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Phoenix Wright (成歩堂龍一) ([personal profile] thewrightway) wrote in [community profile] aceattorneythenovel2016-09-17 08:44 pm

Chapter 3: I'm not the culprit! (Japanese terminology)

[June 18, 2:07 PM: Pegasus Town, Staff Area]

Amamiya-san and I hopped in the elevator and travelled down to the first floor.
“So what happened? Did Chokkakkou-san have some terminal illness...?”
Despite asking the question out loud, I knew deep down that this death wasn't of natural causes. If the cause of death was an illness, then Amamiya-san wouldn't seem so shaken.
Amamiya-san shook his head and spoke gravely.
“He's been stabbed. By the time the staff found him, he was already dead.”
Stabbed to death... It's even worse than I'd expected.
The wait for the elevator door to open felt agonisingly slow, we then rushed to the waiting room. There were two waiting rooms next to each other, but the one Chokkakkou-san used was “Waiting Room B”.
The moment we opened the door, I was frozen in place.
The floor was drenched in blood. The victim lay there with his limbs twisted in an unnatural manner. The knife was still sticking from his chest.
It was Chokkakkou-san. His eyes were still open wide in shock.
I quickly surveyed the crime scene.
The room had a large table with two chairs. On top of the table, a black bag sat. One of the chairs had a yellow parka hanging on it.
The wall on the right hand side had a dressing table with a mirror, the dressing table had a chair in front of it. Large lockers lined the wall on the left hand side. The feet of Chokkakkou-san's corpse pointed in the direction of a locker. The locker's door was wide open, blood splattered inside.
Several people were already in the room. Minuki and Momogaya-san were standing by the dressing table. Momogaya-san was trembling as she looked downward, while Minuki comforted her with an arm around her shoulder.
Beside them standing dumbfounded was Momogaya-san's manager, Sasae-san.
Other than them there was a man who appeared to be event staff waiting for Amamiya-san. He gave a flustered explanation of the situation to Amamiya-san. However he was so distressed that it made little sense.
Minuki called out. I walked over to her and Momogaya-san.
“Minuki! Are you alright!?”
“Yeah, I'm fine. But Sumomo-chan...”
Momogaya-san hung her head while trembling like a leaf. Her face was hidden by her long hair, so I couldn't see the expression.
Momogaya-san struggles to squeeze the words from her throat.
“It wasn't... It wasn't me... I didn't kill him...!”
“... Momogaya-san?”
“It wasn't me... I don't know anything...”
I stared blankly at Minuki. She softly explained.
“The knife used as the murder weapon...”
“The one currently stabbed in the body. It's Sumomo-chan's.”
I recalled Momogaya-san's time on stage. She didn't have her knife, so she was unable to do her usual fruit carving performance...
I approached the body and crouched to inspect it, being careful not to step in any splattered blood. The murder weapon sticking out of his chest was definitely the knife I saw in the waiting room before the show.
Sasae-san looked at me. This was obviously quite a shock to him too, his face had gone quite pale.
“We've contacted the police. They should be here any minute.”
“... Who was the first to discover the corpse?”
Minuki was the one to answer my question.
“It was me and Sumomo-chan. We found him like this when we came back to the waiting room after the show ended.”
“Isn't your waiting room next door? Why did you come into this one?”
“Because Chokkakkou-san never came out on stage.”
Minuki decided that her explanation was too short and expanded on it.
“After Sumomo-chan's performance, the three of us were supposed to come out on stage and give our farewells to the audience. But Chokkakkou-san never came out. We figured he was probably feeling down since his performance crashed and burned... We figured we should just leave him be until after.”
So after leaving stage, they decided to check up on him and found the waiting room in its current state.
“Nobody's disturbed the crime scene?”
“Of course. We haven't touched a thing. I've been in this room ever since the corpse was discovered, so no one has been able to tamper with the evidence.”
She's certainly my daughter. Totally reliable.
“... Um, Daddy. There's one thing bothering me though.”
Minuki spoke quietly. However since the room was small and quiet as the dead, every living person probably still heard her.

“Chokkakkou-san's pose.”
“His pose?”
“Yeah. His right arm is stretched out, but his left hand is on his chest? Also, both of his knees are bent like they would be if he was kneeling.”
“... Ah.”
I noticed that too when I first saw him. No matter how you look at it, it's not a natural pose.
“It looks kinda like his 'Divine punishment!?' pose.”
“... His what?”
“You saw his act, right Daddy? Chokkakkou-san's favourite joke.”
I took another look at the corpse, dumbfounded.
Minuki was right. The corpse may be lying down face up, but if you were to stand it up maintaining that pose... it'd be exactly the same as that 'Divine punishment!?' pose!
It'd be unnatural for the victim to collapse in this pose after being stabbed. Which means there's only one explanation.
Chokkakkou-san only took that pose after the murderer had already killed him.
“How... How horrendous...!”
Amamiya-san groaned sorrowfully as he buried his face in his hands.

The police soon arrived and began inspecting the crime scene.
When I know one of the detectives, I'm usually able to get permission to join the investigation. But unfortunately there were no familiar faces among the police today.
I had to leave the scene for now. As the ones who discovered the corpse, Minuki and Momogaya-san remained there.
Along with the rest of the customers, Odoroki-kun and Kokone-chan were completely ignorant of the incident. They had been under the assumption that since Minuki and I hadn't returned yet we must have been chatting with the event organisers.
We met up in a cafe, as I explained the incident to them I saw the colour drain from their faces.
“A knife in the chest! That's no suicide or accident. It's gotta be murder!”
“You're being too loud, Kokone-chan. But yeah, that's 100% a murder case.”
“And Sumomo-chan's knife was the murder weapon...?”
“It's pretty suspicious.”
Odoroki-kun stated calmly. Kokone-chan got irritated with her response.
“What... Odoroki-senpai, you don't seriously think Sumomo-chan did it!?”
“No. Quite the opposite actually. It'd be crazy to stab someone with a knife that can easily be tracked back to yourself. It'd make you the most obvious suspect.”
“Yeah. I agree.”
“So that means... that someone else stole it?”
Kokone-chan lowered her voice as she spoke.
“The real culprit stole Sumomo-chan's knife and used it as the murder weapon. They want to pin the crime on her!”
Odoroki-kun said.
“Nothing's set in stone yet, but something feels off. We should try and investigate.”
And so, we were all on board.
There was no way we could ignore a murder taking place backstage at an event Minuki was involved in.
Kokone-chan made a fist and punched into her other hand. It's the pose she always takes when raring to go.
“Yarimashou. Let's do this!”

However– just as we were about to get started, we ran into a wall.
The police announced the murder and arranged to have the customers removed from Pegasus Town.
The once calm shopping mall got caught up in panic, the customers all rushed for the exit.
I wasn't going to be forced out so easily. I tried showing my attorney badge to the police, requesting that I be allowed on the scene, but they bluntly refused.
I probably should have insisted that I was involved with the case and stayed on the scene with Minuki. Well, I guess that was my mistake.
At that moment my phone rang. It was Minuki.
(Daddy? The police just finished questioning me…)
Minuki’s voice was hard to hear. She seemed to be talking quietly as to avoid letting anyone around her hear.
(Something terrible has happened.)
“Something terrible? What happened, Minuki?”
(Not over the phone. I'll explain it all in person.)
We decided on a meeting place and ended the call.
“What’s going on with Minuki-chan?”
Odoroki-kun asked with concern. I shook my head.
“I'm not sure. Something to do with the case, I'm guessing…”
Anyway, myself, Odoroki-kun and Kokone-chan rushed to the meeting place.

The entrance hall was in chaos.
To avoid being caught up in the flow of people, Minuki stood in an isolated spot.
I called out to her and her shoulders relaxed.
“What happened?”
Minuki spoke in a low voice.
“The police arrested Sumomo-chan as a suspect. I did my best to convince them otherwise, but I couldn't. They took her away.”
“They did that...?”
Of course, Momogaya-san could be a very important witness. And the knife used as the murder weapon was hers.
But to take her as the main suspect so quickly…
“Have they got anything other than the knife used as the murder weapon?”
As a response to my question, Minuki nodded with a stiff expression.
“They do. The detectives enquired with the shops nearby and came up with some witnesses against her. Two of them.”
“Witnesses...? Who are they...?”
“They're shopkeepers. A book store employee and a boutique employee, they witnessed Sumomo-chan acting suspiciously.”
“Acting suspiciously...?”
“I don't know the details. I only know what I overheard from the detectives. But the police really sped up at that point... They really settled on Sumomo-chan as the prime suspect.”
What a situation. I wonder what kind of statement they got?
“Minuki, do you know the witnesses names?”
“Yeah. Shomi-san from the Pegasus Book Center and Hanaya-san from Boutique Cauliflower.”
Minuki is reliable as ever. Despite being shaken by this, she still got all the important details.
Kokone-chan shouted.
“I'm sure there's some kind of mistake! We should go talk to those witnesses.”
“Yeah. Let's go.”
We went against the tide of people heading for the exit and went back inside the shopping mall.

First up is the 'Pegasus Book Center'.
“Uuum... So it's the book store on the first floor.”
Kokone-chan said while spreading out the floor map pamphlet.
This shopping mall is huge. We'd get lost easily without any map.
The map Kokone-chan has is for customers, so the staff area isn't marked out.
Although the unmarked passageway would be running behind each of the shops.
I built an accurate picture of the map in my head.
Out of all the shops on the first floor, the Pegasus Book Center takes up the most floor space as a large scale book store. It would be located right on the corner of the staff area. Right next to the waiting rooms.
As we arrived, the store manager was just seeing off the last customer and preparing to close shop.
“Excuse me...”
As I spoke up, the manager turned and replied.
“I'm sorry sir. Due to a major incident, all the stores are closing early. Please come back another time.”
Man, I wonder how many times he's repeated that line. He sounded like a robot.
“No, I'm not a customer. I heard one of the employees here was an important witness...”
“Ah, so you're a cop.”
The manager's tone changed. He's mistaken... but I don't think I'll correct him.
The manager called out to the back of the shop.
“Hey, Shomi-kun. It's the cops. They have more questions for you.”
Despite me not saying a single word about that, the manager continued on with his misunderstanding.
A man came out from the back. He looked to be in his mid twenties. He was a serious looking fellow with glasses.
“What do they want to ask... I told them everything already...”
A grumbling voice spoke, but–
His expression changed the moment he saw us.
“Mi... Mi... Mi–...!?”
His expression stretched as he let out a squeaky yell, and immediately fled back into the store.
“Ah, he's running!”

Kokone-chan shouted.
“A suspicious character! Let's catch him, Naruhodo-san!”
“No, hold it, Kokone-chan. He's a witness, not the culprit.”
The manager tilted his neck in perplexment.
“Shomi-kun? That's weird. He gave his statement just fine earlier...”
“Excuse us.”
I moved on from the manager and went deeper into the store.
It's practically a maze with all these bookshelves. The store's set up is great for exploring books at your leisure, but not so much for catching up with someone who is running away.
“Why'd he run away? Does he have a guilty conscience for something?”
Kokone-chan said.
“Mi, Mi... is what he said. I wonder what he was trying to say?”
“Maybe it was something like 'Mi, mi, misdemeanour!' or 'Mi, mi, milk!'...”
“That doesn't make sense, Kokone-chan.”
Having navigated the maze of bookshelves, we reached the deepest part of the large store.
There we found the checkout counter and behind the counter was a large iron door, most likely the back entrance to the staff area.
“That Shomi guy has escaped out the back door! After him!”
Kokone-chan is totally treating the witness as some kind of suspect. Well, I guess it makes sense with his reaction.
Then something happened just as we came around the counter.
The iron door opened dramatically.
Standing behind it was – not the store employee.
“... What is it?”
The enthusiastic Kokone-chan faltered. It wasn't just her though, Odoroki-kun, Minuki and myself all took a step back as well.
From behind the iron door came a mascot suit with a giant book for a head. The open book had a pair of bulging eyes and a large mouth.
I've seen this before. It was sitting out in the staff area earlier...
“Ah, I know this thing!”
Minuki spoke up.
“It's Yomettehno-chan!”
“... Yomettehno?”
“Yeah. He's a mascot to promote reading. He's an ally of literacy who encourages all the good little kids out there to read more.”
Yomettehno... For a mascot character, he sure has a fancy name.
“Why is there a mascot character here?”
“Shomi-kun is in there.”
The manager who had caught up with us at some point spoke.
“We had an event at the store today. It was called “Play with Yomettehno!” and we had this costumed character appear. It was a huge hit with the kids.
“Huh... And the witness was the one inside the costume...?”
“Indeed. Shomi-kun is surprisingly good in there. He's got a lot of experience with mascot costumes. He's kinda gloomy in person, but once inside his movements become all cute!”
In response to the manager's praise, Yomettehno-chan wiggled his arms about.
... Cute... Really? If I was a kid, I'd probably cry.
“So why is he wearing the costume now?”
“Dunno... We'll have to ask him ourselves. Shomi-kun? Shomi-kun, what's up?”
The manager asked, but Yomettehno-chan put a hand to his mouth to make a “Shhh” pose.
“Oh, I forgot. Yomettehno-chan can't talk.”
“What do you mean can't talk!?”
“If a mascot character spoke, it'd break the illusion. Shomi-kun has never said a single word any time he's wearing the suit.”
I never thought that I'd face this kind of situation with a witness.
“Can we get him to come out of the suit now?”
“Dunno. I've tried in the past. Maybe if you negotiate with him.”
... I'm not sure I can negotiate with a mascot that doesn't talk.
Odoroki-kun interjected.
“Naruhodou-san, we can come back here later, we should try and meet up with the other witness. If we waste all our time here, he might leave before we meet him.”
“... You're right.”
Unfortunately, this is just a waste of time. We're better off seeing the other witness like Odoroki-kun suggested.
Leaving the bookshop for later, we headed for the next shop.

“Next is 'Boutique Cauliflower', a store dedicated to romantic fashion for girls... is what it says!”
Kokone-chan read from the map's description in an excited tone.
“Kokone-chan, we're not here to shop right now.”
“I know that!”
Boutique Cauliflower was the store two doors down from the Pegasus Book Center.
Once again, I mentally formed an image of how it connected to the back passageway not shown on the map.
This store's back door would be in a position on the other side of the elevator and stairs compared to the Pegasus Book Center. It's not all that close to the waiting rooms.
Boutique Cauliflower was also seeing off it's customers and preparing to close shop.
“Um, excuse me...”
I spoke up and a man in a sparkling suit turned around.
“My deepest apologies, sir. Due to an incident taking place, the store is closing early today.”
“No, we aren't customers. We're investigating the incident...”
“Eh? You're police officers? Didn't I already give my statement?”
The man spoke in a fancy tone while adjusting the scarf around his neck.
It seems this is our witness. Their name was... Hanaya-san, right?
“We'd like to go over the statement again. Can you tell us everything you saw?”
I didn't want to go through the trouble of explaining that we weren't police, so I just went with it.
Hanaya-san quirked an eyebrow. That's when I thought... he's totally suspicious of me.
“You... You're terrible. Most unpleasant.”
“... Huh?”
“This ugly badge, what is it!? It's horrendous!”
Hanaya-san grabbed my lapel. I was wearing my attorney's badge... proof of my profession.
“Wearing this horrible sparkling badge ruins the look of such a wonderful suit. Why don't people understand basic things like this!?”
“Eh...? Eh... Uh... Well you see... It's really important...”
“And those shoes! I swear, it's like 99 our of every 100 middle aged men wear the same dull shoes!”
“... Eh... Huh...?”
They're fine, aren't they? What's wrong with normal leather shoes?
Hanaya-san gave an exaggerated shrug and shook his head.
“What you lack is, indeed, a sense of adventure. Your outfit has no coordination! Just look at that cheap looking candy store badge and those overly dull shoes, it's not satisfying!”

“N-no, this badge is really important, and I like these shoes...”
“Just leave it to me. The charismatic fashion adviser Kazaru Hanaya will take you to the depths of adventure and pick out some fabulously gorgeooooouuuus shoes for you!”
“Hold it right there! I'm not here to buy new shoes!”
I finally cut in to ask a question.
“I heard you're an important witness for the crime?”
Hanaya-san clammed up. I decided to press harder.
“What did you see? What did you tell the police? Tell us now.”
Hanaya-san replied reluctantly.
“... Um, I saw that idol girl entering the waiting room.”
The waiting room, huh... That shouldn't be an issue. It's normal to see a performer like Momogaya-san enter a waiting room.
“That girl, I saw her sneaking out of one waiting room and into the other one. I hear that's where the murder took place, I was shocked to hear it.”
I felt the need to confirm what he said.
“Hold on a moment. You saw Momogaya-san enter waiting room B?”
“I don't know which one is A or B, but it was the room the murder took place in.”
Momogaya-san went from her own waiting room into Chokkakkou-san's one?
What the heck? That's the first I've heard of this!
“What time was this? Do you remember the exact time!?”
Hanaya-san took another look at my badge. The attorney badge he had decried as horrendous.
“That... isn't a police badge, is it? Which means you aren't police?”
Things could get messy if I explain that I'm a lawyer.
As I hesitated to answer, Hanaya-san took on a haughty tone.
“So you're a newspaper reporter? Oh, I've let all kinds of important details slip!”
“No, I'm not a journalist...”
“You should have said so sooner! I'm busy! If you want to hear my magnificent testimony, then come to the trial!”
We were forced out of the store.
It seems we won't be getting any further details from him. We'll have to pull back.

Odoroki-kun spoke up as we walked through the lifeless shopping mall.
“That was one bombshell of a statement. He says he saw Sumomo-chan entering the scene of the crime... Geez.”
“Wouldn't you have noticed, Minuki? You shared the same waiting room, right?”
I asked and Minuki shook her head.
“First I've heard of it too. Sumomo-chan never mentioned anything about it.”
“I see. And if you didn't notice her, then it must have been during your performance...”
“Not necessarily. During both Chokkakkou-san's and Sumomo-chan's performances, I was on the wing of the stage, I never went back to the waiting room.”
This is also new info to me.
“Since I'd never performed with Chokkakkou-san before, I thought I'd see what his performance was like from the wing of the stage. Then since he bombed so bad... I was really on edge and didn't get a chance to return to the waiting room.”
“And then Sumomo-chan seemed somewhat off, so I watched her from the wing of the stage since I was worried about her.”
Which means that between the opening talk and the start of her performance, we have no idea what Momogaya-san was doing...
“... Um, Daddy.”
Minuki had a serious expression.
“The thing is... When we found Chokkakkou-san's corpse, Sumomo-chan did something weird.”
“Weird? How so?”
“When we found the body, both of us screamed in surprise, but then Sumomo-chan approached the corpse unsteadily...”
Minuki gently reached out.
“She was about to touch Chokkakkou-san, around his left breast pocket.”
“Wait, what?”
“I shouted 'Don't touch him!' at her. I figured that it'd be bad if we disturbed the scene. And then she pulled her hand back, but... it's still weird, right?”
Definitely weird. Most people who find a bloody corpse wouldn't immediately want to go touching it.
Maybe she wanted to check if he was still alive? But then she would've checked his wrist for a pulse or seen if he was breathing. Since Chokkakkou-san was stabbed in the chest, the breast pocket on his shirt would be covered in blood. So reaching for that spot...
“Maybe something was in his pocket?”
Odoroki-kun said.
In his pocket... huh. Was there something important in there? And did Momogaya-san know about it...?
“... Have you told the police about this?”
Minuki looked down as she spoke.
“I didn't think I should hide it. But... my statement sounds pretty bad for Sumomo-chan... Maybe I shouldn't have said anything...”
I shook my head.
“No. You were right to tell the police everything you know. That's part of your role as the discoverer of the corpse.
“... Yeah. I know... But.”
Minuki lifted her head. She had an unusually serious look in her eyes.
“I believe in Sumomo-chan. There's no way she's a killer.”
“I know we only just met today, but we're already friends now. Sumomo-chan is a nice, kind girl. She'd never kill anyone.”
“Besides, Sumomo-chan told me 'My knife and jacket vanished while I wasn't looking'. I bet the culprit stole those things to pin the crime on her!”
“Hold it. Not just her knife, but her jacket was missing?”
“Yeah. That's what she said. She left it hanging on a chair, then when she went to get it it was gone.”
“So that's why she didn't wear it during her performance.”
Kokone-chan said.
The jacket... The knife is one thing, but why take her jacket too?
Minuki pushed for my sympathy.
“Sumomo-chan clearly stated 'I didn't kill him'. The real culprit is trying to frame her. Please, Daddy. You have to help Sumomo-chan!”
... I knew that was coming.
Saying she's a nice, kind girl and having her claim that she 'didn't kill him', you can't take people at face value like that. A lawyer can't act lightly with these things.
However– I also don't think that Momogaya-san is the killer.
Seeing her supported by Minuki, hanging her head at the crime scene. I saw her shock and fear. I really don't think it was an act.
Besides, Minuki said that she believes in Momogaya-san. And I can't just abandon one of Minuki's friends.
Kokone-chan and Odoroki-kun looked at me holding their breath.
I nodded.
“Alright. I'll take on Sumomo Momogaya-san's case.”
“–Daddy! Thank you!”
Minuki's face brightened.
I'm glad that my daughter can rely on me like this, but– this looks like it'll be a tough trial.
I'm usually pretty on with such feelings.

[June 18, 7:20 PM: Detention Center]

The sun had already set by the time I was able to meet with Momogaya-san at the detention center.
We had our meeting on opposite sides of a tempered glass window. The Momogaya-san on the other side of the glass looked much more depressed and worn out than she had a few hours ago. Her expression was cold and stiff.
“Momogaya-san. I'd like to represent your defence.”
As I spoke, she tilted her head quizzically.
“Represent me...?”
“That's right. You'll need an attorney in court. I'd like to represent you.”
“Because Minuki asked me to.”
Momogaya-san's eyes widened.
“Minuki-chan did...?”
“Yes. Minuki believes in you. No matter what happens, you don't seem the type to commit murder.”
“... Minuki-chan...”
Momogaya-san regained some colour to her cheeks as large tears formed in her eyes.
“... Thank you! Nobody believed in me... I was so alone.”
“So will you let me act as your defence then?”
“Yes! Of course.”
Momogaya-san bowed her head deeply.
What a relief. I'll be able to keep my promise to Minuki.
“Momogaya-san. Please tell me all you know about the incident.”
As soon as I said that, she returned to her cold stiff expression.
“I already told the police everything. Please ask them if you need to know.”
“Everything? Are you sure?”

Momogaya-san still seemed to be hiding something. Going to Chokkakkou-san's waiting room before the incident, her strange actions upon discovering the body... I want her to tell me everything. I wanted her the tell me about all that directly.
However she bit her lip as she bluntly replied.
“Of course. I told them everything I saw as the one who discovered the body.”
“Momogaya-san. That's not everything, I can tell you're still hiding something...”
“I'm not hiding anything. I've already told them everything I know!”
Momogaya-san shook her head and stood up. She and the guard left the room.
... No good, huh?
There's something she's refusing to talk about. A secret she wants to protect even if it means being a murder suspect.
But unless I know what it is– I won't be able to prove her innocent.
I saw Minuki's face flash in my mind, and let out a sigh.