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Logic and Trickster - Act 7

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    April 13th, 10:43 am
    Tokyo District Court, Defendant Lobby No. 2

    ---Music: Swear to My Bones---

    This is a sublime feeling. For the last few days, I've been stressed to the point of nearly wanting to give up. The thought of going to prison again, especially at a time like this when my team needs me the most, almost broke my spirit. But here I am, walking side by side with Niijima-san, Mr. Wright, and Miss Maya, and with Morgana on my shoulder. All five of us triumphantly leave the courtroom and go back to the lobby.
    "Akira!" I hear Futaba shout, wasting no time in tackling me with a hug within the same few seconds of her entering the room. "I'm so happy to see you, we've all been worried sick!"
    "I'm surprised the others aren't rushing into this room to dog-pile on me," I joke.
    "Everyone said they had something they wanted to talk over with each other first," Futaba begins to explain, "Not really sure what it is, but I was too excited, so I came to see you first!"
    I take a deep breath, and I'm able to smile too. I have so much on my mind that it's difficult to pick where to start. I turn to my companions to address them next. "Niijima-san, and all of you... thank you."
    Niijima-san smiles with a positive glow. "Akira-kun. I told you, any time you ever need help, I'll be there for you."
    "And Mr. Wright, Miss Fey," I carry on, "You've already saved Mishima, and now you've saved me. I owe you both a great deal."
    "Treat us to some burgers and we'll call it even!" Maya suggests with a light chuckle.
    "Maya, you can get burgers in any country," Mr. Wright notes, "Shouldn't we at least try out some Japanese cuisine?"
    Sojiro enters the room right behind her, taking off his hat. "If specialty food is what you're craving," he suggests, "Why don't we all head back to Leblanc?"
    "Is that the coffee shop you mentioned, Akira?" Mr. Wright asks me.
    "It is. We also serve curry," I specify.
    "Oooo," Maya speaks in a surprised awe, "I've heard of curry before, but I barely know what it is. I'd love to try it!"
    "I'm curious as well," Mr. Wright agrees.
    Sojiro chuckles, and he's wearing a smile with an intensity that I haven't seen him with in a long time. "Well, you two are welcome to as much food and as many drinks as you like. It's all on the house," he offers, extending his hand to shake theirs, which they reciprocate. "I'm Sojiro Sakura. When Akira's in town, he's under my care. And by the way," he continues, turning to me, "Some of your old clothes were still laying around the attic, so I cleaned them up and brought some. I figured you'd want to get changed out of that prison jumpsuit."
    "Much appreciated," I smile. It will indeed feel very nice to dress normally again.
    "You don't know how relieved I am that you were all able to get him off the hook," Sojiro sighs.
    "It's no trouble at all, Sojiro-san," Mr. Wright replies politely, but then he leans over to me and whispers a question. "Do they both know about your, erm 'affiliations?'"
    "Haha," Sojiro chuckles, "That's not a problem. The secret is safe with me." 
    "Oh, and I should introduce myself, too!" Futaba announces. "My name is Futaba Sakura. You would know me better by the name 'Alibaba,' though."
    "Whoa!" Maya responds, "You look different than I expected. I had a mental picture of a lady in a black suit with sunglasses like a secret agent or something."
    "What? No way, I'm WAY cooler than a secret agent!" Futaba returns with a cocky smile. "But, it's nice to finally meet the two of you in person."
    The door slams open, and who else do I see but the rest of my team! "Akira!" they all shout together.
    And here comes the dogpile I was expecting. Ryuji grabs me and starts rubbing his fist against my hair. "Duuude! You GOTTA stop getting arrested!" he laughs heartily.
    "You say that as if I had a choice," I snark back.
    "You did have a choice," Makoto talks back, sniffling a bit. "We all had a choice. And I think we all regretted it. This is the last time we let you go lone wolf like that," she speaks fervantly.
    "You may be our leader," Haru adds, "But we aren't going to let you put yourself in danger like this ever again. We're the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, and we need to stick together!"
    I find myself almost sniffling as well. "You guys..."
    "So we did some talking as a group," Ann explains, "And we've decide that we're all going to a fancy restaurant to have lunch. It will be our treat to all of you!"
    "I offered to cover the expenses in full," Yusuke tries to explain, but closes his eyes and sighs, "I have a surplus of funds at the moment from what Hebi Hibiki had paid me for my, er, now-destroyed, painting. I thought it would be fitting to use those funds to celebrate. But I was informed, quite bluntly, that some of you find it physically painful to watch how frivilously I throw my money away..."
    "Let's not sweat over who's paying for what," Sojiro lays down, "We'll figure that out by the time we're done eating. But, if not Leblanc, then where were you all thinking?"
    "A new restaurant opened up downtown," Makoto answers, "It's only a short ways from here."
    "And check it: it's a huge buffet!" Ryuji adds, his mouth practically watering, "Rumor has it they have so much food that no one is even sure where it all comes from!"
    "Sign me UP!" Maya cheers, throwing her fists in the air.
    "Sounds like we've got our day plans set then," Mr. Wright smiles, "I'm looking forward to getting a chance to meet each of you, properly."
    "Likewise," Makoto returns.
    "So let's get a move on!" Ann commands with giddy enthusiasm.

    ---(Music End)---

    The group starts to leave the lobby one by one, though a few people take their time. Mr. Wright seems pensive. "Hey, did anyone see detective Ritsu by the way?" he asks those of us still in the room.
    "I think I overheard him speaking with Yashin," Sae replies, "They were discussing mobilizing to try and track down Mask☆DeMasque."
    "Hmm... I really wanted to ask him about the international investigations team that's supposedly at the crime scene right now."
    "Why's that?" Maya asks.
    "Hmm... call it a hunch..." Mr. Wright contemplates, "But I'm getting a feeling that someone we know may be involved over there."
    She tilts her head. "What, who do we know that would be in Japan right now?" she asks, before taking a step back. "Actually strike that. Between us, Mask☆DeMasque, the Judge... who ISN'T in Japan right now..."
    "Eh. I'm probably overthinking things," he concludes, and the two of them join us in leaving the lobby.

    ---(Music End)---

    April 13th, 10:51 am
    Tokyo District Court, Outside

    Before we get very far from the courthouse, we're stopped by detective Ritsu calling for us. "Mr. Wright! Do you have a minute?"
    "Sure, detective. What's going on?" he answers back.
    "So I was just on the phone with the investigations team. We were discussing the outcome of the trial, and your name got mentioned. Quite a few members of the team took special interest once they heard the name Phoenix Wright, and they're actually driving over here as we speak. Mind staying a few minutes for them to arrive?"
    Phoenix smirks a bit. "Sure thing. While we're waiting, mind if I ask who exactly is in charge of this team?"
    "All I know is that it's an Interpol specialist team that's been hand picked by some guy named Agent Lang. When he talked with my bosses at the precinct, he sounded miffed that he couldn't be out here himself, but told us he pulled some favors to get a few individuals he really trusts on the team."
    It isn't long before a car pulls up to the curb, and one of the passengers gets out.

    ---Music: Great Revival ~ Miles Edgeworth---

    He's wearing a suit much like Mr. Wright's, however his is on the burgundy side of the color spectrum. He's also wearing... a cravat? I've only ever seen a cravat on Arsene, I didn't think anyone in real life would ever wear something like that.
    "Mr. Edgeworth!" Maya cries excitedly.
    Mr. Wright smiles contently. "I had a feeling we might run into one another."
    "Why am I not surprised to see you despite being on the other side of the planet?" Edgeworth chuckles with a smile. His accent sounds a bit British, if I'm not mistaken.
    "Must be the ties that bind at work yet again," Mr. Wright laughs, "I'm glad to see you!"
    "Likewise," the other man agrees, "I came by the courthouse to make sure that everything I had just investigated has been resolved properly. To my understanding, you were actually representing the accused and participating in the trial?"
    "Yep," Mr. Wright nods, "How did you figure out the murder weapon was the shield so quickly?"
    "Over the last month I think I've done more investigating than I have eating or sleeping, to be frank," the man explains, "I've gotten rather accustomed to it."
    "Oh, I should introduce you all," Wright segues, "This is Miles Edgeworth, he's a prosecutor from America. He and I go waaay back."
    "At your service," Edgeworth bows with one arm crossed.
    "And this is Akira Kurusu, my client," Wright establishes, and I could tell he was careful not to mention more than necessary about me. "And the rest of the folks here are his friends and family."
    "Pleased to meet you," I bow in return, not quite sure where this conversation will lead.
    "The pleasure is all mine," Edgeworth smiles back, though his expression still looks serious as he has a pretty noticable glare. "I'd love to hear how you two became acquainted, but if I may; I'm more than curious how you ended up in Tokyo, Wright," his friend speaks, inviting a greater explanation.
    "I was on vacation with Maya, so I just happened to be in the neighborhood," he answers, "And how about yourself? If I understand correctly, you're here for business. Are you working with Interpol now?"
    Edgeworth chuckles and taps his forehead with his finger. "Only as per a request. I've grown acquainted with a particular officer who was recently promoted, and his new post limits his ability to do groundwork as he's accustomed to. He asked me personally to come and assist in his place to get this case solved. And, as fate would have it, it seems as though we've tied a bow on everything."
    "Don't forget about me, I helped too!" another voice calls, this one belonging to a woman.

    ---Music: Kay Faraday ~ The Great Truth Burglar---

    It's a girl who looks to be be about my age, or perhaps a tad younger. She has a tall, long, and black ponytail which is held in place by... a large key, it looks like. Her pink outfit is accompanied by a deep-blue scarf which has some sort of badge or emblem of gold wings on it. I'm surprised that I didn't even notice her presence until now... stealth isn't a skill the average person has.
    "I'm Kay Faraday!" she introduces herself with a lot of pep in her step, "I'm Mr. Edgeworth's assistant!"
    Edgeworth smiles. "But of course. I wasn't sure whether or not to introduce you as I had expected you to take it upon yourself to make a grand entrance like this."
    "Dang... I'm that predictable, huh?" Kay laughs.
    "Nice to meet you, Miss Faraday," Mr. Wright greets.
    "Pleased to meet you as well," I bow accordingly.
    "Is detective Gumshoe with you, too?" Maya asks.
    Mr. Wright points towards the curb, "I think that's him struggling to parallel park that car at the moment."
    There's a gruff man behind the wheel, mostly focusing on aligning his vehicle. However, he does turn his head to wave to us. He's dressed very similarly to Ritsu, though his longcoat is more of a green color. He has a bandage on his jawline, and a pencil behind his ear. He certainly looks the part of a detective.
    "Well, Wright, since my agenda is now clear; what say you to joining us for an early lunch? I'm sure even in as large a city as this one, we can find a quaint establishment to relax."
    "We were actually about to go to lunch before you arrived," Mr. Wright informs them, before turning to me. "Hey, would it be ok if the three of them tag along?"
    This is... unexpected. But, if this is truly just a celebratory meal, then we won't actually be talking specifics of any Metaverse matters or about our investigation. "That should be fine," I nod.
    "Terribly sorry to intrude on your plans," Mr. Edgeworth apologizes, "But we very much appreciate the invitation. Do you have an address to the location we'll be dining? There seems to be more here than can fit in one car."
    "I'll text it to you," Wright offers, "Or, you can just follow us, if you'd like. Might be easier that way."

    ---Music: Dick Gumshoe ~ It's Detective Gumshoe---

    The detective from the car finally gets out and runs up to us, with a look of pride on his face. "Mr. Edgeworth, I finally finished the perfect parking--"
    "Ah, just in time, detective," Edgeworth comments, "Please start the car. We'll be going to eat lunch momentarily."
    The detective looks incredibly dejected and sighs. "Y-you got it, Mr. Edgeworth..." he accepts, though he shortly after sees Mr. Wright and Miss Fey and a smile overtakes him. "Hey, pals! I heard you guys were here in Japan, but I'm surprised to see you anyway! Are we going to all go to lunch together, Mr. Edgeworth?"
    "That we are," he confirms.
    "Aw, that's swell! Alright, well, let's get a move on! Lead the way, pals!"
    This is shaping up to be quite the party, I can already tell.

    ---(Music End)---

    "Oh, and Mr. Wright?" Ritsu calls again, beckoning the lawyer over to whisper to him, "About the subjects we were discussing the other day. I'd still like to hear a little bit more about what's actually going on, when you get the chance."
    Mr. Wright takes a moment before saying anything. "We're just celebrating right now. If we start to talk about more important matters, it'll either be later today or tomorrow. But I need to talk things over with the others, first. I'll give you a call once everything is settled, ok?"
    "Roger that!" Ritsu salutes. He parts ways with us as we separate between Sojiro and Sae's cars and get a move on towards the restaurant.
    What was that was all about...?

    April 13th, 11:40 am
    Snack-ula's All You Can Eat Wall-Meat

    ---Music: Alright (Persona 5)---

    I have to say, considering the outside of this building was themed to look like a castle, I did not expect a classy, five-star interior. This restaurant is actually pretty sweet! This buffet even gives the Wilton a run for its money (not that we'd ever be caught dead in snob central again).
    By this point, we've all taken time to browse the selection, fill our plates, and make some real progress into our respective meals.
    I've been doing some thinking about how to roll with this situation. Obviously we can't go into full details with our introductions, because we have no idea who the three new people are. Until we can get back to Leblanc with just us, Mr. Wright, and Miss Fey, we'll have to try and avoid the conversation moving towards our group and any potential Phantom Thievery.
    I'll take the initiative to discuss something else then. "You know. Now that all of the craziness of the trial has died down, I'm curious to know more about yourselves."
    "Oh, um, like what?" Mr. Wright asks me in return.
    "Miss Fey, you and Mr. Wright seem to make a very great team. How did you two meet?" Ann asks, moving the conversation.
    ---Music: The Turnabout Sisters' Ballad---

    "Well... Nick studied law under my sister, Mia Fey," Maya begins to explain. Right... she's the one that visited us in the interrogation room. I didn't put two and two together to realize they were sisters. "She's, well... she's not with us any longer. But she taught Nick everything she knew, and ever since Nick and I met we've been watching out for one another."
    "What made you decide to go into law, Mr. Wright?" Yusuke asks next.
    Mr. Wright tries to not open his mouth as he chews, but can't help laughing a bit. "You'll probably make fun of me, but it all goes back to elementary school. I was sick one day, and because I was the only one unaccounted for, I got blamed when Mr. Edgeworth's lunch money was stolen by someone. They staged this awful 'classroom trial' and everything, and everyone was yelling that I was guilty..."
    "You two have known each other for that long?" Haru clarifies. "Hehe. Now I can see why it must have been such a shock to run into one another."
    "What's more than that," Maya adds, "Mr. Edgeworth's the one who stood up for Nick! He told the entire class that nobody had any evidence to prove anything, and everyone backed off and left Nick alone."
    Detective Gumshoe is the type of person who seems reluctant to badmouth anyone, but even he has a comment to make. "This story just makes me ask what in the world the teacher of that classroom was thinking. What a weirdo..."
    "I've never heard this story before!" Kay exclaims, "Though that definitely sounds like you, Mr. Edgeworth. I bet back then you were trying to be more like your dad, huh?"
     Mr. Edgeworth's gives a warm smile. "That would be correct. There's no one in the world I respected as much as my father. He was a defense attorney, too."
    "Wow," Futaba comments, "So, Mr. Edgeworth, you're the whole reason that Mr. Wright became an attorney?"
    "Did you not say you were a prosecutor?" Makoto asks, "How did you you end up doing the opposite job of your father?"

    ---Music: Recollection ~ The DL-6 Incident---

    Mr. Edgeworth closes his eyes, making me worry that some kind of a sore spot had been hit. "My father, Gregory, was a man with very strong convictions. He always believed in his clients until the bitter end, and his skill and tenacity eventually lead him to facing against a legendary prosecutor, Manfred Von Karma."
    Everyone at the table who must already know about this has a morose look on their face, while the Phantom Thieves and I listen intently.
    "My father proved that Von Karma had forced a confession out illegally, and the man received a penalty on his perfect record. And for that strike against his record, Von Karma murdered my father."
    No one is able to say anything, as the conversation turned rather depressing. "And as to why I pursued the same path as the man who killed my father, well. Von Karma took me under his wing while I was young, training me to be a prosecutor like himself. All the while, he never told me the truth, and I had thought that I was the one who killed my father accidentally."
    "What a sick way to try and get revenge," Kay comments, "I'm glad I never met that jerk."
    I notice that Sojiro and Futaba are taking this story a little hard, themselves. A kid being abused like that hits close to home for both of them...

    ---Music: Gregory Edgeworth ~ A Defense Attorney's Knowledge---

    "But before everything gets all doom and gloom!" Maya interjects, "Tell them the rest of what happened! I promise, the story has a much happier ending."
     Edgeworth opens his eyes, and his expression is just as much sweet as it is bitter. "Von Karma only lost once in his forty year career. Phoenix Wright is the man who defeated him. In doing so he proved that I was innocent, that Von Karma was the killer, and that I had been living in turmoil because of a lie."
    Mr. Wright sighs nostalgically. "The day I saw Von Karma take you away, I knew that you were in a dark place. I was determined that no matter how long it would take, some day, I would save you--just like you saved me when we were kids."
    "You know, pals," detective Gumshoe jumps in, "Mr. Edgeworth was even able to solve the last case that his dad ever worked on. The very same case that Von Karma forged evidence for!"
    "Interestingly enough," Edgeworth adds on, "I worked together with my father's former assistant, and we unraveled the horrendous mysterious completely. I'm confident my father can rest in peace now."
    "I actually heard about that on the news!" Maya explains with enthusiasm, "It was that celebrity guy from the Food Channel! You finally got him out of jail after 18 years of wrongful imprisonment, huh!"
    "Fascinating," Sae remarks, "I've had my fair share of interesting moments in my legal career, but your careers sound as exciting as soap operas!"
    "I've gotta say," Wright continues, "You've had quite a lot of adventures, haven't you, Edgeworth?"

    ---(Music End)---
    Mr. Edgeworth takes a sip of tea before starting on the next subject. "While we are on the subject of reaching closure on difficult topics, Wright. I'll have you know I've been in touch with the Big Berry Circus as of late. I'm certain you remember that ghastly incident a few years back.
    Mr. Wright looks down to his plate of food, and seems pretty uncomfortable. "Is that so?" he finally replies.
    "Yes. A few of their members were involved in a recent case of mine," Edgeworth explains, "Through sheer coincidence, I managed to learn some information which may take some burden off of your shoulders. I'm sure you remember Acro and Bat. Well, Acro was able to make parole. The very day he was released, he went to visit the hospital...

    ---Music: Won the Case! ~ Each of Their Victories---

    "... and Bat woke up from his coma."
    Mr. Wright's face lights up like a firework. "W-What?! For real?!"
    Maya seems to be getting teary eyed. "Ohmigosh... I can't believe it..."
    "It's the truth," Edgeworth confirms. "The doctors called it a modern miracle to see him open his eyes in the first place, and they're hopeful for a full recovery. I'm told that both Acro and Bat laughed until they cried."
    Wright sniffs and uses a napkin as a tissue. "I suppose the rest of you need some context on this one. Acro's brother Bat was almost killed in a horrific accident, and Acro's attempt at revenge ended up killing the ringleader who had given them a home in the first place. Acro said he was close to killing himself, but he couldn't give up until seeing his brother wake up. His attempts to hide the murder almost ruined the circus..."
    I... never thought I'd ever be emotionally moved by a story about a circus. Damn.
    "Edgeworth... thank you for telling me this. That was one of the worst trials of my entire life. I never felt right about getting Acro convicted, even after everything that happened."
    "I'm happy to pass the news on to you," Edgeworth admits with a clap of his hands. "In fact, Acro wanted me to direct a message to you and Maya specifically, were I to run into you. It's amusing how life just seems to work out like this. He wanted to thank you for keeping their family together. He was afraid his actions could have torn the circus apart, but they were willing to take him back with open arms after you helped to resolve the whole mess."
    "I think what Mr. Edgeworth is trying to say," Gumshoe chimes in, "Is that you've had some incredible adventures of your own, pal!"
    "Haha... I guess we have," Mr. Wright concedes, "Though Maya and I are just hoping that the rest of this vacation can go uninterrupted by more craziness."

    ---(Music End)---

    ---Music: Ringtone ~ Steel Samurai Theme---

    It sounds like it's Miss Fey's phone going off.
    "Hello?" she answers at a normal speaking volume.
    The response is not at a normal speaking volume.

    ---Music: Mask☆DeMasque ~ Please Listen!---

    "I'm sooooooorrrrrrryyyyy!!!!" someone yells so loudly that Maya jerks the phone away from her ear, and we can all hear the shout. "I'm sorry, honestly! I didn't mean to trouble you! But, hopefully I actually helped out... what a complicated situation..."
    "Ron!" Maya finally replies, "You don't need to shout!"
    "I'm sorryyyy!! I mean... I'm sorry... I'm so used to being ignored..."
    "Don't worry about it!" Maya brushes aside, "More importantly, are you safe?"
    This... meek sounding individual must be Mask☆DeMasque...?
    "I'm fine! Thank you for worrying about me... but I know how to evade the police... I'm kind of an expert at it by now..."
    Oh hell. I can't believe he just said that out loud. Mr. Edgeworth has his eyebrow raised in skeptical confusion.
    Mr. Wright requests the phone. "Hello, Ron. It's me, Phoenix Wright. I'm here with Maya now. I need to take about five or six steps back here and start from the top. Firstly, why were you in Japan to begin with?"
    "My company has a branch in Tokyo, now!" he explains, "We move where the business is! You may have heard how Japan had an episode involving famous Phantom Thieves a few years back! Ever since then, there have been imitators who have been breaking and entering and all other kinds of illegal stuff... so the market is ripe with criminals who are looking to be reformed into honest folks..."
    Wow, it's kind of awkward learning that we had inspired actual criminals during our activities back then--
    Wait... this guy is a masked thief who has a business reforming other thieves...?
    "But!! The reason I called!" he continues, though Maya places her palm over the speaker of the phone so to quiet down the voice, "I was able to get that glowing orb you guys needed..."
    "Miss Andrews told us as much, but I'm glad to hear it directly!" Maya whispers, "And we're very grateful that you went out of your way to get it for us! But, now's not the best time..."
    "Aw... it wasn't any trouble... even though it was, but that doesn't matter... *ahem* A-a-anyway. I left the orb in a place where you guys will definitely find it. Have Mr. Kurusu check his bag when he gets it back... and tell him I'm sorry for roughing him up! I didn't know he was your ally at the time... oh, it looks like there are police cars patrolling around me. I've gotta go! Maybe when you get back to the US we can get Dessie and the four of us can catch up! Until then!!!"

    ---(Music End)---

    The prosecutor and his friends are staring pretty hard at Phoenix and Maya.
    Kay seems to have a different mood entirely. "That was the famous Mask☆DeMasque, wasn't it?!" she calls with enthusiasm, "He's wicked famous among us phantom thieves!"
    Edgeworth reacts as if someone has punched him. "Kay, you should truly think carefully before shouting things like that-"
    Ryuji is just as excited. "Whoa!! Are you a phantom thief too, Kay?!"
    Morgana jumps out of my bag and smacks Ryuji in the face. "Zip it, moron! Don't say things like that so casually!"
    Edgeworth, Kay, and Gumshoe have all leapt from their seats to step backwards.
    Wait... Sojiro and Sae are both staring hard at Morgana, too. Don't tell me...
    "Did that cat just talk???" Edgeworth asks bluntly.
    How did they.
  ---Music: Tension (Persona 5)---

    "Uhh... no I didn't. Meow," Morgana says, not fooling anyone...
    "Whoa!!" Sojiro shouts, "He really CAN talk!"
    "No way, you guys can hear me now?!" Morgana gasps, he himself in disbelief. "The only way that would be possible is if you've been to the Metaverse..."
    I quickly look around to see if anyone else in the restaurant heard anything. Surprisingly, no one is paying us much attention, despite the fact that half of our table is standing.
    "H-Hang on, everyone," I speak, holding my palms out, "Let's calm down for a second here. Morgana, don't say anything anymore. We don't want any more witnesses."
    He nods.
    "This... this shouldn't be possible," Makoto remarks, trying to figure out why this is happening. "Wait a minute. That person on the phone, he said to check your bag, Akira..."
    I carefully unzip it, though all I find inside are my phone, goggles, gloves, and the outfit I was wearing that night. Let me check a little more carefully...
    Wrapped up inside of the clothes, there's some sort of jewelry. It's about the size of a golf ball, and it has a clip which holds it closed, much like a locket.
    "Is... that what I think it is?" Sae asks.
    We all turn our heads to look back at the jewelry that's in my hands. That has to be it. If we flip the clasp to open it...

    ---Music: Planetarium---

    This has to be it. This is the Orb of Heart. It shines brightly, and somehow it seems to be even larger than the jewelry that was hiding it.
    I close it back up immediately, and the Orb somehow fits snuggly inside of it. Once within, all of the light is gone, and you'd never know that something so magnificent was hiding within.

    ---Music: Tension (Persona 5)---

    "We need to go. Like, now. Back to Leblanc," I instruct.
    "C'mon, we need to split up and head back," Sojiro suggests, "Even I know that things are going to hit the fan if we don't get that thing somewhere safe."   
    "I'll, uh," Mr. Edgeworth mumbles, "I'll pick up the bill for us. But in return, I most certainly want answers about what exactly is happening here."
    Damn it all... there goes secrecy. "Akira," Wright calls to me, "Text me the address of the cafe we're going to, and I'll text it to Edgeworth."
    "Alright. I'll do that," I reply, pulling up my phone--
    ... Ok, what the hell.
    I haven't really checked my phone since getting it back, but right there on the front page, as if it never left... is the MetaNav app.
    I'm so lost right now.
    "Let's go already!" Morgana whispers to me.
    We've all separated into group. Most of the Phantom Thieves managed to cram up into Sae's car, though some opted to take the train, as it will be no doubt faster than lunchtime traffic. Futaba, Mr. Wright, Maya, and myself have gone with Sojiro.

    ---(Music End)---

    April 13th, 12:03 pm
    Shibuya, Sojiro's Car

    "Be careful, Akira," Futaba warns, "That object must have an immense power... I'm worried it might be, like, radiating Metaverse-waves or something freaky like that."
    "That may not be far off," I suggest, "From what I learned about this Orb, it supposedly resonates with hearts."
    Morgana seems to have thoughts on this. "If you ask me, my theory would be that being able to understand me probably has nothing to do with language or sound. I bet being able to connect from the heart, with the Metaverse as a medium, could have a lot to do with it."
    Sojiro rubs the back of his head and sighs. "Hoo boy. It's not that I didn't believe you kids about the little guy talking, it's just... so jarring, actually hearing it myself."
    "Nice to formally meet you, Morgana!" Maya says as she shakes one of his paws.
    "Likewise, Miss Fey," he smiles back.
    "The real question is, what to do with this in the meantime..." Mr. Wright questions. "We want to learn more about this Orb, but we also need to keep it safe. We have no clue who else may know about this Orb and want to get their hands on it..."
    "Look at the top of the orb, it has a little ring-like fixture. That makes it a necklace, right?" Morgana verifies, "Let me see if for a moment here."
    With an impressive display of dexterity, he manages to undo the yellow collar around his neck, thread it through the ring of the locket, and fix his collar back up. "Bam!" he states with cockiness, "It looks more or less like a bell or something. No one will ever suspect it's more than just a cat collar! I can hold on to it for the time being."
    "Sounds good to me," I smile, "Hidden in plain sight is just our style."

    April 13th, 12:14 pm
    Yongen-Jaya, Outside Cafe Leblanc

    "Alright, we're here, everyone," Sojiro announces, putting his car in park and turning off the engine. Mr. Wright and Miss Fey get out first. Right now, the last people in the car are myself, Morgana, Sojiro, and Futaba. Sojiro steps out himself and opens the door for us, and we prepare to get going. But, there's something else on my mind, now that I have the Orb. "Futaba," I call to her, "Before we go just yet, there's something I was hoping you could get a chance to do."
    She seems curious as to what I'm going to say.
    ---Music: Reminiscence ~ Wandering Heart---

    Thinking back... that night, when I touched the orb... Wakaba told me she didn't have much time left. Considering she nearly disappeared by the time we finished speaking, her heart must have been almost exhausted completely. Before we parted, Wakaba said there was something she wanted me to let Futaba know, no doubt assuming she'd never have the chance to say it herself. But, I have just a sliver of hope that some lingering remnants of her may be able to pass the message on, personally.
    I motion Morgana to come over to me, and I unlock the necklace, drawing out the Orb of Heart as it levitates above my palm with a supernatural power. "Futaba, can you try touching the Orb?"
    She doesn't quite understand why I'm asking, but complies.
    I feel a chilling energy manifest to Futaba's side. Turning to look, it's a figure as translucent as air, but with just enough ghostly features to resemble Wakaba. There's not much left, as all that remains is her body above her waist. Futaba's eyes widen, and her body tenses up in shock. "M-Mom...?"
    "The Orb was allowing Wakaba's heart to continue on..." I try to explain, "And there was a part of her still holding on when I touched the Orb. She wanted me to let you know that she desperately wanted to see you one last time."
    The image of Wakaba slowly leans towards Futaba and slowly wraps her arms around her.
    Please... please let her have enough energy left to speak. For both of their sakes.
    Soft words are able to leave Wakaba's lips, as if whispers into the wind. "I love you, Futaba..."
    After several seconds of Futaba staring blankly... her tension loosens as if she melts into Wakaba's grasp, and she in turn clings tightly around what's left of Wakaba. "I love you too, mom," she manages to say back, choking down tears.
    Like particles of dust, the apparition begins to blow away. But, one thing is clear, and that's the smile I see on Wakaba's face before she disappears forever.
    The room is silent for a few moments, before Futaba hugs me. Before we know it, Sojiro grabs his arms around both of us and brings us all in for a hug. He looks more ready to cry than Futaba does... not that I'm faring any better. With all that's said and done, there's no reason for any of us to say anything else.
    Morgana hops in the center of it all and puts the Orb back into his locket, safe and sound--then he lets us have our moment.
    "We should, uh, get going," Sojiro mentions, wiping a tear from under his eye, "The cafe door isn't going to unlock itself," he jokes, trying to lighten the mood.
    The two of them depart, leaving Morgana and myself alone for another moment. "That was... really thoughtful of you, Akira," he mentions. "The team couldn't ask for a better leader," he comments.
    I show him some appreciation. "Thanks, Morgana."
    "And thank you, Akira," I think I hear Wakaba whisper into my ear.

    To be continued...

---(Music End)---

    ---Music: Victory---

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