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Chapter 20 - Vol 5: Turning the Tide

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.

Chapter 20 - Vol 5: Turning the Tide

Chapter 20 - Vol 5: Turning the Tide
“Ooh-hoh-hoh-hoh-hoh…!” Kefka Palazzo began to laugh manically, almost unable to hold himself back from jumping up and down on his allocated seat amongst the crowd of students. “I can SEE it, Ultimecia! I can SEE the rift between the students on the stage growing apart by the minute! Eh-hahahahaa! I can’t contain this excitement brewing inside of me! I feel like I’m going INSANE with anticipation!!!”
“Calm yourself, Kefka.” Ultimecia commanded in a low casual tone, having positioned herself sitting with one leg crossed over the other along with her posture displayed with perfection. “This is merely the warm up to the main event. Our boy Squall has yet to take the stand, remember?”
“Geh-heh-hee…! Why are we WAITING though!? Could you just fast-forward time and be DONE WITH IT!?” Kefka impatiently threw his arms up in complaint, squatting on his seat using the tips of his toes for balance.
However, Ultimecia shook her head in decline, “Events like this need the significant ‘build-up’ in order for the result to be more … ‘climatic’, as it were. Imagine your ‘explosive’ art, for example: if we were to see an explosion without depth or build up behind it, we as spectators would find it simply meaningless and without purpose.”
“HMPH!” Kefka grunted in disgust, unable to argue with her words as he bounced back into a seated position. “… Explosions have meaning, I can assure you.”
“For now, let us enjoy the show.” Ultimecia concluded, showing off a seductive smile.
“… You two sound awfully suspicious.” A voice abruptly muttered to the two Academy Tutors. “What are you plotting?”
Sitting beside them was another fellow Academy Tutor, Kuja, who had overheard their conversation as clear as day. His arms were crossed, his posture tall and prideful, and his expression wary: Kuja flaunted the idea that he could see through any hidden guise … especially Kefka’s.
*GASP…!!!* Are you accusing us!?” Kefka melodramatically drew back in horror, struggling to hide his fakery due to his typical over-the-top manner. “And here I thought we were close Frie- No. Wait, what was it called again…? OH, I KNOW! – ‘Adversaries’!”
“Err … Correction: Adversary means ‘Enemy’.” Kuja then pointed out mockingly, finding Kefka’s attempt of flattery ironic to say the least.
“… I stand by what I said.” Kefka defended himself with a satisfied smirk, only to close in on Kuja and lower his voice to a menacing level. “Ooh-hoh-hoo … Are you perhaps STILL upset of the fact that I refuse to consider music as a form of ‘art’?”
“THAT’S NOT-!” Kuja bellowed out as his temper broke out, stopping himself abruptly just as he realised that he was about to stoop to the ‘clown’s’ level.
It didn’t help that nearby students had turned to face the two with curious stares.
Taking a moment to clear his throat, Kuja returned to his normal, flamboyant self, “As it so happens, I simply overheard your peculiar conversation about the trial. Your … ‘narrow-minded’ opinion is a separate matter entirely.”
The two tutors, after heated tension engulfed their aura, glanced away in spite of one another. Ultimecia merely watched the two blundering fools by the side-lines, finding it pointless to include herself in their pathetic spat. Kefka began to scribble on a sheet of paper – seemingly a drawing depicting chaos – as a means of blowing off steam.
Kuja, on the other hand, returned his focus on the court trial, sitting back on his seat slightly as he eyed the stage in its entirety. His gaze shifted from one person to another, analysing their various changes in expressions over the course of the trial. He then halted his gaze over Zidane, who had his back to him, and began to wonder.
What is he thinking right now…?
On the Court Stage…
“Your Honour, I would like to present evidence to the court that I believe is paramount to the Witness’ next testimony.” Onion Knight announced to Gabranth and the court, assuring that the time was right to reveal a portion of his hand.
With that, he withdrew from his pocket and held out a series of photos, all of which consisted of three major aspects: an open window, a damaged blazer, and the floor of the room with spots of blood and hairs. Prishe, relieved to finally be moving from her position after relentlessly fidgeting in one place for so long, passed along the new series photographs to the High Judge Gabranth.
“You all seem to like your photos…” Gabranth murmured as he scattered the photos across the surface of his desk, noticing a trend.
“These photos were taken by our Celes Chere during her personal investigation in Laboratory Room 1, Floor 5 of the Academy. It is situated directly above Math’s Room 3 – the room of the crime scene, for that matter – and holds significant items that may solidify our ‘second suspect’.”
Gabranth accepted the Defence’s insight, examining each photo with due care and attention.
“I can confirm this, Your Honour.” Celes casually added, a spark appearing in her eyes as she proudly explained the new evidence. “I have even taken to liberty of updating the photos with marked citations.”
Ah! That’s right! She promised us that she would reference the photos. Onion Knight suddenly remembered, grateful to see Celes come prepared. …It relieving to see she kept to her word.
Prishe transferred the updated photos over to the High Judge, considerately placing each one next to their original counterpart in order to compare. Gabranth eyes widened with surprise at the informative yet easy to follow markings of the photographs. In fact, he was very appreciative of this.
“I … I’m actually impressed.” The High Judge complimented in unexpected shock. “You have certainly taken the case to heart. However, how effective this may be to the case is an entirely separate matter.”
Celes nodded in response, understanding the High Judge’s words. To be praised in such a manner by someone of Gabranth’s stature was undeniably gratifying, yet she knew these ‘additions’ and ‘gimmicks’ meant little to the overall progression of this trial. If she wanted to make a true impact to the case … she needed to give her all during the next testimony.
“Prosecution, do you have anything you wish to say before we commence to the second witness testimony?” The High Judge questioned as he turned his attention to Warrior of Light, who he had noticed had not spoken since the end of the previous testimony.
However, Warrior of Light merely shook his head, dismissing the offer to speak his mind. He had an oddly calm composure, as though patiently waiting for the sufficient moment to make his next move. Onion Knight, having noticed this strange change in atmosphere, warily glared towards him with a cautious expression, wondering as to what he was plotting.
“I see … well, without further ado, Miss Chere: please testify to the court about your findings during your ‘personal investigation’.”
“Yes, Your Honour.” Celes nodded confidently, straightening herself up as she prepared for her new testimony.
Onion Knight set himself up for what was about to occur, knowing that it was crucial for him to maintain the upper-hand. And yet for some reason, he couldn’t help but keep Warrior of Light at the corner of his eye. The abnormal eerie tension that loomed over him was somewhat creepy, indicating that he had something game-changing up his sleeve.

Witness Testimony 2: Celes Chere.

“To be honest, it was only out of sheer coincidence that I had investigated Lab Room 1 in the first place, seeing as my initial investigation of the scene of the crime had ended up in disappointment. Having found no new evidence in that room, I had almost decided to leave the Academy that day and planned to return on a later date. However, I was somewhat still curious about an aspect regarding the smashed window in the room, specifically I was wondering how the culprit had made their escape after the assault. So, I peered out of the window’s gap and examined the area outside. Whilst I initially couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary, I soon noticed one of the windows was open directly above where I was positioned.
“I didn’t think twice about checking the room above, I had rushed up to the 5th Floor and began my investigation in the Laboratory Room 1 – where the back-corner window there was left open. It wasn’t long before I found the items indicated in the photos you see before you: the yanked window, the damaged blazer, and the hair strands were all accounted for. I can assure you, none of these were tampered whatsoever during the time I took them.
“I believe this new lead may change the way we see this case entirely; in fact, I’m certain this would help considerably to find the truth we have been striving towards.”

Witness Testimony … Complete.

Celes stood there on the Witness Stand, completely breathless after having poured her heart and soul in the testimony. She was undeniably relieved to finally reveal it to the court, having had to bottle up her full experience from anyone that questioned her – aside from Warrior of Light, who had implemented the contractual agreement in the first place. Due to this, she could only rely on giving away limited sections of her investigation to those deeply involved in the case – specifically Onion Knight and Terra.
It was a truly frustrating situation.
The High Judge Gabranth, having listened to the testimony with full concentration, sat silently for some time. With so much information being given to the court, he had to take time and process it all. This boded similarly to the crowd of the court, who were racking their brains as they tried to remember it all.
Finally, he spoke out.
“Well, Miss Chere … that was quite the testimony.” He expressed in surprise, almost having to exhale exhaustedly by the mental strain he had to endure. “Defence! … Please tell me you wrote all that down.”
Several students amongst the crowd leapt in sudden fright, hearing the abrupt noise echo out of nowhere. They all cautiously turned to the source of the noise … and their initial shock turned to a simultaneous realisation, acting as if it was expected.
Onion Knight had slammed his fist hard against the desk of the Defence stand, his face full of sweat and wheezing with exhaustion. His glaring gaze shot towards the High Judge, drooping almost to the point of collapse. In his grasps were both a pen and his notes written of a notepad, having frantically scribbled every detail of the testimony as he could without missing a single word.
“*Huff … huff … huff…* Y-Yes … Your Honour.” Onion Knight answered breathlessly, stuttering and slurring his words as he spoke. “I-it was a challenge … but I was able to gather every detail.”
... This court is in dire need of a scribe, though. His mind expressed, yet he regrettably decided to miss out that part, mainly for his own reputational benefit.
“A-are you ok, Onion Knight?” Terra then worriedly asked, concerned for his wellbeing after what seemed to be a daunting task.
Onion Knight glanced back at her with a weak yet responding nod, “Y-yes, I'm fine. This ... this is nothing.”
He refused to admit that he had almost lost track of Celes' testimony at certain parts; so, in turn, he had to rush double the speed in order to both catch up to her whilst also gain every necessary detail. It was difficult, but he had just about accomplished it.
However, after catching a curious glimpse of his notes, Terra couldn’t help but give him an odd stare, “You ... do realise a lot of this, we already know, right?”
“I know that!” Onion Knight bickered, defending his choice arrogantly, “You never truly know if there was some small, specific detail we may have missed.”
Deciding not to argue about the matter, Terra just nodded awkwardly, “That's true ... I guess?”
Through all the commotion of the audience, the small bickering between Onion Knight and Terra, and Gabranth trying his best to grasp the entire thing; Warrior of Light kept his silence. Although everyone was oblivious to him, there was a subtle, condescending grin hidden underneath his stern expression.
He was waiting … as all the right pieces fell into place.
“*A-hem…* Well then, Knight of the Onion, if there is nothing else needing to be brought up, you may cross-examine the witness.” The High Judge Gabranth pressed on, hoping to move the trial forward without further delay.
Why does he keep calling me that…? Onion Knight mentally groaned, finding the nickname given to him by the High Judge rather bothersome.
Regardless of the thought and after giving off a much-required sigh, He turned to Gabranth with a revitalized – although somewhat forced – expression, “I’m ready, Your Honour.”
It was a tall order, yet if Onion Knight could successfully analyse Celes’ testimony and gain the necessary information, then there would be no doubt in his mind that he could ultimately convince the court of Zidane’s innocence. With so much possibilities displayed through the testimony and the accompanying evidence, the thought of succeeding this case had never been so close to his grasps.
Onion Knight was undeniably psyched … but also cautious. There was one aspect that still plagued his mind and set him back from a tranquil mind: Warrior of Light. This prolonged and unnerving silence from Warrior of Light played at him from the back of his mind, believing that his opponent was hiding something that could critically jeopardize whatever lead he may have. However, he pushed the thought away from his consciousness, feeling as though he was overthinking it. He turned a blind eye from his glaring opponent, acting oblivious as he observed his notes in preparation of the cross-examination.
At that moment, what Onion Knight didn’t realise … was that his looming concerns were truly warranted.

Cross-Examination 2: Celes Chere.

“I must apologise, Celes.” Onion Knight began, feeling the need to get this off his chest first. “With so much information, it will take me some time and plenty of questions to get through it all. I hope you don’t mind.”
Celes shook her head with an accepting smile, “Not to worry, I was expecting this. Take all the time you need, Onion Knight, all that matters right now is finding the truth to this entire mess.”
Onion Knight couldn’t help but give her an appreciative smile, finding her kind, support words uplifting. Feeling in high spirits, he skimmed through his own notes, highlighting every aspect of the testimony that caught his eye. Due to the testimony being so hefty, Onion Knight decided to most ideal option was to break it down by matter of significance to the case.
In other words, he had to get rid of the filler.
At first, this was incredibly difficult for Onion Knight, having been completely in the mindset throughout the entirety of this case that every aspect of a testimony holds significant importance. He had to bite through his stubbornness, hating the fact that he had to go against what was second nature to him at this point. Regardless, he knew it would do him no good if he limited his options, he needed to break out of his comfort zone.
And then, as if by complete surprise, Onion Knight felt his entire world open up. He was shocked at how much of the testimony had been broken down and reorganised in his mind, his pen hand automatically circling and highlighting specific sections that were more important than others. It took time – as Onion Knight had predicted – yet Onion Knight had reworded the testimony into a more ‘bite-sized’ statement:
 “During the initial investigation, I (Celes Chere) was unable to find any new evidence at the crime scene. Before leaving, I decided to check the smashed window out of curiosity for how the true culprit had escaped during time of incident. Although I was unable to find anything out of the ordinary at first glance, I noticed an open window situated directly above. I shifted my investigation to Laboratory Room 1 of the 5th Floor; there, I was able to find the back-corner window left open, along with various hair strands on the floor and the damaged blazer stuffed inside the Academy locker – as shown by the photographs.”
A cast of satisfaction was seen on Onion Knight’s mug, believing everything was now set in its correct place. Turning back to Celes with a prepared glance, he knew exactly where to go with this cross-examination.
“Celes, if you don’t mind me asking: What did you intend to find during your initial investigation of the crime-scene?” Onion Knight began to question, showing general curiosity on the matter. “Considering that Firion, Terra, and I had previously investigated Math’s Room 3, there would be no further need to check the room for evidence. Even our very own Headmistress Cosmos would be able to confirm this, seeing as she was the one who oversaw the investigation in the first place.”
“Well, aside from the connections regarding the Hair Ornament ... I honestly just did it on a whim.” Celes answered with a light shrug, acting somewhat disappointed of herself for not giving a more satisfactory answer. “Believe me, I wasn't attempting to downplay your previous investigation – in fact, I felt that you, Firion and Terra did a wonderful job in gathering evidence – I just had this sneaking suspicion that there was more to it than meets the eye.”
Onion Knight nodded, finding Celes' stance on the investigation matter rather understandable, “I see your point, if we think back to the first investigation, we ourselves had completely missed the surveillance footage, it was only because it was eventually brought up during Friday’s trial that we were able to check. So, it wouldn't seem too out of place to have an extra pair of eyes monitor the crime scene.”
With both Onion Knight and Celes on a similar wavelength, the cross-examination was running as smoothly as one could imagine. It was as though there was no hesitancy or hidden motives behind Celes’ words nor his own, everything was theoretically out on the table for the court to see. And with Warrior of Light not interrupting, Onion Knight could get as much information as he required without unnecessary hassle.
“It was only by chance that I had checked the smashed window, and – whilst it wasn’t what I expected at the time – I was rather relived that my own investigation wasn’t in vein.” Celes commented with pride, feeling satisfied by her findings.
The transitioning was perfect.
“Speaking of the ‘smashed window’, Celes: was the Lab Room’s opened window on the floor above the only clue you were able to find during that time?” Onion Knight immediately brought, not letting this opportunity go to waste.
“As I had stated in my testimony, I was unable to find anything else out of the ordinary – and I had checked that area very thoroughly.” Celes then answered, her serious expression further proving how truthful she was in her words.
Onion Knight nodded, cupping his chin with his hand as he crossed his arms, “I see, I was just curious due to previous evidence showing the tufts of blue blazer fabric caught on the window’s glass shards, so it was to my assumption that there could possibly be other clues and pieces of evidence caught on the outside wall of the building.”
“It does make sense; the blazer was ripped more prominently than what was seen on the window shards.” She added in agreement, yet showed a solemn expression. “Unfortunately, after thorough inspection of the outside area, I couldn’t find any other indication of the culprits escape aside from the opened window directly above.”
This was a slight snag, yet Onion Knight considered it as nothing close to major. He glanced once again over his notes, ready to move on to the next topic of discussion. Just then, he caught Terra from the corner of his eye closing in on him, presumably to express her thoughts on the matter at hand.
“Onion Knight, I’m finding Warrior of Light’s constant silence very unsettling.” Terra whispered anxiously, “What do you suppose he’s planning?”
Onion Knight was silent momentarily, giving a swift yet cautious glance towards his oddly silent opposition, feeling his thoughts freeze up at the condescending glare he was giving.
“Just ignore him, he’s probably acting all high and mighty just to intimidate us.” He murmured back to her, switching his sights back to the notes in his hand. “Whatever he’s scheming, I’m sure we’ll be vigilant enough counter him.”
“Right…” Terra hesitated in a murmur, uncertain by his words of encouragement. “I’m … not so sure we should be taking this lightly; I mean, he seems set to hitting back with something big.”
“Mm…” Onion Knight bit the inside of his lip, ultimately knowing there was truth to her words. “As much as I hate to say it, we can only wait and see what he has in store for us.”
“Defence, do you have any further questions to ask our witness?” The High Judge abruptly pressured, growing tired of the delay.
“Ah! Of course! Sorry, Your Honour.” Onion Knight hastily apologised, becoming suddenly alert.
As he rushed into his next question for Celes, Terra stood quietly beside him, her eyes wavering between Onion Knight’s cross-examination on Celes and Warrior of Light’s daunting aura. It was then – although difficult to get a clear visual – she caught sight of Warrior of Light fiddling with some sort of small object, hidden away within his hand as if purposefully waiting to reveal it.
She could only give a hesitant sigh at this point, knowing not to stall Onion Knight any longer.
“*A-hem…!* Moving on to Lab Room 1: Celes, you had told the court that these new pieces of evidence were not tampered at all during the time their photos were taken.” Onion Knight reflected, holding up his notes as he paraphrased her words. “Tell me, though, did you inspect the evidence any further after you took the photos?”
Celes paused momentarily, as though hesitant for some reason. She warily glanced over to Warrior of Light, who, in turn, stared back at her with piercing eyes. Onion Knight caught this peculiar motion, yet didn’t know what to make of it. From his stance, he considered the thought that Celes was still being held back by the contractual agreement she had made with Warrior of Light.
However, there was part of Onion Knight’s mind that thought differently; thought there could be something more…
Finally, Celes worked up the courage to answer the question, “No … no, I didn’t tamper the evidence. The only piece of actual evidence I retrieved was…”
… The silver ear-stud. Onion Knight finished her sentence in his thoughts, seeing as she had tailed off.
Her answer was consistent with the discussions he and Terra had with her a few days previous, with the only aspect not included was the ear-stud she had presented to them alongside the original set of photos. With Celes indicating towards its existence, Onion Knight had no choice but to bring it up to the court. He currently had the ear-stud pouched up inside his pocket, hidden away alongside other pouched evidence yet to be revealed to the court – including the strands of brown hair he had kept with him since the very beginning.
“Witness, could you please finish your sentence?” Gabranth then pressured Celes, wondering what she was about to say.
“There’s no need for that, Your Honour.” Onion Knight immediately interrupted, causing every set of eyes to turn towards him in sync. “I have with me the sole piece of evidence Celes retrieved during her investigation in Lab Room 1.”
He placed the silver ear-stud on the surface of his Defence Stand, ultimately revealing it to the court. At that moment, the ever restless Prishe stepped over to the Defence Stand in order to retrieve and transfer the stud to the High Judge Gabranth. As the pouch was given to Gabranth, Onion Knight couldn’t help but feel anxious in some way. This crucial piece of evidence was hidden from the court for a considerable amount of time, so there were some levels of uncertainty surrounding whether this could potentially result in him receiving a penalty or not.
“Defence, I would like you to clarify to the court on how you had this piece of evidence in your possession.” The High Judge ordered, holding up the pouched ear-stud as his piercing glare was fixated on Onion Knight.
“Certainly, Your Honour.” Onion Knight answered with a nod, although felt as though butterflies had entered his stomach after witnessing the intense glare in Gabranth’s eyes. “I was given this piece of evidence by Celes during the time I and Terra met with her 2 days ago. For those wondering, this was an unplanned meeting, we stumbled upon each other by mere chance. She handed this ear-stud to me alongside the previously un-cited photos of the Lab Room 1 evidence. Whist I apologise that this piece of evidence was hidden from the court for some time, I deemed the timing of its reveal necessary to the progression of this court trial.”
“Fret not, Knight of the Onion, there is no need for you to apologise.” Gabranth stated as he shook his head sternly, “Your explanation is adequate, although it does ponder the question of: Why? Why would you only reveal this piece of evidence to the court now? Why not reveal it alongside the photographs when they were handed over to the court?”
Onion Knight crossed his arms, showing a cautious expression as he was about to reveal the truth, “Because, Your Honour, Celes Chere is currently under contractual agreement with the Prosecution; where all known forms of evidence would have to be handed to him and information relating to her witness testimony must only be revealed and discussed with the Prosecution up until the time of court trial.”
There was sudden chatter amongst the crowds of students in the courtroom, taken by surprise by this surprising turn of events. The gossips grew louder, as Onion Knight, Terra, Celes, Warrior of Light, and Grabranth himself waited in silence. The atmosphere changed to an antagonistic vibe, various members of the crowd spouting out comments and taunts.
“Why would Warrior of Light do something so sketchy and back-handed!?”
“Yeah! Isn’t he meant to be the Student Council President!?”
“Why would Celes go along with it!? She’s a member of the Student Council herself!”
“Does this mean the Student Council is a corrupted entity in the Academy!?”
“ORDER IN THE COURT!” High Judge Gabranth interrupted with a bellowing command, sending the courtroom into immediate silence the moment he banged his gavel. “I will not have baseless accusations and insults be thrown around by spectators in my courtroom!”
After the crowd cowered in the silence, Gabranth turned to Warrior of Light with a calmer tone to his voice.
“Is this true, Prosecution?” He asked, showing a sincere expression in the process.
Warrior of Light didn’t say a word, deciding instead to only give a single nod in response. However, what was odd was his reaction to the reveal; he wasn’t showing any form of guilt … he was giving a dark grin. Shivers ran down the spines of Onion Knight, Terra, and even Celes. They didn’t know what was going through his mind, instead only guess that it wasn’t at all pleasant.
“I see…” Gabranth then murmured, sounding almost speechless by the answer. “(…how outrageous…) *Hmph…!* I do not care for what goes on behind the scenes regarding witnesses, all I care for is finding the truth! I hereby deem the Prosecution’s use of contractual agreements VOID!”
There was a sigh of relief given by Onion Knight, Terra, and especially Celes, grateful for the High Judge’s verdict on the matter. Although Onion Knight could not help but wonder what the High Judge had muttered before coming to this conclusion. Regardless, he was happy for Celes, knowing that she wasn’t held back by any contracts or limits made by Warrior of Light.
However, upon seeing that Warrior of Light was still giving off his dark, condescending grin, Onion Knight fell back into his cautious state. He was desperate to call out his opposition, wondering as to what he was hiding from the court. Yet, the questions remained: when would be the optimal time to call him out? And, what would happen if he did?
With this, the cross-examination pressed on…
“Defence, what do you suppose this new piece of evidence could mean to the case?” Gabranth questioned curiously, continuously inspecting the small beaded ear-piece in his possession. “Would it not be possible that this ear-stud could have been dropped by a student prior to the time of the incident?”
Onion Knight could only shake his head in uncertainty, “I’m not sure as of yet, Your Honour. It is likely the case that someone may have dropped prior or during the incident, depending on who it may belong to. However, I do wonder on why it would have been dropped in the Lab Room in the first place, seeing as it would make considerably more sense if the stud was left behind in a P.E. changing room.”
“Hmm … that is a valid point, Defence.” Gabranth nodded in thought, before turning to Celes, “Witness, could you please add to your testimony on how you found this piece of evidence.”
“Yes, Your Honour.” Celes confirmed with a confident nod, “I found the ear-stud alongside the other pieces of evidence during my investigation in Lab Room 1. It was located on the floor nearby the cupboard of where the damaged blazer was found.”
Onion Knight, upon hearing this new addition to the testimony, included it within his notes, specifically where Celes had spoken about finding the other pieces of evidence. Although it wasn’t anything significant as of yet, it did in fact pose a single question that he hoped to clarify.
“Celes, hearing about how you found the ear-stud does cause me to wonder: why did you only pick up the stud yet take photos of the other evidence found in the room?” He asked casually, seeing as he felt it wasn’t a crucial question.
“I was simply worried that if anyone oblivious to the situation had entered the room between then and the trial today, it could possibly have been kicked away.” Celes answered back lightly, believing it was the right thing to do at the time.
“Understandable.” Onion Knight commented, seeing Celes’ side to this case. “However, would it not make sense to require the damaged blazer as well? Surely, leaving it stuffed away in that cupboard would run the risk of someone finding it and throwing it away without due care and attention.”
As if her mind clicked to the thought, Celes gave out a light gasp in realisation, “AH! That’s … true.”
She acted as though she was beginning to mentally beat herself up over such an oversight, wondering constantly as to why she would miss something so important. Onion Knight caught this, feeling rather sorrowful to her about bringing up the oversight. Yet, in truth, he was now able to set his mind on the next important aspect for this case: the damaged blazer.
“Your Honour, I have no further questions for the Witness.” He announced to the High Judge, completely in control of the trial at this point – or so he reckoned. “I believe that our next course of action is to retrieve the damaged blazer that was found in Lab Room 1 and further inspect it.”
“Yes. I, too, believe this is the most ideal option we have to pursue.” The High Judge agreed with a solid nod, giving a confident smile as he held out his gavel. “Well then, if there are no further objections: Miss Chere, you may leave the-!”
“…Objection…” A sudden low voice echoed out in disruption, freezing the High Judge from finishing his announcement whilst sending Onion Knight, Terra, Celes and the rest of the court into a shocked state.
With his eyes wide, Onion Knight warily switched sights to the origin of the echo. There, a hand placed firmly on the surface of his stand, was Warrior of Light. His intense glare was set, and there was no sign of weakness in his expression whatsoever. The only aspect of his expression that was breaking through the condescending aura was his small, certain grin. He was finally able to speak up against his opposition, and the feeling felt glorious.
Why now? Onion Knight warily questioned, his fists clenched at the thought of his opposition ruining his stride. What’s he about to do?
“Prosecution, would you care to explain the reasoning behind your last-minute objection?” The High Judge Gabranth pressed, rather irritated by this sudden disruption.
“I certainly shall, Your Honour.” Warrior of Light answered with an arrogant smirk, shifting away from his stand. “I must first applaud Onion Knight and Celes for their very informative ‘discussions’ on the case. You could say it was very … ‘enlightening’.”
“Get to the point, Warrior of Light; you’re only making yourself sound like an arrogant prick right now.” Onion Knight bickered back with crossed arms, now wishing his opposition just stayed quiet.
However, Warrior of Light ignored him and continued his long-awaited speech, “So, it brings me great displeasure to ruin such a phenomenal display of wit and deduction. For I have with me … a certain piece of evidence that changes how we see this case – specifically, Miss Chere’s recent testimony.”
At that very moment, he held out his right hand, revealing to the court what had been in his hand the entire time of the trial. Onion Knight was the first to react, unable to believe his eyes upon witnessing the object that sat in the palm of his opponent’s hand. Terra was close behind him in terms of reaction, letting out a small gasp as she lightly clasped a hand over her mouth. Even the High Judge Gabranth had let out a reaction, rising up from his seat as his mouth fell open in shock.
Sitting within the palm of Warrior of Light’s hand … was a USB Stick.
Is … is that USB Stick the one stolen from Firion? Onion Knight wondered with a widened glare, leaning forward to gain a closer look. How did he get that?
“Now, I know what you’re thinking, Onion Knight.” Warrior of Light then chuckled, as though being able to read his mind. “You’re probably thinking: ‘Could that be the same USB stick that was previously stolen from Firion?’ Well, I can assure you this is a different USB – albeit it has a similar type of evidence in its memory.”
Onion Knight was taken aback by his words, “…What do you mean?”
“Hm-hmm…! Oh, there’s no need in me to explain to you or even the court.” Warrior of Light shook his head, holding onto his confident grin in the process. “…All you need to do is watch the footage.”
Onion Knight stood his ground, hoping Warrior of Light was bluffing about the importance of the footage. He could imagine his opponent was pulling off one of his egotistic schemes to sway the court in his favour. And yet, deep down in his mind, he knew … Warrior of Light was being genuine.
The USB stick was passed on from Warrior of Light to the High Judge Gabranth, courtesy of an oddly silent Prishe. Even she knew that what was held within the USB was not to her preference, preferring not to think about its contents.
Upon claiming the stick, Gabranth reached down underneath the Judge’s Podium, pulling out what happened to be a laptop hooked in with a HDMI cable. Without a word spoken, he placed the USB into the matching socket on the side of the laptop. As this was happening, the rest of the court waited anxiously, noticing an enlarged, scrolling projector screen emerge from above the Academy stage.
The moment the projector screen clicked into place, an image of what was shown on the High Judge’s laptop was revealed. A pause icon was showing in the centre of what was the security camera footage, showing a specific room of the Academy through its HD lens. It didn’t take long for Onion Knight and the rest of the court to grasp which room of the Academy it was documenting: Laboratory Room 1.
Everything about the room seemed to be in check with what one would expect to be a science-based schoolroom: the prolonging tables fitted with tap, sockets and other contraptions; backless stools used for efficient movability when executing experiments and tests; various goggles and lab coats hanging up in the nearby corner; a row of cupboards holding numerous books, equipment and items; and, to top it off, windows spanning the entire length of the room.
Based on the bottom of the video, the video text read: Friday 14th September – 15:30:00. It was showing the time of when Celes had investigated the room.
However, the moment he caught an eye of the spanning windows, he noticed something peculiar: the corner window that meant to be yanked open … was closed shut.
Onion Knight glanced over towards Celes for some reassurance, warily curious as to why it was showing this. However, to his complete surprise; he noticed that she was trembling on the spot. She had lost colouring in her skin, and a bead of sweat could be seen trickling down the side of her neck. This was a completely new side of her that Onion Knight and even Terra had ever seen.
“Celes, what’s wrong?” Terra asked in worry.
Celes was silent, frozen in place.
“Now then, Your Honour … would you like to do the honours?” Warrior of Light offered, slightly exaggerating his movements as if to show he was now in control.
Gabranth didn’t say a word, only giving of an almost non-existent sigh. He then hovered the mouse cursor over the pause icon, and pressed ‘Play’.
At first, there was no movement showing in the footage, the room seemingly vacant at the time. However, after a sight fast-forward in the video, a figure could be seen stumbling into the room, scanning the place as if they were looking for something they had lost. Based on the figure’s attire, body shape, and hair, it was easy to tell: the figure was Celes herself.
Onion Knight’s eyes were fixed on the screen, analysing the video as much as he possibly could. As the video continued its run, the Celes that was standing in the footage was searching every part of the room. From assumption, she was searching hastily for any possible proof that the culprit(s) had situated themselves there at some point during the time of the incident. After a small while, she finally stalled, having opened the corner cupboard and inspected its contents.
“Observe closely, people of the court.” Warrior then announced, as if commenting on the video whilst it was still playing. “This is the vital moment…”
On the screen, Celes nodded to herself as if to confirm something that was on her mind … before turning towards the ‘should-be opened’ window.
With a strengthened yank, she forced it open.
““*GASP!!!!*”” Exclaimed the crowd in horrified shock.
“…no…” Onion Knight muttered blankly, unable to comprehend what was happening on the screen. “No-no-NO!!!”
He had thrown his hands behind his head, close to pulling out his hair as he could only watch the screen in horror.
Then, the on-screen Celes turned and rushed out of the room. In that instant, the camera switched to a different room entirely, having only skipped approximately 1-2 minutes of time. It was the crime scene, shown exactly how it was seen what Onion Knight, Terra, Firion and Headmistress Cosmos had investigated it.
Once again, Celes had rushed into the room, directing her momentum to the floor where the strands of various hairs were situated. She swiftly knelt down, and picked away at the floor.
“Yes, your eyes are not tricking you, ladies and gentlemen.” Warrior of Light commentated with a prideful tone, almost laughing away at how perfect this was. “Our own honourable Celes…”
The screen switched back to the Lab Room, skipping a few minutes of time once again. Celes could then be seen standing in the corner, holding what seemed to be a medium-sized clear pouch – similar to the pouches Onion Knight uses for gathering his smaller evidence.
The video then skipped forward a few more seconds … and began to show her sprinkling the contents of the pouch across the floor.
“…had tampered with the evidence.”

Cross-Examination 2 … Complete.


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