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Ghost in the Machine

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Franziska von Karma wasn't sure what she was doing here. Frankly, she would rather be off doing something useful - reading up on an upcoming case, researching some areas of the law she wasn't sure if she remembered exactly right or that might have changed following recent cases, tormenting her father in jail. However, she supposed she should be relied upon to assist friends in need, even if she didn't see how exactly she could help. After all, friends were in short supply when you were a prodigy in a field destined to make you enemies.

From what she had been told, it was one of Ms. Fey's 'interesting' cases. Or possibly just a personal favour. Definitely the sort of thing Maya wouldn't just let anyone be involved with, though. If so, Franziska felt like she had a duty to help, just in case it got nasty, like it had back then, which was her own damn fault for creating ghosts that vengeful but that was besides the point, when had she gotten so protective of the Fey woman?

Shaking her head, with an exasperated sigh, she finished packing her bags, one of the many things she didn't feel comfortable unless she got it absolutely perfect.


"Just to make things clear," said Skye, "I'm not saying I really believe this is a supernatural incident. I'm just saying that it's sensible to cover all your bases and, to be frank, I don't know what else it could be at this point."

"If it makes things easier for you to accept, electromagnetic activity and supernatural activity are very interrlated and close to each other. You could think of me as being very sensitive to certain signals and pulses that might well interfere with your machinery," replied Maya Fey, giving Ema a reassuring smile. Von Karma could see anger boiling up behind that professional demeanour. ("It's called actually having to be nice to your customers," she had explained rather sarcastically to the Prosecutor after Franziska had attempted to genuinely and politely offer to have a pushy salesman horsewhipped.)

"And my purpose here is...?" asked Franziska.

"A second pair of third eyes, as it were," said Fey, "And reassurance. If there really is something haunting Ema's computer and it isn't friendly, you're the person I most want by my side."

"And I am allowed to whip it?" she verified, "Not that my whips are currently sanctified in holy water, so they may pass straight through a ghost. Perhaps I should invest in a silver-handled whip."

"You know, the whole Van Helsing look would be really cool on you. We could be the whole supernatural evil hunting team between us. I'm the psychic sensitive, Skye's the technical expert, you're the veteran hunter..."

"Excellent idea. We could start by verifying whether my father is, in fact, a vampire."

"Having trouble with your father again, Fran?" Maya's face softened.

"Do not call me Fran. What exactly is wrong with the computer?"

"I'm getting signals that make zero sense," Skye said, "Even with a machine that has such a good prediction engine, you can't get a model full of details back that's completely unrelated to the data you feed in. I've checked for outside inteference too, viruses or hackers or something in the environment like, as Maya pointed out, an electromagnetic disturbance. I've found nothing like that. I check for all that before I set the machine up, anyway. I know how this thing works intimately, I built it from the ground upwards, software and hardware. This kind of surprise doesn't happen!"

"Oh, maybe it's sentient!" said Maya, "It's just trying to express affection for its mother."

"Have you been spending a lot of time with your little sister, by any chance?" asked von Karma, "That sounds like a Pearl quote."

"She called you 'less scary than usual'. Isn't that adorable?"

"Adorable," the prosecutor growled. Her opinion of anything small and cute was... not shared by most young women her age. She looked after the family dog a lot, a well groomed pedigree, rather huge and very obedient. She was the only person in the family who could be relied upon to train the thing strictly but fairly without killing it or disappearing into an office for a week to prepare for a case and forgetting to feed it.

"Okay, you get the place right for booting up the thing - you do boot up computers, right? - and I'll get my own equipment sorted out, get a ritual circle around the thing, get the atmosphere calm, prepare myself ritually."

"I shall brew tea," offered Franziska, wishing she had Edgeworth, the only underling she trusted to make a cup of tea, around to do what should be beneath her. Tea was too important a matter to be left to any old person, though, "If I hear screams, I shall whip the oddest-looking thing that looks the least like one of you. So, Fey, please make sure it is not actually you possessed by a ghost like last time."

"G... got it," Maya flinched at the unpleasant memory. To be fair on Franziska, the ghost had fled her body pretty quickly once beset by a screaming dominatrix prosecuting lawyer. Maya's nose had never quite looked right again, though.

The three of them were working together a lot more often and a lot more closely these days, synchronising to each other as a team. A haunted computer was one of the more unusual things they'd all been required to work together on but it hadn't even been the first this week. She was becoming more confident, Franziska more friendly and helpful, Ema accepting that maybe at least some of the weirder things that happened weren't just coincidences.

It was a sign of good things to come. Maya didn't need clairvoyance to work that out.