Bandai Namco holds the exclusive rights to all characters and story elements appearing in the video game "Tales of Symphonia." The following story has been written for entertainment purposes only, and no profit has been made by the author.
Tales of Symphonia
The People v. Zelos Wilder
Part Two: Trial Phase
Opening Statements: Sheena and Zelos
"Do you swear..."
"If the situation warrants it."
"...to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth..."
"Yes, no, no. Wait, I mean No, yes, no. Or is that Yes, no, yes. Or perhaps--"
"Yes, oh judge of judges? King of kings? Master of ceremonies?"
"You've been on the stand less than sixty seconds. Do you wish to be held in contempt so early on?"
"I thought being held in contempt was the reason I was put on trial in the first place. That and boffing your daughter."
"It's a love story for our time, Bob. Though she's been linked romantically with someone else, Sheena of Mizuho is still willing to give it all for the man she used to love--and probably still does--our very own Chosen of Mana, Zelos Wilder. How could she not, right?"
"Only in Meltokio, Mary. Miss Fujibayashi may be jeopardizing her standing as an agent of the Royal Court by assisting a man charged with harming the Royal Heir."
"You say her name so well, Bob. I just can't get the hang of it."
"Well, you weren't hired for your oratorical skills, Mary."
That's all for now. Stay tuned. We'll be back for another news update at the top of the hour."
One Week Earlier
Opening statements began one month to the day after Zelos goaded Lloyd into temporarily breaking him out of jail. And, as far as Tethe'alla's Chosen of Mana knew, Lloyd and Sheena spent every moment since then looking for that elusive bit of evidence that would prove him legally innocent. He hated to admit how much he needed their help.
The best investigators money could buy were all on the royal payroll and would continue to be until the trial concluded. An attorney's conference in Palmacosta ended last week, but reports of storms at sea had prevented any ship's disembarking from the city's port. That left royal barristers--loyal to the king--and legal students--inept in Zelos's opinion--as his only available counsel. Meanwhile, he was stuck behind bars with a lowly butler as his sole means of accessing the outside world. In the stories, butlers were retired soldiers hired to shepherd noble children to adulthood. Sebastian, though, was a butler of the real world, as ordinary as they come. He could barely function outside the confines of the noble quarter. So, yeah, Zelos needed the city's newest power(ed) couple watching his back.
And he needed to be serious. And he needed to be on point. And he needed to be...
"Hey, what's that on your finger?"
Sheena looked up from the file she was reading, frowned. "This gold band on my ring finger?"
"It's a ring."
"Does it signify anything?"
"Yes, it means I like to wear rings."
She flipped a page in the file. "Our best defense is still Princess Hilda's affidavit. Now, a good lawyer can challenge it because I tricked her into signing it, but, once we get it in out there, the jury won't forget it."
"Did Lloyd give you the ring? Nah, he's too poor. You know, I always thought I'd be the one giving you diamonds."
"You did once," she mumbled.
"I did?" Zelos scrunched up his nose. The affectation struck Sheena as awfully feminine. "Couldn't have been an engagement ring, unless I was re-heeeaaalllly drunk."
"You'd have to be drunk to ask me to marry you. Mr. Wilder, you sure know how to flatter a girl."
"My mouth gets me into trouble again."
"It's usually another--"
"Part of my anatomy getting me into trouble. Har. Har." He smiled and reached for her hand on impulse. She drew back. "I meant that I have no memory of proposing marriage to you or anyone else. Was it a bracelet that I gave you? Had to be a bracelet."
She bobbed her head.
"I don't suppose you still have it?"
She shook her head.
"You want another? You want ten? Just say the word." He noticed her hand curling into a fist and uncurling, saw the large intake of breath begin, and knew a tongue lashing was coming his way. And not the good kind of tongue lashing. "I'm only kidding, Sheena. Seriously, I wish you and my bud all the best. Are you two getting along well enough these days? Any plans for the all important three week anniversary?"
Sheena closed her folder. "Sebastian, may I have another cup of coffee, please. Thank you." When the butler ducked out to obey, Sheena caught the Chosen's eye. "Zelos, I made it clear the other night that my relationship with Lloyd is not open to discussion."
"Who's discussing? I'm teasing. Big difference."
"Not big enough."
"Incidentally, that's a defect I don't share with your beau. Sheena, come back. It's a joke. I joke when I'm scared for my life." Zelos kicked at the floor, then snarled, "Coffee stains your teeth, Sheena."
"Lloyd, my dear angel, I am a saint." Those words were on her lips as Sheena entered the hotel room. Lloyd, stripped to the waist, sat behind a desk. Photographs were strewn across the bedspread, the faces on some circled in red.
Sheena continued: "I know this because I endured--without complaint or violent outburst--twenty minutes of your friend's lame sexual innuendos." She noted the photos, asked about them.
"He's got boxes of them in his mansion. All with labels like 'Hotties I Dated.' The ones on the bed are from the 'Post Regen Hotties' box."
"So, girls he dated since the end of the Regeneration Journey?"
Lloyd nodded. "That's what Sebastian said."
"And the ones circled? Are those the ones he...?"
"Those are the ones I talked to today." Lloyd leaned back and stretched. His back cracked obscenely loud.
"That many? Poor baby." Sheena took him in her arms, nuzzled his cheek. "You must be exhausted."
"I'm pretty tired," he said.
"Not too tired I hope."
He grinned. "Nope, not too tired."
Soon, Zelos's photographs littered the floor.
Sheena groaned. "Oh, baby, say my name."
A few hours and a shared shower later, Sheena and Lloyd got to work on the Chosen's case, agreeing to meet for an early dinner at a café in town. Lloyd had taken to the role of an investigator easily enough. He wasn't much for grilling difficult subjects, but dogged determination, a refreshing sincerity, and a remarkable ease at earning people's trust mostly made up for his weaknesses. It also didn't hurt that the objects of his investigation were women eager to help anyone working on the Chosen's behalf.
For Sheena's part, she was acting more or less as Zelos's legal counsel. She was not certified to practice law in the city, but her training as future leader to her people included periodical crash courses on politics. She knew how to win an argument and, provided she could keep her temper, should be of some help to whomever Zelos finally settled on as his advocate in court.
Sheena descended the grand stairs from the noble quarter into the concourse below, and, after a few minutes, slipped through the doors of the Elemental Research Lab.
"As I live and breathe." The receptionist on duty, a matronly woman with the wide hips of middle age, moved around the information desk and seized Sheena, lifting her off her feet in a crushing embrace. "Sheena, darling, I am miffed at you. How can you be in town for weeks without once coming to visit me? And look at how you're dressed. Stylish and practical, I knew you had it in you."
"Like it?" She'd changed from her ninja garb into a newly purchased business suit. Zelos had offered to purchase it for her as partial payment for her legal services. Nothing doing. She'd bought it herself. The shirt was purple, while the jacket and skirt were dark brown.
"Love it, dear. I'm just thrilled I don't have to stare at your chest now. Not that it isn't lovely, but I get so jealous." The receptionist set her down. "Do you know how much weight I'd have to gain to end up with a chest as big as yours?"
Sheena's cheeks reddened. "Miss Drea..."
"Just call me 'Drea' now, dear. You're of age." Drea laughed heartily. "Oh, but it is good to see you. Ready for lunch?"
"Just about. Do you suppose I could see my old room?"
"Hun, it's a storage closet now. It won't be how you remember it."
"It was a storage closet before it was my room."
Drea frowned. "I wish I could have given you a home while you were living here, sweetie. But the officials wouldn't let me."
Sheena's heart swelled. "I never knew that."
Drea squeezed her arm. "Telling you would have given you false hopes, and, like the great man once said, 'false hopes are more dangerous than fears.'"
I had my share of the latter. Sheena put on a smile. "I'm with someone now, and I want to tell him all about my past. I figure seeing the room will put me in a nostalgic mood."
"Doesn't the Chosen know about your past already?"
"It's not that idiot Chosen."
Drea laughed. "I know, sweetie, but I do love teasing you. It's that cute brunette angel you're dating, isn't it? Go, see your old room. I'll wait out here."
Alone in her old room with the door shut, Sheena pried loose a brick along the back wall. She hadn't been certain whether the box would still be there, but it was, and inside she found a diamond bracelet with the inscription, "To my favorite hunny." Frowning, she slipped the box into her bag, composed herself, and then joined Drea in the lobby. "Now, let's get that lunch. Mind if I ask you a few questions along the way?"
"All right, Little Miss Lawyer. Should I contact my attorney?"