Something Wicked This Way Comes
Notes: The characters are not mine, except for the assassin. Fragmented Triangle and its people are mine, too, and though the idea of Jenova Corp is as well, the people running it are not mine. (Neither is Domino City.) This is a ficlit based on some ideas from a role-play, and in my normal timeline of events, it may be a bit AU. And seeing as how it's my first fic for the fandom, I hope I'll do alright. Some of the early dialogue in the telephone conversation with Phoenix was Lisa's brilliant idea. The scene at the hotel is largely based on an RP with Lisa, too. This is now largely revised and expanded from its original version, and I now have an idea of where the second chapter is going, too.
Miles Edgeworth frowned, shuffling through the sheets of paper he had accumulated in his briefcase. This new case, against a strange company that called themselves Fragmented Triangle, was not pleasing. The more he learned about the business, the less he liked it. They seemed to have an illogical grudge against his clients at Jenova Corp. Now there was proof that they had sent several of their employees there to spy. The company president had discovered it earlier that day, and Miles had been checking the list of infiltrators against the known Fragmented Triangle employees.
Jenova Corp's president had not really wanted their problems to go to court. He had said as much after calling Miles on the telephone earlier that day. But he was tired of Fragmented Triangle believing that they could walk all over their rivals. They were going to fight back.
It was odd for him to have taken on such a task in the first place, really. Oh, he could certainly use a high-profile case, but Jenova Corp was all the way up in Domino City, Oregon. He had flown there from Los Angeles a couple of days ago, after determining that he needed to speak with those at the local newspaper. They had published a strange story several months previous about a mysterious fire at the Fragmented Triangle building, not to mention a suspicious death. The spokesperson for the company had insisted that they knew nothing of it.
His acceptance of the case had probably happened in the first place because Wright was friendly with someone at Jenova Corp---the promotions director, was it?---and had recommended his rival when he had heard of their problems and their need for a good prosecutor. That was how the president had come to contact him. And after listening to the story, he had agreed to help. Fragmented Triangle was exactly the sort of underhanded business that he despised. And exactly the sort that could get off the hook with a crooked lawyer.
The papers he held now contained both the information that the president had faxed to him and what he had discovered on his own. Which, to be honest, was not much. And nothing appeared to add up.
There was also an odd piece from a newspaper in South America about a bizarre earthquake that had brought about the collapse of an ancient temple. Two men had been recovered from the wreckage. They had refused to tell anything of what had happened, or even their names, but their descriptions matched those of Azazel Rakesh and Dalton. What they would be doing all the way in the Amazon Rainforest was a mystery.
A slight stirring brought him to attention. What was that? It almost sounded as though something was scraping against something else. And it was close---possibly in the next room. When he thought of it, it resembled the sound a window made as it was pushed upward. Or perhaps the glass balcony doors being forced open? The next room over in the hotel was supposed to be vacant.
He stood, crossing the room in silence until he gained the closed connecting door between the rooms. Then he paused to listen. Someone was most certainly there. Whoever it was had just brushed against the table, and it had slid over a small amount of space in response. A burglar? If it was, he would have to possess a high knowledge of security systems. Miles had looked for only the very best hotel with the highest possible security. Of course burglars always seemed to find ways around them.
He turned, going back to his desk as quietly as possible. Gathering the papers for the case against Fragmented Triangle, he slipped them into the manilla envelope to the side and placed the envelope in the secret compartment of his briefcase. Then, lifting a paperweight as a possible defense, he dimmed the light and again moved towards the door. The knob was turning before he could stop it. Whoever it was, was coming in here.
He was greeted by the gleam of an onyx barrel and an ominous click. His eyes widened in the dark, then narrowed. A gun. He abhorred guns. And encountering one in the pitch blackness was the last experience he wanted to have.
"I think you've been digging into things a little too much, Mr. Edgeworth," a cruel and unfamiliar voice commented. "Maybe this will teach those Jenova Corp dogs that they should leave well enough alone."
His reaction was instantaneous. "Maybe this will teach you to leave well enough alone!" he retorted. The paperweight was flung, striking the revolver. The intruder grunted as it flew out of his grasp, firing harmlessly into the floor as it skidded across the carpet. Miles gritted his teeth. Guns shooting in dark rooms, no matter what they hit, was not something he wanted to hear. But that was in the past. It did not matter. He fell to his knees, closing his hand around the weapon. Then he turned, looking toward the sounds of the other person in the room.
The assassin was coming closer. His outline was visible, and he was not making enough effort to be quiet. There was a glint of silver in his hand . . . a knife? Miles gripped the pistol, his hand trembling. He would aim for something troublesome, but not fatal. The thought of using the gun at all was deplorable. There had been not only the incident when he had been nine, but the time he had nearly gone to prison for a murder he had not committed. He had never wanted to touch a gun again. But now, to save his own life, he had to.
He began to ease himself to his feet, his eyes focused on the dominant shoulder. He backed up as the killer advanced. He could not hesitate. His finger began to pull back the trigger. There was no going back.
The bullet cut through the night, slamming into his opponent's flesh. The other gasped, staggering back as he reached up to clap a hand over the wound. Odd, that his right hand did not seem altogether natural. It looked somewhat stiff and had an artificial shine, as though it might even be . . .
He never had the chance to complete that thought. Another gun had suddenly appeared in the other's left hand. Raising it as much as he dared with his wounded shoulder, he fired once, then twice.
The fire ripped through Miles' body. The gun he had procured fell from his hand as he stumbled backwards, his equilibrium lost. He collapsed to the floor on his back, gritting his teeth against the pain. Was this . . . how his father had felt? No . . . von Karma had shot him when he had been completely defenseless, unconscious from the lack of oxygen. Von Karma had believed that Gregory Edgeworth had never known what had happened. But had he? He had not known the identity of the murderer, but had he felt the horrible agony slamming into his chest? Even for just a split second before the bullet to the heart had ended his life?
His hand shaking, he reached up to where the holes in his flesh had been created. He had not been shot in the heart, but the crimson stickiness seeped over his fingers and across his palm. The wounds were serious. He gasped, his chest heaving.
The shooter came closer, surveying his handiwork. "That should be good enough," he mused. "You won't last five minutes like that." He turned, picking his way over the floor as the gun disappeared into his coat pocket. Then he bent down, lifting the original gun as well. "I'll just make this look like a robbery now."
With a sickening smirk felt even in the darkness, he walked over to the desk, rifling through the contents. Taking up an expensive set of pens, he placed them in his pocket. Then he searched through the papers a second time. He seemed to be looking for something specific. But he did not find the concealed compartment in the desk. He turned again, glancing over the room before heading to the door. "Maybe I'll pick up some trinkets from the other rooms on my way out," he smirked once more. "I might as well make this as authentic as possible." Then he was gone, leaving his victim alone in his agony.
Miles glowered after him, the blood rising in his throat. So he had been left here to die. But he was not dead yet. And he was laying on the floor near his desk. Was there any way he could crawl over and pull the telephone down to him? There was not a doubt that it would be extremely painful. But it was his only chance. The neighbors would not have heard a thing; the guns had held silencers. And he did not want to rely on his neighbors, anyway.
Keeping his left hand over his chest, he began to turn onto his right side, using his elbow as leverage. The blood trailed into his left sleeve now, snaking up his forearm. But he forced himself to ignore it. Instead he pushed himself forward, unable to stop from coughing as the blood arrived in his mouth. Was there some internal damage? He did not seem to be having extreme discomfort breathing, so hopefully at least a lung had not been pierced. But there were plenty of other possible misfortunes, too.Here was the cord from his cell phone's battery charger, hanging down the back of the desk. Would he be able to pull on it? He was trying to balance himself with his right hand. He would have to use his left, even though it was sticky. That could pose a problem. Still, he reached up, his lip curling at the sight of the blood gracing his hand. As his fingers closed around the cord, he gave a tug. The cell phone toppled over the edge, clattering to the carpet as the flap popped open. Miles grabbed for the device as it came loose from the charger, and he found himself falling back to the floor with it. The sound of the dial tone filled his ears.
Now . . . what number should he press? His mind was growing so cloudy. If he pressed Zero, then he could get the operator to connect him with the local nine-one-one dispatch. But that would take longer. He would have to see if he could get his hand to hold steady long enough to dial correctly. The receiver was slippery now, too. He brought his right hand up, hitting first one button and then another with his forefinger. Somehow it had not seemed correct. But it was ringing. He placed the receiver to his ear.
A click. "Hello?"
Miles was silent. Why was he hearing Wright's voice on the other end?
". . . Hello?!"
At last he forced himself to respond. It was tempting to hang up and try again, but he did not know if he would last that long. And Wright would worry if he was hung up on and then saw from the caller identification who had called.
". . . That's what I get for putting you on speed dial."
Wright was bewildered. "Edgeworth?! Where are you?"
He took a deep and shaking breath. The pressure on his chest was weighing him down. Wherever the bullets had landed inside his body, it was not making this any easier.
"I'm at my hotel room, Wright. Where do you think I would be at this time of the evening?"
"That's another thing," Wright exclaimed. "Why are you calling me at midnight?! Did you find out something else about the case?"
A brief silence. "I wasn't trying to call you. I was trying to call for an ambulance."
"Oh I see. . . . Wait, what the heck do you need an ambulance for?!" A pause. "And why are you breathing heavy like that? What's going on, Edgeworth?!"
Miles clutched at the phone as if it was his last link to reality. It felt as though it was. His vision was going in and out of focus now. The ceiling seemed so high above him, as if he was descending far below the floor. It was a most unsettling sensation. "Look, Wright---I'm only going to say this once," he said. "I've been shot. I won't be able to remain conscious long enough to send for the ambulance."
"You were what?! Shot?! How bad is it? It can't be too bad if you were able to get to the phone . . . can it?"
Another silence. "It's bad, Wright." His voice was weaker now.
Phoenix had never heard Edgeworth sound so helpless. And honestly, it scared him. He gripped the phone, his knuckles turning white. The other's breathing was so loud, accentuated by the telephone receiver. . . .
"Hey, Edgeworth, I'll call the ambulance," he tried to say. "Just . . . hang in there or something! I'm coming over."
There was silence now. The heavy breathing had not slowed; it was just not there. Had he dropped the phone? That must be it. But still . . .
"Hello?! Hey, Edgeworth, say something!" Phoenix was still clutching the phone. It was a wonder it did not break in his grasp. "Edgeworth!"
He pressed the dial tone button repeatedly. Maybe it was something wrong with his own connection. He narrowed his eyes, tapping out the number that had just called him. Instead of a ring, the busy signal beeped in his ears. Edgeworth had not hung up. This was bad.
Again he hit the dial tone button. Pressing nine-one-one, he shifted in impatience. One ring, two rings. . . .
At last the dispatcher answered. Phoenix barely remembered the message he rattled off, something about Miles Edgeworth being shot, and where his hotel room was located. He was hanging up the instant he could, running to the door and slamming it behind him. He had to get down there himself.
The hotel was in an uproar when he pulled up in his rental car. The building was in darkness, and even from outside, he could hear the clamor and panic of the guests in the lobby. The power had gone off throughout the entire hotel, and from what they were saying, the telephones were down, too. Some people burst outside onto the sidewalk, gasping and desperate for fresh air after the commotion within.
Phoenix's eyes narrowed. The shooter must have done that. And he had probably escaped by now. The ambulance had not arrived yet, either. Was there a flashlight in the car? He pulled open the glove compartment, searching amongst the car manual and various odds and ends. Yes, here was one---albeit a small one. But it still worked, so it would have to be good enough. He began to step out onto the pavement.
"Excuse me, but what's going on?" he demanded of a older woman who was standing close to the car.
She started as she turned to look at him. "I don't know!" she cried. "No one knows. The electricity suddenly went off! The telephone service too. Are you a repairman?"
Phoenix shook his head. "No, I'm not." It would probably be better not to say why I'm here, he thought to himself. The woman was hysterical enough as it was. The ambulance would arrive soon, and Edgeworth needed help now. Every minute he delayed made it less likely that he would be alright.
What am I saying?! he berated himself as he ran past. This is Edgeworth. Stubborn to the end. Only it won't be the end for him. It can't be!It was hard to push past the crowds packed throughout the lobby. Everyone was talking at once, and the desk clerk was overwhelmed, throwing his hands into the air. It would be almost impossible to get through to him. Instead Phoenix struggled to get to the staircase, easing himself around several furious guests in the process. They barely noticed, too caught up in their temper tantrums to think of anything else. Apparently they were infuriated over the hotel's "frightful lack of service", and the lack of information on what was happening.
Soon Phoenix was hurrying up several flights of stairs. Poor Edgeworth, having been forced to take a room near the top. With his phobia of earthquakes, being on a high floor of the hotel was the last thing he had wanted. But the only available suites had been on that level.
He had not stopped to think about how he would get in. Of course Edgeworth had locked his door. And a quick survey of things upon arrival showed that the shooter had either not left by that door or else he had locked it after him. Phoenix placed his hands on the slab of wood. He could not afford to go back down and try to get the desk clerk's attention. He would have to break it in.
Gritting his teeth, he threw his whole body weight against it. Nothing happened. He tried again. This time there was a vague straining of wood. A third try weakened it immensely, and the fourth attempt at last sent the door flying open, crashing against the wall as it went.
Maybe they won't charge me for the damage if they know what happened, he thought.He tore in, taking in the scene all at once. Blood was all over the carpet. Edgeworth was laying on the floor, the phone still held in his limp hand. His breathing was pained. His other hand was clutching at his chest, crimson seeping between his fingers.
"Edgeworth?!" Phoenix burst out, running over and dropping to his knees next to the other. From the looks of it, it was worse than he had thought. Or at least, worse than he had wanted to believe. All of what was happening seemed like some kind of horrible, surreal nightmare.
The other's eyes weakly opened as consciousness began to ease itself back into being. "Wright . . ." Edgeworth frowned. "You shouldn't have come. What if . . . if you had ended up attacked too?"
Phoenix shook his head. "The shooter's probably long gone by now. And . . ." He narrowed his eyes. "This is really my fault anyway. You got into this because of me."
"Don't be ridiculous, Wright. . . . Accepting the assignment was my choice. . . ." Edgeworth's eyes were glassy. His breathing was starting to slow even further.
And Phoenix's panic was starting to rise. He grabbed Edgeworth's wrist. "The ambulance isn't here yet," he said. "Let me see the damage!"
There was no resistance. The hand slipped away, revealing the torn flesh underneath. An exclamation of alarm passed from Phoenix's lips at the sight. Taking out a clean cloth, he pressed it against the wounds.
"He got you bad, Edgeworth!" he cried.
"I think I should know that better than anyone," Edgeworth retorted. He winced as the pressure was applied to his chest. It was not likely that he would make it. But even knowing that, he could not die yet. His hand shaking, he reached up to grip at Phoenix's wrist. The other lawyer stiffened at the feel of the bloodstained hand.
"You have to catch these people," Edgeworth choked out. His voice was more rasping now. The taste of copper in his mouth was strong. And consciousness was almost depleted again.
"I will!" Phoenix said. "I got you into this mess. I have to get you out, somehow."
Edgeworth decided to ignore that. He was not in any condition to convince the other that he was blameless.
"Wright." He forced the urgency into his voice. "The man who did this . . . his right hand wasn't real."
"Real?!" Phoenix repeated, still struggling to quell the bleeding. "You mean . . . a prosthetic?"
Edgeworth gave a weak nod, even as his gaze began to deaden.
Phoenix panicked. "N-no!" he exclaimed. "Edgeworth, you have to hold on! You didn't really choose death before. You can't choose it now!"
A weak smirk graced Edgeworth's features. "The situation really is quite different this time. I don't have a choice."
"Choice?! Of course you have a choice!" Phoenix screamed. But whatever he was about to retort next caught in his throat. Edgeworth had gone limp under his grasp. His breathing, which had already begun to slow, was now barely enough to keep him alive. Down below, the sirens of the ambulance could be heard.
Phoenix gritted his teeth. "You're going to make it into that ambulance alive, Edgeworth," he vowed. "And you're going to be just fine. You're too stubborn to really die."
Sometimes he wondered why he had not realized that before, after discovering that cryptic and enigmatic note a couple of years previous. "Prosecutor Miles Edgeworth chooses death." He had not meant it literally at all, but Phoenix had not even stopped to consider it. For him, there had been a betrayal. He had felt as though Edgeworth had allowed his pride to usurp his reasoning, and that instead of facing the truth he had decided to give up on everything. Edgeworth had actually left to clear his mind, to figure out what he was going to do after he had been forced to take a good long look at himself.And when he had returned, he had rotated the tables and had made Phoenix take the same look at himself when Phoenix had begun to be discouraged. A defense attorney's job was not to get his client found innocent any more than a prosecutor's job was to get the defendant found guilty. Both of them should focus on the same goal of reaching the truth.
That's what they had tried to do here. And now . . . this had happened. . . ."Sir? Can you move aside, sir?"
Phoenix started, looking over his shoulder at the incoming medics. Two were carrying a stretcher. Two more were carrying other equipment, which they set on the floor next to Edgeworth. Phoenix swallowed, straightening up as he moved to the side. There was such a numbness coursing through his veins. But there was determination as well. The one who had done this would be brought to justice. Edgeworth's clue would help. After all, how many people in this area alone had prosthetic right hands? And were capable of shooting others?
The paramedics worked quickly, temporarily binding the wounds before lifting Edgeworth onto the stretcher. It looked like it would be hard to move him gently yet with haste. But they managed, lowering the limp body onto the cushioned surface before adjusting the safety straps and administering an oxygen mask. Phoenix could only continue to stand by, a lump coming into his throat. That was really Edgeworth laying there, so still and pale. . . . So unlike himself. . . .
"Will he live?!" Phoenix demanded, watching as they began to wheel the stretcher into the hall. He hurried after them.
The medic gave a tired sigh. "Honestly? I don't know," he said. "We can only pray that nothing vital was hit."
"You think it might have been?!" Phoenix cried. By now the electricity had been restored, though he barely noticed. He followed them into the elevator.
"It's a possibility," the medic answered. "It looks like his ribs stopped at least one of bullets from going as far as his heart. We need to get him to the hospital before we can determine for certain where the other one went."
Phoenix gave a weak nod. His gaze fell upon Edgeworth's motionless body again, but he quickly averted his eyes. It was too unreal, too disturbing, to see him like this.
The ride to the ground floor only took a matter of seconds, but it still felt like an eternity. When they reached the bottom and started to wheel Edgeworth to the front door, the guests turned to stare in shock and horror. But at least they had enough presence of mind to move out of the way. Phoenix hastened ahead of them to hold open the door.
As he grabbed for the heavy glass and metal slab, it slipped from his grasp, leaving streaks of crimson where he had tried in vain to hold onto it. Again he swallowed hard. Edgeworth's blood, he realized, staring at the unwelcome red before taking hold of the door another time. Now he was able to hold on, but he could still feel the slippery nature of the surface in his hands.
It's all over my hands, he thought to himself. His blood is all over me.And did he feel that it was more than just a literal meaning?
"Just watch out! If they know we're investigating them, things could get really sticky."That was what he had been told when he had started to investigate some of the company's shady-sounding dealings. And he had been the one to recommend Edgeworth to Jenova Corp. If this had happened because of it . . .
They were out now. They were loading the stretcher into the ambulance and then climbing in themselves. The driver revved the engine, and the sirens, as the doors were pulled shut.
Phoenix was left standing on the sidewalk, staring helplessly after them as the vehicle began to move.
He started. A woman was standing next to him, her eyes watching him in concern.
"I've been calling to you for over a minute!" she said. "You look pale. Is there anything I can do to help you?"
Phoenix shook his head. "N-no," he answered. His manners began to come back to him as the situation came into focus. "Thank you . . . but no." He looked after the ambulance. "There's nothing you can do."
The painful thought continued to run through his mind as he gripped the edge of the door.
Is what happened my fault?