Nick Wilde: Ace Attorney

Chapter 5: The Naked Truth

Written by Berserker88

Edited by Mind Jack

Cover art by Quirky Middle-Child


"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"

Any humor Nick saw in Flash chugging down a cup of coffee quickly turned to horror. (And they say I'M a different mammal before my cup o' joe.)

"Holy crap, he's talking at normal speed," Finnick said, staring wide-eyed at the...being in front of them.

"Correction, he's talking at sloth super speed."

Judy struggled to keep her cool demeanor in check, which was hard enough for her already. "I must admit...this reaction is more extreme than I expected."

And then, to their shared wonder, he started doing jumping jacks. "Come on, don't be shy, just follow after me! One, two, one, two, one, two…"

"One, two, one, tw-aaaaaaagh!" Clawhauser didn't make it very far before he collapsed on his bench. "I'm cramping up! Bailiff, save me!" Bogo just rolled his eyes.

"Impressed?!" Flash asked, now gripping the witness stand and running in place like he was on a treadmill. "So was I! Never did I think I would find such a perfect stimulant to get even a sloth movin' and groovin'! I've finally reached my fullest potential!"

Nick was just trying to find his voice again, not helped by getting shouted at. "I take it Nangi thought otherwise?" (Because 'disturbing and unnatural' certainly comes to mind here.)

"Yeah, can you believe it?! But I don't need that old hack anyway! This is the way of the future!"

The fox slammed his desk, glaring at him. "Sorry, but the only future you're going to have is behind bars. Unless you think you'll squat thrust your way out of this."

"And streeeeeeeeeeeetch!" Flash extended his arms high into the air, then let them fall at his sides. "Now let's not get ahead of ourselves, Nicky Boy! I've barely broken a sweat so far!"

(Nicky...Boy?)

"While the witness's behavior is certainly unusual, it is hardly proof of anything," Judy stated. "Other than the fact that Mystic Mojo may not be the only drug we need to worry about..."

"That's right!" Flash laughed. "You've got nothing but conjecture and I've got...I've got…...I've…" He trailed off, both his speech and movements starting to slow. As quickly as he could, he refilled his cup of coffee and threw it into his mouth. In an instant, he was back. "I've got evidence that I can't be the killer!"

(He needs a recharge already? It must take him like 17 cups to get through a class.) "Really? Care to enlighten us?"

"Of course!" He whipped out an exercise bungee, pumping his arms back and forth. "I'm here to enlighten your minds and bodies! Now listen closely!"

Witness Testimony - Let's Start With a Warm-up!

You're saying that I whacked ol' Nangi with that hammer, right?!

Too bad there's no way I could've done that!

See, I wasn't like this the night of the murder!

And as my usual, slothy self, I couldn't muster the speed to land that kinda blow!

That's the power of exercise for ya!

"While I am uncomfortable with the witness's attitude," Clawhauser said slowly, "and the power of exercise, his reasoning is sound."

Nick glared at the sloth incredulously. "You expect us to believe that you weren't using your stimulant the night of the murder?"

"What, you think I just carried around this whole pot with me?! As you've already seen, this stuff wears off way too fast to rely on for long bursts like that!"

"What if you just put it in a water bottle or something? If you timed it out well enough, you could still pull it off."

"Sorry, but no," Judy answered back. "According to witnesses at Mr. Weston's last class, he went through his entire supply before he was fired."

"And it wore off soon after!" Flash added. "Guess I really gave it my all! Shame Nangi didn't see it that way!"

"How did you even have time to ask about that?" He shook his head in annoyance. "Well, whatever. I'll find a way!"

"I dunno, Nick," Finnick said. "I don't think he's lying about the coffee."

"I don't either," he admitted. "But in that case, the question isn't how Flash could've gotten a boost, it's how he might have delivered that blow even if he couldn't."

"You really think that's possible?"

"To quote Slylock Holmes, once you've eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. That, and I've already figured it out."

"You better not tell me it's elementary."

"Nah, more like junior high."

Cross-Examination - Let's Start With a Warm-up!

You're saying that I whacked ol' Nangi with that hammer, right?!

Too bad there's no way I could've done that!

See, I wasn't like this the night of the murder!

And as my usual, slothy self, I couldn't muster the speed to land that kinda blow!

Objection!

"Now who said anything about speed? There's more than one way you could strike her with that level of force."

"The witness couldn't so much as throw a ball," Judy argued. "Which is terrible, by the way. Point is, he would be unable to build up enough momentum to leave such a strong blow on the victim's head. Unless you're trying to contradict the laws of physics now."

"Not at all. In fact, let's do an experiment."

"You're mocking me, aren't you?"

Nick lifted both arms into the air, high above his head. "Repeat after me, everyone."

"Hey, I'm the instructor here!" Flash protested. "You can't...just…" He could no longer argue on account of needing another cup.

"Heeeeey, everybody!" Clawhauser called from his spot up top. "Come on, Bailiff, join the fun!"

"No."

"Come on, Finnick, join the fun," Nick said.

"No!"

What is this supposed to prove?" asked Judy, following after him anyway. "I know you're dying to tell us."

"Patience, Carrots. Now, imagine you're holding up a heavy object in this position. Such as, just off the top of my head, a sledgehammer."

Clawhauser squeed loudly. "Oooooooooh, I can even replicate that!" He lifted his gavel up high, waving the sugary weapon around menacingly.

"Your Honor, say those donuts were about twenty pounds each. If you wanted to bang your gavel right now, how much effort would it take you?"

"Let's see...WOAH!" He let out a shriek as the gavel swung down and struck the bench of its own accord.

(He knows that was only hypothetical, right?) "You may recall that the victim was struck by an overhead swing, exactly what you just performed."

"What are you saying?!" the feline panicked. "I'm not the killer, I swear!"

Judy sighed. "I believe what Mr. Wilde is taking too long to explain is that it wouldn't matter how fast you could swing the hammer. From that position, with that kind of weight, gravity and momentum would do the job for you. Is that correct?"

"Well...yes." (Even when I'm right, she has to show me up.)

Flash was sweating, so profusely that he stretched out and squeezed his headband trying to get it out. "Ermm...maybe it's time we took a break?"

"The only thing I'm planning to break is your web of lies." Nick pointed savagely. "Because I've now proven that even a sloth could commit this murder!"

Mid-stretch, Flash's eyes widened and he lost his grip on his headband, causing it to snap back into his face. "YOOOOOOOOW!"

Judy was pensive, glancing uncomfortably down at her desk. "Is it...possible? Could he really have…?"

"I guess anyone really can be anything, even a murderer," Clawhauser mused, trying to see how many more donuts he could fit on his gavel now. "Gazelle would be so disappointed."

"Hey!" Flash shouted. "HeyheyheyheyHEY! Break time's over! Let's get back into the groove!"

"I'm surprised you still have any groove left in you," said Nick. "Let me guess, you want to revise your testimony again?"

Flash leaped up, landing on a giant exercise ball that rolled in from...somewhere. "You bet, Nicky Boy! And this time, I'm on the ball!"

(That was bad even by MY standards.) "By all means, please keep digging yourself deeper."

"I admit, that's some well-toned logic you're flexing there! But there's one thing you haven't accounted for!" He smirked widely, balancing on his new platform. "Listen up, everyone! It's time to move on to the next stage of the program! Try to keep up!"

Witness Testimony - Now Streeeeeeetch Those Thinking Muscles!

Maybe I could have used the hammer, but I couldn't have even made it that far!

The lobby was unguarded when I came in, but what if it wasn't?!

Drugged or not, I couldn't risk Yax getting a good look at me if I wanted to murder someone!

Even if I got past him, Nangi would have seen me too!

So the idea that I just waltzed in there and did all this is ridiculous!

The doubt cleared from Judy's face as she thought this over. "Yes...yes, he's right. Such a plan would be far too risky for anyone to attempt, especially a sloth."

"I prefer to deal in facts, not assumptions, Carrots."

"Since when?" Finnick asked.

"So I'll be starting my Cross-Examination now."

Judy frowned, but otherwise made no attempt at banter. "...Proceed."

(What's with her?)

Cross-Examination - Now Streeeeeeetch Those Thinking Muscles!

Maybe I could have used the hammer, but I couldn't have even made it that far!

The lobby was unguarded when I came in, but what if it wasn't?!

Drugged or not, I couldn't risk Yax getting a good look at me if I wanted to murder someone!

Hold it!

"According to Yax's testimony, the perpetrator grabbed him from behind. If you had done that, you could have dragged him into the lounge without him seeing you."

"Yeah?! Then how did I get in, smart guy?!"

"Clearly, you must've already been on the scene and come out from the lounge."

"Again...how?!"

(Bluff servers online, executing program.) "You could have hidden yourself somewhere in the lobby, waited for Yax to fall under the Mojo's influence, then slipped in when he wasn't watching."

"Not bad!" he laughed. "Like me, you really know how to work things out!" His laughter started to slow and he threw down another cup to pick it back up again. "But then…"

Even if I got past him, Nangi would have seen me too!

Hold it!

"What if Nangi wasn't yet in the room? She could have still been having dinner in her office."

"Ah, but Yax was patrolling the whole area at that time! No way would he have missed me then!"

(Urgh, if it's not one, it's the other.) "Maybe he just didn't notice…" He watched Flash's eye twitch uncontrollably. "...nevermind."

So the idea that I just waltzed in there and did all this is ridiculous!

"Not exactly the stealthy type, is he?" Finnick grunted.

"I'm sure he's quiet enough, without the coffee, but unless he could stay out of sight from both Yax and Nangi, he would have been caught long before he could do anything. Emphasis on long."

"So when could he have gotten in there to pour the powder? Sounds like someone was going to be lurking around the lounge no matter when he tried it."

(When could he have done it? While Yax was in the lounge, or while Nangi was?) As Nick pondered this question, the answer occurred to him almost spontaneously.

Maybe I could have used the hammer, but I couldn't have even made it that far!

The lobby was unguarded when I came in, but what if it wasn't?!

Drugged or not, I couldn't risk Yax getting a good look at me if I wanted to murder someone!

Even if I got past him, Nangi would have seen me too!

Hold it!

"Actually...Nangi would have already had to be in the pool when she was poisoned. That's the only way this makes sense."

Finnick raised an eyebrow. "Huh? How does that make sense? I don't care how relaxed she was, he couldn't just walk up and dump that junk in her bath."

"Sure...unless that's just what he wants us to think."

The fennec stared at him for several seconds. "You know what, I'm not even gonna ask. Just make your case and get it over with."

"I'm inclined to agree with your diminutive co-counsel," Judy said, ignoring the death glare he shot at her. "But I suppose I'll bite. Why must the victim have been poisoned during her bath?"

Take that!

"Yax's testimony should tell you that much. Recall that the Mystic Mojo turned the pool purple on the night of the murder. Would you climb into a bath like that?"

"Hmmm...a fair point. However, it doesn't prove how the witness could have done it."

"Oh, I beg to differ. I believe this proves exactly how he did it."

She took a deep breath, trying to remain calm. "How?"

"I think she's learned to trust my hunches," he whispered over to Finnick.

"I think she's just resigned to the insanity."

"Today, Wilde!"

"Let's say that Flash was able to get by Yax and into the lounge when Nangi was bathing. By that point, she would have been in the middle of her trance and thus, couldn't see him."

"This bears a striking amount of resemblance to an assumption, but do go on."

"Now, like you said, going right up to the victim to poison her was another matter entirely. There's no telling how easily she could have been alerted to his presence or that of the Mystic Mojo. But if we combine that with what I've theorized already, it suddenly makes sense."

"You mean your dribble about the witness making the hoofprints? How is that connected?"

"If I may draw the court's attention back to the renovations photo," he said, glancing down at it himself. "There's one particular area I think we should reexamine."

Got it!

"Specifically, the exposed opening you can see in the pipeline. Am I correct in assuming that this pipe flows directly into the Pleasure Pool?"

Judy squinted at the image. "Yes, I do believe that is...arrrrrrrrrgh!" Her poor ears were really getting mangled today.

"I see both your eyesight and insight are as good as expected, Carrots. For if Flash were to pour the Mojo into this opening, he could distribute it straight into Nangi's bath while safely hidden behind the rock wall. And in her current state, she wouldn't even notice the water changing color until it was too late. What do you think of that, Flash?"

The sloth was suddenly having trouble keeping his balance, wobbling around like he would fall any second. "I...I think the intensity of this program is set higher than expected..."

But he didn't fall. What he did was reach down to grab himself another caffeinated shot, down it in one gulp, then scream like a banshee. "THIS IS MY CLASS!"

"Funny, you seem to be the only one getting sch-ack!" Nick quickly ducked the incoming projectile Flash had just punted at him. Finnick didn't need to, lazily watching the exercise ball barely brush his ears, then roll away into the ether from which it came.

Clawhauser weakly banged his gavel. "Uh...I don't think that's allowed…" Bogo snorted in agreement, and probably would have done more if it was anyone but Nick.

"Sorry, must be all this pent-up energy!" Flash said, as if that explained anything. "I just get soooooo into the groove sometimes that I gotta let it out!"

(Which I'm sure also contributed to you being fired.) "Then do you have a less violent response to my claims?"

"Actually, I think it's about time I came clean!"

"...Excuse me?"

He didn't exactly look defeated. "That's right! One of my earlier testimonies! I told a lie!"

"One...singular...lie."

"Yeah!"

"Well, don't leave us in suspense," Judy said dryly. "What lie did you tell?"

His giant, shit-eating grin didn't look very defeated either. "I lied...about when I returned my keys!"

(He wouldn't. He SERIOUSLY wouldn't.)

He did. "You see, I didn't actually come back that night at all! I returned my keys before I left the Oasis and never looked back! Sorry about the confusion, I just thought it would be fun to be a witness!"

Clawhauser banged again, harder. "I'll have you know that perjury is a serious crime!" He burst out laughing. "Sorry, couldn't say that with a straight face."

"I'm not buying it," Nick said, trying hard to remain confident. "You wouldn't have let things go this far if you really had an alibi."

"Oh really?! Then how about one last testimony to send you off?! Let's see you run your mouth after this, Nicky Boy!"

Witness Testimony - Gonna Kick Ya in the Glutes!

That's right, I was never actually at the scene!

I returned my keys to the front desk before I left!

So I couldn't have gotten back in commit the murder!

Which means that the drug theft, the poisoning, the hammering…

...It was all done by Yax! That's all there is to it!

He finished it off with an air of finality that exerted supreme confidence. And a belch.

Nick tried to ignore the feeling of dread that crept over him. (Ugh, that DOES sound pretty convincing.)

But more shocking to him was that Judy remained silent, even though she should have been rubbing this in his face right now.

"Nick, focus!" Finnick yelled, literally slapping some sense back into him. "We've come too far for you to give up now! So get in there and tear Richard Simoose a new one!"

He smiled. "Thanks, Finn. You really know how to cheer a guy up."

"Whatever."

He took one last look at Judy, who didn't seem to be paying him any attention at all, then prepared for the fight of his life.

"Mr. Wilde, you may begin the cross-examination," Clawhauser said, also curious how this would turn out.

"So you're still not burnt out, eh?!" Flash taunted. "Then let's make this one special!" He pulled out a small radio and placed it on the stand before flicking it on. The machine started to play an intense, rhythmic beat as the sloth moved in sync. "Just try to keep up!"

Cross-Examination - Gonna Kick Ya in the Glutes!

That's right, I was never actually at the scene!

Hold it!

"Then why were you trying so hard to pin Yax as the killer?"

"Because he is the killer! I was just trying to do my civic duty, even if my methods were a bit dishonest!"

(It's a little late to try to make yourself look good.) "By wasting our time with a made-up testimony?!"

"Hey, if you just accepted it to begin with, we'd still be at this same point regardless! You're the one who kept derailing it by labeling me the killer!"

"I think...you may be missing the point."

"Well at least I've got one!"

(Ouch.)

He grinned back at him smugly, striking a pose. "I should've warned ya, exercise with me and you're gonna feel the burn!"

I returned my keys to the front desk before I left!

Hold it!

"Can you prove that?"

"What, do I look like I have the records on me?!" Still dancing, he pointed two thumbs over his shoulders. "Maybe you should ask Yax! I'm sure he could tell you the exact time that I left my keys with him!"

"It was...Yax that you gave them to?" That dread was coming back again.

"Go ahead, see if I'm bluffing!" he challenged.

(As a renowned expert on the subject, I'm inclined to believe...that he isn't. Damn.)

So I couldn't have gotten back in commit the murder!

Hold it!

"What if you used a way other than the front door? Like the open roof?"

"I teach aerobics, not rock climbing! I may be arboreal, but that's better suited to an actual jungle than the concrete one!"

He was getting really sick of all the yelling. "Then...you could have used a ladder or something."

"And what, jump into the lounge?!" He took the time to jump into the air as high as he could, then pantomime himself splatting against the ground before resuming his dance. "One dead body is enough, thanks!"

(Guess a stepladder wouldn't help either.) "...Continue."

Which means that the drug theft, the poisoning, the hammering…

Hold it!

"Now who's to say for sure this is all related?" (Okay, now I KNOW I'm getting desperate.)

"You did, Nicky Boy! Are you going to go back on your own theories now and take a page out of the prosecutor's book?!"

Judy herself had no comment, aside from a look of complete disdain.

"H-Hey, I'm just saying, maybe we need to rethink this a bit. I mean, some of these connections are tenuous at best and the evidence is somewhat lacking…" He stopped abruptly.

Clawhauser tilted his head. "Were you going to continue, Mr. Wilde?"

"You know what, I think I'm actually just going to quit while I'm behind."

"Good idea."

...It was all done by Yax! That's all there is to it!

Hold it!

"There's still no clear evidence that Yax did it, aside from those hoofprints that I've already proven could have been faked!"

"That's just a theory! A lame theory! Maybe instead of trying to overcomplicate everything, the murder really was just as simple as it looks! Face it, a guy getting high on illegal drugs and offing someone is about as basic as you can get!" Flash stopped dancing for just a moment to give Nick what could only be described as a complete mockery of his own finger point. "So I hereby declare the defendant guilty! GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY!"

"Actually, I'm the one who's supposed to say that," Clawhauser noted.

"Then hurry up and say it! Unless of course, the defense has anything else to scream Hold it! about! Come on, Nicky Boy, bring it on!"

But he couldn't. Nick slumped over on the bench, head low, ears drooped, and shaking ever so slightly. (He's right. I don't have a lead, I don't even have a LEAD to a lead. I've got nothing...nothing at all.)

"Nick?" He only vaguely registered Finnick reaching up to grab his shoulder in a rare show of comfort. "You...you've got something else to present, right? An objection to hurl out?"

Nick couldn't even look at him. "It's over, Finn. My entire case hinged on Flash having his keys on him that night. If he couldn't get to the scene of the crime, that's it. There's nothing more I can do."

"Wha...hey, come on! Snap out of it! After what we've been through back on the streets, you can't lose to this punk!"

"Don't bother!" Flash mocked. "No matter how many reps we go through, you're never going to top me!" He lifted another cup of coffee high before drinking it down. "A toast...to your failure!"

The gallery wasted no time in twisting the knife even further.

"Wait, so that aerobics guy really IS innocent?"

"Of course! There's no way that nutjob fox was actually right!"

"Yeah, his kind probably just makes up evidence as he goes along!"

"I can't believe he even managed to pass the bar exam. He must have cheated!"

"You shut your filthy mouths!" Finnick roared. "Nick Wilde is more noble and honest than ANY of you!"

Clawhauser slammed his gavel loudly to silence them, with some difficulty. "Be that as it may...this trial does appear to have come to a close. Do you have anything else to add, Mr. Wilde?"

Objection!

The cheetah blinked in surprise, rubbing his eyes to make sure he was really seeing this. "P-Prosecutor Hopps? You have an objection about the case?"

"No, Your Honor…" she said darkly. "It's the defense I object to. Mr. Wilde, is this really all you're capable of?"

The fox was just as stunned. "Huh?"

"You heard me. You've come this far, pushed me to my absolute limits, even...made me rethink a few things." She looked away for a second, but only a second. "And after all that, you're just going to throw in the towel? Unacceptable!" She slammed her desk with more force than he'd heard yet. "As a defense attorney, it is your job to stand up for your client! So you fight to the bitter end or so help me-!"

Hold it!

"What do you think you're doing?!" Flash was boiling with rage, and the coffee he held boiled right along with him. "Just whose side do you think you're on here?!"

"This isn't about sides," she answered. "It may not matter what I want...but what I want is to make the world a better place."

"That was a very nice speech, but it doesn't change a thing! If you guys don't have anything on me, then I'm outta here!" He gulped down his last bit of coffee and waved at the crowd. "Sorry, folks, but you'll have to catch my next show on DVD! Toodles!"

Objection!

"You're not going anywhere!" Nick pointed with passion. "Not while I've got anything to say about it!"

"Ha, that's more like it!" Finnick cheered.

Judy tried to hide a smile. "Hmph...took you long enough."

(What am I doing getting bent out of shape now? So what if I was wrong? If even Prosecutor Hopps believes in me, then I can't afford to lose! I have to show her...what being a defense attorney is really about!)

What happened next was a sensation Nick had never been able to explain. It was like everything around him just vanished into a white haze, until all that was left was him and his logic. It was time to solve this case for good.

Okay, let's take a look at everything from the beginning. Flash has proven, quite thoroughly, that he couldn't have gotten into the crime scene. But if he was so willing to lie about that in the first place, there must be a reason. Maybe...because he had another way.

Is there any other way Flash could have committed the murder?

Flash was already on scene

Yes, there was no need to sneak into the crime scene if he simply never left it in the first place. That must be what he's been trying to keep from us all this time. Even so, he would've been kicked out unless he found some way to hide himself. And it had to be a point when no one would be watching him.

Did he have any opportunity to hide on the premises?

The building had been evacuated

Due to the burst pipe, Mystic Spring Oasis had evacuated everyone from the building. It was at this point that the killer stole the Mystic Mojo and enacted the first part of his murder plot, but maybe that's not all he did.

Wait, Mystic Mojo...that reminds me, there IS a place he could have hidden himself!

Flash hid in the mud pit

Of course, the mud pit that Bellwether hid her stash in. That's more than large enough for a sloth to hide too, especially when they move so little anyway. Urgh, but that's still just conjecture. If I'm going to win this, I need proof!

Yax is the only one who could tell us what the killer was like that night. Is there anything he said that could help me out?

The killer was wet

According to Yax, the one who grabbed him was soaking wet. If Flash really had covered himself in mud, then he would have needed to wash it off before he could leave. And if he was really using the same mindset as Bellwether...then there's something we've all been overlooking from the very beginning!

With the violent surge of an epiphany, Nick's logic and evidence finally came together into one, crucial conclusion.

The mud in the pool came from Flash

That's it! We thought all of that mud came from Bellwether's meddling, but Flash washed himself off in that same place! And with that...I can finally prove that he killed Nangi!

Just as suddenly as it began, it was over. Nick found himself back in the courtroom like nothing ever happened.

And to those around him, nothing had. "Yo, Nick! Earth to Nick!" Finnick snapped his fingers repeatedly in front of his face. "I hate it when he does this."

Objection!

"GAH! We heard you the first time!"

"Maybe, but now I've got some merit behind it," Nick said, shooting his trademark smirk. "Flash, Flash, Hundred-Yard Dash...you done screwed up."

"All of that waiting for another bluff?!" he laughed, shaking his head. "Come on, either hit me with some evidence or shut up already!"

"I can do better than that. I'll tell you the story of exactly how you killed Nangi, from beginning to end. It even has some interesting footnotes."

"H-Hey, you're totally avoiding my question here!"

"I'll allow it," Judy said. "But this is your last chance, Mr. Wilde, so it had better be good."

(What happened to all that encouragement?) "The day of the murder, our witness here had just been fired from his position as aerobics instructor. Dark thoughts began to form in his head, but they might never have come to fruition if not for a stroke of fate. BOOM! Suddenly, a pipe bursts in the peaceful Mystic Spring! The building is evacuated, creating the perfect scenario for our culprit to plot his revenge."

"Your storytelling skills are adequate, but when are you going to tell us something new?" Judy asked impatiently.

"Just building up suspense. Gotta set the scene, you know."

"Mmmm, anyone with a theater degree could tell you that," Clawhauser agreed, happily chewing on some donuts like they were popcorn. "Not that...I have one of those…"

"The first thing he did was swipe the storeroom key from Ms. Bellwether," Nick continued. "With that, he broke into the storeroom and stole some of her stash of Mystic Mojo. However, in his haste, he made one crucial mistake. He forgot to lock the door again, which is how Yax was later able to open it. He then moved into the lobby, where he switched out Yax's usual incense with the Mystic Mojo variety, then swiped the stamp used to mark his letter of termination, intending to frame him for the murder."

"Bah! This is the same crap you've been spouting this whole time!" Flash snarled. "I already told you, I left my keys with Yax before that stupid pipe even broke! I couldn't have done any of this!"

"Oh yes you could, thanks to one little detail you've been trying to conceal from us...about how you concealed yourself."

Judy paused, the meaningful kind. "I'm listening."

He kept going, not wanting to keep his audience waiting. Even if she was all ears. "After Flash was done with the first stage of his plan, he took the time to hide within the one place we know even the ZPD didn't check: the mud pit. In doing so, he effectively disappeared from the crime scene, as anyone else would assume he had simply left for the day. Having just been canned and all."

"Urk!" The sloth was suddenly a lot less smug, and gulped down another cup of coffee to avoid responding.

"Interesting indeed," Judy nodded. She sounded neutral, but he knew she was hoping for an explanation. "And how do you intend to prove this?"

"Simple. How did Bellwether hide her involvement when she was on the stand?"

"You mean…?"

"From his place under the mud, Flash watched and waited as Nangi held her evening class and then retired for the night, then Yax made his usual rounds and prepared for guard duty. During this time, his stimulant had long worn off, but that didn't matter now. Soon enough, Yax entered the lobby and Nangi entered the pool, both about to become victims in his plot."

Clawhauser was still snacking away. "Mr. Wilde sure does know how to spin a yarn. Bailiff, fetch me some yarn!"

"After the trial, Your Honor."

"Awwwwww."

"Once Nangi entered her trance, her fate was sealed. Flash emerged from his hiding place, wiped his feet off on the grass, then headed over to where he had observed the renovations taking place. There, he used the stamp to implicate Yax for the crime, then poured Mystic Mojo into the open pipeline. By the time he grabbed the sledgehammer and approached the Pleasure Pool, Nangi was most likely dead already, which made it all too easy to walk right up behind her and THWACK, inflict that gaping wound on her head. All while leaving a convenient concrete trail behind, I might add. He then slipped the hammer into the water, handle first. The true purpose of this odd placement? To wash away the mud prints he had no doubt left on it. And then, to top it all off, Flash himself jumped into the Pleasure Pool, which is where all that excess mud came from in the first place. Only in there for just a moment, and covered in a thick expanse of fur, he suffered no ill effects."

"Huh." Finnick clicked his tongue approvingly. "I don't know how you do this sometimes, but when you put a case together, you put it together. Now let's wrap up this case and this sloth, Nick!"

"Afterwards, it was just a matter of tying up loose ends. He made sure to lock the storeroom this time, then went back to the lobby, grabbed Yax, and dragged him out to the pool to complete his frame job. Then he simply walked out the front door, locking it behind him. That is the true story of what happened that night at Mystic Spring Oasis."

Nick gasped, leaning over the bench as he tried to catch his breath. (Never...going on...that long...again!)

The whole courtroom was silent for several long moments, until…

Hold it!

"That's a lie! A sham! All of it!" Flash's demeanor did not match his words. The sloth was chugging down cup after cup in quick succession, to the point that he now appeared to be literally sweating coffee. "You already checked that stupid pool and found nothing to link it to me! And even if you did, it wouldn't matter! I'm still a resident of the club! I use it all the time! Nothing in that water is going to pin me as a killer!"

"I agree," Nick said, far too smugly for his liking. "It's not the water that I want to examine. I've got something even better."

"W-W-WHAT?! You're b-bluffing! Y-You have to be!"

"Not this time." And with a deep breath, he knew he had finally won. (Enjoy your freedom, Yax. It sure didn't come easy.) "The evidence that will exercise the end of your exercise is this!"

Take that!

"YOU, Flash! Even if it was for the briefest of moments, you shared a bath with the victim. I wonder what interesting things we would find in your fur if we put it under a microscope. Nangi's blood? Mystic Mojo? Concrete residue from that sledgehammer? Any of those things would be pretty decisive, don't you think, Carrots?"

"While I still object to that nickname," she answered, an unfamiliar warm smile crossing her face, "I do not to your reasoning."

Flash was somehow downing it even faster. "NONONONONONONONONONO!"

"Drink all the coffee you want, Flash." Nick twisted his whole body, pulling his arm back, then extending it firmly outwards, clawed finger pointed directly at the culprit. "Because no amount of fast-talking is gonna get you out of this one!"

All eyes were on the stuttering sloth now. "Ah...ah...ah...ahhhhhhhhh!" Quick as a him, Flash grabbed the entire pot and ripped off the lid, downing every last drop right in front of them.

After that, he more or less exploded. Flash shifted rapidly between his entire repertoire, going from jumping jacks, to cardio, to stretches, to sit-ups, even squat thrusts, not slowing down for a second. "DoyouhaveanyideahowharditistobeaslothallIwantedwastogetoutofthestinkingdmvunlikeeverysingleoneofmypeerstoactuallymakeanameformyselfassomethingotherthanjustanotherslowpokeslothIevenfoundthisnewcoffeeblendtocompensateformyweaknessbutnoNangiwouldn'thaveitIjustwasn'tgoodenoughforherandherridicolousideasofbeingnaturalwellnaturalsucksI'dratherjustgetsomerespectforonceinmylifeinsteadofbeingtoldbyeveryfreakingmammalinZootopiathatI'mtooslowtooslowtooslowtooslowTOOSLOW!"

It ended abruptly, like a record popping off of its needle. Flash swayed back and forth, growing slower by the second. "...It's….not…...faaaaaaaaaaaaaair…" Finally, he fell back and collapsed to the ground, out cold.

Nick sighed, shaking his head in pity. "Caffeine burnout. Happens to the best of us."

The courtroom gradually settled down, awed that the Wilde Guess had once again pulled a victory out of his bushy behind. One day, perhaps they would know better.

As Yax was brought back to the stand and Flash dragged out, Clawhauser cleared his throat. The bovine had been put back into his suit by force, still clearly torn in many places, but good enough for the time being. "I am now ready to hand down my verdict. Does anyone else have an objection? Just...gotta make sure."

His wandering eyes poorly hid the fact that he was talking mainly to Judy. If anything, she actually looked pleased. "No, Your Honor. Please proceed."

"Then on the charge of murder, the court hereby finds the defendant, Mr. Yaxley Matton…"

NOT GUILTY

Despite mixed opinions on the defense, the entire courtroom erupted into cheers, confetti raining down onto Yax's head from some unknown location. That was one mystery Nick wasn't sure he'd ever solve.

But for now, he was content to just share a fist-bump with Finnick. "Who's awesome?"

The smaller fox chuckled and returned the gesture. "We're awesome."


5: 46 PM

Zootopian Central Courthouse - Defendant Lobby No. 3

In complete contrast to how they entered, the trio of Nick, Finnick, and Yax exited the courtroom with high spirits and loud voices. Not that Finnick wasn't usually loud anyway. "Oh yeah! We rocked the heck outta that trial!"

(He's always so confident AFTER we win.) "Sure did. Guess all's well that ends well."

"Well, except for that public indecency charge Yax earned for his stunt on the witness stand."

The bovine shrugged it off. "Not the first time and it won't be the last. I'm a free spirit, man."

"As long as it doesn't get you accused of murder again, I don't mind," Nick said. "Much as I like you, I don't think I could take the stress a second time."

"You got it!" he replied, with the same, whimsical innocence that made Nick doubt he had even understood him.

"Forget about all that," Finnick laughed, "I say we blow this courtroom and go celebrate! Bug Burgas for everyone!"

"The thing is, I'm kinda more of a plant eater..." Yax started.

"Don't knock it till you try it! You're a free spirit, right?"

Nick smiled. "Now you're talking, Finn." (Though I fully expect to be the one paying for them.)

"Wilde!"

He flinched. "Might want to hold off on the celebrations for a bit."

For all of his experience dealing with her so far, Nick couldn't tell if Judy was hopping mad or simply trying to get his attention. Finnick certainly seemed to assume the former, trying to make some kind of defensive perimeter around him, while Yax was still nothing but smiles. The bunny stopped just short of them, her nerve slowly evaporating like she had suddenly lost the will to speak.

Nick was quick to offer his assistance. "Fox got your tongue, Carrots?"

"Shut up, you...fox...guy." She needed a moment. "Look, I just wanted to make one thing clear. Despite what may have happened today, I am not on your side. I am on the side of truth and justice, and that's simply where my interests fell in the end."

"Good to know." He leaned down to her level, almost condescendingly if he weren't such a gentlemammal. "But you should probably know, that is my side. We both want the same thing in the end, even if we happen to stand on opposite ends of the courtroom. So even if you didn't get your guilty verdict, can you really say that you lost?"

She needed another moment. "No...I suppose I cannot. Perhaps that's why this turn of events feels so strange to me. I've suffered my first defeat in court, yet feel more fulfilled than I have in a long time. It's...disturbing."

Though not as disturbing as Yax wrapping all three of them up into a hug. "Nah, that's just your spiritual energies emerging from within. You gotta embrace that feeling!"

With several low-powered kicks to the gut, Judy freed herself, struggling to straighten out her mussed outfit. "Ugh...I will keep that in mind."

While Finnick looked ready to maul their newly-freed client, Nick remained focused on the rabbit. "Hey, if you're ever thinking of a career change, the Wilde Crimes Law Offices are always open."

"With all due respect, not a chance." Though her tone was more amused than annoyed. "For now, I will continue on the path I have chosen as a prosecutor. What that means for me is something I'll have to figure out for myself."

A familiar clopping suddenly approached. "Looks like someone's become the dark horse once again. Then does that make you no longer the dark horse? A question for the ages."

He forced a smile. "Detective Oates. A...pleasure to see you again." (He couldn't just STAY at the stable? Crime scene, whatever.)

The stallion nodded at him, a blend of disappointment that he'd been bested and genuine respect for a battle well fought. As per usual. "Ms. Hopps, we need to take care of the post-trial paperwork. It's not over till' the fat lady signs the check."

"Very well." She turned her back to the fox in a heartbeat. "I have no doubt we'll cross paths again. Despite my perfectly intact feet, I'm not that lucky. Until then...I'll see you around, Nick."

With one final wave, Prosecutor Judy Hopps left with Oates, not waiting for a response. (Hey, a first name basis is progress, right?)

Finding this more interesting than mauling Yax, Finnick sidled up beside him. "Didn't bring up how you snooped into her personal life, huh?"

"Never anger a lady any more than necessary. That's one of my rules."

"Based on what I've seen so far, I highly doubt that. Now let's hit the road already. There's a baker's dozen of Bug Burgas with your name on it."

"I knew you were making me pay for them!"

And so ended the case at Mystic Spring Oasis. Honoring my request, Yax never got himself in trouble with the law again. At least...not to THAT level. Finnick and I returned to our barely-paying jobs at Wilde Crimes, waiting for the next big, convoluted mystery to fall into our laps. As for Prosecutor Hopps, I too had no doubt that I would one day face her in court again. When that day comes, I hope she'll truly be able to define the law on her own terms.

To bad that's never going to happen because I am SO done with this!

H-Hey, what are you doing in there-sir, you can't just yank it off like that!

Watch me!

Just wait for it to finish!

What, so I can play the sequel? I've had enough!

With far less grace than usual, the world of PIXAR evaporated around them, a loud beeping jarring them awake. Nick pulled off the helmet, which had gone full blue screen, and shook his head in an attempt to clear this latest experience from it.

"I really wish you hadn't done that…" Fitwick muttered, looking over the multitude of error messages now popping up on PIXAR's readout. "I'm not even sure how you did that. It's supposed to be a completely immersive experience from start to finish."

"Guess that's one contradiction that will forever remain unsolved."

"Uggggh…" Judy had a bit more trouble readjusting. "What happened? I was just about to come to some kind of epiphany about myself...I think."

"Office Wilde broke the simulation," the panther said.

"He did what?!"

"I wouldn't exactly call it 'fixed' to begin with," Nick replied. "I may not know much about the legal system, but I am at least...90% sure that is not what being a lawyer is like."

"There were a number of inaccuracies," Judy admitted. "I mean, why was everything so biased towards the prosecution?"

"Why did everyone scream so much?"

"Why did the witnesses get to keep testifying after repeatedly committing perjury?"

"Where did all those random objects come from and where did they go?"

"Why did I get to keep prosecuting after repeatedly concealing evidence?"

"Who would ever trust Clawhauser with a gavel?"

"Hey, I didn't program this one!" Fitwick said defensively. "It was some quirky intern from overseas, Shu...Tanuki or something. I don't know why he made it that way."

Judy finally got out of the seat and stretched out. "Well I had fun, despite all that. I don't get why you're so bent out of shape about it, Nick. You even won the case. Are you that distraught about actually making a good lawyer?"

"It's not that," he sighed, feeling silly just for bringing this up. "But while we were in there, I found out what big, dramatic event it took to turn Nick Wilde, future con-artist and all-around scoundrel, into a lawyer. And guess what? Apparently, all it took was someone standing up for me back in the Ranger Scouts. Could it really have been that easy? Even if I didn't become a lawyer, I would've taken just about anything to avoid wasting twenty years of my life on the streets."

The bunny helped him out of the chair, a comforting paw on his shoulder. "That event shaped who you were, for better or for worse. There's no use worrying about what could have been."

"Like with you and Gideon Grey?"

She bit her lip. "You saw that, huh? It wasn't easy for me either suddenly having those memories, and I can't deny it as a possibility if things actually happened like that, but...I think I prefer this reality." She wrapped him up in a dangerously affectionate hug. "Don't you?"

"We might not be in court anymore, but I know a loaded question when I see one," he chuckled. "Alright, alright, it was worth it. Mostly." She punched him in the arm. "Ow! Even that. But if Flash ever mentions wanting a job at Mystic Spring, I'm going to try really hard to discourage him."

In the midst of making repairs to PIXAR, Fitwick couldn't help but overhear. "Guess I need to add another warning to the ToS: may cause an existential crisis..."

A sudden call on the radio ensured it would go no further. Chief Bogo's voice boomed out of the speaker. "Hopps, Wilde, I need you both back at the precinct on the double! Rosco the Rascal is back in custody and we need each of you to fill out statements!"

Nick blinked. "Huh?

"Also, there's a fresh mound of paperwork that needs your urgent attention. I'd say around...400 documents. Each."

Even Judy was taken aback. "Huh? Huh?"

"And due to budget constraints, I'm putting you both back on parking duty for the time being. You're still my best ticketers out there."

They were both floored. "Huh? Huh? Huh?"

Suddenly, a smirk passed across Nick's muzzle, the kind of smirk that Judy knew meant serious trouble. "Nick, don't."

"Come on, you know you wanna…"

"I...I couldn't…"

"We'll never get this chance again."

"...Alright, but just this once."

"Deal."

In unison, the two officers brought the radio up to their mouths and yelled…

Objection!


This has been "Nick Wilde: Ace Attorney", one of the most fun writing projects I've ever taken on, albeit at the expense of my actual ongoing fics. But I'd certainly say it was worth it, with reactions to the cover image alone ranging from "this looks cool" to "you'd better write this, you jerk". How could I resist?

Just to answer this question right from the getgo, no, I am not planning on a sequel to this at the moment. However, I AM currently working with my co-author Mind Jack on another Zootopia/Ace Attorney crossover: Badge & O'Possum, Ace Attorneys, starring our own cast of lawyers, crooks, and other NPC's. And if you're just looking for this style of oddball humor and quirky characters, our main fic "Born to Be Wilde" is chock full of that.

Shameless self-promotion aside, I would like to extend a big thanks to all of you for reading through this surreal adventure, to Mind Jack for all of his input, and of course, to Cimar for giving me this opportunity in the first place (and for putting up with me repeatedly breaking the word limit guidelines). Now to check out that crossover fangame I've been avoiding like the plague while writing this. See ya around, guys! :D

~Berserker88

AN: Cimar here, and I just want to thank Berserker and Mind Jack for this amazing story. Please check out their story, "Born to the Wilde" as it is a great one!