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April’s Vendetta (or, Turnabout Library)

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~ June 18, 9:00 AM, Defendant Lobby #1 ~

”There you guys are! I almost thought this huge sea of people was going to drown you two out!” Larry waved at us from a bench in the defendant lobby.

I looked around. “Wow, there are a lot of people here today, aren’t there?”

“What do they think this is, some kind of circus act?!” snapped Miles. “They could have gone some miles from here for that - and don’t either of you say anything about what I just said!” he added when Larry and I both snickered.

It was true, there were so many people flooding in and gossiping about the trial that there were very few safe spots in the lobby to stand. And even less places for my crutches to not get in anyone’s way.

“I’m just glad you convinced them to let you prosecute,” I said, “and I managed to get behind the defense’s bench – obviously not where the attorney will be, but close – to watch, instead of in the normal seats. Larry has a fighting chance now.”

Miles sighed. “It’s not just me. They agreed to let me through if I cooperated with the prosecution team. Obviously, the Judge was kind of surprised that you could not be in the defense team because you are the victim, but he wonders if that is a sign.”

“For what? A completely normal trial? When has any trial with you or I involved ever been normal?”

He smiled. “Indeed. The Judge should not hold his breath.”

“Anyway,” I asked, “who’s on the team? And why the heck is it even a whole TEAM?! How special is this case?”

“Special enough to have us looped into it, that’s for certain.”

The three of us glanced around, wondering who spoke, startling when Mia and Lana suddenly appeared in our view. How did they get here without us hearing!?

Lana looked to Miles with a small smile. “Looks like I’ll be watching over you, protege.”

You’re on the team, Lana?” I asked incredulously. “Aren’t you supposed to be the Chief Prosecutor?! How did you convince them to let you prosecute this case!?” 

She laughed. “I insisted on supervising this case, since I can’t be on it. They agreed to let me pick one person, but they would be picking the other people. They are a team of three.”

“And what of you, Mia?” Miles asked her. “Might I ask why you’re here?”

Mia raised an amused eyebrow. “Isn’t it obvious? I’m going to be on the defense team.”

I rolled my eyes when I saw Larry’s expression light up. Oh lord, this is exactly what me and Miles were afraid of.

“You are? What of Grossberg?”

“He’s leading the team, of course! We’re also a team of three, but it did take us a while to track down our third person. You’ll see why in a moment.” She sent a small smile his way, and Miles was a bit confused by it.

“Hey!” Larry said suddenly. “Why don’t we go inside the courtroom and talk? Maybe so we’re not crushed by the crowd here?”

Did Larry actually have a good idea?

“I know that look, Nick; don’t act like I could never have a good idea!”

Everyone laughed. My ear tips turned red with embarrassment.

*****

~ June 18, 9:10 AM, Courtroom No. 4 ~

“Lord, why are my teammates so... not punctual?” Miles asked, looking around at the doors to see if any of them have come in yet. Lana shrugged and offered a sigh.

Mia looked a bit worried. “I think I can say the same at this point. The Judge isn’t even here yet.”

It was true. Besides us that arrived early, only random people were trickling in. And even though we saw familiar faces like Maya, Ema, Lotta, Will, and Gumshoe, no one else that was supposed to be on the court floor had showed yet.

“Mia, my dear, I’m sorry I’m so late.”

She turned and saw Grossberg in the doorway.

“Mr. Grossberg! There you are!” Mia ran up to him.

“I apologize for being tardy, Mia,” he said again, “but I did have to make sure our teammate was ready to go.”

“Oh!” said Mia. “He’s here now?”

Grossberg nodded. “That he is. He’s coming in right now.“ He called out to the door. “Don’t be shy.”

All of our heads turned to the door.

The flap of a trench coat.

A fedora entered the doorway.

Then, in walked a man who put it back on his head in a distinct manner.

To some people, he used to be one of the good defense attorneys, always believing in the truth.

To others, he was the one that had put one little stain on Manfred von Karma’s perfect win record.

And to all, he had been pronounced dead. Until today.

To one, he was known as something more personal.

“Father...” said Miles, in a very quiet tone, when he saw his father, alive and well, for the first time in years.

Gregory Edgeworth made his way down to the court area, walking slowly at first, pace only quickening when Miles called out to him. As soon as he reached his son, he wrapped his arms around him, tears running down his face.

“Miles... oh, my son,” he said tearfully, as Miles held him back. “You’ve grown so much over these years without me here. You’ve set your own path. I’m very proud of you.”

Miles looked like he didn’t trust himself to speak.

As they celebrated their reunion, I turned to Mia. “How... and when?!”

“We actually thought of this today,” she said. “We used the same method it took to resurrect me.”

“But that took days! He’s here in barely a matter of hours!”

“My soul had been wandering lost near Kurain Village. His had always stuck close here.”

“I think Miles will forever appreciate what you’ve done for him.”

She smiled. “I do hope he does.”

“Well, I certainly won’t!”

Chilling silence.

Mia grabbed onto me.

Gregory stood in front of Miles as if to shield him.

Larry hid behind his defendant’s chair.

Lana scratched at her arms, as if uneasy.

And, from the crowd, Maya pressed firmly into Gumshoe so she wouldn’t have to see. Lotta covered her eyes as well and shivered. Ema didn’t know what to do; she had the luxury of never meeting him before.

Two people came in through the door. They both looked aged but in their own ways.

One had glasses, the lacking of hair from a case out of favor, and looked nervous near constantly. Easily forgettable these days, but apparently not back then - a “rookie killer”, as was once said, and no longer true.

These days, he was just a pain. Winston Payne, that is. Tapping his forehead in so-called confidence where his pompadour used to be. Mia and I were the ones to see it fly off. It had been Mia’s second case, after all - she was defending me.

It was the other that caused the life to get sucked out of the room.

Unlike his companion, who leaned back as he tapped, he stood tall and commandeering, constantly sneering as he glared around the room. His aging traits would have been his ice white hair and the wrinkles across his constantly terrifying face.

Eyes always wide, open, and alert; he held his cane under his arm for the moment. He grinned evilly when he saw us: first at Maya in the audience, then Miles and Gregory, and finally me. He raised his arm and snapped, pointing at me as the sound echoed in the room.

“Mr. Wright.” The sound of his voice sent not-so-soothing shivers down my spine. “Hmph. Your friend here did a lousy job.”

To most, he was the one that never lost a case. Not once in his forty years. Until some months ago, that is.

To Gregory, he was the man who received the only blemish on his record from him. And for that, he was killed in a spur-of-the-moment plan that we all knew as DL-6.

To Miles, this man had been the reason he was who he had been a while back before going soul searching – a ruthless prosecutor, focused on winning and perfection instead of the truth – instead of what Gregory had been. All because of DL-6.

And to me, he was the man that went to drastic measures to hide the truth and keep his stupid record - to the point of tasering me and Maya.

He had a name that struck fear into everyone who heard it. 

Even more so since he was supposed to be rotting away in jail.

“Manfred von Karma.” The voice was Gregory’s. He kept his eyes trained on von Karma as he and Payne made their way to the court area where the rest of us were. Miles stayed firmly behind his dad, but stuck an arm out in front as if shielding him. “Last I heard, you were supposed to be rotting away in jail for your crime.”

von Karma merely glared to him. “And last time I checked, you should be serving time six feet under for yours.”

“What are you talking about?!” snapped Mia. “What crime could this man possibly have committed!?” She probably would have gone off more if Grossberg hadn’t come up and stopped her.

“Hmph. You wouldn’t understand, little girl.” That only set off Mia more, and Grossberg had to drag her back to the defense’s bench. Poor Mia. She wouldn’t understand.

But I did. Crystal. And I wish I could have gone off on him like Mia was about to do.

He marched over to the prosecutor’s bench. “Payne. Let us get this over with, shall we?”

The man in question stopped tapping and practically ran after him. “Y-Yes, sir!” he managed to say as he did so.

I looked over to Gregory and Miles. The latter was shaking terribly while the former tried to hold him still.

I’m not sure who was about to fare worse: Gregory had to go against this terrible murderer again, but Miles was going to have to work with this heathen. That would be almost as bad as me having to work with her.

As if to accentuate more of the awkwardness, the Judge appeared at the doors, with someone coming in behind him. They were both dressed the same way, so it was safe to assume this was another judge. 

Wait... were we going to have two judges?! 

This is turning into one heck of a kangaroo court.

*******

~ June 18, 9:40 AM, C4 Front Area ~

“Court is now in session for the trial of Larry Butz,” announced the Judge, the older one we were all used to, when we were all settled and quiet. The younger one nodded beside him.

“The defense team is ready, Your Honor!” Mia said, slamming her hands on the table. Gregory chuckled quietly while Grossberg turned away, a bit embarrassed, but trying not to smile.

“Don’t think we would waste our time here if the prosecution were not ready!” snapped von Karma, in both ways. Payne tapped away on his head again and Miles just clutched his arm and stared holes into the table.

“I have to say, this court is already shaping up to be very strange,” said the older Judge. “I thought that Mia Fey and Gregory Edgeworth were supposed to be dead!”

von Karma rolled his eyes. “They’re dead to me, if that counts.”

Yeah, right back at you, buddy.

“I’m not sure how I feel about you being out of prison, either, Prosecutor von Karma,” said the younger Judge.

“That makes nearly all of us, Your Honor,” Mia said.

“It is not important how I am here, just know that I am,” said von Karma. “And that it is legal that I’m here.”

When do you care about legality!?

“Very well. Prosecution, your opening statement, please.”

Uh oh. He’s leading the prosecution team, isn’t he?

“We’re here to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man, Larry Butz – “  von Karma snapped and then pointed at the man in question, who looked as if he wanted to hide behind his chair, “ – attempted - and unfortunately, botched - a murder attempt on Phoenix Wright’s life!” With that, he crossed his arms and waited.

And in moments, nearly the whole court went up into pandemonium.

”What?! Someone tried to murder the Ace Attorney!?”

“Why is von Karma here? Isn’t he a murderer?!”

“Wasn’t this guy accused of murder months ago...?”

“How could this happen!?”

“Guilty! I bet he’s guilty!”

“No way! He’s totally innocent!”

”ORDER! ORDER IN THE COURT!” The younger Judge was yelling while the older one constantly smacked the gavel on the stand. “I’m not sure how I feel about all this yelling!”

Mia rolled her eyes at that.

“Call your first witness, prosecutors!”

“Gladly!” said Payne, tap-tapping away. “We call our investigation team to the stand!”

What? How did we miss these people investigating? And who would even be on the team? Ema, Lana, and Gumshoe were with us. Marshall said he was to be a normal witness since he left. Angel was murdered, from what Mia told me. Who could be left?

”I am sure some of these names will be familiar to you,” von Karma said, glancing at the defense and his prosecution team with a weird smile,  “and I’m quite sure none of you will be expecting them to have come here, but they were more than willing.” He turned to the witness stand area. “Isn’t that right?”

Three people entered from the side door, and we were surprised all over again - and by that, I mean Mia, Gregory, and I were. In some form or another - flesh, picture, or spoken word - we had learned of these people.

“These are Tyrell Badd, Valerie Hawthorne, and Bruce Goodman,” said von Karma, in his usual manner of wishing to get to the point. “They were some of the top detectives in their time, and took time out of their lives to investigate for us. Now, Mr. Badd, why don’t you tell us what you’ve found?”

The man with a jacket like Gumshoe’s and dressed in sepia-like tones stepped forward. “We’ve found the cloak dropped by the alley only a few blocks away from the crime.”

What?! At the scene?!

“We can’t find any prints on it right now, so we do assume the person may have had gloves on.” He held it up. It was an ordinary looking black cloak, mostly unscathed except for the tear near the bottom.

“We also found out that the bookcase in particular that almost crushed Mr. Wright has been teetering for a while now,” said the woman in the police uniform. She held up a picture of the bottom of the shelf that hurt my leg. “As you can see here, it’s been built so it tilts at an awkward angle. It would fall otherwise if not against a wall or held up by something.”

“Wouldn’t that imply that there should have been something to hold it up then?” asked the older Judge. “How would it have stood up for so long without falling until right then?”

The man with the white fedora glanced back at Lana. “Miss Lana? I think you know the answer to that, don’t you? Why don’t you show them?”

”What? Oh...” Lana held up the piece of paper. “We found this piece of paper across the way from the offending bookshelf. We think it was what kept the bookcase from toppling.”

“Why do you have that, Miss Skye?” asked von Karma. “Trying to tamper with the scene?”

“Excuse you, who do you think you are?!” snapped Lana. “The paper only became relevant after your testimony, so I would hardly call it tampering. We did our own investigation that day.”

von Karma turned back to glare at her. “And who authorized you to do that?”

“Objection!” shouted Mia. “Your question is not relevant to this case!”

“Overruled,” said the younger Judge. 

“What?!?!” Mia was dumbfounded, as was I, and Larry too. Gregory and Grossberg looked worried while Payne and von Karma looked confident.

“Miss Skye, your ‘investigating’ could be considered tampering with the crime scene!” answered the younger Judge in a stern tone. “I may not know how I feel about a lot of things, but I know something like this could hurt a case!”

“Besides,” Payne said, “this seems like something a defense attorney would do! Isn’t that right, Mr. Wright?” He looked at me with a strange look.

“With all due respect, Payne,” I snapped, “I always asked to investigate the scene.”

“That is not in your job description! Are you a detective, Mr. Wright?” von Karma sneered. 

“But she’s a prosecutor!” Mia refuted. “If the other prosecutors are allowed to investigate with detectives, why not her – who happens to be your boss, by the way!?”

“Objection!” Payne shrieked. “Last time I checked, you’re not a detective and neither is Mr. Wright! Her checking out scenes with you two doesn’t excuse her!”

“Objection!” Gregory and Grossberg both pointed their fingers right at Payne, who recoiled right away.

“There indeed was a detective on the day she discovered the paper. In fact,” Mia said, with a hair flip, ”there were two!”

“Then I hope you won’t mind,” Miles said, finally looking up, with a slight smile, “naming to us who they were, would you, Miss Fey?”

Mia smiled back. “The first one, of course, is known to most everyone – Detective Dick Gumshoe!”

“What?!” Payne said. “He was at the scene!?”

“He was, and he was also there at the moment the shelf fell! In fact, he and the other detective were both there, at the same time!”

“Why don’t you tell is who this second one is, then?!” snapped von Karma.

“She may have been indicted only a month ago, but her ceremony made big news. The second detective – is Miss Ema Skye!”

“That girl is a detective?!” cried the younger Judge. “But she looks so young!”

“Age shouldn’t be a standing block to goals, Your Honor,” said Miles. From the way he said it, he spoke from experience.

“He is correct,” said von Karma, albeit a bit reluctantly. “If you want to excel in what you do, it should not matter when you start.”

“I’m assuming what we’re getting from here is that Lana’s investigating of the scene was fine,” said Grossberg. For the leading defense, he sure wasn’t saying much.

“Very well,” said the older Judge. “We will submit the paper into evidence.”

“Now how about we call another witness to this stand, eh?” said the younger Judge, rubbing his head.

“Hold it!” cried Mia. “We haven’t cross-examined any of them yet! And no,” she said, glaring at von Karma, “you’re not going to snap your fingers and dismiss it.”

He huffed, but stayed silent. Wow. I can’t believe Mia actually silenced Manfred. I saw Miles look a mix of impressed and surprised.

“Mr. Badd,” Mia said, stepping out towards him, “where is the missing chunk of this cloak?”

“What?” he asked. 

“There’s a piece missing from the bottom of that cloak, is there not? That hole wasn’t there before, was it?”

“Who’s to say that the person had the cloak intact during the crime?”

Objection!” said Mia. “All of us heard a ripping sound right before the bookshelf fell. It stands to reason that the cloak was caught under the bookshelf as the person removed the paper! That’s why it’s torn!”

“Objection!” Payne shouted back. “How do you know that wasn’t the paper tearing?!”

“Look at it! Does it look torn to you?”

“It’s been folded! How can you tell!?”

“Easy! Your Honor, if you would,” Mia asked, “unfold the paper, please.”

The younger Judge took the paper and pulled it apart from its accordion-like fold. “It appears that this paper is completely intact, save for this dent into it.”

“Which proves that it was stuck under the shelf!” Mia pointed out. “It was dented by being there!”

“Moving on,” said the older Judge, rubbing his temple, “did anyone find the missing piece of the cloak?”

“No, Your Honor,” Mia said. “We checked under and around the area of the case, but we only found the paper tossed into the neighboring bookshelf.”

“You didn’t look anywhere else? Really?” Valerie rolled her eyes.

“With all due respect, Miss Hawthorne,” Mia spat out in disgust, “you and your comrades are the ones who found the cloak, so if anything, we should be asking you that question!”

At this, Valerie clammed up.

“That already raises suspicions,” Grossberg muttered. “If you accuse the defense and the prosecution of tampering with this scene, who is to say that these detectives haven’t themselves?”

“Exactly!” Mia shouted, slamming her hands on the table once more. “After all, no one else was aware of all of these detectives coming here...” Then she pointed right out to the prosecutor’s bench. “Except for you! Manfred von Karma!”

“You think I am the one who orchestrated this whole ordeal?” he asked, slamming his cane onto the ground. “Do you have proof that I was anywhere near the library during the time of the attempt?!”

“Oh please, like that’s a stretch?” I snapped. Everyone turned to look at me. “Remember DL-6? You literally orchestrated a plan to cover up what happened that day! And on that same day, you tasered me and my assistant! You would do anything to have kept your perfect record going! News flash, it’s been wrecked. Twice! Get over it!”

In seconds the whole courtroom was in chatter once more. The audience was between seeing how von Karma fit into the scheme, while Lana, Miles, and Payne argued with Tyrell, Valerie, and Bruce, and Grossberg, Gregory, and Mia were between talking to themselves and Larry, who came down from his seat to lean over and chat with them. All the while the Judges tried desperately to get order back in the court and Manfred glared at me, for daring to remind him that his record had been stained, not once, but twice, and that he would have to live with that.

That’s when Manfred slammed his hand onto the table.

“Enough!” he shouted, which shocked the court into submission. “You three, get off the stand. Now!” As soon as the three of them ran back to their seats, he started to march to the witness stand.

“Mister von Karma! What on earth are you doing!?” cried the older Judge. 

“You’re not getting away with running this courtroom again,” snapped the younger Judge. “Go back to your stand right now!”

He paused, halfway to the stand, and wagged a finger in a spiteful manner. “I suppose I will go back. But if I do, you’ll never find out how I figure into this.” He turned on his heel and started to walk back...

“HOLD IT!”

Six voices rang out, pleading for him not to go.

Mia’s...

Grossberg’s...

Gregory’s...

Larry’s...

Miles’s...

And mine.

“What are you doing?!” Payne yelled at Miles. “He’s on our side!”

At that, Miles snapped. He slammed a hand on the desk and turned toward Payne. “That man,” Miles hissed, stabbing a finger in Manfred’s direction, “is not on my side.  He has never once been on my side and he knows it. He killed my father out of petty revenge. He twisted me into a monster. He’s hurt people I care about.” He shoots a quick glance to us, especially Mia, Gregory, and me, before whiplashing back to Payne. “I don’t care if he’s supposed to be my coworker. We’re all supposed to be seeking the truth here, and if he’s finally willing to tell it for the first damn time in his life...” He glared right at von Karma as he said this, who stared back with a bemused expression. “Then I don’t care whose favor it’s working for. I want to hear it.”

“Yeah! Way to GO, Edgey!” Larry shouted.

“Couldn’t have put it better myself,” I said. Mia nodded in approval.

“The defense,” Gregory said, tilting his fedora down, “calls Manfred von Karma to the stand.” 

He turned and sneered at all of us, but shrugged. “Very well.”

"I'll have your evidence," Mia said, with a hair flip. "Just you wait!"

And with that, Manfred von Karma took the stand.

*******

~ June 18, 10:30 AM, Witness’s Galley ~

“What’s going on?” Penny asked Valerie, when she and Marshall finally made it to the witness’s galley.

She spared Penny a glance before turning back to the scene at hand, arms crossed and an annoyed look on her face.

Penny was dumbfounded, until someone tapped her on the shoulder. “Manfred von Karma is about to testify,” said Bruce. “Everyone thinks that he was the one who tried to kill Phoenix Wright!”

“That’s not possible,” Penny said. “Manfred was still in prison when the attack took place!”

“And how do you know that, young lady?” said Tyrell, who eyed her suspiciously. 

Before she could answer, everyone went radio silent for a few moments. After the trial picked backup, Penny spoke again.

“I kinda went to visit my boss in jail, when they put her back in again. It was around 2:30 p.m. I stayed there 15 minutes, and then I walked to the library for my usual comic book endeavors.”

“Wait,” Marshall said suddenly. “So that is her handwriting on the library list, then!”

“Yes, but when she was put back in, he was still there.”

“You think someone forged his name on there, then?”

“No way,” said Tyrell. “He would never let anyone ‘leech off his perfection’, as he puts it. That includes mocking his handwriting. He must have been released earlier.”

Valerie narrowed her eyes, but she didn’t turn around. “If that was the case, then what was he doing back in there?”

“Either he got out illegally and is lying up a storm out here,” said Bruce, “or he was hiding out there so he could use it as an alibi!”

“I’m guessing he had help, from someone,” Marshall said. “The question is who is helping him.”

“Why were you going to the library, Marshall?” Penny asked. “Lana told me you showed up minutes after the crime.”

“That I did, bambina. I was coming to join them, wanted to see what their group thing was about. On my way there, I ran into Lana and Detective Gumshoe running the opposite way. Said they were trying to catch someone, but I didn’t see anyone else go by me, save for that lady Oldbag moments earlier. Soon as they investigate, who dares show up but Gant with his loud Mike. Claimed to only be there to worry about Phoenix, but something he said rubbed me all wrong.”

“But if you saw her, shouldn’t you have seen who she was chasing?”

“Not unless he ran another way from where they were going.”

“What did he say that ‘rubbed you wrong’?” Bruce asked.

“He asked about his leg. Now I reckon this wouldn’t sound suspicious – except that he shouldn’t have known which leg Phoenix was injured on because he was already gone from the scene at the time.”

“What if he visited him at the hospital? He would know then.”

“He wouldn’t have to ask us how he was doing. He would’ve seen for himself. Sides, Lotta told us that she and Cody were the only other ones in the room.”

Valerie’s eyes stayed trained on von Karma as he spoke, while Tyrell and Bruce’s widened at all the testimony they had just received.

“We have to get up there and testify,” Penny said. “They already think we’re suspicious. Hopefully this will shed some light on things.”

“Well, you know one thing.” Valerie finally turned back around. “If you had listened even at all, you now know that von Karma was involved in the attempt on Mr. Wright’s life. As was our former Chief of Police, apparently.”

All four of them joined the rest of the court in going, “WHAT??????!!!!!!”

*****

~ June 18, 10:30 AM, C4 Front Area ~

“My name is Manfred von Karma, and I am a prosecutor.” He tapped his cane against the stand. “See? No extra stuff needed to get to the point.”

From the audience, I saw Lotta roll her eyes. Miles groaned, and I knew it was because witnesses tended to give him a hard time when it came to just introducing themselves.

“Okay,” Mia said, pacing in front of the witness stand. “Why don’t you tell us what you were doing on the day of the crime?”

“Well, I did spend the morning rotting away in jail,” von Karma shrugged, twirling his staff, “but I did manage to get out to check out a good book.”

Grossberg looked at the library list on the stand. “Age of Perfection? Really? That seems ironic for you, does it not?”

“You’re one to talk about questioning people’s tastes, what with that hideous painting of yours that’s hanging in Redd White’s office. Ugh.” Manfred shook his head in his tsking manner. “Anyway, I took the book – it actually came from that offending shelf, they need to get one to make it like the old one – out of the library and went on my way from there. As I was leaving, I was stopped by someone in a cloak. I did not see their face, but I knew what they were looking for. I pointed out the library, where Mr. Wright and company happened to be staying. They thanked me, of course, and walked away, their heels clicking on the pavement. So no, I am not the one who pushed the shelf onto his leg, because if I was the one who pushed it, he wouldn’t be standing here now. I went back to the prison and stayed there to bide my time - and to have an alibi.”

Radio silence for a few moments. Even the witness galley had stopped speaking, even thought they were in their own conversation.

“Okay...” the older Judge said after a few moments. “Your cross-examination, defense.”

“There was so many things suspicious in this testimony, they’re practically glaring,” Mia whispered when she came back to the defense bench. “And we - meaning me, Phoenix, Miles, and our friends - are pretty sure he’s working with either Redd White or Dee Vasquez. Both of them were out and about by the time of the incident. And according to other sources, they were screwing around somewhere.”

“Go get them, Mia,” Grossberg said. Gregory tipped up his fedora and gave her a slight nod.

“Mister von Karma,” Mia waltzed back to the witness stand as she talked, “you claimed to have spent the morning rotting away in jail, correct?”

“Yes,” he said with a glare. “You heard me, did you not? What of it?”

“What time were you released from the prison?” 

“Around 2 pm, if you must know.”

“Objection!” Mia snapped, pointing her finger at him.

“What is this nonsense!?” von Karma snapped. “Explain yourself, Miss Fey!”

“No need,” piped up a voice from the back of the courtroom.

“Mr. Gant!” Mia exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”

He walked up to the area, followed by Meekins who was without his mike system. In his hand he was holding something.

“What’s that in your hand?” asked the younger Judge.

“I’m glad you asked, little Aboot.” He held up the paper. “This is the prison roster for section 3 where Karma here was being kept.”

Mia was taken aback. “What?! How did you get that!?”

“One of the little officers gave it to me – little Magpie – after she found it on the ground. It appears someone dropped it in a haste.”

In the audience, Gumshoe gave an awkward squawk. Great. He must have dropped it after reading it.

According to the list, it said that Manfred was, in fact, released at 2 PM. However, it seemed to be written in a bolder font than the rest of the list.

"It says right there that he was released at 2 PM!" said the younger Judge, "So he must be telling the truth!"

"Objection!" said Gregory. "Your Honor, if you would take a look at the library check out list again."

"Oh?"

"This list clearly states that Mister von Karma was there by at least 11:15 AM, judging by the book he checked out." Grossberg stood up rather forcefully and out of character for him, and slammed his hands on the bench. "That means von Karma is lying!"

"Can you prove this?" snapped von Karma. "How do you know that my name was not forged onto that list? From what I have heard, you seem to believe that Mister Butz's name was also forged into the list."

"Would a forger know what book you intended to check out?" Mia asked. "And if you see the list, the only person who was in anywhere near close to the time you were was Mr. Gant here. And your name and his are written in two completely different writing styles. Therefore, two different people. Larry, on the other hand, didn't check out any book that day, which is why the forger wrote 'Not Applicable' into the book space! Your Honor!"

"Y-Yes, Miss Fey!?" they both said, startled.

"The defense requests a handwriting analysis be done on this list! We can find out who faked Larry's name on the list!"

"Hold it!"

Everyone turned to the voice who had spoken, which was Damon Gant.

"No need for that," he said, once more. "I'm the one who wrote Larry's name on the list. And von Karma is the one who tipped off the attempted murderer to Wrighto's location, which we only found out through a camera planted in the library as of last week."

"As I had said," von Karma said, tapping his fingers against his crossed arms. "I merely tipped the person off. I have not done anything else."

"And what of the prison records?" Mia asked, voice starting to tremble. "Why is the time on von Karma's row bolded more than the others!?"

"Ah, that." Gant managed a small clap. "That's easy, Mi-Mi. I had someone change the time there." He turned towards the witness's galley.  "Mr. Badd? You were correct in assuming that he was released earlier. In fact, he was released at 9 AM."

Everyone in the front, audience, and witness's galley, save for von Karma and Gant, shouted “WHAT??????!!!!!!”

Next thing, the audience went crazy, crazier than when Lana admitted to presenting forged evidence in SL-7, and the Judges both shouted that proceedings would be suspended for further investigation, due to all the new evidence.

*******

~ June 18, 5:00 PM, Defendant Lobby #1 ~

"Lord!" I cried out, hobbling out through the doors over to my friends. "That was quite a crazy trial."

"I can't believe that von Karma and Gant were both involved in this, little as they may have seemed," Lana said with a sigh. "Aren't they supposed to be reformed?"

"Well, we know they are accomplices, for sure," Miles said. "The question is now who they were helping, since neither of them pushed the shelf. If they had, they might have been easier to identify even under a cloak."

"Who do we think it is, man?!" Larry demanded. "You think it's that White guy?!"

"No, no, he hardly does any dirty work, save for murdering me," Mia said, edge in her tone. "I do believe he was the one who set the camera, just like he did at Angel and Marshall's place."

"Do you think he wrote the note left there, too?!" Maya asked, as she, Gumshoe, Ema, Lotta, and Will approached. "Or maybe someone told him to deliver it to her!"

"One thing's for sure," said Ema. "We're not going to get answers just sitting here."

"That's right," I said. "I think we'd better go interrogate the people at the prison. Judging by the slippery tricks that von Karma and Gant pulled, any of them could be involved in this plot."

"You might want to talk to my boss first," Penny said, walking up to the group with Marshall in tow.

"The bambina made a point in our discussion today," he said. "Said that Dee was back in the jail around the time von Karma came back with his book. But her name is on that list, so she was definitely released earlier as well."

"What are you guys waiting for?!" Larry said, as he walked over to the detention center guards, simply cooperating. "Go get those people!"