You cannot channel someone who is already being channeled!” he cried. “I refuse to believe that the Master of the Kurain tradition of spirit channeling is this stupid!”
“The Kurain tradition of spirit channeling isn’t like your tradition of spirit manipulation” Maya spat back. “Your people do not channel spirits, they manipulate them! Someone sitting in that defendant’s chair is dead, that much is obvious, but whichever one it is, he is not being channeled, he is being manipulated! I can channel him!”
The judge hit his gavel, hard, as Alex and Maya began shouting shamelessly at each other. “Enough!” his voice boomed over the din of the courtroom. “Enough! I will have order! I will have order!”
An hour later, the gallery had been cleared. Only a handful of people remained in the courtroom; Misty and Nicholas, Miles and Maya, Alex and Megan, and the defendant. Whoever he may be, the Judge thought grimly. He looked around at those he had permitted to remain. “As we were discussing,” he said finally, “you claim to be able to solve the mystery of who the defendant is once and for all, Ms. Fey.”
She nodded. “Yes. I will only be able to channel the man who is dead. I will not be able to channel the one who is still alive.”
“You are going to hurt yourself,” Alex snapped, clearly nervous by now.
“You can stuff it right now,” Miles interjected hostilely. “You know you don’t give a damn about her hurting herself. You’re about to get caught perjuring yourself. You’re not going to frighten her into backing down.”
“I’m not trying to,” he snapped back. “I’m serious. The Master doesn’t know what the Caduta Scura techniques entail. Not even I know for sure what will happen if she attempts to channel either of them.”
“Well, then, I suppose you’ll just have to give us a straight answer,” the Judge said seriously.
“I don’t know what you want me to say!” He wrung his hands, upset and scared. He couldn’t tell the truth; he’d go to jail for sure. But at the same time, if Maya tried to channel them, she’d know something was wrong. “I’ve already told you everything I know. Phoenix Wright was killed three years ago, and Ashe… I don’t even know what he’s doing, but he’s guilty. Why else would he be doing this?”
“You’re lying,” Nicholas said bluntly, narrowing his eyes at him. “I know you’re lying.”
“I know you’re lying too, Mr. Sanguine,” Apollo said in a deadpan. “You might as well come clean about whatever you’re hiding.”
He looked from one man to the other, utterly trapped. There was nothing that he could do. Well, then, he’d do nothing. If she really wanted to risk her life to prove that he was wrong, she could do so. It would be such incredible poetic justice if she was to destroy herself meddling in affairs that she had no business meddling in; he wanted her ruined anyway.
But his conscience wouldn’t let him let her do that easily. “You’ve already admitted that you’re not an expert in Caduta Scura’s spirit manipulation techniques,” he attempted. “If you try to channel the dead man, you will be attempting to manipulate that spirit as well. You don’t know how to control that kind of power, Mystic Maya. Just as I would be risking my life if I attempted to manipulate a spirit being channeled by one of you, you are risking your life by attempting to channel a spirit being manipulated. There is a reason we split from the Fey family, cousin.”
Maya nodded. “Of course. Our powers don’t mix. Regardless, the truth must prevail and I think I’m more powerful than you are, Mr. Sanguine. So you’re just going to have to deal with the consequences of your lies if you’re right and I fail.”
The judge had been listening to this exchange intently. “So if I’m to understand this correctly, attempting to do this, Ms. Fey, will put your life in jeopardy?”
“Probably not,” Maya answered bluntly, as Alex sputtered. “I can’t say for certainty that he’s lying about that in particular, but the fact that he’s lied about so much already makes me think I’m right and he’s full of it here, too.”
The judge was clearly ill at ease with this by now, and looked ready to order her off the stand. “Your thoughts, Mr. Wright?” he asked the prosecutor.
“I think this is the best shot we have at finding out the truth of this matter,” Nicholas replied. “The defendant’s identity has become critical to the case. This witness’ testimony might become completely invalid once we establish the defendant’s identity once and for all, and I can’t see any way of doing that, at this point, other than what my mother has proposed.”
“Your Honor,” Misty piped up. Normally silent during trials unless she was testifying, Nicholas perked as his sister spoke up. “I have full faith that our mother can do what she’s proposing. She’s very powerful. Haven’t you witnessed what she’s capable of yourself, Your Honor?”
“Indeed I have, Detective Edgeworth,” the judge replied grimly. “Very well. Ms. Fey, at your leisure… show us who died that night, whether it was Phoenix Wright or Ashe Sanguine.”
Alex gave one final protest, one last attempt to stop her. Maya summarily ignored him, closing her eyes and murmuring to Miles to keep a hold on her. She felt her husband’s embrace tighten around her, comforting, protective and restraining, and she focused on the man in the defendant’s chair. Phoenix was the one who was alive. That meant that she needed to channel Ashe; she had no idea what the man had looked like, which made this tricky, but she could do it. She wouldn’t have volunteered to do it if she couldn’t.
But she needed help. “Nick… I need you… Answer me, please… Nick…”
Phoenix was somewhere cold and dark. He’d been there for what seemed like forever. He knew he wasn’t dead, that much was absolutely sure. He didn’t know how he knew; he knew he’d reasoned it out when he first found himself sent here, but it was so long ago that he’d forgotten.
He did know that he was clinging desperately to the “intruder” in his being, holding him there, biding his time. Again, he didn’t know why he had started holding him. He just knew he had, and that it was imperative that he didn’t let Ashe go until it was time. He had the upper hand while Ashe was stuck there with him.
Phoenix looked up abruptly, arms still wrapped protectively around his captive. He knew that voice. It had been so long since he heard a voice other than his own.
I need you…
Maya. He gritted his teeth and buckled down; hers had been the last voice he’d heard other than his own, and it had been calling him. He wasn’t dead, so she couldn’t channel him, but her demands on his spirit had almost weakened him enough that he’d let Ashe go. But he couldn’t let him go. Not while Maya was still in the dark. So he resisted her, and bided his time, and eventually she stopped trying to channel him.
Answer me, please…
But this felt different, he realized after a moment. She wasn’t trying to channel him. She was searching for Ashe. Phoenix felt her pull because Ashe was within him, and he within Ashe; the young man in his arms stirred, and Phoenix felt the heat of his confusion and sudden panic. Ashe was aware of what happened to him. He’d somehow been made aware that he’d been killed that day, so long ago, and Maya knew it as well. Maya knew.
Phoenix let Ashe go and stood up. “Maya!” he cried, turning around, searching for her, reaching back to her desperately. She appeared in front of him as a phantom, Ashe’s huddled form between them. “Maya,” Phoenix repeated in a gasp, reaching for her.
“How long has it been?”
Three years. You’re on trial for murder again.
Maya smiled sadly. You’ll find out soon enough. I need to channel him. It’s the only way to free you.
“I know. I guess I’ll see you in a moment.”
I guess so. See you in the courtroom!
As Maya focused on Phoenix, gritting her teeth and lowering her head, the courtroom watched. “Let him go,” she demanded in a low voice.
After a moment, a strange feeling settled over everyone. The judge shifted uncomfortably; he’d felt this way before. The memory of another trial, of a role reversal than what was presented here, intruded on his focus on the proceedings going on right now. Alex cried out for someone to stop her as Phoenix abruptly stood, alarming the cops standing guard by him. He hugged himself, gasping for breath and then crying out in pain. Maya gripped the edges of the witness stand, her knuckles turning white with the exertion. “Let him go!” she cried in a rough, strained voice.
As her rang out the second time, everyone in the courtroom startled as a second voice joined Phoenix’s- lighter, younger, different. Maya screamed, and her body morphed as a strange violet light surrounded both her and Phoenix. When the light faded, Miles now held a young man with sandy brown hair and brown eyes who stared down at his hands in utter horror. He looked up and over at the defendant’s table, his eyes losing focus as he saw Phoenix Wright standing there, head tilted back, hands held out slightly from his sides, and eyes closed, an expression of pain on his face. “M… Maya… Miles… H… help… me…”
Chaos broke out as Phoenix collapsed to the floor. Behind him, he felt Miles tense, and Nicholas all but vaulted his bench as he and Misty ran to the fallen man. Misty held Phoenix’s head in her lap as Nicholas took Phoenix’s hand and screamed for the court house EMTs. Phoenix gasped on the floor, sobbing breathlessly.
Ashe didn’t blame him for losing his composure like this. Tears stung his eyes as he looked down at his hands once again, adorned with Master Maya’s sparse jewelry, her wedding ring and two leather cuff-style bracelets. His gaze dropped further, taking in the violet robes and the traditional Kurain sandals he wore.
That Master Maya wore. Not him. He was dead.
His own brother had murdered him, forced him into Phoenix’s body, and then convinced him that Phoenix was the one who had died. Ashe choked on a sob, putting his hands to his face. “Ashe,” Miles said, gently, and then when Ashe gave no indication that he’d been heard, repeated the name, a little louder, but no less calm. The man finally looked up slightly, and Miles said, “You are now being channeled by Mystic Maya. As you could see from the defendant’s chair, she is weak, physically; you can likely feel it now. I don’t know how long she can safely channel someone in these circumstances. If you do not release her, you may harm her.”
“I… I don’t know how…” he said weakly, shivering and covering his eyes with his hands. He was dead.
“Relax,” Miles said, and Ashe could hear in his voice that he knew that was much easier said than done. “Focus on letting Maya take over. She knows what to do.”
Ashe nodded. “I- I’m sorry…”
“You’ve done nothing wrong,” Miles said in soothing tones.
He got the feeling Miles was being so kind to him now only because Ashe more or less had his wife hostage. After all, why would he look kindly on Ashe at all, with everything that was done until now? Still, despite his frantic desire to hang onto physical life as long as he could, he knew that this wasn’t his life to hang onto. He didn’t want anyone to get hurt anymore, not because of him. He gingerly reached out with his spiritual energy, and gasped when he felt Maya reach back. Her touch was soothing, reassuring, gentle, but insistent. She wanted her body back.
Ashe let go, and Miles tightened his hold on Maya’s body as it began to morph and shrink beneath his hands, until the body he held was familiar again. Maya slumped back against him, and Miles shifted his embrace to cradle and support rather than to restrain. “Nick,” she managed to gasp.
“Alive,” Miles replied, watching his daughter and stepson escort the gurney that Phoenix had been loaded onto out of the courtroom. “What… how was Alex able to force Ashe into Phoenix’s body?”
“That is their spiritual ability,” she replied weakly. “I need to rest. Miles…”
“I know. Do you want me to carry you?”
Miles looked up at the Judge’s bench. The judge hit his gavel. “Ten minute recess,” he said tiredly. “Officer Stanby, see to it that Alex Sanguine doesn’t go anywhere.”
“Yes, your honor,” the officer replied, having already stopped Alex from exiting the courtroom. Several of the bailiffs and cops stationed in the courthouse had burst in when Nicholas screamed for the EMTs.
“Take care of Ms. Fey,” the judge said in parting, as he stood up to go to his chambers. Miles waited for the judge to exit before he gingerly, tenderly lifted Maya off of her feet and cradled her in his arms, following the path the EMTs followed to the court house infirmary.
An hour later, court reconvened. Alex had been held there under heavy guard until the crisis was over. After both Phoenix and Maya had been declared to be alright, the Judge returned and ordered everyone back into court, except Phoenix and Maya. They were still under the court doctor’s care.
The atmosphere was almost oppressive as the defense and prosecution filed back in; Trucy was allowed to return, as well as Misty and Miles. They all wanted answers, and they wanted them now.
“Alex Sanguine will take the stand,” the judge ordered, hitting his gavel. Subdued, Alex obeyed. All hints of smugness and self-righteousness was gone, leaving only a man who had been desperately keeping a dark, evil secret for three years. “We all know that Phoenix is alive,” the judge said quietly, although his tone was dangerous and stern. “We all know that Ashe Sanguine is dead. I do not care why you lied anymore. That will be dealt with in your trial. But you will tell the truth about the events of three years ago, Mr. Sanguine. Continue to lie, and you will face dire consequences. Am I clear?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Good. Testify. Now.”
Alex swallowed hard. “I… Ashe was telling the truth,” he started hesitantly. “We… he left us because he disagreed with our plans.”
“What plans?” Apollo interrupted.
Nicky didn’t even have to object. “Irrelevant, right now,” the judge said. “Sanguine isn’t going anywhere. If we need to know what those plans are, we can drag him back on the stand at any time.”
Apollo nodded and said, “Withdrawn,” and Alex continued:
“Meghan and I went after him,” he said. “He’s… he’s my brother, therefore, I am responsible for his actions. I never intended to do him harm, just bring him back. But, when I saw that he was speaking to a resident of Kurain, and one of Master Maya’s intimates no less, I… I was afraid. These changes absolutely could not get back to her ears. I intended to kill Phoenix.
“But then, I got an idea… an idea that would make our plans run so much smoother. Ashe was the one who would die, and I could force Ashe into Phoenix’s body. He’d obey me for fear of further harm coming to Phoenix. I could send him to Kurain to get the information I needed, and then, once it was done, hold Phoenix hostage until Maya caved.”
“Wait,” Nicky interrupted. “So this plan has something to do with-“
“Objection,” Apollo said tiredly. “Your Honor…”
“Sustained,” the judge said. “If the defense can’t ask about these policy changes, neither can the prosecution. It hasn’t been established as relevant yet. I understand your desire to know- both of you- but that isn’t what this trial is about. Patience, Mr. Wright.”
Nicky nodded. “Yes, Your Honor,” he replied, subdued. “So what happened, Mr. Sanguine? We certainly haven’t heard from Phoenix Wright, in any way, in three years. Ashe refuse to cooperate with you?”
Alex shook his head. “Something unexpected happened.”
“Tell us about it.”
He heard the dry, sarcastic note in Nicholas’ voice, and ignored it. “You see, I was operating on the assumption that Phoenix was an ordinary man. It… seems he is descended from Caduta Scura. Over the years, there have been those who’ve been unhappy in the village. Those that swear to silence about us have been let go without argument. I can only assume now that he is the grandchild or great grandchild of one of those people, because when I forced Ashe’s spirit into his body, Phoenix… didn’t let him go and didn’t let him surface. I hadn’t counted on Phoenix holding Ashe hostage, although he claimed to not know what I was talking about. I had to get Phoenix to let him surface.”
“And so you tortured him,” Nicholas said in a tight, low voice, absolute rage dangerously close to the surface.
Alex closed his eyes. “Yes. I tortured him in an effort to force him to release Ashe. After I’d broken his hand, it set poorly; we had to re-break it, although that wasn’t intended to torture him. We took precautions to make it as comfortable as breaking and re-setting bones could be, and once it was done, I left him and Megan alone. It wasn’t until it’d been casted and he had been sent to sleep that Megan told me that she didn’t think he was lying. He really wasn’t intentionally holding Ashe back.”
“What did you do at this point?” Apollo asked, seeing that Nicholas was seething and barely able to contain his fury.
Alex shrugged. “What we did with our youth when they manifested spiritual abilities: taught him. But we were in for another surprise once Phoenix had enough control to allow Ashe to surface; we told Phoenix that, considering what had occurred, that perhaps it was best for us to rethink our plan, and he agreed to be our spy in return for his freedom.” Alex’s gaze shifted to Nicholas and Misty. “We had no intention of allowing this, of course. Neither Megan nor I believed that he really meant to betray the Master of Kurain; we had abused him so by that point he was willing to say anything to get us to let him go. He missed his children terribly and he didn’t know how much more pain we could inflict before he’d break completely. But I digress.
“When Ashe surfaced, he had no idea he was dead, and we now had the same problem we’d had with Phoenix. At that point, we- Megan and I- decided that it was best to leave the issue be. Ashe was terrified of me and would stay in line. We knew the Master was in ill health and likely preoccupied with her consort’s disappearance; we had time to reconsider our plan once again.”
“And that plan involved sending Ashe into the city?”
“No, that was for another reason,” Alex said, waving his hand dismissively. “That reason had nothing to do with raping and murdering anyone, I assure you.”
“So you’re no longer claiming to have seen the defendant attack Meghan Lies,” Nicholas said flatly.
“Oh, no. I saw what appeared to be an attack of sorts,” Alex said. “I admit that I don’t know who was attacking whom- or whether it was an attack at all. But I will also say this: Ashe was sent into the city after the serial killer already descended. If Ashe attacked Meghan, it had nothing to do with the serial killer.”
“Then why in the world would you testify that he was the serial killer?” Nicholas demanded, frustrated.
Alex smiled sadly in response. “To get rid of him, of course. Once you knew of their existence, they were worthless to me.”
“So you’d just throw away your own brother!”
“I murdered him for getting in the way, didn’t I?”
Heavy, oppressive silence descended on the courtroom. “Bailiff,” the judge finally said, hitting his gavel. “Get this thing out of my courtroom pending charges. Mr. Wright…”
“I’ll see to establishing charges against him,” Nicholas said as Alex was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom. “I suspect that we’ll need my father’s assistance in that matter.”
“Indeed, at least in the kidnapping and torture charges I’m assuming you’re going to pursue.”
“Mercilessly, Your Honor. However, if anyone will cooperate with an investigation into Ashe Sanguine’s murder, it will be my father. I would like to leave Meghan Lies out of this investigation until we’ve had a chance to firmly establish Alex Sanguine’s guilt. Involve her too soon and she will not cooperate.”
The Judge eyed the young prosecutor, but let the real reason for Nicholas’ hesitation slide. He wished to protect the young woman, but far be it for the judge to insist on a witch hunt when he was correct. Meghan needed to be kept in the dark until they had a trump card to play, to get her to cooperate with minimal effort. “Very well. However, I’d like to return to the matter at hand,” the judge said. “That is the trial of Phoenix Wright. I suspect we’ll find plenty of information about Sanguine’s murder from his testimony, if he is able to testify.”
“Mr. Justice,” Nicholas said. “It you would check on your client…”
“Of course,” Apollo replied, nodding. “I didn’t have much time to speak to him, but he indicated that he wanted to address the court.”
“Good. We want him to, as soon as he’s able.”
“Give me fifteen minutes to check on him, Your Honor.”
The judge nodded. “Fifteen minute recess.”