Follow the Fool
Morning was the best time of day for some people—get up, get going, get things done. Few things provided such an energy boost as being productive while the sun was still just beginning its lazy arc across the sky.
For others, morning was a hellish reminder that the world consisted of more than one’s own comfortable bed. The gentle golden fingers of the sun were not particularly welcome as they danced over the rolling countryside of
Swinging her bare legs out of the bed to the side,
The young prosecutor had mentioned a trial today—in an hour and a half, according to the clock on the bedside stand—that she would be prosecuting.
Franziska von Karma knew she was fatigued. It was not something she was unaccustomed to, and she’d grown quite adept at dealing with it during her exhaustive study of the law under her demanding father. She knew exactly how much she could take, how long she could push herself, and when she needed to rest. Though it had been hardly the ideal situation, Franziska knew that a prosecutor with a solid case and little sleep was leagues more effective than a prosecutor with a slightly more solid case and no sleep.
So, at just before six in the morning, she had put all of her papers and items away in exactly the right areas, and allowed herself to fall asleep at her desk for two hours. No more, no less—just enough to keep her sharp and focused for the trial.
Still, she was exhausted and she knew it. She refused to let the harsh florescent lights of the Prosecutor’s Lobby get to her, though, as she reviewed for what seemed to be the millionth time all the evidence she was going to submit. Another perfectly built case, her third one this week.
There were only ten minutes until the trial, and there was still no sign of Adrian Andrews. Franziska frowned to herself, glancing briefly at the clock above the door to the Prosecutor’s Box. Perhaps the American had foolishly gotten herself lost. A hundred awful scenarios instantly flashed through Franziska’s mind, though she forcibly shoved them to the side, willing them away. If
Though… she did have a responsibility to
“This place is so much bigger than the courthouses I’ve seen in
“Twenty-three. However, the majority of the floors are used for Police Department work as well as the Prosecutors’ Office. If one were to merely take the courts out, it would not be much bigger than those in
The German woman’s eyes narrowed in frustration, though not directed at her companion. She’d given the guards strict orders to allow the American woman in the blue shirt into the court… it seemed as though she might need to convey her displeasure at their failure to listen to her, though it could wait until after the trial. “Don’t worry about such petty things.”
Franziska glanced at the clock again, “You’d better get to the spectators’ balcony soon, court is about to begin. I’m… you probably won’t understand much of what’s being said, you realize?”
Franziska froze in shock for a fraction of a second—an eternity longer than what she expected of herself—before regaining her perfectly chosen composure. She still wants to thank me. How foolish of her. Thank me for what?! “…anyway, I thought I would summarize the facts for you, so you might understand some of what was going on.”
“Two nights ago, at the Hamburg Philharmonic Concert Hall, famous conductor Rudolf Hahn was bludgeoned to death by an assailant. The police apprehended Otto Ostvald—a musician in the orchestra—minutes after the call was made by the chief of security at the Hall.”
“He was captured on film at the scene of the murder at the time it took place by a surveillance camera, and the murder weapon is…” Franziska paused, choosing her words carefully, “rather uniquely connected to Ostvald. There’s other evidence as well, but I don’t have the time to waste explaining them outside of court.”
The blue-shirted woman looked puzzled, raising a slender blonde eyebrow in curiosity. “So… what was the weapon?”
With a scowl that suggested that even she couldn’t deny the absolute ridiculousness in what she was saying, Franziska admitted, “A tuba. His tuba, as a matter of fact. Anyway, the evidence is solid. I will prove Otto Ostvald guilty of the murder of Rudolf Hahn.”
There was suddenly a loud laugh from behind her, a beaming, rich chuckle that echoed through the high-arched Prosecutor’s Lobby. “Is that a fact, my little pumpernickel? Well, you’ll have to get through my iron defense, first!” exclaimed a jovial, deep voice that sparkled with barely restrained mirth.
His clothing was certainly noteworthy too. He wore a simple striped gray vest, true, but the shirt beneath was ruffled and frilled all the way up the middle to the top, peaking in a dark scarlet cravat around his neck.
Franziska’s whip was suddenly in her hands, biting out at the ground beneath the strangely flamboyant man’s feet, causing him to jump back about a meter or so—but unlike most who faced her lash, he chuckled warmly as if it were just a game. From the look on her face, though, it was evident that Franziska didn’t agree. “Call me ‘pumpernickel’ again, Gunther Hertz, and I will ensure that you regret ever seeing a piece of bread in your entire life.”
Gunther laughed, flipping his long ponytail back over his shoulder. “Nothing about regretting meeting you, then, Franziska von Karma?”
The prosecutor smirked, not letting her whip fall slack yet. “I would have thought the forty-one consecutive losses in court against me would have done that, Hertz.”
The taller man held his hands up against his chest, miming the act of being struck with a fatal blow in a completely exaggerated manner. “Oh… oh, how you wound me, Miss von Karma. Touché… touché indeed.” Straightening up, the male attorney held a hand out in front of his face, wagging his index finger back and forth. “However! Today shall not make forty-two! My client is innocent, Miss von Karma…” he smirked, and suddenly there was a much more serious glint in his eyes, “and make no mistake, I will prove it.”
Before the blue-haired lawyer could respond, the colorful man had swiftly crossed the distance to the young American woman in just a few long strides, taken her hand in his, and bowed deeply, pressing his lips to the back of her wrist once before straightening up again, throwing his cape and ponytail over his shoulder in the same movement. “Ah, and by your voice I can tell you are an American!” he said in flawless—if rather accented—English. “And what a lovely little lady you are… might you be the rose to that little one’s thorns? It certainly must be so!” He laughed. “I am Gunther Hertz… Ace Attorney, at your service. Madam von Karma says that she will find my client guilty? She is mistaken! For I… will find her guilty!”
There was silence in the room as Gunther paused, his brow furrowed as he mulled over what he’d just said… and then spoke, with just as much gusto as before, pointing his finger dramatically at nothing in particular, “No! Franziska von Karma is not guilty! Somebody is guilty! …and it is not my client. I beg your pardon, oh sweet chocolate turtledove, but English is not my first language.”
“I have had enough of your tomfoolery, Hertz!” snarled Franziska, pulling her whip taut above her head. “The trial is about to start! Put your reputation on the line in the court, and I will defeat you there!”
Gunther Hertz bowed to the both of them, winking and blowing a kiss to
With that, the door closed behind him with a bang, and the room suddenly felt rather empty.
Franziska sighed, curling up her whip at her side. “He is a foolishly laughing fool who foolishly believes that every one of his foolishly foolish actions will endear him to the hearts of fools. He can be rather intense to those who have never met him before.” She looked at Adrian, who was still standing in silent shock, hand pressed to her breastbone. “Are you all right?” Her tone was softer for a moment.
“…I’m fine,” answered the blonde American at last, suddenly bursting out into a peal of soft laughter that she clearly tried to suppress… but failed. “He was…. He was…certainly interesting,” she said in between laughs. “I’m really not… quite sure what to say about him, really. Certainly a rather… forceful personality.”
If Franziska had considered herself an outwardly sentimental person, she might have smiled at the other woman’s laughter, for it was certainly a new emotion of
The judge’s gavel echoed through the courtroom as it smashed down upon the sounding block. The Judge was a tall, dark-skinned man with neatly trimmed black hair, though one couldn’t really get a good sense of his height as much of it was covered behind his podium. Franziska was pleased that he was at least slightly more on the ball than the American one she’d argued cases in front of. Competence really was refreshing.
“This begins the trial of State v. Otto Ostvald,” said the judicator in a dark, rich voice. “Are the counselors ready?”
Franziska nodded, feeling the familiarity of the courtroom wash over her—the sounds, the smells, the sights, the way the hard wood desk in front of her felt beneath her gloved hands... she was almost comfortable here. In some strange way, it almost felt more like home than her home did. She nodded her head in response, “The prosecution is always ready, Your Honor.”
Opposing her, Gunther Hertz beamed a wide, brilliant grin, flipping his ponytail back over his shoulder and spreading his arms wide in a gesture that made it look like he was about to give the judge a gigantic bear hug. “The defense is far more ready than the prosecution could ever know, Your Honor.” He chuckled jovially to himself before smirking across the way at the younger attorney.
Her eyes slitted in response. I have no time for fools such as him. This trial will be over within minutes.
“Very well then. The prosecution may present its case.”
Franziska stood up as tall as she could, speaking her carefully-rehearsed opening statement. The tone of a trial could often be decided as early as the initial statement, as she well knew. “Your Honor, the case against Otto Ostvald is quite a simple one.” Her court record, listing the names and descriptions of all the relevant people and pieces of evidence, lay on the desk in front of her, but she never had to even glance at it.
“At just before on the night of July 21st, famed conductor Rudolf Hahn was murdered in Rehearsal Room #3 of the Hamburg Philharmonic Concert Hall,” Hahn’s face gazed up at her from the photograph in the court record. He was an elderly man, in his late 60s, with wavy, shoulder-length gray hair topped by a bald crown. “The autopsy report prepared by the Coroner’s Office—submitted as Evidence A to this court—states that he died from being hit on the head with a heavy blunt object. Death was nearly instantaneous after that single blow, though bruises on the body do indicate that he was beaten severely, likely before the killing blow. The approximate time of death was .”
The Judge nodded. “I understand. And the murder weapon was?”
Someone looking closely enough could see Franziska’s face flush slightly in embarrassment, for she knew that it was truly a ridiculous fact—but it was a fact, and it was quite relevant to the case. “The murder weapon was a B-flat tuba that was used by a certain member of the orchestra. The state of the body indicates that the conductor was likely lying prone, either unconscious or close to it, when the murderer brought the full weight of the instrument down on his forehead. The murder weapon has been submitted as Evidence B.”
Leaning forward and wagging a black-gloved finger at Gunther across the way, Franziska smirked. “Otto Ostvald was apprehended by the police at the scene of the crime. Other members of the orchestra and staff have attested to the fact that Ostvald’s relationship with Rudolf Hahn was… strained at best. Ostvald and Hahn frequently got into loud arguments with one another over the performance of the orchestra, and witnesses say that some of these confrontations almost turned violent. Hahn’s own records indicate that he was unhappy with Ostvald’s performance as a musician and was going to remove him from the orchestra if he could not play to satisfaction in a final private audition—which was to be held the night of the murder.”
“There was nobody else in the building other than the head of security. Hahn must have told Ostvald that he was being removed from the Philharmonic, and Ostvald attacked him in a fit of rage before murdering him with the instrument.” Franziska spread her arms wide and bent her legs slightly in a curtsey. “Absolutely elementary, Your Honor.”
Staying silent for a moment in thought, the Judge finally spoke with a nod. “I see. That certainly is damning evidence against him. Does the defense have anything to say?”
Gunther was… smiling? The daughter of Manfred von Karma frowned, in puzzlement more than any real worry. Doesn’t that fool know when he’s beaten?
“Your Honor!” said the defense attorney, tossing his cape over his shoulder with a grand flourishing motion. “Otto Ostvald… is an innocent man! ” He slammed a hand down on the desk in front of him to punctuate the statement. “The lovely Prosecutor von Karma has made her case, but she has, thus far, failed to deliver any proof. Proof that she does not have! It does not exist! There is none!” He shook his head, before fixing Franziska with a brilliantly broad grin. “Let her try and prove her case, Your Honor, because nothing in the whole wide world of sandwiches could make Otto Ostvald guilty of this crime!”
The Judge blinked several times before speaking rather hesitantly, “Mr. Hertz… you do realize that you didn’t really say anything just then other than variations of “My client is innocent,” correct? Ms. Von Karma has shown evidence supporting her claims… do you have anything other than just boisterous yelling?”
Crossing his arms in front of his chest, Gunther chuckled to himself, his shoulders bouncing with every laugh. “Though I am very good at boisterous yelling, Your Honor… well, I was merely waiting for the Prosecutor to dig her own grave. But, if you insist…” His cape billowed dramatically as he thrust a finger out at Franziska. “Prosecutor von Karma’s opening statement itself has a contradiction!”
“Foolishly foolish fool blabbering foolishly foolish nonsense and foolishly wasting this court’s time!” snarled Franziska, pulling her whip tight over her head. “My case is perfect, Hertz. Show us what you’re babbling about, or stop wasting time stalling and accept your loss like something resembling a man!”
The blond defense attorney laughed again, though he was rubbing his hand gingerly where her lash had stung while he did so. “I would like to submit the following as Evidence C, Your Honor,” and the image of a sheet of paper appeared on the little screen inlaid on the desk to Franziska’s side. The young prosecutor looked at it with a frown—this was new evidence. Why hadn’t she seen it before? It looked like…
“A schedule?” asked the Judge, running a hand through his graying hair. “What exactly is the significance of this, Mr. Hertz?”
“You can see, Your Honor, Miss Prosecutor,” he winked at Franziska across the courtroom, “This is Rudolf Hahn’s schedule for the night in question. Rehearsal of the whole orchestra ended at … but there is nothing else scheduled until the meeting with Otto Ostvald…” he extended his right hand and bowed theatrically, “at . Miss von Karma, what time did you say the murder took place, again?” Without waiting for her to answer, Gunther slammed a hand down on his desk. “Exactly! There is a twenty minute gap between the time of the murder and the time Ostvald was supposed to meet with the conductor! Ergo… anybody could have murdered him with the tuba in that time frame!”
“Objection! ” The crack of the whip against the wood of the desk echoed through the courtroom. Franziska rested her chin in her left hand, expertly coiling the whip with her other, placing it at her side and giving a dismissive wave. “You’re just grasping at straws, Hertz. There are no other scheduled appointments between the end of rehearsal and Ostvald and Hahn’s meetings, correct? Knowing that Hahn had free time, isn’t it possible that the defendant decided to come early? Your needling over foolish semantics wastes my time and the time of this court! Besides… nobody but Ostvald could have murdered the victim with the weapon in question!”
The Judge looked surprised. “Really, Prosecutor von Karma? Why is that?”
“Yes! Why is that? ” Gunther Hertz spread his arms apart in a dismissive gesture. “Are you about to tell us, Miss von Karma, that this was a magic tuba that could surely only be used by Otto Ostvald? Because if you are, I’m afraid that you will be disappointed to know that,” he slammed a hand down on the desk. “There is no such thing as a magic tuba!”
Does… does he hear himself speak? “What are you talking about, you fool? The tuba used in the murder was the very tuba owned by Otto Ostvald himself. That is why only he could have used it.”
With a rich, deep laugh, the defense attorney shook his head from side to side, his long ponytail flying swiftly through the air with every shake. “This is a trial for murder, my vermillion honeydew. Surely you’re not suggesting that a murderer would be afraid to do something as relatively trivial as steal a tuba, right? Because that would be… foolish. ” As he said that, he tossed another smirk across the room at Franziska, and the young woman recognized something different in his expression. Though his grin was wide and beaming, his eyes were hard and serious.
He knows what I’m going to say… which is what I should expect of him. He’s better than this… what’s he playing at? What’s his game? Franziska’s eyes slitted as she sized up her opponent, watching his body language, his mannerisms—none of which suggested he was anything more than the buffoon he was acting like. What is he trying to get at…?
“Your Honor,” she said at last, “All of the musicians’ concert instruments as well as their concert dress are locked away in their own personal lockers after every performance. Each musician has the key to his own compartment, and no other. As Ostvald’s locker was not forced open in any way, the only person who could have obtained the murder weapon—and killed the victim with it—is Ostvald himself.” Franziska crossed her arms in front of her chest, idly drumming the fingers of her left hand on her right arm as she did so. “Is that proof enough for you, Mr. Hertz?”
It didn’t look like Gunther Hertz was shocked or dismayed by that piece of news, though—on the contrary, Franziska could have sworn his ridiculous smile grew even bigger. Gunther held his hands up in front of his face, lightly tapping his fingers against the heel of his other palm in a mocking golf-style clap. “If it as you say, Miss von Karma—”
The young woman interjected, her expression darkening as she suddenly got the feeling she’d begun to walk right into a trap, “Of course it is, you fool.”
“Well then. What if Otto Ostvald lost or misplaced his key? Wouldn’t it be possible for someone, then, to take his key and use it to steal his instrument from the locker to use in the crime? Can you discount that possibility, little one?” Gunther chuckled, idly stroking his blond goatee with his left hand.
“Impossible,” Franziska shook her head emphatically, the uncertainty in her mind growing ever stronger. He’s saying all the things I want him to say, practically building my case for me! Not even he could be this inept! What is this game he’s playing at!? “When he was arrested at the scene of the crime, Ostvald had his keys on him. They had not been lost or stolen!” She struck her desk with her whip, letting its crack punctuate her sentence. “Otto Ostvald is the only person who could have killed Rudolf Hahn with the instrument!”
“OBJECTION! ” Gunther tossed his cape back with a dramatic flourish before slamming both hands down on the desk in front of him forcefully. “He could have found it again! Or he could have made a copy as a backup! That means nothing!” The blond man’s hand sliced through the air, pointing directly at the younger attorney. “Prosecutor von Karma, you have only shown us that Otto Ostvald could have murdered the victim that night, nothing more!”
Giving a dramatically overexaggerated shrug, the defense attorney spread his arms wide as if taunting her to hit him. “You have failed to prove the most important thing, Prosecutor! Can you show us any proof that Otto was in, or anywhere near Rehearsal Room #3 at the time of the murder?” He turned his head, the long ponytail whipping behind him, and stared directly at the Judge, who blinked in surprise. “I could say that Your Honor was there at the time of the murder, or that you were there, Prosecutor von Karma, and it would be as much evidence as anything you’ve said up until now!”
The Judge began to say something, though Gunther was apparently not finished making his point, cutting the judicator off before he could even get a word out.
“I could even accuse a member of the audience of the same thing! I claim that that young woman was at the Hamburg Philharmonic that night, and she is the real murderer!” Gunther jabbed an accusing finger into the air to the stands behind Franziska—she turned to look, and sure enough, the other lawyer was pointing directly at Adrian Andrews, who was sitting up completely startled, one hand pressed to her breastbone, eyes wide open in confusion. “You there, in the stands!” roared Gunther Hertz, switching to English. “You’re the real killer, aren’t you! Admit—”
Hertz stumbled back as he took the full force of Franziska’s whip directly in the chest. He began to regain his balance, looking up at the younger lawyer in what seemed to be surprise.
Her lash struck out twice more, catching him squarely both times, causing the lawyer to fall heavily against the wooden wall of the courtroom behind him, clearly struggling to stay on his feet.
Franziska held her whip above her head, stretching it as tight as she could, her cheeks flushed in absolute fury. You have no idea what that woman has been through, Hertz. I will not let it happen again, even in jest. If this is your idea of a joke, I can assure you that you will not be laughing for long. “THAT IS ENOUGH! ” shouted the prodigy, an icy rage in her dark eyes. “You will not make a mockery out of this court the way you make a mockery out of yourself, Gunther Hertz!”
“You want proof?! Here is my proof!” A black-and-white photograph appeared on the displays around the courtroom. In it, a short, rotund, friendly-looking man was slumped in a chair next to what one would guess was a tuba case on the ground. He was in a nice-looking tuxedo, though it appeared wrinkled and a bit messy on him. The man was resting a hand on his forehead in apparent despair, though enough of his face was visible to make it clear that he was, in fact, the defendant, Otto Ostvald. There was a small yet readable sign on the wall nearby the figure that read, ‘Rehearsal Room #3,’ and digital numbers in the top left corner of the photograph said plainly: ‘7-21-18, 22:34.’
Franziska lowered the whip from its striking position, but kept it in her hands, tugging it taut once more, her cheeks still flushed in anger. “July 21st, seven minutes after the murder, in the very room it occurred in. Ostvald is wearing his concert dress tuxedo in this picture—and blood was found on the soles of his dress shoes, which has been identified as the victim’s blood.”
Her gaze cold and piercing, Franziska looked directly at the Judge. “He had motive, he was the only one who could have accessed his weapon, this photograph places him at the scene of the crime minutes after the murder, and there is forensic evidence linking him to the body. This case could not be more clear, Your Honor. I demand a verdict.”
The Judge blinked, processing all the information, running a hand through his short black hair absentmindedly. “It does seem awfully clear-cut, I admit. Very well, I think I can render a verdict in this trial.”
“Er…” the Judge paused, taking a closer look at the image for a few long seconds. “No, I can’t say I see anything unusual at all, Mr. Hertz. What exactly are you getting at?”
Gunther jabbed a finger down at the image on the display in front of him. “He’s wearing his tuxedo, Your Honor. Now, the Philharmonic does not dress up to rehearse, only to perform! There were no performances that night, and there had not been any for over a week! So then, I ask the court—why would Otto Ostvald be dressed up? People dress up to go to the theater, or to attend a ball, or to catch a cabaret, Your Honor,” he slammed a hand down on his desk again, “people do not dress up to go commit murder!”
The attorney stroked his beard absentmindedly as he continued to speak. “The room in this picture is clearly Rehearsal Room #3, of course—where the murder took place. However, if this is the scene of the crime, seven minutes after it took place… where is the body?! ”
Taken aback by the attorney’s questions, the Judge nodded slowly, “I… I believe you make some excellent points, Mr. Hertz. That is strange indeed. Prosecutor von Karma, have you any answers?”
As her anger at Hertz’s satiric accusation of
“The prosecution would like to call Officer Hans Ernst to the stand.”
In a scant few minutes, the powerfully built, ruddy-faced young policeman had been brought to the witness stand and sworn in. Franziska wasted no time getting to the point with her witness. “Officer Ernst, you were the one who apprehended the criminal at the scene of the crime that night, correct?”
Hans Ernst nodded, looking a bit uncomfortable on the stand—he was already beginning to sweat slightly. “Y-yes, ma’am. My partner and I were on patrol in the area, and so we were the nearest to the Concert Hall when the dispatch for a reported murder came in.”
“Understood. Describe to the court the scene as you found it, patrolman.” The blue-haired young woman gave a slight yet noticeable tug on her lash to emphasize her words, “Leave nothing out.”
The young officer shifted nervously, stammering a few times before actually getting coherent words out. “My partner and I arrived on the scene as quickly as we could. I remember the time exactly—. The defendant was in Rehearsal Room #3 when we arrived there, and he seemed to be pacing anxiously. He seemed to be dazed or out of it somehow, because he didn’t seem to care that the room was a complete mess… there were music stands and chairs all over the place. At first glance, we just thought that the musicians were slobs, until we saw the body slumped over in the corner of the room. We didn’t notice the victim right away because it was hidden from view by a large filing cabinet.”
Franziska nodded slowly, in thought. Hardly the perfect testimony… then again, her case was rapidly shaping up to be anything but perfect. She cursed herself silently—how could she have been so sloppy? If her father had been around, he would have certainly beaten her senseless for such a flawed case, a case which he would have never been caught dead presenting!
I am not my father.
“You see, Your Honor? The body was hidden from view behind a file cabinet. That is why there is no body visible in this photograph—absolutely simple.” The words sounded hollow even in her own ears, and she saw Gunther Hertz throw her a slight nod and a smirk from across the way. Almost a salute… he knows that I know what he knows.
Gunther chuckled softly. “The Prosecutor is indeed correct, and that testimony clears up that discrepancy in the photograph. However… it certainly brings up a whole slew more!” He held his finger up in front of his face, wagging it back and forth. “I would like to begin my cross-examination of the witness now, Your Honor.” The Judge nodded an assent, and the tall attorney-at-law turned to face the police officer, throwing his cape over his shoulder with an impressive flourish. “Officer Ernst… when you found the defendant at the scene of the crime, did he try to run from you or resist arrest?”
Hans scratched his hair in thought before shaking his head in a negative, “No, sir. He actually seemed… glad to see us, and started saying something about a stolen tuba, how it was missing—until we handcuffed him, of course. In fact, he was acting like he didn’t even know there’d been a murder—he seemed to be shocked when we pointed out the body to him. That did seem strange at the time…”
The blond attorney grinned. “I see, I see. And, if you remember, what was the defendant wearing at the time?”
“Objection! ” Franziska shook her head, looking up at the Judge. “Your Honor, this photograph clearly shows the defendant in concert dress. This question is redundant and irrelevant.”
“Non non non, mon petite chere,” Gunther crossed his arms in front of his chest, chuckling to himself. “I think you’ll find that this question is, in fact, very relevant.”
The Judge nodded. “I’ll allow it. Objection overruled. You may answer Mr. Hertz’s question, Officer.” Franziska gritted her teeth, feeling a bead of sweat start to form up by her temple… she knew exactly where Gunther was going to take this, and yet she couldn’t help but go along—unless she wanted to delude herself into thinking that the truth was what she said it was, like she would have done half a year before.
“Uh… well… he was wearing a rumpled-looking olive green shirt and tan slacks that I remember had some sort of weird stain on them. Pretty ugly outfit, if you ask me…”
“You would remember if the defendant was dressed in a fancy tuxedo, correct?” Without waiting for Hans to answer, Gunther gestured once more to the image of Otto Ostvald in the murder room. “This image was taken at , according to the time stamp. Yet Officer Ernst has just testified that, just one minute later, Otto Ostvald was wearing completely different clothing! While it is true that the defendant’s dress clothes and instrument—the murder weapon—were found in his locker, one minute is surely not enough time to change clothes so completely!” The flashy lawyer pounded both hands onto the desk. “This is a blatant contradiction, Your Honor!”
Officer Ernst yelped, trying to jump back as far as he could as Franziska’s whip snapped right in front of his ruddy face. “This court does not have time to waste dealing with the foolish words of forgetful fools, Officer! You are obviously incorrect about the time—so I advise you to amend your statement, and do it quickly before you waste any more of our time!”
The patrolman was sweating now, trembling in fear. “B-but… I’m positive…! I have an atomic-clock watch, and I remember clearly! W-we got there at exactly …! I’m sure of it!”
“And yet, your memories seem to go against this photographic evidence we see right in front of us! You are under oath, Officer!”
“Objection! ” Gunther Hertz flipped his ponytail over his shoulder and then flashed a pearly-white grin at the entire courtroom. “Why would an officer in our distinguished Police Department have any reason to lie under oath, Miss Prosecutor? His testimony contradicts this photo in more ways than just that, as well! Why would Otto Ostvald be searching for a tuba if one was right on the floor next to him? The officer just testified that the room was a complete mess due to a fight—but in this picture, it appears perfectly normal!” He jabbed a dramatic finger out, pointing directly at poor Hans Ernst, who flinched reflexively. “What the officer has described and what is shown in this picture are two completely different scenes! If Officer Ernst is correct…” the tall lawyer tossed his cape behind him before pounding both hands onto the desk—sending a resounding echo through the courtroom, and all but shouted, “Then the photo must be incorrect!”
Franziska flinched, biting her lower lip, reflexively clutching at her right shoulder, feeling the wound left by the bullet months ago start to ache all over again. “B…but… that’s preposterous! O-objection! How can a photo be incorrect?! That doesn’t make any sense!”
Her opponent spread his arms wide in a theatrical gesture, giving an overly-dramatic shrug. “I don’t know!” He grinned, winking at her, “So why don’t you tell me! Your Honor, the defense has finished cross-examining this witness… and demands to hear more testimony!”
“M-my word! This has certainly gotten interesting!” a wide-eyed Judge exclaimed, running a hand through his hair. “Yes, I think this certainly calls for more testimony… Prosecutor von Karma, do you have any other witnesses?”
Though she could feel the tiny droplets of sweat starting to trickle down her face, Franziska refused to acknowledge them outwardly, trying as best as she could to maintain the composure that was practically synonymous with the name “von Karma.” Her efforts weren’t entirely successful. “Y-yes, Your Honor,” she said at last, keeping her voice relatively steady through sheer will alone. “We have one other witness… the man who reported the crime to the police.”
Gritting her teeth, Franziska fixed Gunther Hertz with a glare that contrasted sharply with his jovial, cocky grin. “You haven’t proven your client innocent yet, Hertz. You’ve merely shown that this case is stranger than we thought at first. That’s it, nothing more. This next witness will seal this case once and for all!”
It might have just been her imagination, but Franziska could have sworn that Gunther mouthed, just soft enough for her alone to hear, “Oh, indeed it will…” but that was ludicrous, wasn’t it?
“The… the prosecution calls Ludwig Wagner to the stand!”
By the time the next witness—a pale, thin, almost skeletal-looking man who appeared to be approaching seventy years of age, with a thick head of unkempt white hair—got to the stand and was sworn in, Franziska had regained some measure of acceptable self-composure. “Witness, state your name and occupation for the court.”
The witness smiled, a kindly-old-man smile. “Why of course, young lady… my name is Ludwig Wagner, and I’ve been the head of security at the Hamburg Philharmonic Concert Hall for, oh, about thirty-five years now!” He chuckled. “We just installed a brand-new high-tech system about a year ago that makes my job pretty easy, though! Used to carry around a whole big ring of keys, but now I just got the one master key—unlocks everything in the building! It’s all done by computers and fancy electronics! Ah, don’t let my age fool you—I’m reaaaalll good with computers, missy! I wrote a bunch of the programs myself!”
Franziska frowned. “How fascinating. There is no place for small talk in court, witness. You would do well to remember that.” Her eyes narrowed, and she gave her leather lash a tug. “Do not call me ‘Missy,’ you will not be warned again.”
“Uh… oh! Okay then!” said the older man, scratching his head and smiling bashfully. “Will do!”
Looking briefly up at the Judge, Franziska turned her attention back to the new witness. “There was a point of confusion earlier in the trial where the accuracy of this photo—taken by your own security camera—was called into question. As the chief of security, would you say that the camera could have been mistaken?”
His laugh sounded more like a wheeze or a cough than anything else, but he was clearly amused by the question. “Now what sorta question is that, miss—Miss Prosecutor? The camera is the camera! It can’t lie, it just takes pictures!”
With a nod, the legal prodigy motioned for the old man to continue talking. “Very well then. You were the one who called the police that night, correct? Testify as to what you saw.”
Wagner nodded, scratching his head again and nodding. “Ah, yepyep, that was me. I was the one who called in the report. Terrible thing, of course. Oh, what a shame, he was a brilliant conduc—”
The echoing crack of a whip striking a hard wood desk cut through the courtroom, accompanied by a piercing glare from the young prodigy. “Witness! Get to the point! ”
The old man glowered at the young lawyer, shaking his head. “I’m gettin’ there, young lady! Hold yer horses! No respect for their elders, these kids…” he mumbled before straightening up as best as he could. “It must have been just around , I was doin’ my nightly rounds like I always do, y’know? And I was walkin’ past Rehearsal Room #3 when I hear the sounds of a mighty loud fight! So… I goes in to see what’s the matter, and I find poor Rudolf, lying there, dead! Such a tragedy, I tell ya!”
Nodding, the Judge motioned to the defense attorney. “Mr. Hertz, you may cross-examine the witness.”
Gunther grinned, cracking his knuckles as if he were about to engage in a brawl rather than a procedure of court. “Mr. Ludwig Wagner, yes?” He laughed, a deep, rich sound. “Such a fitting name for a man who works at a house of music. I don’t suppose you’ve ever tried your hand at composing?”
Before Franziska could object to the question as irrelevant, the old man snapped out, shaking an angry fist, “Of course I have! I’m a brilliant composer! I’ve been composing for as long as I’ve been at the Concert Hall!” He mumbled something under his breath that was probably just gibberish. “…but that’s none of your business, sonny!” Wagner crossed his arms in a huff, and Franziska thought she saw that eternal grin on Gunther Hertz’s face grow just a tiny bit wider.
“Of course, of course,” the defense attorney waved a hand through the air, “Let us think nothing of it! Anyway… I would like you to elaborate more on what happened when you entered the scene of the crime. Did you see the witness there?”
The old man thought for a moment before shaking his head. “A-nope. He musta fled the scene through the back entrance just before I got there, right after killin’ poor ol’ Rudy. So no, I didn’t see ‘im.”
Cocking a well-trimmed blond eyebrow, Gunther gently stroked his goatee as he spoke. “That’s very good to know, Mr. Wagner. How, then, did you know that Otto Ostvald had committed the crime?”
“Ain’t that obvious, sonny?! There were only three people there in the buildin’ that night—me, the conductor, and Otto! I watched ‘em all leave and ya can’t get back in once yer out unless I let you! Plus, everyone knew that the conductor and Otto hated each others’ guts! If that weren’t enough, there’s the picture that the security camera took showin’ the wretch right at the scene of the crime!”
Holding his hand up in front of his face as if inspecting his nails, Gunther started to speak very casually, but Franziska knew that tone of voice—the tone of someone lulling a witness into a false sense of security. “Really, now. I’m glad you brought this photo up…” he smirked. “You just testified that the defendant left the scene of the crime before you got there… but this picture clearly shows him in the room at ! Why would he return to the room and act in such a casual manner—just a single minute before the police arrived?!”
The old security guard looked shocked—literally, like he’d just been struck by a bolt of lightning. “W-what? O-oh, that picture! Oh, that’s just because… that’s because that there timestamp is wrong, y’see? Heh, the stupid clock’s runnin’ six minutes fast, so that picture was really taken at —right after the murder!” Ludwig Wagner scratched his head, smiling sheepishly. “One o’ these days, I’m gonna have to get into the system and change the time of the clock so that it’s right—not that I ever want somethin’ like this to ever happen again, of course!”
Gunther’s ever-present grin grew wider, and Franziska felt a cold chill run through her veins. She knew exactly where he was going with this, and worse yet, she agreed. Though it stung her pride fiercely to even think of conceding, Franziska knew that it was only a matter of time before the hunter caught his prey.
“I’d like you to look at this photograph again, Mr. Wagner. You just testified that you heard the sounds of a loud struggle, and Officer Ernst said that the Rehearsal Room was a complete mess! So, if this picture was taken so soon after the murder… why does the room look so tidy and normal? Could you explain that for us, maybe?”
“O-oh, right! Well… uh… oh, yeah, that’s right! I did see Otto after all!” he scratched his head a bit harder now, and Franziska could see him starting to sweat. “The thing was, Otto and Rudy’s fight didn’t mess up the room much, and Otto started to clean it up to make it look normal again, so maybe nobody would think that there’d been a murder or nothin’!”
A blond eyebrow arched. “Except for the dead body, of course.”
The old man nodded emphatically. “Oh, youbetcha! That was exactly it! And that was when the camera took the picture, so that’s why it looks so normal! Of course, right after the picture was taken, I surprised ol’ Otto with my presence, so he got spooked and ran out of the room—and he knocked all those stands and chairs over while he ran, which is why it looked so messy when the nice officer got there later! I tried to chase him, but, well, curse these old bones!” Ludwig Wagner laughed, though there was a definite nervous tinge to his laugh this time around.
Idly playing with the bottom of his golden ponytail, Gunther asked—almost casually—“So, you never actually went into the Rehearsal Room?”
Wagner shook his head. “Nope! Not until after the police got there, that is!”
“Officer Ernst testified that the dispatch was specifically for a murder, though… how did you know it was a murder if you didn’t see the body?”
The old man jumped visibly. “Eek! Er… ah… oh, that’s a good question… huh… well, uh, sonny… I saw it! When I looked in and saw that scoundrel Otto, I saw poor ol’ Rudy lying there on the ground, stone cold! That’s how I knew it was a murder, I saw the body lying out there in plain sight!”
Gunther gave one last grin, a predator’s grin, and Franziska clutched the old wound in her shoulder as it began to ache. It was almost over.
“That makes sense, Mr. Wagner. So… the dear Prosecutor earlier mentioned that one of the pieces of evidence against Otto Ostvald was his dress shoe… the sole of which was covered in considerable amounts of the victim’s blood. Are you telling me that you couldn’t follow the trail of bloody footprints that would almost certainly have been left behind? A trail of bloody footprints, I may add, that were never reported by any of the police on the case?! ”
His hands slammed down on his desk once more, this time almost lazily, as if they knew they didn’t have to be in any particular hurry. “You cannot answer this question, Mr. Wagner… because you made the whole thing up.” He flashed one final pearly-white grin, flipping his ponytail back over his shoulder. “We heard you just say two very important things here in court. The first! You admitted to having a master key that unlocks every single lock in the building—including the personal lockers of the musicians! And secondly, you said that you could go into the computer system and change the time of a photo.”
The attorney’s finger stabbed through the air in an accusatory motion, pointed right at the trembling security guard. “You used a picture of Otto Ostvald from some other night and changed the date so it would be the time of the murder, didn’t you?! You also took his shoes and covered them with Rudolf Hahn’s blood in order to build a more solid case against him… to throw suspicion off the real murderer!”
“Mr. Ludwig Wagner! You just said that there were only three people in the building that night! One of them was the victim, one of them was framed, and one of them was the real murderer! Since Hans Ernst testified that the body was hidden out of the way, the only way you could have known the crime was a murder was if you’d entered the room to see… or if you’d committed the crime yourself!” His hands pounded down on the desk in front of him. “Ludwig Wagner, you are the real killer, and you tried to pin it on Otto Ostvald… but you didn’t count on the brilliance of Gunther Hertz, Ace Attorney!”
SLAM! SLAM! SLAM!
“Order! I will have order in this courtroom!” bellowed the judge, slamming his gavel as hard as he could. The court fell silent… except for Ludwig Wagner, who was gasping for air and panting loudly.
Wagner shook an angry fist at Gunther, slamming it down angrily on the witness stand, spraying spittle everywhere as he spoke. “Thirty-five years! Thirty-five years, I gave that damn Rudolf all of my compositions, that I poured my soul and life into, each and every one! And not only did he never play any of them… he never acknowledged them…! NEVER! He never gave me tips on how to improve, never even said a word to me about them. For thirty-five years, he ignored everything I poured my sweat, blood, and tears into… he had it coming! This was vindication! YES, VINDICATION! Vindication thirty-five years… long overdue!” He was practically foaming at the mouth, now…
…and with a little noise in the back of his throat, Ludwig Wagner sunk to the ground, unconscious.
later, an exhausted Franziska von Karma walked out of
the room where the post-trial meeting had been held. The police had arrested
Ludwig Wagner for the murder of Rudolf Hahn, and for eight exhaustive hours,
the two lawyers, the police department, and several members of the press had
gone over every bit of what had truly happened at the Philharmonic that night
in excruciating detail. And so, the young genius that prided herself on never
showing weakness willed her fatigued legs to just get her a bit further,
to her car.
She stopped in what might have been surprise at the sight of a slender blonde woman in a blue halter top sitting on one of the courtroom benches idly playing with what looked to be one of the Judge’s business cards. Adrian Andrews looked at Franziska and smiled, a slightly bemused expression on her face. “I was beginning to think you’d never come out of there,” she said in what struck Franziska as a slightly teasing tone.
“Have… have you been sitting out here the entire time?” the blue-haired prosecutor was… well, it was almost flattering, in an incredibly foolish way, of course. Naturally,
The prosecutor blinked, and was suddenly aware of exactly how exhausted she was—her carefully crafted mental barriers were down… how else could something as foolish as someone who worked under her respecting her affect her so? Of course he respected her, she was a von Karma! Though you wouldn’t know it from today’s trial…
“Oh. I… I apologize for keeping you waiting. You said that you didn’t want to stay in the hotel again, correct?”
With that, the two of them made their way to Franziska’s car and left the courtroom behind them, driving through the winding streets and boulevards of
It was Adrian who broke the silence first, “So… you aren’t upset that you lost the trial?”
“…of course not.” Of course I am. And I shouldn’t be—because justice was done, and somehow the fact that it gets to me like this is even more upsetting. But… to lose to that buffoon of all people. Gunther Hertz is good, but he’s no
I’m no Miles. I’m barely my father’s daughter.
“I mean… the guilty party was caught. Gunther’s client was innocent, and he was found innocent in that trial. That’s how the law is supposed to work, isn’t it? What sort of person would I be if I worried more about my own record instead of seeing the truly guilty get caught?” You would be a von Karma.
If that case was truly perfect, it would have been the old man in the defendant’s chair. You lost to the truth, yes, but it was sloppy investigating in the first place.
Franziska bit her lip, trying to keep herself away as she turned onto the familiar street where she lived (though she might as well have lived at her office, she spent so much time there). She parked the car in front of the stairs that led up to her apartment, unlocking the door and holding it open so that
So, when she sat down on the couch that was one of the few pieces of furniture she bothered owning—anything more would be extraneous and wasteful—with far less dignity and grace than she’d planned on, she almost didn’t care. All of a sudden, Franziska started to speak, and her voice was hot and full of more emotion than a von Karma should ever use but she was completely drained and she was still so young and there was a point at which she just didn’t care anymore. “My father… he would have gotten that guilty verdict. He would have found a way to… change the facts, or make all of that fool Gunther’s points sound crazy. My father? He was a genius. I… I gave up. I gave up…”
The other woman, who hadn’t said a thing recently—merely listening closely to what the younger of the two was saying—moved to sit by Franziska on that couch, an inquisitive expression on her face and in her voice. “So, he would have found Otto Ostvald guilty. And then what would have happened…?” It was more rhetorical than not, but Franziska was past the point where she cared anymore.
“It’s on a case by case basis, but… it was murder. He would have probably been given the death penalty. He would have been innocent, but my father would have gotten him the death penalty… and maintained that perfect record of his.” Manfred’s daughter looked down at the floor, fighting back bitter tears through sheer force of willpower alone. “My father was a genius, but what he did… it wasn’t right. Still… I’m not worthy to be called his daughter. I gave up.”
A gentle weight resting on her shoulder caused Franziska to pause for a moment and look over at Adrian, who was resting a slender hand on the younger girl’s shoulder in a comforting gesture.
Franziska took a deep breath, closing her eyes tightly, and answered, “I… have to trust the defense attorney. I have to make the best case I can and trust that I am prosecuting the right person; that my finding him or her guilty will be the right thing. I have to trust that the defense attorney will do his job if I… if I am wrong. If the defendant is innocent, I must believe that the defense attorney will prove his innocence. That’s the only way… that’s the only way to be a prosecutor.”
She bit her lip again, and could taste the faint, salty-iron taste of blood on her tongue. “I… there is nobody I have that I can trust like that. Miles… he has Wright to trust to do the right job, but who can I trust here? They’re all fools. I… I need to know that my case is perfect so that I don’t… send someone to their deaths. I can’t trust any of them.”
Is she talking about… trusting me? Franziska jerked away from
“Yes. I know, Ms. Andrews, that I told you that you didn’t have to admit anything about what you did to Juan Corrida’s body. And I know that you trusted me and that you believed in me and that you clung to that desperately, and for that Miles Edgeworth told everybody what you never wanted them to hear. And because of that, you were sentenced to four months in jail. I’m all too aware of the consequences you suffered from trusting me, Ms. Andrews,” Franziska willed herself to her feet, her voice trembling in something that might have been fury, but she wasn’t sure.
The blonde American, meanwhile, looked stunned, mouthing words that weren’t coming out… until she finally found a voice. “I… Franziska… I had no idea you felt that way. You’ve been thinking like that for… four months?”
She smiled sadly, unfolding the well-worn piece of paper that bore only a telephone number and a simple message to call if there was trouble. “I trusted you, Franziska. And… I trust you even now. Thank you for that, at the very least.”
It was now the German prodigy’s turn to be struck for words, searching for a phrase or a sentence or even a clause that would express how she felt…
“Fools,” she practically spit out the word in contempt. “All of us. Humans are weak… emotional, fragile fools. I refuse to have this foolish conversation right now.”
With that, she stalked off to the adjoining bedroom and slammed the door behind her, leaving