Miles Edgeworth wrinkled his nose in distaste as the final scene of the The Steel Samurai reboot faded into the ending credits.
Phoenix looked over at his husband, about to ask what he thought of the gritty reinterpretation of his favorite classic, but decided to hold his tongue.
“Don’t even ask,” Miles said glumly, staring in despair at the television. Phoenix gave him a reassuring pat on the back.
His cell phone ringing spared him further suffering, and it was with great relief that Miles picked it up from the side table, noted the caller, and answered it.
“Good evening, Miles. Sorry for interrupting your night in, but I’m going to need you to open your front door.”
Miles paused and Phoenix gave him a curious look and mouthed, “Say hi for me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Just open your foolish door, I’m standing right here!”
Still holding onto his phone, Miles stood up and pointed at the door by way of explanation when he saw Phoenix’s confused expression. He flung it open to a very annoyed Franziska von Karma.
“What are you doing here?” Miles asked, hearing his own voice echo through his cell phone before his sister cut the line.
“Nice to see you too, brother,” she sniffed imperiously, and brushed past him, shouldering her satchel and rolling a small suitcase behind her. She gave him a quick hug after he closed the door, and made her way into the living room as if she owned the place.
“Wright, I see that you are well,” Franziska said stiffly, her way of letting them both know that she was here on business and not on a social call. But Phoenix didn’t care, and just pulled his sister-in-law into a big hug, which she tolerated with resigned silence.
“I’m good! But you could’ve let us know you were coming.”
“I called about an hour ago, but I didn’t get an answer.”
“We put our phones on ‘do not disturb‘ when we're watching something,” Miles admitted. He checked his phone again and found that he had six missed calls.
“Foolish fool,” Franziska glowered, and Miles couldn’t even disagree because he desperately wished he could get that one hour of his life back. “So I went straight to your house from the airport, but you didn’t even open when I rang the doorbell.”
“That’s because it’s broken,” Phoenix said. They hadn’t gotten around to fixing it yet, mainly because Miles didn’t like the thought of someone—anyone, or worse, a neighbor—being able to march up to his door and just ring it.
Speechless, Franziska stared at both of them.
“This fool’s foolishness is rubbing off on you,” Franziska snorted finally, shooting a withering look at her brother-in-law.
“Thanks for the warning,” grinned Phoenix remorselessly. “It’s a bit late, though.”
Franziska made a noise of disgust. “Where’s Trucy? Don’t tell me you’ve misplaced my favorite niece.”
“She’s at a sleepover,” replied Miles. “She’ll be home again tomorrow afternoon.”
Franziska nodded once. “That's too bad, but at least there will be no one eavesdropping on Interpol business. Have a seat,” she said, inviting her brother and his husband to sit themselves down on their own couch. She retrieved a stuffed manila folder from her bag, and placed it on the coffee table between them.
“Interpol business has nothing to do with us anymore,” Miles said. “I’m still a researcher at Ivy, and he’s still disbarred.”
“I know.” Franziska folded her arms. “But I think you’ll find something very interesting in that dossier right there.”
Curious, Miles opened it. There were four words splashed across the top of the first page that caught his attention.
International Spy: the Phantom
A frosty smile crept its way up Franziska’s lips. “So are you in?”
Miles looked to Phoenix, who gave him a small nod.
Miles Edgeworth slipped off his sunglasses as soon as he entered the shadowy warehouse. How on earth had he let Franziska talk him into this, he wondered, as he opened the gull-wing doors and stepped out of his red McLaren 720S. Oh right, this baby, of course. He didn’t get to keep it, but it would be his for the duration of his assignment here. He trailed his fingertips along the side the car, admiring the sculpted lines of its carbon fiber body.
He was sporting the most casual clothes he had in his closet, a subtly Steel Samurai-themed T-shirt that had been designed as part of a collaboration with Armani—originally a gift from Maya Fey—and the only pair of jeans he owned. They were upscale and fairly tight fitting, as was appropriately fashionable, but looking about the room, he supposed he needn’t have been concerned about his sartorial choices.
Miles faced the rest of the band of misfits that had gathered around him, the coolly evaluating stares of this gang of mostly professional criminals that he was supposed to be throwing his lot in with. He recognized some of the assembly from a few files he had once seen across his desk, on the list of L.A.’s most wanted. That felt like a lifetime ago. Well, none of that was his concern, now that he wasn’t a prosecutor anymore. They must’ve done something impressive to be recruited by Interpol, and working alongside the only law enforcer in the group, a special agent from the Diplomatic Security Service by the name of Luke Hobbs.
Hobbs stood at the front of the group, looking like someone might if they subsisted entirely off of protein shakes, and punched through brick walls as part of their morning exercise routine before hitting the gym for eighteen hours straight. The DSS fatigues he wore were tight, not because they were small, but because they likely didn’t have anything larger than what he already had on.
“Miles Edgeworth. To be honest, I didn’t think you’d show,” Hobbs said, approaching.
Miles stepped forward to greet him. Damn, he’s huge, he thought. Hobbs towered half a foot over him, and likely weighed double. He did not envy anyone whom Hobbs would consider an enemy, and was glad they were supposed to be on the same side.
Behind him, he heard Phoenix get out of the car.
“Who the fuck is that guy?” said a voice from the back of the pack.
“Von Karma didn’t tell me you were bringing company,” Hobbs frowned.
“We’re a team,” Miles said.
“All we need is a precision driver who knows the lay of the land.”
“And you’ve got him, but he also comes with me.”
Hobbs cocked his head in Phoenix's direction. “So what’s he do, then?”
Phoenix stepped up, shoving his hands nonchalantly into the pockets of his hoodie. “Gambling, information, fast talking, whatever you need.”
“Hey, we already got one of those.” The voice that had spoken earlier muscled his way to the front. “What you gotta say about that?”
Phoenix smirked. “I can get you out of any situation this guy gets you in, because I see you've already got your comic relief.” The quip earned him a few cackles scattered throughout the group.
“Ha-hah! He burned you good, Roman, and he barely even know you.” Miles recognized the man seated between four computer monitors at the side of the room as Tej Parker, a well-known specialist import auto mechanic from Miami. Tej was one of the few people this side of the Atlantic to own a Koenigsegg CCXR.
“Well, he got the advantage, ‘cause he been reading some dossiers or shit on us,” Roman said, eyeing both the newcomers and the McLaren suspiciously. “You might have a nice ride, but that don’t mean you can really drive. What we got on these guys, Ramsey?”
“Hold on, just downloading the data now,” said a young woman with an English accent sitting next to Tej. “Miles Edgeworth. Thirty-two years old, adjunct lecturer at Ivy University. Former public prosecutor of the District of L.A. County. One arrest on suspicion of murder, but all charges cleared in trial. A trial, where that other bloke defended him.”
“They’re lawyers?” said Roman incredulously.
Ramsey continued. “Phoenix Wright. Also thirty-two years old, Former defense attorney, disbarred for obstruction of justice for presenting falsified evidence in court. Currently unemployed.”
Hobbs raised an eyebrow at Miles. “You brought your attorney with you?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Miles replied coolly.
“No other evidence of criminal activity on their records. Not even speeding violations in the past ten years,” Ramsey concluded.
“That you know of,” Phoenix said.
“Yo, is this the best that Interpol can come up with?” Roman asked. “A couple of lawyers? Really?”
“They came with high recommendations from two of their agents,” Hobbs said.
“But do you trust their agents?” Roman pressed.
“Not as far as I can throw them,” replied Hobbs with a steely look at both Miles and Phoenix. Miles had the impression that Hobbs might actually be able to pick him up and throw him quite far.
“Look,” Roman began, “maybe we should call Brian—”
“No!” The word echoed throughout the warehouse. A man with a shaved head and wearing a black sleeveless shirt emerged from the shadows. The silver cross that dangled from his neck caught the afternoon light that shone through the dusty windows as he sauntered his way up to the McLaren. Miles remembered seeing his mugshot and his wanted poster years ago across his desk. Dominic Toretto—auto mechanic, street racer, smuggler, escaped convict. Also now apparently a free agent employed by the DSS. “Whatever we do, we do without Brian.”
Miles knew his type, rough and tumble criminals from the bad parts of town, surviving off their tough guy image. Was Toretto truly any different from the dozens he had put behind bars in his former life? Maybe he was just a little more clever, having survived this long, having made enough of a name for himself to work with the feds.
Miles wasn’t going to let himself be intimidated, not as the gang parted to let Toretto pass. He held his ground and met the man’s stare as Toretto stepped right up to him. He was only a couple of inches taller.
They regarded each other silently.
“You two don’t seem the type to run with the likes of us,” said Toretto slowly, his voice deep and gravelly. “Give me a good reason to let you on the team.”
“We’ve got a score to settle with the spy you’re after,” said Miles.
“What kind of score?”
Miles smiled. “Consider it personal. Is that going to be a problem?”
“We don’t got problems with personal. But we also don’t know if we can trust you.”
“Then race me,” Miles suggested simply.
The corner of Toretto’s mouth quirked up in a smile.
“I’ll show you who I am.”
Toretto snorted like he’d heard a line like that before. He nodded once. “You’re on.”
“What? Now?” asked Ramsey. Another woman now stood beside her, with falls of dark hair framing her face and a tough, stony stare. Letty Ortiz.
“Why not?” Letty said.
With a smirk Miles stepped back, and went to lean against his McLaren, as two Dominicans on Toretto’s crew planned out a course with their boss in rapid-fire Spanish. Hobbs was giving him a disapproving look, probably for suggesting the race, but his doubts about Miles’ driving commitment seemed to trump his concern about any traffic infringements.
“Are you sure about this?” Phoenix asked quietly, joining him.
“You’ve never street raced before.”
“That you know of,” replied Miles with a small smile. He let his husband chew on that for a while, as they waited for the race to begin.
They revved at the start line, the high pitched roar of Miles’ twin turbocharged V8 singing in harmony against the deep rumble of Toretto’s vintage, heavily-modified Dodge Charger. There was no way that the Charger was producing anywhere near to his seven hundred brake horsepower and his almost six hundred torque even with the nitrous that was likely installed, but this was a street race, not a drag race. He’d be lucky to be able to keep his foot down on the accelerator for longer than even a second for most of their set course.
He returned one final gaze of Toretto’s, indicating that he was ready. He saved a glance for Phoenix, who gathered outside with the rest of Toretto’s crew, managing to keep his worry mostly from his face, replacing it with bravado instead. That’s my man, thought Miles.
Phoenix winked at him. Bring it home.
Miles entertained the thought of beating Toretto at his own game. It was possible, in something like this with no rules. He had to believe that he could win, or else there was no point in having agreed to Franziska’s proposal, in being here.
It was with great reluctance that Luke Hobbs stepped in front of the thundering vehicles and started the countdown. Miles had the McLaren in launch control, and as soon as Hobbes’ arms dropped, the 720S leapt forward, its rear wheels squealing for grip against the hot, summer asphalt.
He had the advantage for now, the McLaren boasted zero to sixty in less than three seconds. The tires screamed as he turned the first corner out of the warehouse’s yard, and onto the empty Saturday streets of Vernon, the industrial part of town. In this first part of the race, he had to press every asset that the 720S gave him over Toretto’s Charger. Miles took off past the other warehouses down a long straight, upshifting with a twitch of his fingers on the paddle behind the steering wheel, gathering speed as the McLaren’s computers found the perfect shift point for its dual-clutch transmission. It was less dramatic than the manual clutch that was surely in the Charger, but the greater efficiency suited him just fine. He glanced up as he braked for the second corner, seeing the Charger closer than expected in the rear view mirror. His back wheels skid only a little as he turned again, a hard right onto Downey Road, parallel to the tracks of the Metro Rail.
It was here that he started encountering a few other cars, and Miles had to weave in and out of traffic, not shy of ducking across the double yellow lines to have to pass a particularly slow Kia. Here, on the streets, he couldn’t use the full power of the 720S, and he had to rely instead on his ability to read the flow of traffic, knowing where a hole just big enough for him might open up to dart through, trusting that it would close just as quickly behind, and hopefully cut off the Charger too.
With his heart pounding, he sailed clear through a red light, evading the cross traffic, the vehicles which squealed to a stop or swerved to avoid him. He heard a few crunches of metal on metal, and he ignored them. Behind him, the Charger was gaining. He might have some room to accelerate on the Long Beach Freeway for the short distance they were supposed to be on it, but likely not on a Saturday. He hoped it wouldn’t be at a standstill.
Miles kept an eye on Toretto, not trusting that he wasn’t going cut off early and take some shortcut somewhere. The ability to improvise was surely also a part of this race, and a part of him wondered whether the Charger was hanging behind him purposefully, just to watch, just to observe. There was nothing for it but to keep pressing forward.
As he suspected, the Charger found a burst of speed when they neared the end of Downey and had to corner hard left. Toretto pulled up beside him on the outside, of all places, mere inches from his bodywork. They threw up some tire smoke while rounding a minivan making the same turn on the protected light, and then sped past it onto Slauson.
It was emptier than expected for a central commercial avenue cutting through a residential district, and soon Miles realized why.
“Oh sh—” he swore as he realized that Leo and Santos, who had done the plotting for the route, hadn’t done their research properly, and nobody else had bothered to double check their work, least of all himself. The road was closed for a neighborhood festival of some sort. It was too late to turn back now, as the “Road Closed” signs that blocked his way had already flown over his hood. They crashed onto the windshield of Toretto’s car, and the Charger swerved left and right to shake them off.
Screams sounded as the people around him dived to avoid the McLaren, and he had to swerve around those who were slower. Luckily the festival was winding down, otherwise he shuddered to think that he might have been the cause of some loss of life. The next street he saw, he turned another hard left, driving straight through an empty tent, his car throwing a shower of plastic chairs up into the air. Change of plans, he had to find some other way onto the freeway.
He turned onto a parallel road, and roared down a residential avenue, keeping an eye on either side to make sure that no children were bouncing balls into the street. Miles emerged after a few blocks into Atlantic, and when he checked his mirror, realized that the Charger had disappeared, nowhere to be seen. He turned north, wondering whether he had left Toretto behind or if somehow Toretto had snuck in front of him, but he soon had his answer as he caught the tail lights of the Charger similarly emerging from another street parallel to Slauson, ahead of him. It accelerated as it sped down the road, and Miles had to step on it to keep the Charger in view between the other cars making their way down the boulevard, occasionally darting into turn lanes or empty bits of sidewalk to overtake. The low chassis of the McLaren complained whenever he jumped the curb, but thankfully returning the 720S in pristine condition hadn’t been one of Franziska’s stipulations. It was a pity to ding up the supercar, but Miles supposed that between Hobbs’ resources and the expertise of Toretto’s team, they’d be able to fix or modify anything.
As they approached the Los Angeles River, Miles tore his eyes from the back end of Charger, and stole a quick glance at the freeway. They were supposed to take the northbound, which was completely at a standstill. The southbound side, on the other hand was relatively clear, just the opposite of what he wanted. He quickly recalculated his route in his head, but it was clear that Toretto had no intentions of deviating from their plan.
“He’s insane!” Miles exclaimed as Toretto gained speed, and darted left, sailing past the onramp for the northbound Long Beach freeway, but instead dodged oncoming traffic by heading up the exit ramp onto the southbound side.
What should he do? He would lose precious time if he were to take a detour using the regular streets instead, and Toretto was already ahead him. He had the feeling that he would be off the team if he didn’t follow Toretto, unless the Charger happened to charge itself headlong into another car.
Very well, then. When Miles Edgeworth was in, he went all in.
Grimly, Miles turned his wheel hard left too, following suit with the Charger, who had gained a little more of a lead during his split-second moment of indecision. Cars honked as they skidded to either side of him. The good thing about following Toretto was that most people had the sense to brake when faced with an oncoming vintage Dodge Charger with a chrome supercharger protruding from its hood, so the path for him was therefore easier, with fewer and slower obstacles. Nevertheless, there was a near-miss as Miles had to swerve left and then right again, the vehicular equivalent of that awkward dance when meeting an oncoming person in a narrow passageway, only more lethal.
Try not to turn into traffic, he reminded himself wryly, as he shifted up a gear in hot pursuit of Toretto. They only had to make it through to the next exit over the bridge, before they’d be on Washington and then Downey again, heading back to the warehouse. Miles could make up some time on the final straight, though he knew that Toretto knew this too. If there was any time for him to give himself a nitrous boost, the final stretch would be it.
He dodged another few cars as he gained a hair’s breadth on Toretto over the bridge that spanned the train depot. Then there it was, the exit—or rather, the entrance—onto Washington. Traffic merging onto the freeway honked at Toretto and him as they spun their cars around fearlessly in the screech and smoke of their tires. He chased the Charger back onto the street, as they raced down the many lanes of Washington Boulevard, ducking vans and taxis, pedestrians, and the odd cyclist. He had made up enough time to just be a couple of seconds behind the Charger as they rounded the final left back onto Downey, which now felt relatively empty after their highway encounter.
Winning on the straight was not Miles’ style—he preferred to gain his time on the corners—but against an expert like Toretto, he would take any hundredths of a second he could shave off the Charger’s lead, anywhere. The acceleration of the McLaren pressed Miles back into the seat as he pushed his foot all the way down. In a few seconds he found himself alongside Toretto, as they sprinted forward toward the final corner. He spared a glance for Toretto, who looked him in the eye and smiled. It was then that Miles realized that he was smiling too. Grinning, even, wondrously, breathlessly, as they braked together, the force throwing them forward. Miles had never been about braking late, and he noted that Toretto followed the same philosophy too. Better to speed out of a corner than into it, and risk the precious tenths of a second understeering.
They turned in together, the Charger blocking the inside line so he couldn’t sneak past. There was hardly enough time to gain speed again before they turned and skidded into the courtyard of their warehouse headquarters, braking hard.
Miles still sat in the McLaren, heaving two breaths after the car had come to a halt. Toretto had stayed ahead of him, but he’d managed to keep up. They had almost entered the compound simultaneously. In a shabbier car he would have been five seconds behind, but that was the difference between him and a seasoned professional. All in all, Miles supposed he should be pleased with the result, though he had never found defeat easy to swallow, either in the courtroom or on the track.
The doors of the McLaren rose, and Miles stepped out. He had broken into a sweat, and his heart hammered in his chest, the thrill of the chase still flowering in the pit of his stomach. It had not seemed that long that he had been gone, and he felt like he might be ready for another match, if anyone else on Toretto’s crew wanted to take up the challenge.
Toretto got out of the Charger, and they met between both cars. He cracked a smile, and extended his hand.
“I like how you ride, Miles Edgeworth.”
Miles took his hand, matching the firmness of the man’s grip. “Likewise.”
There were a few impressed looks among the gang. Letty gave him a nod, before making her way back into the warehouse with Toretto. The two Dominicans exchanged a few lines in low tones, and even Roman Pearce had a newfound look of respect on his face.
“I see you dinged him up a bit,” said Phoenix, eyeing the scrapes and dents on the body of the McLaren.
Miles grimaced. It was a pity to mar such a beautiful body. Well, at least he didn’t have to feel too bad, because it wasn’t strictly his.
“What did you do?”
Miles shrugged. “I ran a few red lights, jumped some curbs, and wove through oncoming traffic on the highway.”
“You what?!” Phoenix exclaimed, his jaw dropping. “You’re kidding, right?”
“Shh,” Miles put a finger against his lips. “It was nothing.”
“How can that be nothing? You could’ve gotten yourself killed!”
“It was fun,” Miles grinned. “Great fun.”
Phoenix blinked, and took a few seconds to digest that. “Next time, I’m coming with you.”
“Try not to scream, then,” replied Miles.
Hobbs was waiting for them by the entrance to the warehouse. If there had been doubt in his gaze before, Miles no longer saw it there.
“Welcome to the team, Mr. Edgeworth, Mr. Wright.”
They both nodded back at him, and made their way into their new gang’s headquarters.
This mission was going to be one hell of a ride.