It was supposed to be a perfectly normal morning. A gallon of coffee that tasted like donuts put in a blender, with extra cream, (getting Prosecutor Sahdmadhi addicted to Starbucks was her best idea yet), and enough carbs to wake her up before she set to work to processing the many back cases that the fall of Ga'ran's regime had left.
(See, carbs helped produce the happy brain drug, serotonin. Serotonin helped her be much more patient with working among a bunch of guards who still thought her technology just might be some kind of a witchcraft.)
But as she entered her office, Ema could only gasp at the scene of the crime. The poor victim, the empty bag, the crumbs across her desk--she had to turn her head from the brutal scene.
That poor bag had so much more to live for. Like her breakfast. Or lunch. Or maybe even dinner.
She tried to think back. Could she have eaten it on her own and forgotten?? Yes. Completely. Absolutely.
But had she done it?
That she couldn't answer. Ema sat down with another bag of Snackoos and tried to think. Not even her bookcases full of science texts and extra bags of Snackoos could comfort her. How many more of her bags had disappeared, and she'd just brushed it off as forgetfulness?
Wait...Prosecutor Sahdmadhi had expanded the security systems. That means there might be footage. Ema finished off her bag and headed out. She had a case to solve.
Ema burst into the small security room, and held up her badge. She'd always wanted to do that, and finally she had her chance. "Forensics Scientist, Ema Skye! I have a crime to solve!"
The grey-clothed watchman almost fell out of his chair. Thankfully, this one wasn't armed with anything but crumbs. He was kind enough to let her sit and go through last night's footage.
He gave her a salute. "Seckh'kuritee Guarh'd, at your service!"
"Thanks, just move for a second. It'll be easier if I do the check; I know exactly what I'm looking for.
Without waiting for his response, Ema slipped into the already warm swivel chair. The room was barely bigger than a closet, and may have even been a repurposed closet. She wondered how the guy could stand it. She could barely move around, and he was a lot taller than her. Then she saw a bunch of bags. Not Snackoos, but chips. She almost felt like saluting her fellow comrade in snacks, but she mentally filed that away for later. She had quite a bit of footage to still go through.
As Ema poured over the screens, she came to a startling discovery. She hadn't eaten the Snackoos. In fact, as she checked over the past tapes, she found each one she'd left in her office for a breakfast pick-me-up had been completely eaten.
"Is this the only tapes of that night?"
"T-there was a storm last night, detective. The power went out for many hours," the guard stammered out. She had a pretty good idea why this one was always stuck on security feed duty. Then again, snacking all day and playing with tech sounded like a pretty sweet deal.
"Thanks, I'll have to take these for when I gather up the case."
His brow furrowed. "A court case? Has a body been discovered? Did I miss that when I was off reliev---" He broke off and flushed. "O-off on break."
"Nope, something was stolen," Ema said.
"A theft?" the guard said with alarm. "Oh no, has the Founder's Orb been taken again?"
"My Snackoos were stolen," Ema said.
The guard didn't immediately respond.
Ema puffed out her cheeks. "Stealing my food repeatedly has to be worthy of some level of hell in this country."
"No, you misunderstand. I was praying for your unthinkable loss," he said.
Ema smiled. This guard was all right.
Thankfully, she just caught Prosecutor Sahdmadhi before he was lost in yet another three hour meeting. She didn't know how he didn't die of boredom.
Prosecutor offices were even more fancy over here, with ornate designs carved into the walls, shelves full of books and scrolls, and new touches, like a laptop she'd helped him pick out.
As she entered, Prosecutor Sahdmadhi turned from the large window. The morning light glimmered over his white and gold suit, and his silvery hair, that was so thick and shiny that she'd be jealous if she wasn't impressed that he didn't manage to be late every day just from braiding alone.
Unlike Prosecutor Gavin, she wasn't annoyed. When the sun reflected off of him, her thoughts usually settled around how are you even for real?
His lips slightly curved into a smile. "Detective Skye, good morning."
"Yeah, morning." Ema held up the tapes. "Prosecutor Sahdmadhi, we've got a crime on our hands."
The smile disappeared. "What....A murder?"
"Someone's been stealing my Snackoos, I'm sure of it! At first I thought I just ate them myself..."
Prosecutor Sahdmadhi relaxed visibly. "A reasonable assumption."
Ema puffed out her cheeks. "Anyways, I checked the footage and I had left them in my office overnight, and was fast asleep when they disappeared."
"You wish me to investigate it?"
"No, you're way too busy. Actually, I just want to borrow the court room for a while. And temporarily have the power of a prosecutor so I can snff out that no good Snack thief!"
"You want to borrow our sacred halls of Justice in order to find your delicious Snackoos?"
He nodded. "Consider it done."
Ema smiled. "Thanks, Prosecutor Sahdmadhi. I'll collect the rest of my evidence and meet you at the courtroom."
"...Yes. The putrid thief must be revealed at last," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said as she turned away.
"Did you say anything?"
He cleared his throat. "Good luck with your case."
As she left, he turned back out the window for one last glance at the snow covered mountains.
Incense and lanterns were hung high in the sacred courts of Khura'in. The Magister sat above them, ready to judge the guilty and release the innocent. Finally, there'd be justice for her empty bags of Snackoos.
The magister presided over them, his beard parted with large beads, and a more stern expression than the L.A. Judge she was so used to. His robes were a lot more ornate and colorful, too. Also the verdicts he handed down tended to be way harsher.
Still, Ema sometimes wondered what it'd be like if they met up and had tea together. Would they talk about cases, their grandchildren, or both?
"We are gathered here in the case of Ema versus the entire World--" The Magister broke off and blinked. "Truly, the entire world?"
Ema crossed her arms. "I won't stop until I find the culprit. Even if it's unorthodox, this time, I'm the Prosecutor, and my word is law. The court is my kingdom now."
The Magister frowned. "Ms. Skye, this is extremely inappropriate behavior."
"I'll allow it," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi cut in. "She asked for permission to be a prosecutor for a day and find out the fate of her plundered Snackoos."
He smiled at her. "Shall I be your assistant, Prosecutor Skye?"
"Actually, I might need you to be a witness, since you're always working late, and that's when my Snackoos have been disappearing."
"As you wish," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said.
He stepped away from the prosecutor's bench, and took a seat in the audience.
In the audience, Apollo, Prosecutor Sahdmadhi and Prosecutor Gavin sat. They were just a few bright colors away from looking like Power Rangers, she mused. Get Phoenix and Athena and Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth, and the rainbow crime fighters children show aesthetic would be complete. She'd summoned them all away from potential cases and meetings. When Apollo had told him how swamped they were, Prosecutor Gavin had dropped everything to help with the workload. On one hand, Ema wasn't too happy to have to work near her former nemesis. On the other hand, it meant Prosecutor Sahdmadhi actually got to sleep on occasion, which counted for something.
"Shouldn't there be some kind of defense attorney here?" Apollo said.
"Do you wish to go against her, Herr Forehead?" Prosecutor Gavin said.
"It is not a murder, merely a civil trial. There probably will be no executions involved," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said.
Apollo was not soothed by that. "Probably?!"
Prosecutor Sahdmadhi smiled. "This is Detective Skye, after all."
Apollo rubbed at his hair sheepishly. "Maybe I'll sit this one out. I have a lot of cases to go through."
Objection! Ema pointed out, and smirked as she did her best Phoenix Wight impression. Just with more pointy fingers and less pointy hair.
"Don't think I'm letting you off that easily. You might've been the one to take it," Ema said.
"Me?" Apollo said incredulously.
"Yes, you. Or that flashy eggplant right next to you."
"Nein! Not a vegetable!"
That's not scientific!
Ema had planned her special objection for ages, and settled on just the perfect one.
"I'll have you know that the eggplant isn't a vegetable. It's a member of the nightshade family, and a fruit!" Ema said.
"Last time he was a "glimmerous fop" and now he's an eggplant? You are spending way too much time around Nahyuta. Don't tell me you're going to start calling us peppers and stink bugs."
"Listen up, pepper boy. The trial is starting."
Ema cleared her throat, like she was going to do an Apollo level objection.
"The prosecution asserts that Prosecutor Klavier Gavin took the Snackoos right from my office, and ate them all himself. And with that, I call Prosecutor Klavier Gavin to the stand!"
Apollo outright gasped, and nearly fell off his chair in shock.
"M-Maybe I should've taken the defense attorney job after all."
"No worries, Herr Forehead. I don't fear the fräulein. We've had plenty of battles before," Prosecutor Gavin said.
"And she always won," Apollo said.
"Do you crave death? I've got the power right now, remember?" Ema said.
Prosecutor Gavin chuckled. "You always did like to mimic. Now you're playing the dangerous game of pretending to be a prosecutor."
"It's like he's trying to beat Nahyuta in a game of who has the biggest death wish," Apollo said incredulously.
Objection! "I'll have you know I've helped assist Phoenix Wright, Chief Prosecutor Edgeworth and Prosecutor Sahdmadhi. The only thing missing from this 'Prosecutor's' get up is more ruffles!"
Coming to Khura'in hadn't changed up Prosecutor Gavin's dressing habits. He still was as flashy as a walking disco ball, and twice as groovy. His purple suit was open enough to see way too much of his chest, and his bleached blond hair hung down his shoulder.
Prosecutor Gavin chuckled, and pushed his shampoo-commercial blond hair back.
"Ah, fräulein. How things have changed, yet they remain the same. What is it this time?"
"I already said, you stole my Snackoos!" Ema burst out. So much for calmly stating the facts, like a prosecutor who was furrowed of brow and quick of wit.
Prosecutor Gavin glanced back at the almost empty audience, and shook his head, as if to say get a load of this bullcrap. "Nein."
"Wait, what? I'm sure of it," Ema said.
"Do you have any evidence?"
"I submit this picture into evidence," Ema said.
She pulled out her phone and got a phone she'd gotten Trucy to mail to her. It was years old, of Prosecutor Gavin sneaking into her Snackoo bag right before her eyes.
"As the court can see, he has a history of stealing my food," Ema said.
"You kept it all these years? Ja, I'm flattered, but I'm taken."
Before Ema could even make her grand objection, Prosecutor Sahdmadhi rose from his seat in the audience.
"The witness will refrain from flirting with the Prosecutor," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said coldly.
"Ah, Herr Monk. That's the opposite of flirting. If you want to see flirting, just bring up the defens--"
This time, it was Apollo who rose up, with a deep blush."T-that isn't relevant! Get back to the case!"
"And I've got an objection of my own! First? Ugh, never. Not even if the fate of the world's survival depended on it. I would just let the whole world die. Or figure out how to clone myself from the rubble of what was left of civilization. Secondly, I received this from Trucy! I'd rather forget your heinous Snackoo crimes, thank you very much!"
"You must have learned all your skills from Herr Wright, for your bluff is as big as the mountains around us. Just because I got hungry and took a snack once--"
"It was definitely more than once. I can prove it with this picture." She held up her phone for another secret shot of Prosecutor Gavin feeding her Snackoos to a flustered-looking Apollo.
"Once or twice, then. Just as my songs are repeated on the radio station countless times, so are my lunch breaks."
"Well, that doesn't matter. My snacks started going missing as soon as you came. That statistically can't be a coincidence."
Prosecutor Gavin started to snap his fingers. "Can't it?" Prosecutor Gavin chuckled. "I have an alibi."
"What, only now you tell me? What is it?"
Technically he hadn't shown up on the screen, but technically, neither had anyone else. A storm had short circuited the electronics, so there was quite a few hours missing. And it was in those hours that her snacks had gone missing.
Prosecutor Gavin closed his eyes, and smiled enigmatically. "Ask Herr Forehead."
Apollo blushed beet red at that. Nothing but a little Ehhhhhhhhhh at the back of his throat came out.
"He's right. We were--" Apollo cleared his throat. "Talking about a case."
"And what a passionate discussion it was." Prosecutor Gavin snapped his fingers again, in time to a beat she couldn't hear. "On a stormy night so dark, only the heart's light could be seen... I trust you don't wish to go into details...those will be available on my next album."
"Way too much information," Ema said. She pushed down her red glasses and searched over the notes she'd kept. She'd pinned her entire case on it being Prosecutor Gavin, and now she had little idea where to start. Ahlbi showed up on the screen passing her office. It was as good as time as any to start investigating witnesses and acting like she knew what she was doing.
Phew, this Prosecutor stuff was harder than it looked. How could she figure out a way to be more like a prosecutor? More ruffles? A deeper search for the truth of her stolen snacks?
Either way, that'd have to be for another time. And her store of evidence was far from depleted.
"Okay, you can leave now. I call Ahlbi Ur'gaid to the stand!"
"Guards. Find him, and do be gentle," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said.
A few minutes later, and the court was back in session. Ahlbi glanced back and forth, as if he might bolt from the stand. After all, he had been tried before, and almost hadn't made it out alive.
"All right, what about you, Ahlbi? You were around the scene of the crime. Did you see anyone?"
He clutched tight to his large bag, where his dog yapped insistently and began to squirm. "T-The scene of the crime? I'm innocent! You have to believe me! I never hurt anyone!"
"It's okay, Ahlbi. The video footage shows you left long before my snacks were stolen," Ema said.
Ahlbi let out a relieved sigh. "Wait, stolen snacks?"
"Yeah, somebody has been going into my office and stealing my food. So we're getting to the bottom of it right now. Anyways, please tell me your testimony," Ema said.
"I went back to Temp'ul Temple before nine. I remember because the nightly prayers were just getting started. I'm sure several of the monks saw me as I came in."
Prosecutor Sahdmadhi made an okay sign with his hands. "True. I remember seeing him there. I can also testify that mother and Princess Rayfa both turned in early, before I left for prayers. There was a meeting with businessmen to channel the dead, and Rayfa was to sit in to learn."
She hadn't even thought about them as potential suspects. If Princess Rayfa randomly ate her food, she would be expected to see it as some kind of blessing. Besides, Princess Rayfa was in a stage where she thought sweets were childish and pretended like she didn't enjoy the specific yak milk pudding which had previously been her favorite meal, because it was considered food for babies.
"Did you see anyone else there, Ahlbi? This is important," Ema said.
Alhbi scratched at his head. "Hmmmm... Only the guards, oh, and I passed Prosecutor Sahdmadhi! He was getting ready to go to Tem'pul Temple as well."
"But you didn't go back or see anyone?" Ema pressed on.
Ahlbi shook his head. "Sorry! I didn't want to have the doors closed on me. That'd earn a lecture from the monks, and I can't stay up too late. Prayers start early."
Ema had already had her fair share of being woken up. There was no sleeping late in Khura'in. Unless you had some really hardcore ear plugs, at least.
"Thanks for your testimony, Alhbi. You may leave."
"Good luck finding your snacks, Prosecutor Skye," Ahlbi said.
Ema checked the notes app in her phone, where she'd stored all the information on this case. Right next to the one suggesting about the idea of a show about "lawyers and prosecutors, but they're birds and the judge is a cat" and a note to get tampons, just in case.
Prosecutor Gavin and Apollo were otherwise occupied for pretty much the whole night, guessing from Prosecutor Gavin's smirk which put them out entirely. She'd been so sure Prosecutor Gavin was the one who did it. The culprit always returned to the scene of the crime.
What would Phoenix Wright do in this situation?
Try and cross examine a parrot, probably. But she didn't have any parrots. A Warbaa'd, sure, but that was in the market and it wouldn't help her. That left only Prosecutor Sahdmadhi and three guards up at that time. Unless, as Phoenix Wright would've suggested, there was a third party. Or fourth party, in this case.
"Okay, buddy. Let's see that footage again!"
Ema looked over the tape. In between the points where the system went offline, say three hours or so, none of the guards even moved, not even for snack breaks. Sheesh, they were dedicated. When Ema had been on guard duty, she'd spent the time grumpily munching and flicking at any defense attorney or prosecutor that came her way.
She finally saw a blip, which pushed her out of her memories. Gold and white--wait, that was Prosecutor Sahdmadhi! And he was entering her office. But it was hours before the snacks disappeared.
He must've left her some kind of paperwork to do, or a request for evidence to be processed. But she'd missed it in the hubbub of her missing Snackoos.
Ema checked back over the other footage. He stayed in his office for several hours researching something after that.
Come to think of it, he had a key for everything in the castle. But wait, he had to have a plausible excuse, right? Prosecutor Sahdmadhi generally preferred savory food, though his utter hatred seemed to only come out to some of the more bitter and stinky cheeses. He always let her have his portion of dessert. Even more, he was rich enough to buy his own. Hell, he could probably buy a whole Snackoo factory if he wanted.
"This is getting nowhere. A ghost couldn't just swoop and steal my Snackoos."
"You live within the country of a Khura'in, Detective Skye," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi reminded her.
Ema let out a frustrated sigh. "So you're saying Queen Amara just happened to channel a very hungry ghost multiple times, for the sheer point of stealing my Snackoos? You even put vending machines around the castle. It's not like they were missing out on sweets."
"The late Sherlock Holmes was said to be very fond of snacks."
Ema had covered her office with fingerprint dust like it was fairy dust. However, to catch the only time the court would be free, she had to set her fingerprint machine to work at the start of the trial. It finally chugged to 100% Her tech didn't agree with mountainous countries and this kind of cold.
"Hey, I've got a match on the fingerprints," Ema said suddenly.
Prosecutor Sahdmadhi smiled. "Do you, now?"
Her smile disappeared as she read out the results. Wait, that wasn't right...
Right on the screen, it listed the fingerprints on the bags: Prosecutor Sahdmadhi.
"The results?" Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said.
The courtroom gasped. And by the courtroom, that meant one janitor who was taking forever to clean and was obviously listening in, the Magister, and Ahlbi. Apollo and Prosecutor Gavin didn't respond. Or, more likely, Prosecutor Gavin had his hand on Apollo's knee, and they totally missed what had just happened.
"But they might have been tainted," Ema quickly added. "You've handed me bags many times when I wasn't feeling well, or you worried I was working too hard."
Often he went completely out of his way to invite her to lunch, and make sure she had her stash. Even putting off eating until they could both eat together.
"Y-you might have handed me that one. I'll have to try and find another untainted one," Ema said. She checked the results for each empty bag on her device. Each one had only her and his fingerprints.
Ema cleared her throat. "Magister, could I have a little time to process this again? I think the evidence might have been tainted, and I'd like to take another sample to make sure," Ema said.
The Magister smacked his gavel down. "Recess granted. The court will adjourn for a fifteen minute recess.
Ema hurried out, her bag of forensic materials in tow.
And fifteen minutes later, she found the same result over and over and over. She'd wrapped her device in a sweater to make it work faster and scoured her office for any signs of another culprit.
Every inch had been dusted. There were a few other fingerprints, but they weren't out of the ordinary. Just the janitor's, a few from guards (but only around the front door and handle) and... Prosecutor Sahdmadhi.
Prosecutor Sahdmadhi was the only one who got anywhere near her desk, the only one who had been on camera as entering her room that night,aAnd in fact, he had several fingerprints right near the bag. And on it.
Technically, they could've worn gloves... But who, then? He was the only one who had both access to her office, whose prints had reliably shown up, and who had been in the vicinity during the time period.
As the seconds ticked down, she was faced with evidence she didn't want to accept.
Ema took bite after bite to steady herself. How could he be so calm if he was guilty? Weren't monks supposed to be against snack theft? If he was guilty, why had he been so eager to let her start this whole mock trial in the first place?
"Detective Skye, did you find what you were looking for?" Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said.
She looked sadly down to her bag, now empty.
"I checked every nook and cranny of my office. Your fingerprints were the only ones other than my own anywhere near the bag," she said.
Prosecutor Sahdmadhi nodded serenely. "And?"
"And you were the only one who had the keys to access a locked door, and the only person in the area other than the guards...and I really don't think they moved at all. None of their fingerprints are on any of my bags or anywhere deeper in my office other than the door and door frame. You were the only person on camera who entered my office that night."
"What excellent deduction, Detective Skye. You always are so thorough," he said.
Ema puffed out her cheeks. How could he be so calm about this? "But one thing I don't get is why? You could buy your own! Hell, I would've shared if you asked. You always let me have all the desert when we eat. I didn't think you even liked sweets."
"The happiness you have at eating sweets surpasses the taste of any dessert."
"Then why would you even eat mine? That made me the opposite of happy when I figured it out!"
"My motive?" Prosecutor Sahdmadhi closed his eyes. "I wanted a taste. They've touched your lips so many times. And all I could think was, how lucky those Snackoos were. Each taste was nostalgic. For a moment I could almost know what it was like to kiss you."
Ema gasped. A deep blush settled over her face. "P-Prosecutor Sahdmadhi!"
Prosecutor Gavin snapped his fingers. "Young love, ja? Herr Forehead here figured it out fifteen minutes ago. He would've figured it out much faster, but he was distracted by my performance."
"Klavier, you weren't supposed to tell her," Apollo said.
The Magister chuckled. "Not since Dhurke and Queen Amara has this court was so full of such wonderful foolishenss."
Ema flushed bright, and flicked a Snackoo straight at his face. He caught it in mid air and calmly took a bite.
Damn his sexy reflexes.
"Ah, delicious. The crunch, the faint sweetness, with a hint of Dutch chocolate. And even more sweet as it was given by you," he said.
"Ugh, you're a dork. Why make a big secret out of it instead of just asking me out like a normal person? We've been basically dating since about the first case we took on together. Or at least that's how it always felt."
She blushed even harder at that admission, and glanced quickly away from him. Honestly, it'd felt like dating from the first time they'd met. That high-octane heartbeat and flying around like some--honeymoon. Okay, it was a very sexless honeymoon, but they'd been mistaken for a married couple three times on the way there and she pretty much got mistaken for his girlfriend every day in Khura'in.
"Nahyuta's just like that. Stubborn as hell and never open with his feelings," Apollo said.
"Tell me about it," Ema said. "I can never tell what he's thinking half the time."
"Cases, the future of souls and this country...and often you," he said.
Damn, he was smooth.
"If I can, Magister? Let me rock out the verdict."
He strummed on his air guitar. "Prosecutor Monk is Guilty of love! Tune in for my new single on this tragic ballad!"
Ema crossed her arms across her chest. "Look, I'll forgive you. But you've gotta pay me back. Dinner and replacing the stuff you took. This time, we can share."
"Would you accept breakfast, lunch and dinner?" Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said.
"Okay, but you've got a lot to catch up on. At least a thousand days or more. That might be enough of a sentence. Though it could extend to a lifetime sentence, you know," Ema said.
"Nothing would make me happier," Prosecutor Sahdmadhi said.