AUTHOR'S NOTE: Although I've tried to avoid depending heavily on the reader having knowledge of the game itself to be able to follow the internal story plot...honestly, having finished Case 5 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney would help a lot.

Outside the train window, buildings flickered past one by one, spilling shadows across Ema Skye's compartment. It was a literal "road out of town" for her as the sights and sounds of the city she'd called home for the nearly sixteen years of her life each moved on by. There was a certain poignancy to it, but she was more excited than sad. Yes, Ema's sister Lana had been arrested for her part in the evidence fraud and corruption scandal that blazed from every headline and was facing jail time, but blowing the lid off that scandal had also blown the lid off the frigid reserve Lana had maintained for two years, the emotional firewall that had insulated her from the suffering she was enduring but which had also distanced her from everyone in her life.

Ema was on her way to catch a plane to Europe, but she felt closer to Lana than she had while living with her sister for the past two years.

And, the friend Lana had arranged for Ema to stay with was a famous coroner! It would give Ema the chance to study first-hand the latest European police methods, helping her on her way towards becoming a scientific investigator. All in all, Ema Skye's life was looking up in a way it hadn't for years.

A knock at the door to her compartment surprised her out of her reverie.

"Hello? Who's there?"

The knock was repeated--three quick raps. Ema got up and went to the door, then turned the handle.

The bulk of the huge man falling in against her knocked her back, then pinned her legs to the floor. It took a moment for her to work herself free from what was, quite literally, dead weight.

Then, she took the logical, scientifically appropriate action, and screamed.

-X X X-

Does every woman I know have to be arrested for murder? I thought ruefully.

"I still don't understand why you didn't call me until the morning of the trial, Ema!"

"I told you, Mr. Wright; I just didn't believe that they would actually accuse me. After all, a careful police investigation based upon a scientific examination of the evidence would be certain to show that I was not guilty."

Had it somehow escaped her that the last time we had been in court together it had been to expose a scheme of murder, corruption, and forged evidence?

"It wasn't until this morning until I realized that this was real, that they actually thought I did this!"

I sighed. I suppose it made sense. Ema always had a lot if faith in the people she cared about, including the detectives and forensic investigators of the police department who were doing the work she wanted to one day. It was just like her to trust them until the last minute, It was also like her to trust me to be able to defend her with no lead time to investigate.

It might have been better if she had a little less trust.

"All right, then. Let's go on in."

We took our places at the defense bar. The courtroom was packed with spectators, probably because of Ema's role in exposing the corruption scandal.

If you ever read the headlines, Phoenix, you'd probably have heard about this case early enough to investigate it!

The judge's gavel struck, cutting sharply through the murmuring crowd. With his long, flowing white beard, he looked the very image of keen insight and Solomon-like sagacity.

Oh, how I wish it was true.

"Order! The court in the case of the People versus Ema Skye is now in session."

"Ready for the defense, Your Honor." Yeah, right.

"Ready for the prosecution, Your Honor."

Here we'd finally caught a break. Lana Skye had been Chief Prosecutor for the district, but she was now in jail. Manfred von Karma had likewise taken his forty-year perfect record to the wrong side of the bars (was there a theme here?). Miles Edgeworth had been the exception, a top prosecutor proven completely innocent of intentional wrongdoing, but nonetheless he had resigned, his rigid sense of honor unable to deal with the fact that he had used forged evidence in court to obtain convictions. More by a process of elimination than anything else, Ema's case had fallen to Winston Payne.

"Does the prosecution have an opening statement?"

"Yes, Your Honor," Payne declared in his thin, reedy voice. "The victim, Hermann Bosc, was an investigator with the forensics department. Among his most famous cases was the so-called SL-9 Incident, in which Detective Bosc was responsible for investigating the forged evidence planted by Lana Skye, the defendant's older sister. Bosc approved this evidence, thereby setting the stage for the heartbreaking tragedy that entrapped the defendant's family. The prosecution will show that Ms. Skye lured Bosc to her compartment on the train, that she shot him dead, intending that by the time the crime was discovered and her association with it revealed, she would have already been on a plane out of the country! She did this out of a sense of revenge, revenge on a man who had proclaimed himself an expert in her beloved scientific investigation but whose inadequacy in this area led to so much suffering for the defendant! He betrayed her ideals and betrayed her family, so she exacted summary justice!"

D-did I say it was a break we'd drawn Payne as prosecutor?

"A most heinous crime indeed!" marveled the judge.

Um...you could at least wait for the evidence before saying that...

"Call your first witness, Mr. Payne."

"The prosecution calls Angus Macintosh to the stand."

The bailiff brought a little old man forward. Macintosh wore a dark blue uniform pressed to military crispness and had a bushy, drooping moustache whose ends nearly brushed his collar.

"State your name and occupation, please."

"Och and begorrah, laddy-buck! Eee doo be Angus Macintosh oo th' Clan Macintosh, an' ee'l 'ave yer hide fer haggis if ye doon't think I--"

"Objection!" I snapped. "I have no idea what this witness is trying to say!"

The judge nodded.

"Objection sustained. The witness will refrain from poor imitations of a Scots accent while testifying," he instructed. "We don't need any lawsuits over ethnic insensitivity causing trouble on appeal."

"Oh, fine, spoil an old man's fun." He glared daggers at me. "My name is Angus Macintosh, and I'm the conductor of the Airway Express train."

"Just what is the Airway Express?" Payne asked.

"It's a special express shuttle train that runs between the main depot downtown and the airport. The run takes twenty-five minutes, and there's a trip out or back every half hour, for a total of ten round trips each day. There's two coach cars and one car of first-class compartments."

"By 'express' train you mean that it doesn't make any stops?"

"Only at the end of the line."

"So it would be impossible for anyone to get on or off en route?"

"Wel, you could get off if you didn't care too much about staying healthy."

Payne took a sheet of paper and handed it to Macintosh.

"Can you identify this list?"

"Sure. It's a passenger list from the 2:30 run from downtown to the airport. It's stamped with the date and time at the top, it has a list of coach passengers, and a list of first-class passengers with their compartment numbers."

"Do you find the victim's name?"

Macintosh checked the list over.

"Yep. He's here. He has Compartment #3. Well...had, I guess."

"What about the defendant?"

"She had Compartment #9."

"Very well; I ask that this list be entered as evidence."

"The Court accepts the list into the record."

Payne nodded.

"Now, Mr. Macintosh, did you speak to the victim on the day of the crime?"

Macintosh's moustache twitched.

"Well of course I did. I'm the conductor, ain't I? I had to take his ticket."

"Is that all you did? Didn't you talk to him as well?"

"Well, I don't know if you'd call it talking. He asked me if there was a girl named Ema Skye on the train, so I checked my list and said there was and she was in Compartment #9."

"He was looking for me?" Ema said, surprised. "Mr. Wright, why would he be doing that? How did he even know that I was on the train?"

"I don't know, Ema." Good questions, though.

"Now, let's move on to later in the trip. How did you first find out that there was a murder?"

"Well, I heard this girl screaming to beat the band, so I came out of my office--"

"Your 'office'? What do you mean by that?"

"Well, dadburn it, if you'd quit interrupting me I'd tell you." The moustache-ends twitched aggressively, each one rising and falling in turn as Macintosh flexed his lip. "It's what would be Compartment #10, but instead it's fixed-up as a place for me to write up my reports. There's even a wireless fax so I can send in the list of tickets and who did or didn't make it on the train."

"So you were there and you ran out into the hall?"

"That's right. The door to Compartment #9 was open, so I looked inside. I saw the victim on the floor, and that girl standing over him. I checked the man to make sure there wasn't anything I could do for him, shooed the other first-class passengers who'd come to gawk back to their compartments, then I took the girl back to my compartment and called the police. They met us when the train got to the airport. That's all I know."

"I see. These are very suspicious circumstances indeed," declared the judge. "You may cross-examine now, Mr. Wright."

Yeah, but what was I supposed to cross-examine him about? Oh, well, I suppose I have to try something.

"Mr. Macintosh, when Detective Bosc asked you where the defendant's compartment was, did he tell you why he wanted to know?"

"Nope."

"So why did you tell him?"

The moustache twitched twice.

"Eh, what's that?"

"Do you always tell strange men where to find young women on the train?"

He jerked his head back as if struck, and the moustache swung into a U shape with the motion.

"Just what are you implying, you spiky-headed shyster? He was a police officer, wasn't he?"

"But how did you know that?"

"Well, he told me, didn't he?"

Um...why, exactly, are you asking me

I cleared my throat.

"So...you're saying that when Detective Bosc asked about Ema, he told you that he was a police officer on official business?"

Macintosh's head bobbed up and down like he was one of those spring-necked dolls.

"Yessiree, that was it exactly. He asked about that Miss Skye, then when I wouldn't tell him right off, he lugged out his badge. 'Course, then I just had to talk, right?"

"Like any law-abiding citizen," Payne cut in, "Mr. Macintosh was perfectly willing to assist a police officer in the course of his duties. I hardly think being browbeaten by a defense attorney is a fair way to repay him!"

Yeesh, for a minute there he sounded just like Edgeworth! What's going on with him?

"Quite right, Mr. Payne," agreed the judge. "I think we need to move on."

"But that doesn't make any sense!" I shot back. "Why would there be a police investigation of Ema? And why would someone from the forensics department be sent to ask her questions, anyway?"

"Objection!" Payne screeched, his shrill voice threatening to pop my eardrums. "You can't expect that a train conductor would know about the inner workings of the Police Department, Mr. Wright!"

The judge nodded sagely.

"That's very true. We can only be expected to know our own jobs. Why, if it was me on the stand, could I be expected to testify about the law?"

Er, that is your job.

"Maybe you'd better just move on," Ema advised.

"Maybe so," I agreed, and turned back to Macintosh.

"How long after you heard the scream did it take you to get out into the hall?"

"No more than a couple of seconds."

"And you didn't see anyone?"

"Not a soul. The corridor was empty--at least at first. Then people started popping their heads out to see what the noise was."

I rubbed my chin, thinking that over. Payne didn't give me the chance to collect my thoughts, though.

"Of course there was no one there! That girl there was the murderer! There's no doubt about it."

"This testimony doesn't prove a thing."

Payne shook his head.

"Don't get ahead of yourself, Mr. Wright." He smiled, kind of a creepy little grin. "We've only just begun!"

I was afraid of that.