The cityscape was sinking into twilight.
Most of the buildings were basking in the setting sun and being dyed madder red. Even floating 1000 meters above sea level, Canaan had brightly-colored sunsets, and it felt desolate at the end of every day.
In one of the buildings on a certain street, someone was gazing out of the window on the 20th floor of a coffee shop.
A vast park with an athletics area was in sight. There was a group children returning home, perhaps part of a soccer team. There were adults and children. There were also high school students chatting to each other while walking. No, maybe they were middle school students.
“…Do you see anything interesting?”
“Yes, they’re pretty lively.”
Masaki replied to Alice’s question.
“…Masaki-kun is strange to find watching people interesting.”
“I get the feeling that you find watching me interesting, is that so?”
“…There isn’t anyone else around.”
“It’s like that, but I’m watching other people. That’s why I cook too.
Alice tilted her teacup. It was empty.
“…Is there a connection?”
“Why I cook? Why is my Dialect Rose Garden? When I think about it…”
He moistened his throat with the tea. She was waiting for his words.
“I get the feeling that it’s suited for something other than saving people’s lives.”
“…Is there something more important than life?”
“No, that’s not what I’m saying. But I think that its foremost purpose is different.”
“…Its foremost purpose?”
The setting sun illuminated Masaki’s face.
“If I can color someone’s life brilliantly, that will make me happy.”
“…That is certainly something that is as important as life.”
“…A colorless life is the same as being dead.”
The setting sun also colored Alice’s cheeks red.
Night slowly descended. If you watched the sky, you could find stars in the rifts between the burning red clouds.
“Should we leave soon?”
“…A little longer.”
“But if I don’t prepare dinner.”
“…It’s good to eat out occasionally.”
“Does that mean you’ve become tired of my cooking?”
“…Masaki-kun, are you saying something mean about me?”
“Haha…I understand. I was just joking. But Shirley will be waiting feeling hungry.”
“…I was also joking. Shall we leave?”
They left their seats and went towards the exit. Masaki held out his right hand.
“It’s because of the steps Alice.”
She slowly put her left hand on top of his. Her skin was as white as snow and as smooth as the surface of a teacup. Her nails were glossy and her fingers were slender.
She lightly grasped his hand and he squeezed her hand lightly. Like that, Masaki went towards the exit of the shop.
They kept on holding hands after they got onto the elevator. It was just the two of them in a tiny box. Alice’s cheeks were red even though the setting sun was no longer shining on them.
The elevator descended. On the way––
A sharp electric sound reverberated. A window opened from Masaki’s Ring Gear. Red letters floated to the surface.
Alice unconsciously separated her hand from his.
“…Is it Koori?”
She muttered in a hard voice. Masaki touched the window and received the call.
Koori was reflected in the window with a tearful face. Her hair was disheveled and there was blood on her cheeks.
“Huh!? Koori-san what happened!?”
“Uuu…Shirley was caught…if we don’t hurry then something bad will happen!”
“Hold on a minute, what did Shirley do!? What on earth happened? Where are you now?”
Alice brushed Masaki aside and fired orders at the screen.
“Send me the Ring Gear’s mobilization records right now. At once. I don’t need your words. I don’t need your judgment. Now, hurry up!”
Koori interacted with the window while she wiped the tears from her face.
Alice’s words were harsh, but she wasn’t wrong. Judging from what she was saying, it was a race against time. And based on Koori’s appearance, they needed to see the mobilization recording in order to get accurate information as soon as possible.
The elevator arrived at the ground floor and the door opened. The mobilization records from Koori arrived almost simultaneously.
“Haa, haa…it’s from two hours ago.”
Masaki caught hold of Alice’s shoulder as she was about to run off.
“Do you know where we’re supposed to go!? We haven’t checked the data yet.”
“Calm down. Shirley and Koori-san left school together. Their destination…”
“Our destination was Café de Mancio…that’s right I…there…Shirley is also here…”
“Got it. Let’s go while we check the data.”
Alice took a deep breath then started to walk. And they checked the data along the way. Koori and Shirley’s movements. They were watching the recording.