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Chapter 12 - Vol 3: Partners in Crime

Within the halls of Dissidia Academy, life as a student is an adventure! Follow the Heroes of Final Fantasy as they fulfill the variety of challenges that lie before them, setting the path towards their future! However, underneath the depths of this highly established Academy ... lies a darkness that may throw the entire world into chaos.
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Chapter 12 - Vol 3: Partners in Crime

Chapter 12 - Vol 3: Partners in Crime
Firion made his way up the forever-climbing staircase, his consciousness in another world and climbing in a zombie-like state. His mind had repeating flashbacks of the trial and how Onion Knight had caught him off by such fault. Firion lost the ability to think straight, wondering as to how he could miss such an important detail during his investigation. He took on the role of Detective of the court case to prove his worth; to make an amateur mistake had cost him dearly. And interesting thought however, Firion wasn’t at all infuriated over Onion Knight’s tough approach during the Testimony. He knew Onion Knight was only fulfilling his role as the Defence, and understood that the situation was something no one could take lightly.
Shaking his head out of the daze, Firion snapped his mind back to reality. He needed to fulfil his own duty as Detective and not allow for any further mistakes. This was crucial for the court ... and possibly saving Zidane from his own predicament. He controlled his pace to a fast leap up the flight of steps, knowing that the Academy building should be empty. His target: the Security room on the top floor of the building, situated on the opposite end from the Headmistress’ office.
Only a few minutes passed ... and most of his energy, Firion reached the top floor. He took a small moment in regaining his breath, leaning against the wall to his right and his breath took time to slow down. Ready to move forward, Firion’s eyes locked on towards the door at the end of the corridor. It was then that his breath momentarily froze, a cautious mindset suddenly forming.
The Security room was not ‘secured’, with the door left slightly open and a small key situated within the lock. This could mean that either someone was recently in the room ... or was still in it. Normally one would safely assume that someone was currently using the room. With that said, why was Firion hoping for the possibility of the former idea?
Peeking through the gap of the door, Firion could only see the Security Camera System’s control centre, included with a variety of desktop monitors and connecting wires.
Before stepping through, Firion warily checked the area around him, feeling the chill that he was being watched. As he made his way into the room, he took the key from the lock and closed the door slowly until he felt the click. Firion took a small glance at the key he had taken, checking for any indication as to who’s it belong to. Comparing to the Security room key he had been given by the Headmistress before leaving the hall, this key seemed completely identical.
Firion then changed his sights and stepped over towards the Security Control System, leaning forward as he placed a hand on the mouse and began to click away. The Security room was what one would expect; aside from the system setup, there were several shelves scattered across the walls of the room, all with numerous tapes and DVDs of past camera records. However, none were recent.
Continuing through the program, Firion began to mutter key words almost silently as he went through the time of the incident and the surrounding area of where it happened. Searching through the records, Firion showed no hesitation.
“Today ... 1:00pm – 2:00pm ... 4th floor ... Math’s room 3.” Firion’s voiced quietly whispered out, however his eyes suddenly began to squint. “Wait ... did I make a mistake?”
In instant retaliation, Firion checked through several of the surrounding security cameras. The more he searched, the more he began to realise the problem. He straightened up his posture, eyes widened with surprise.
The footage ... they’re gone!? Firion’s mind called out in despair.
Without even hesitating, Firion threw himself back onto the system and clicked away at immense speeds. During the next few minutes, Firion slowly found out more on the missing footage. The missing footage was taken from every camera on the 4th floor, specifically around the time of 12:00pm to 2:00pm. Firion wondered about the possibility of backups; however hopes was dashed the moment it arose.
Firion went back and forth on the programs, hoping for any signs of possible footage or clues. And the moment he accepted it, he gave up trying. He slammed his fist hard against the system desk, frustrated that the search was entirely unsuccessful. Someone had tampered with the records, meaning that the truth of the incident was more of a mystery than ever before.
Firion sighed out, wiping away the sweat from his forehead. He needed to clear his mind, figure out what to do. He clicked the mouse to return to where he first checked the records, deciding that it was best to head back to the court. However, a small curiosity filled the back of his mind, feeling as though something had been overlooked during his frantic search. It was a long shot, but Firion decided to take the chance. Using various methods, some previously attempted and others not done before, Firion was on the border of losing what little faith he had left ... and then his heart skipped a beat.
Within the depths of the system’s memory, a 7sec video file titled ‘September 14th – Unknown’ sat alone in a folder full of random numbers. Firion took this with a grain of salt; unable to figure out it’s worth. Clicking on the file, Firion analysed the looping 7 second video.
He instantly recognised the hall of the 4th floor; however the camera seemed to be far away from the room of where the incident happened. Firion also spotted numbers along the bottom of the video, indicating the time as 13:05:56.
This is it! This could be what he needed!
As the video continued and looped, Firion caught on to various moments of interest ... but this wasn’t in his favour. The video showed Zidane stepping out of the room next door in a rush. Although the camera was far away, Firion could tell instantly by the long blond tail and energetic pace. To Firion’s disappointment, just as Zidane enters the room where the incident occurred, the video cuts out and loops back. Firion then paused the video, and wondered. Is this enough?
Unfortunately, Firion could only speculate. He had spent enough time on finding the video and the rest was nowhere to be found. He took out a blank memory stick from a draw below the desk, and swiftly transferred the data from the system. Once complete, Firion slipped the memory stick into his pocket and headed back out the door. Before making his way down, he halted himself outside the door of the Security room. Holding out the spare key that was found in the door lock, Firion considered placing it back. He ultimately decided against this, knowing this was linked to the missing footage and more importantly, the truth behind this case.
It was then that he felt a shadowy presence close behind him, causing his body to freeze up in abrupt horror.
 
The Court Trial...
 
Bartz was fidgeting on the spot. His mind was completely blank. His eyes were shifting from one side of the room to the other frantically. He had a stuttering breath, and sweat dripped from his brow. On the witness stand, Bartz was nervous; and the whole of the courtroom had their eyes targeted directly towards him.
Zidane, watching silently on the defendant stand, felt somewhat saddened about his best friend’s current position. Out of all the mischief the two have cooked up in the Academy and the amount of times Bartz was used as a scapegoat, this was the one time that Zidane did not want Bartz involved.
Onion Knight stood in silence on the Defence side of the room, arms crossed and thinking non-stop. His eyes were locked in Warrior of Light’s direction, wondering as to what move his rival was about to pull. He knew that Bartz’s name would be cast upon at some point during the case, considering the past scenarios related to the mischievous pair; however, he never expected it to appear so soon in the trial. Onion Knight had to be on his guard, as this could all fall apart by the smallest of slip ups.
Warrior of Light, on the other hand, had a confident smirk, close to chuckling away with his heightened confidence. He began to act as though he had the case in the bag, even if the witness hasn’t been prepared beforehand. Onion Knight knew this ‘confirmed witness’ was a bluff, feeling as though this was just a cheap way of finding loopholes and gaining time. However, Onion Knight admitted to feeling curious about Bartz’s possible involvement to the case, knowing well enough that Zidane and Bartz normally hang around together during Academy hours like partners in crime.
“Shall we begin?” High Judge Gabranth queried, his formal voice echoing the hall. “Time cannot be wasted.”
“I agree your honour.” Warrior of Light nodded subtly, keeping a formal tone even with his dark smirk still strapped across his face. “With that said; Witness, state your name and Academy status!”
Bartz suddenly drew back in hesitation, still struggling to adjust to the situation.
“Er... the Name’s Bartz. Bartz Klauser.” He finally began, taking his time with his answer. “A-and I’m a Student in Class 13A.”
Warrior of Light went straight into the next question without a breath between the previous answer and the next question. Onion Knight watched both the Prosecutor and the Witness carefully, analysing not one the answers given but their expressions.
“It is to my, as with most others, understanding that you are close friends with the Defendant?” Warrior of Light asked, eyes locked tight onto Bartz as though he was ready to strike him down.
“Defendant...?” Bartz then questioned curiously, somewhat clueless of what the title meant.
“He means Zidane.” Onion Knight whispered over in retaliation, knowing that Bartz wasn’t paying attention.
“Ah right, yeah, we’re great friends.” Bartz acted proud in his answer, oblivious to his own actions.
“Then it must also be true that you both have a tendency to cause havoc when the opportunity arises.” Warrior of Light continued with a firm tone. “Am I right, Bartz?”
“Ah-hah, you know us too well, Light!” Bartz innocently teased, “In fact, there was this one time when-”
“Ok, that’s enough Bartz!” Onion Knight hastily called out, not wanting the ‘oblivious’ Witness to make the situation worse than it should be. “Let’s keep to the subject at hand.”
“I don’t see the problem, I’m curious to hear more about their ‘tales of mischief’.” Warrior of Light chuckled away, although hiding the annoyance of hearing the unwelcomed nickname once again. “You never know, it could be important.”
“What matters in the court of law is the witness’ relevance to the case.” Gabranth interrupted with a small scowl, feeling a lack of patience in pointless quarrels. “And currently, I do not see such relevance.”
“Don’t worry, your honour, as Bartz is crucially important to this case.” Warrior of Light announced clearly, showing control in the matter. “It is to my belief that our witness may be closely involved with the partaking of the crime.”
A few gasps from the seated students began to echo the hall, although Onion Knight began to find it increasingly annoying. However, he couldn’t let this go by without a backlash.
“Speculations are not effective in court without solid evidence, Warrior of Light.” Onion Knight called out, slamming the palms of his hands against the stand surface. “Where’s your proof to justify your claim?”
“Hmph ... there is none required.” Warrior of Light shrugged carelessly.
There was a moment of silence; the whole of the Hall froze up as if time stopped momentarily.
“What...?” Onion Knight murmured in surprise.
There were small discussions elevating within the crowd of students, curious as to why Warrior of Light had made such a bold move. Onion Knight and Terra glanced towards each other with confused expressions, unable to determine whether such a move was wise. However, it was then that Onion Knight caught sight of Zidane’s reaction to the statement. He suddenly seemed anxious.
“You see, that’s the reason why I called Bartz to the stand.” Warrior of Light continued on, his eyes switching between his rival and the judge. “Right now, our evidence is lacking and we don’t have many leads. I know this is a bold move but it’s a move I’m willing to take. The closest we have is him; when Zidane is involved in trickery, Bartz is normally close behind.”
Onion Knight was silent, taking in what Warrior of Light stated. He didn’t know what approach to take. No matter what way he look at this, Warrior of Light was right. If he went through with this, the risk on both sides would rise considerably. However, if they didn’t, they’ll be in a dead end unless Zidane confessed. That was the one thing Onion Knight could not allow.
Terra, standing close beside him, began to wonder about the situation. Was this the right direction to take? Where will it lead? All these questions were forming ... and they were about to be answered.
“Whatever game we’re playing here ... I’ll play along.” Bartz broke the silence, giving a calmer mind than earlier.
Everyone’s eyes suddenly shifted towards Bartz. No one expected him to speak out, let alone accept his position.
Onion Knight breathed out heavily as he heard Bartz speak out. He knew that the moment Bartz spoke, he had to be ready. It was then that he caught sight of Zidane in the corner of his eye; he was bewildered that Bartz was going to testify, considering how oblivious he was to the situation.
Gabranth gave out a small nod, “Well then, if the Witness wishes to testify then by all means ... let him testify.”
 
Witness Testimony 1: Bartz Klauser.
 
“Me and Zidane were in the 4th Maths room when it happened.” Bartz began his testimony, taking his time to remember the scene. “There were two screams, we both heard the first one and ZIdane rushed out of the room to check what was going on. The moment he left, that was when I heard the second scream and a sudden smash of glass. I didn’t know what happened, so I panicked ... and ran out the room.”
 
Witness Testimony ... Complete.
 
The Court was completely silent, every person taking in what they had just heard. Whilst this was going on, Onion Knight skimmed over the evidence he had: the Accident Report; Photos of the cracked glass and the victim’s bloodstain on the wall; three separate plastic pouches that contained Zidane’s hair-strands, Rydia’s hair-strands, and strands of mysterious brown hair; pieces of fabric from the broken window; and last but not least ... the small red jewel he found.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary with Bartz’s testimony in terms of contradiction with evidence. However, he noticed one contradiction with what he remembered of the situation.
“What are you thinking, Onion Knight?” Terra wondered quietly, curious about his thoughts.
“Well, I’ve already caught something.” Onion Knight answered back in a whisper, indicating to ‘two screams’. “However, I’m going look at the rest of the statement first. He’s hiding a lot that we need to know.”
Terra nodded in response, understanding the approach to this. She caught on to the ‘two screams’ instantly, however she was unsure the testimony as a whole.
“So, Onion Knight, what’s your move going to be?” Warrior of Light curiously queried, teasing him.
“Don’t you worry about that, Warrior of Light, I have plenty.” Onion Knight chuckled in response. “Show some patience.”
“If that is the case, Defence, then you can progress with the cross-examination.” Gabranth stated firmly, nodding over upon hearing his response.
 
Cross-Examination 1: Bartz Klauser.
 
“Bartz, from what you stated in your testimony, you were with Zidane before the incident happened.” Onion Knight instantly began, glancing at the notes he made. “Could you please elaborate for me as to what you two were doing in Maths room 4?”
Bartz hesitated, struggling to find his words. He then glanced over towards Zidane with a cautious expression. Onion Knight caught sight of his reaction and swiftly jotted down another note. Zidane was silent, however nodded back with an indication to admit as to why they were there in the first place.
“We ... were setting up a prank against one of the Math teachers.” Bartz anxiously admitted, shuffling on the spot of where he stood.
Onion Knight glanced over towards Warrior of Light curiously, feeling as though there would be a reaction from him. Warrior of Light seemed to be biting the inside of his lip, as though he was holding something back.
“I-it was going to be harmless, though!” Bartz stuttered as he added, trying to keep the situation cool.
“I would like to know, Bartz.” Warrior of Light began, keeping a formal expression. “Who was the teacher you two were going to prank?”
“Professor Gabbaini.” Bartz answered lowly, acting as though he had a guilty conscience. “He was going to have a class in there when lunch break ended.”
Setzer Gabbaini ... the infamous gambling math tutor. Onion Knight thought out, a small chuckle escaped his breath. That makes sense, considering the amount of times he placed the two in detention throughout last year.
Warrior of Light nodded in response, keeping silent. Both he and Onion Knight knew the man was watching with the rest of the Academy teachers, and decided not to go into further detail.
Onion Knight knew what to ask next, however decided to tread carefully on this, not wanting to throw out the contradiction just yet. “Pressing on, you stated that there were two screams in the room of the incident ... are you sure that there were two?”
“I’m positive.” Bartz nodded with confidence. “... I think.”
“‘I think’?” Onion Knight echoed with curiosity, scribbling a point in his notes. “Do you mean that you’re not completely certain?”
“The Witness answered the question, Onion Knight.” Warrior of Light interrupted suddenly, his arms crossed and eyes shut. “There’s no point in beating the dead horse.”
Yeah ... that’s what you think. Onion Knight confidently thought, knowing the inevitable.
Onion Knight looked over his notes; he had recently added that Bartz was hesitant when asked the two questions. This gave him a stronger assumption that there was more to this, however only time will tell. Onion Knights eyes were burning with dedication to find the truth, he just needed more.
“You finally stated that when you heard the second scream, you ‘panicked and ran’.” Onion Knight moved towards the last of the testimony, curious as to why he had added this in. “Why did you run away from the scene?”
Bartz drew in a deep breath, he knew this would come up eventually, but he didn’t know what to answer.
“It makes sense, hearing a scream of pain would cause anyone to run away.” Warrior of Light answered in his stead. “I’m sure it was instincts kicking in.”
“OBJECTION!” Onion Knight slammed his hand against the stand. “What type of answer was that!? Being close friends with Zidane, I would assume Bartz would never want to leave him behind if they were in danger!”
“OBJECTION!” Warrior of Light struck back, pointing firmly towards his rival. “How could you just assume the possibility!? It obvious that Bartz ran away to protect his own hide! If someone were to find him in the room, he would have been exposed to being part of the crime!”
“That WASN’T the reason why I ran away!” Bartz interrupted the debate, showing signs of increased stress. “I would never leave Zidane behind!”
Normally, it would be the other way around... Onion Knight commented in his mind, thinking that it was ironic. “If that was the case, then you must have a valid reason for running away?”
“I went to get help.” Bartz finally admitted, lowering his head in guilt. “When I saw what happened, I didn’t care about being found out with the prank, I just knew I had to find help.”
“Hold on ...” Onion Knight drew back with surprise of the sudden revelation, “so you DID see the incident!?”
There was a sudden burst of gasps from the surprise audience. The crowd of students began to discuss amongst each other about it. Onion Knight took a moment to gather his thoughts on this. If Bartz had seen the situation before he and Terra had arrived, what could he have seen? And in addition to this, why didn’t they see him during the time they were heading towards the scene of the crime? Warrior of Light seemed calm about all of this, keeping eerily silent.
The High Judge Gabranth instantly slammed his gavel against his desk in the response of the sudden outburst of the students.
“Order! Order in the Court!” He roared out towards the students, causing them to freeze up in silence instantly. “Master Klauser, in you testimony, you stated very clearly that ‘you did not know what happened’ before running away. Does this mean that you lied?”
“N-no, that’s not true at all!” Bartz objected to the judge in a sudden panic. “I saw the incident but I didn’t know what to make of it! The room was dark and all I could see was Zidane enter it.”
“So why was this not included in the testimony?” Gabranth pressed this directly; causing Onion Knight to feel somewhat left out, considering the cross-examination was part of his role. “You DO realise this is a very important inclusion to the case.”
Bartz shook his head silently, struggling to speak out. Gabranth sighed in response, finding Bartz obliviousness to the situation rather frustrating.
“I must place the matter into consideration and ask the Witness to testify what he saw of the crime scene before leaving the area.” He concluded, holding up his gavel.
However, before he could slam his gavel, there was an interruption.
“WAIT, YOUR HONOUR!” Onion Knight roared out hastily, refusing for this to continue.
Both Gabranth and Warrior of Light glared over towards Onion Knight’s direction, curious as to why the trial was now held up. Everyone else look over towards the Defence’s direction, causing both Onion Knight and Terra to feel pushed against a corner.
“There are crucial points I MUST clarify before we continue!” Onion Knight gritted his teeth, his fiery eyes glaring back at the Judge. “This may turn the
“Fine, do as you must.” Gabranth growled, disgusted by the sudden interruption.
Warrior of Light watched curiously in silence, an eyebrow raised with interest.
“Bartz, I would like you to recite the second line in your testimony.” Onion Knight demanded, although a hint of excitement rose in his voice.
“Erm ... Ok.” Bartz answered back, unable to cool down from earlier. “There were two screams-”
“I OBJECT THIS STATEMENT!” Onion Knight abruptly bellowed out, interrupting Bartz completely before he could even finish the request.
“And why is that?” Warrior of Light questioned his rival; feeling confused all of a sudden. “Did we not already go through this? Bartz clearly stated that there were ‘two screams’, end of story!”
Onion Knight began to chuckle away, finding this all rather amusing. “That is very true, and I can respect that ... until one realises that it’s a fatal contradiction!”
“H-HUH!!?!” Warrior of Light blurted out in shock, his eyes completely wide.
The crowd of students, and even teachers, began discussing amongst themselves with sudden excitement. Onion Knight was smiling stubbornly, feeling as though he was playing his cards right. He knew that he was on a role with this.
“You see, there was clearly one scream during the incident!” Onion Knight continued on his attack. “Either the witness is confused, or he’s lying to the court!”
“OBJECTION!” Warrior of Light roared back in retaliation, pointing out in sudden anger. “Where is your proof!?!”
“You ask a valid question, Warrior of Light.” Onion Knight commented cheekily, eager to continue. “The answer I must give you is ... We are the proof!”
There was sudden silence in the hall, every person froze up in confusion, and their mind’s unable to process Onion Knight’s statement.
 “W-what are you talking about?” Warrior of Light gasped in confusion, almost speechless. “That’s not proof!”
“How can it not be? I and Terra are also witnesses to this crime scene; we heard one scream before we reached the scene of the crime.” Onion Knight argued with a confident expression, backing up his claim. “Answer me, Bartz! The ‘two screams’ statement is false!”
“W-wait, Onion Knight!” A worried Terra called out; noticing Onion Knight had made a misstep.
“What the matter, Terra?” Onion Knight asked back, noticing Terra’s call out.
BANG!
“The initial objection has been overruled!” Gabranth suddenly slammed his gavel, a stern glare shot directly at Onion Knight. “A penalty will be placed against the Defence unless valid proof is shown to the court.”
“WHAT!? But that WAS solid proof!” Onion Knight argued back in sudden rage.
“You did not back up the claim with evidence, instead only using your own accusations that could have been altered for the purpose of gaining a false lead.” Gabranth sternly spat back, showing no signs of letting Onion Knight’s accusation pass.
Onion Knight instantly felt his excitement drain out of his body in a small second, and instead filled with the weight of despair by losing his perfect lead. Terra felt some sympathy for him, saddened that he couldn’t continue with what they knew was the truth.
“Give it up, Onion Knight.” Warrior of Light shrugged with a teasing grin, trying to hide his laughter. “Giving such assumption only leads to downfall; you know that all too well.”
There was silence on the Defence side of the court, Onion Knight still struggling with his loss of the battle. Warrior of Light was satisfied by this turnaround, watching his rival fall for his own mistake.
“F-fine, however, I must ask one more question before we move on.” Onion Knight then spoke out, slowly recovering. “Bartz, why did we not pass you when we arrived to the crime scene?”
“Wha-!? I, err...” Bartz suddenly blurted out in sudden anxiety, drawing back.
Got him! Onion Knight’s mind clicked, straightening his posture and regaining his confidence.
“You’re certainly persistent!” Warrior of Light growled, finding this infuriating. “This will get you nowhere, Onion Knight! Is a penalty not enough for your ego!?”
“You may wish to rethink that, Warrior of Light!” Onion Knight warned with a smart grin. “For you see, Terra and I would have passed Bartz along the way towards the crime scene. And with only the ONE scream heard, Bartz would not have reached the staircase before Terra and I reached the 4th floor.”
“But, that’s-!” Warrior of Light began to counter back, only to halt himself with Onion Knight’s next interruption.
“And don’t go suggesting this is wrong as you were at the crime scene not long after us to arrest Zidane!” Onion Knight then struck the definitive blow.
“ACK-! NOOOO!” Warrior of Light roared in realisation, remembering what happened at the crime scene.
“And furthermore: no one, teacher or student, had seen Bartz during the entirety of the Lunch break and so was only seen when Class 13A had entered the next lesson of the day.” Onion Knight continued on, gaining back his lead.
He caught an eye at his own Class sitting at the front row; all were nodding and agreeing to his statement.
“So, do you deny this, Master Klauser?” Gabranth questioned in response to the new claim, curious with where this could lead. “Would you answer the question?”
“N-no...” Bartz mumbled quietly, unable to back himself out of the corner.
However, it was then that the court heard the most unexpected response from the Witness, causing even the Judge to become speechless with shock.
“Heh-heh ... So you caught me, Onion Knight.” Bartz cheerily admitted, giving out a cheesy grin. “You were absolutely right; I was lying about the screams! There was only ONE after all! AH-HA-HA!”
 
Cross-Examination 1 ... Complete!
 
Onion Knight’s and Warrior of Light’s mouth dropped in utter disbelief, their minds exploded simultaneously as a reaction. It was then that the two both slammed down against their stands and roared out.
“IS THIS A JOOOKE!!!?!”
The crowd of students and teachers followed on, completely confused by the sudden event. Onion Knight placed his hands against the sides of his head, trying to figure out what’s going on. He should have been overjoyed to the revelation, so why was this suddenly giving him a headache!?
Gabranth was the first to snap back into reality, slamming his gavel down in response to the rising commotion.
“ORDER! I WILL HAVE ORDER!” The Judge bellowed furiously, veins popping out of his forehead. “Master Klauser! Have you been toying with us this whole time!?”
“Yep, sorry! Ha-Hah!” Bartz admitted truthfully, showing a laidback smile.
Zidane had face-palmed due to his best-friend’s foolishness, he could not believe what was happening. Bartz hadn’t at all been taking this seriously, finding it all as some type of cheesy act.
It was then that a towering shadow had been cast over Bartz, causing him to freeze suddenly. Slowly, he gazed up towards the direction of the shadow’s origin, suddenly finding a furious figure glaring down on him. Warrior of Light had moved off of his stand without anyone noticing, and prepared to unleash a storm of terror over Bartz.
“Er, L-Light...?“ Bartz
squeaked in a cowardly tone, stepping back from the witness stand. “I-Is something wrong?”
“How dare you...” Warrior of Light murmured in a low, dark tone.
Suddenly, six fiery long blades appeared surrounding Bartz, all pointing at him as a target. It was then that Bartz knew what was about to happen ... and he knew he couldn’t run away.
“HOW DARE YOU TAKE THIS SO LIGHTLY!!!” Warrior of Light abruptly roared as his eyes were full of rage. He then commanded the blades, “RADIENT SWORD!!!”
“GAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!!!!” Bartz screamed out in terror.
Everyone watched in both horror and amazement as the blades struck down on the unfortunate target. Although Terra looked away, Onion Knight could not help but watch the whole event unfold. Even both the Headmistress and Cid of the Lufaine watched in wonder, the Headmistress even finding it amusing.
As it all ended, the blinding light cleared and Warrior of Light stepped back on his stand, acting as though nothing had happened in the first place. What was left of Bartz was a crumpled body with various sword blades sticking out.
“...Worth ... it ...” a small, dying whisper echoed from the body.
Warrior of Light cleared his throat, his eyes closed and a calm composure shown. “I’m sorry, your honour, it seems that our Witness has ... passed on to the next life.”
“I see ...” Gabranth nodded in an understanding manner, his expression shown as calm and motionless. “Condolences shall be passed on to the family and friends of this poor soul.”
 That was ... dramatic. Onion Knight murmured in his mind, squinting as he adjusted his eyes. I don’t think he’s dead though.
“I-I’m f-fine ...” Bartz slowly called out as his body, full of piercing blades, began to rise back up on the stand. “I c-can still do this.”
“Is that right, Master Klauser?” Gabranth curiously wondered, a dark smile appearing on his usually expressionless face. “We shall then summarise your previous testimony.”
Gabranth took a moment to prepare his speech, allowing for the Hall to settle before he began, “You have told us that there had in fact been one scream during the incident and that you HAD seen at least a glimpse of the crime scene before fleeing the area. For your next testimony, we must know if the scream happened before or after the defendant left the room, what you saw at the scene of the crime, and where you had escaped to. Is this understood?”
Bartz nodded painfully, “Y-yes, your honour.”
“And one more additional thing ... will you tell the truth to the court this time?” The Judge then asked with caution and warning.
“I’ve learned my lesson.” Bartz agreed as he gave a light smirk in response.
Onion Knight clenched his fists; he was ready for the 2nd round. He had barely any time to rest from the battle he had endured, he couldn’t allow himself to falter yet.
“Onion Knight, don’t get carried away with this.” Terra reminded her Defence partner. “Don’t forget why we’re here.”
Understanding the situation, Onion Knight nodded to his partner, aware that he could not allow for another minor flaw to happen.
On the opposing end, Warrior of Light had a stubborn scowl, his sight striking his rival like daggers.
“Come, Onion Knight, what’s your next move?” He murmured quietly, to a point that no one else could hear him.
 
Witness Testimony 2: Bartz Klauser.
 
“The scream came after Zidane had left the room; we had in fact heard noises within the room next door.” Bartz recollected to the court, “After the scream, I had run out of the 4th Math room in a panic. I saw mostly darkness in the room where the incident occurred, only seeing Zidane’s back from where I stood. I heard him shout, ‘hide!’ so I did as he told me to and rushed into the 2nd Math room alongside the 4th floor corridor.”
 
Witness Testimony ... Complete.
 
There was a moment of silence throughout the hall, the Judge silent as always and the two sides taking in the key points of the testimony. Finally, Gabranth broke the silence of the Hall, commenting on his own thoughts on the testimony.
“I believe this testimony was considerably stronger than the previous. I’m surprised giving the lack of preparation.” Gabranth spoke, seemingly somewhat more accepting than before. “Any words to add, Prosecution?”
All eyes shifted towards the direction of the Prosecution stand, where Warrior of Light kept his silence. His eyes were closed, and it felt as though he mouth wasn’t going to budge. The Judge switched his direction in response, eyes on to Onion Knight and Terra.
“Defence, you may Cross-Examine the witness.” Gabranth granted, banging his gavel.
“Thank you, Your Honour.” Onion Knight accepted, keeping a strong stance.
“Onion Knight, I can’t see anything out of place with the testimony.” Terra whispered nervously, skimming Onion Knight’s recent notes.
“I know; we’re just going to have to work our way through this one until something comes up.” Onion Knight assured his partner, his mind analysing the testimony in its entirety.
 
Cross-Examination 2: Bartz Klauser.
 
“Bartz Klauser, within your testimony, you have admitted that there was one scream.” Onion Knight began, his eyes locked onto the Witness. “With that said, are you certain that this was after Zidane left the room?”
“I sure this time.” Bartz spoke out in reply, no pause in his speech whatsoever.
“In that case, can you give me more detail on what caused Zidane to check the room?” Onion Knight then followed through, wishing to know more.
“As I said; there were some loud noises coming from the room. There were some bangs against a hard surface, tables being toppled and I heard a window shatter around that point as well.” Bartz described, thinking back to the time. “With what we were doing at the time, it made sense for Zidane to check on what was going on.”
“OBJECTION!” Onion Knight shot out with his pointing finger, noticing it straight away. “That was an interesting description, Bartz; however you gave yourself a clear contradiction!”
At that moment, Onion Knight took out one of the photos in the evidence.
“If you were more consistent, Bartz; you would have remembered from the previous testimony you gave that you mentioned ...” He pressed on, taking out his notes to quote on. “And I quote, ‘The moment he (Zidane) left, that was when I heard the (second) scream and a sudden smash of glass.’”
“OBJECTION!” Warrior of Light struck out to counter, refusing this to be left off lightly. “Bartz may have heard the broken glass both times! They could have been from two different objects like a lamp!”
“OBJECTION!” Onion Knight struck back instantly, pointing back at the counterclaim. “Nice try, Warrior of Light, but you’re missing a crucial piece of information. Do you remember Firion’s Testimony?”
“What about it?” Warrior of Light stubbornly snarled, not realising what his rival had meant.
“Have you gone daft? He had clearly stated in his testimony that he had found a broken window but nothing about any other glass-breakage of the sort.” Onion Knight argued, insulting his rival’s cluelessness.
“ACK-!” Warrior of Light suddenly jerked back, realising what Onion Knight had meant.
Gabranth chuckled deeply, finding this more amusing as the trial continued on. “Well played, Knight of the Onion, an interesting comeback.”
Wh-what did you call me...?! Onion Knight asked out in his mind with irritation, before swiftly switching his mind back to the task at hand. It wasn’t one of his ‘trigger’ words/phrases, but it was an unexpected play of his name nonetheless.
“What do you say, Bartz?” Onion Knight curiously questioned the Witness, in complete control of the situation.
“Ah, that right! Sorry, I mixed it up in my testimony by accident.” Bartz innocently admitted, rubbing the back of his head with an apologetic expression.
“So that was an honest mistake?” Onion Knight asked in annoyance, disappointed to hear the response.
“Yeah, sorry man.” Bartz once again apologised. “I heard the smash after Zidane left the room.”
“Mistakes can happen.” The Judge commented, nodding away.
“Aaargh...” Onion Knight sighed out in frustration, his head placed in his hands as he moaned out.
That got him barely anywhere, and now he was back to square one. He noticed a smirk on Warrior of Light’s face, causing more frustration to rise.
“Fine then, I’ll let that one be.” Onion Knight concluded, rubbing his forehead. “From what you said in your testimony, you had caught only a glimpse of the room. Are you sure you did not enter the room?”
“I was in too much of a panic.” Bartz assured him, “And besides, Zidane told me to hide before I even consider it.”
“I see ...” Onion Knight sighed in disappointment once again, losing any friction to the discussion.
That was until something clicked in his mind, Wait ... what if I used ‘that’?
Onion Knight instantly took out the pouch with the brown hair-strands, however kept it hidden from anyone else’s eyes. He wondered if he could use it against Bartz. However he then considered the possibility of losing its worth for the future Witness’, especially if he had to challenge another ‘brown-haired’ individual in his Class. Glancing over towards the seated students of Class 13A; he caught sight of Squall Leonhart, who seemed bored stiff with this entire court trial.
Onion Knight subtly should his head in conclusion. He couldn’t rush this, and he knew Bartz would harm anyone like that. Placing the pouch away, he began to think of other possibilities. Nothing came to mind. He was completely stuck.
“Is that all from the Defence?” Gabranth queried curiously, hearing only silence from that side.
“I think our ‘genius’ has nothing left to go on.” Warrior of Light spoke out in response, teasing his rival. “Let’s just finish this without getting too far ahead.”
“No, not yet!” Onion Knight hastily spat out, struggling to find something.
Terra watched him as he continued to stress out from thinking every possible lead. Not long after, she decided to add in her own thoughts.
“Onion Knight, why don’t you think outside of the box?” She added to her partner. “There’s likely something that hasn’t been mentioned throughout the testimonies.”
“How can I ‘think outside the box’? There are no leads or approaches I can use!” Onion Knight whispered back stressfully, his fingers tapping against the desk surface of the stand.
 “But there’s still something! What about the broken window?” Terra pushed him, refusing to give up just yet.
“We’ve been through the window situation already!” Onion Knight dismissed the idea, rubbing his forehead as the stress continued to rise.
“... Not everything.” Terra murmured under her breath, her eyes shifting back towards Bartz.
Onion Knight’s head slowly rose up, as though Terra’s comment clicked life into the dormant brain of his. There ‘was’ one thing he had missed out, but it was something he could have never got without using the most unexpected approach.
“One last thing before we conclude this.” Onion Knight spoke out, placing all of his faith on this approach. “Bartz, I need you to think back to the moment when Zidane left the room and the glass window shattered.”
“Sure, although I’m not promising that anything else would come up.” Bartz warned, showing some eagerness.
“That’s fine.” Onion Knight nodded back. “Now, you did not leave the room until AFTER the window in the next room had shattered, is that correct?”
“Yep,”
“Perfect, and now for the defining question ... from the window in Math room 4, did you see a person escape from that shattered window?” Onion Knight carefully asked, his heart beating at a fast pace.
“How ridiculous...” Warrior of Light murmured, finding this pointless.
“Not ... that I know of.” Bartz slowly admitted, thinking back as hard as he could.
Onion Knight felt the disappointment beginning to fill his whole mind and heart; everything was banking on that approach. He knew it was a bold idea, but he also had hope.
... He paused. A sudden voice from the back of his mind called out to him, causing his whole body to jump back up abruptly. Hope beginning to surface suddenly
“Wait ... there was something there before I ran out.” Bartz commented, eyes squinting towards the ceiling as glimpses of memory formed up in his own mind. “A shadow, it was hard to make out. But I’m certain that a shadow had leaped out of the next door window.”
His eyes wide with anticipation, Onion Knight almost went insane with excitement. Clapping his hands loud together, causing various students within the seated crowd to jump up in shock. He threw out his index finger, and took his rival head on.
“THAT’S IT!” Onion Knight roared out with pride, “I’VE FOUND MY LEAD!”
Warrior of Light froze up, reacting from the completely unexpected response. “Wh-what do you mean.”
“I present to the court, a photograph of the shattered window!” Onion Knight pressed on, slipping the photo out from the desk of the stand and ready to hand over to the Judge.
Prishe, who had been completely restless due to the lengths of standing on the spot, almost stumbled when she realised she was needed. She hastily snatched the photo from Onion Knight’s grasp and passed it on to the High Judge Gabranth.
“What am I looking at here?” Gabranth wondered, not amused.
“Analyse the photo, Your Honour.” Onion Knight requested eagerly. “As you should be able to see within the photo, the broken window has small tufts of blue fabric stuck within the sharp corners.”
“I see ... what is your point?” Gabranth questioned further, squinting at the photo.
“A comment Detective Firion had given during his testimony was that the fabric directed towards the outside of the room. This assumes that someone had ‘exited’ the window!” Onion Knight continued on.
“OBJECTION!” Warrior of Light bellowed out in backlash, noticing an easy flaw. “Onion Knight, you must also remember from Firion’s testimony that he specifically stated that the ‘placement of the broken shards prove that the window had been broken from the outside’!”
“Yes, and that is ONE of the many factors that prove my revelation!” Onion Knight pointed out, completely throwing his rival off-guard and ignoring the ‘objection’ entirely. “So continuing on with this, not only does this indicate that the culprit had used the window for his own escape – although how it broke from the outside is still in question – but it is undeniable proof that Zidane could not have even ‘touched’ the window as he had entered through the classroom door!”
“No ... NO-NO-NOOO!!!” Warrior of Light continuously smashed his fists against the surface of the desk on his stand, his teeth gritting considerably.
“That’s right!” Onion Knight pointed out in close triumph, “And the final kicker here is ... That someone else HAD to be in that room!”
 “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” Warrior of Light roared out, completely defeated from this battle.
“Bravo, bravo, Knight of the Onion!” Gabranth clapped joyfully, enjoying every second of this battle. “You are a fine warrior of mind! A brilliant battle of wit!”
BANG!
 
Cross-Examination 2 ... Complete!
 
Onion Knight almost lost his foot, completely breathless and tired from the stride. He could hear the crowd of students and teacher clapping away at his victorious battle. He caught sight of Terra smiling joyfully, pleased that he had figured it out. And then shifting his eyes, he caught sight of a glimmer of hope appearing in Zidane’s expression.
“Don’t be celebrating yet ... Onion Knight.” A voice called out eerily, causing at applause to halt abruptly.
Warrior of Light had risen from his tantrum from the loss, and a dark smile escaping his mouth.
“This now begs the question ...” He spoke out darkly, small chuckles echoing across the Hall. “If Zidane didn’t commit the assault ... who did?”
“That ... is what we need to find out.” Onion Knight confidently replied, noticing the battle for the truth was not yet over.
“That is all too true.” Gabranth concluded, nodding with a proud expression. “As such I must suspend this trial until a further date. In that time, I must request for further investigation until the more evidence and witnesses have been located and prepared for trial. I would also like to request the Prosecution to place Master Klauser and Master Tribal into further questioning. There are many secrets hidden in a ‘prankster’s’ mind.”
“I accept, Your Honour.” Warrior of Light formally nodded, finally calmed himself.
“As such, court is adjourned.” Gabranth announced loudly, raising his gavel.
BANG!
 
The Academy Bell rang not long after the court trial had finished, with numerous students feeling overjoyed to have missed the final lesson of the week. Many began to group up and wonder towards the entrance gates, chatting enthusiastically about what they had planned for the weekend. However, the big commotion had been the court trail; no one had expected such a battle, discussing who to back for the next trial. A majority were seemingly rooting for Onion Knight after watching his triumphant performance, whilst other felt that Warrior of Light could make a comeback for the next one. Ultimately though, no one knew what to expect for the future of the court case.
Warrior of Light stood leaned against the building’s front wall, watching the students leave for home. Some had stopped and spoke to him eagerly, acting as though they were big fans of his. Although he didn’t want to, he allowed himself to chat with his new ‘fans’ in order to keep his reputation. There had been a few occasions when he had to hastily hide away, due to noticing groups of the ‘fan-girls’ he didn’t want to get himself involved with. He knew all too well from his past experiences how persistent these groups can be.
As he continued to watch, he felt a tug on his lower trouser leg. His eyes dropped down towards it curious, only to suddenly jump up with surprise.
“You played a valiant battle back there.” Cid of the Lufaine complimented highly.
“Cid of the Lufaine! Sorry, I didn’t notice you there.” Warrior of Light apologised hastily, feeling suddenly anxious by the Moogle’s appearance. “Ah, yes, well ... I acted rather antagonistically during the trial, it seemed.”
“I must disagree, personally, I saw a man motivated in finding the truth.” Cid suggested, his sight switched towards the groups of students as he spoke out.
“I guess you could say that ...” Warrior of Light murmured back, unsure whether that was the approach. “If I was more prepared, maybe I could have fared better against Onion Knight.”
Cid paused, taking in Warrior of Light’s comments into consideration.
“Granted, you used what you had to the best of your ability.” Cid then assured looking at the situation in a positive light. “May I speak from my own personal experiences? All beings, no matter who or what they are, have a preferred outlook on life and will in most cases dedicate themselves towards keeping to their viewpoint. I like to call this the ‘narrow road’. If two beings with opposite viewpoints meet in the confined area of this narrow road, their outlooks will more than likely clash in order to keep themselves on that road.”
“Sound very reminiscent of Onion Knight and myself.” Warrior of Light sighed out, relating himself to the descriptions.
“If that is how you see it.” Cid commented back, continuing on. “These clashing viewpoints may battle on for an eternity, leading to various conflicts that could scale to both great and small. However, if one were to widen the road out, they allow for a more open outlook and more space to move around. I call this the ‘open road’. In reality, this would allow for the two clashing viewpoints to have space; allowing for possible debates, but not causing immanent conflicts.”
“And ... how could one widen this ‘road’?” Warrior of Light wondered, picturing the description in his mind.
“That is a question you will have to find from your own experiences.” Cid pointed out, “I will suggest this though. Those who can widen the road with success may become great ‘leaders’ in the future.”
“Leaders...?” Warrior of Light echoed with confusion, “What do you mean?”
“Food for thought...” Cid nodded in conclusion, giving off a pleasant aura towards his fellow being.
With that, Cid of the Lufaine began to waddle off in the direction of the entrance gate, disappearing into the crowds of exiting students.
“The ‘Open Road’ ...” Warrior of Light murmured quietly, thinking it through with care.
 
Meanwhile, in the Medical Room ...
 
“How are you feeling, Rydia?”  Terra wondered with a calm smile, sitting on the chair beside the bed.
“I’m getting there.” Rydia replied softly, slowly lifting up from the bed she had rested on. “I think I should be well enough to travel back home.”
“I’m glad...” Terra felt relieved, cautiousness lifting from her spirit.
The two began to discuss about the trial, Terra describing to Rydia all the details about the clashes between Onion Knight and Warrior of Light. Rydia listened in with consideration, nodding back every so often.
“By the way, where is Onion Knight? I thought he would still be with you?” Rydia asked curiously, looking around the area.
“He headed off to find Firion.” Terra answered, although equally as curious about both Onion Knight and Firion’s whereabouts. “Firion never returned to the Hall after he left for the Security Room halfway through the Trial. Onion Knight got rather worried and left towards the Security Room.”
“I see ...” Rydia murmured back, lowering her eyes as she fell silent. A sudden insecure feeling rose in the back of her mind, causing her to feel somewhat cautious.
 
On the Top Floor of the Academy Building...
 
“Firion?” Onion Knight called out, stepping out from the staircase.
He had searched every other hall, checking places that he could have gone to. He had strong intuitions that Firion hadn’t left the building just yet, he would have at least told someone if that were the case.
Onion Knight began his search on the floor, peering into several windows of the offices for any signs. He decided to continue through the corridor, curious as to whether Firion had left the Security Room at all. Switching to opposite the Headmistress’ Office, that was when he found him ... leaning against the door unconscious.
“Firion!?” Onion Knight roared out as he rushed over in the instance.
He dropped to his knees and checked his condition, looking for signs of injuries. He noticed blood stained on the side of his head, meaning he was struck by something hard. In that moment, he heard a groan escaping Firion’s mouth, and movement began to follow.
“Wh-what...?” Firion murmured out, wincing as he sat himself up.
“Don’t rush yourself, Firion.” Onion Knight warned, wary about Firion’s movement.
“D-did I ... fall over?” Firion then questioned, seemingly unsure as to how he had fallen unconscious in the first place.
“I don’t know; I had just found you like this.” Onion Knight answered with caution, looking over for any more signs of injury. “It seems that you hit your head relatively hard though.”
Slowly, Onion Knight assisted Firion to his feet, keeping his body balanced as he rose up.
“What can you last remember, Firion?” Onion Knight asked him, worried about his condition.
“I remember ...  exiting the room after I found out someone had erased the video files.” Firion answered as best as he could, soothing the injury on his head.
“Someone ERASED them!?” Onion Knight blurted out with disbelief. “How is that possible!?”
“I don’t know.” Firion shook his head, wincing once again. “I could only find – Wait...!”
Abruptly, Firion checked his pockets, trying to find the memory stick he had.
“No... No way, it’s gone!?” Firion worriedly bellowed out, his hands rustling through his pockets.
Before Onion Knight could question what he meant, Firion had taken one of his hands out of his pocket. He was holding a scrap of paper. He passed it over to Onion Knight, confused as to why it was there. Onion Knight flattened the paper amongst his hands, noticing a note had been written down. The two of them read it; it was at that moment that both of their expressions changed from confusion to undeniable shock.
 
‘This battle cannot be won so easily...’

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