Chapter 8:

Vol. 1 ☆ Fragment 6: Reflections of a Broken World ~「First Request」

Scarlet Finale! / スカーレットフィナーレ!


A black haired boy with red eyes and black clothes stood just outside the Anything Scarlet building. A lot of shattered glass from the windows had spread through the streets thanks to the damage done by the earthquake.

The boy stood outside with his arms crossed as he stared far into his right. He was waiting for the others to come and regroup with him.

Despite the natural phenomenon that had just occurred, the city continued to be lifeless as ever. The chilly wind that made his coat swing from side to side carried an eerie feeling with it.

“So much for the inauguration day.” He complained out loud as he continued to grow impatient.

He knew May had contacted Eri shortly after the incident and had confirmed that they were safe. However, they were taking far longer to come back than he expected.

“Anything Scarlet. You claim to be able to do anything, huh?”

A deep voice suddenly reached him. Cold sweat ran down Faith's forehead. He didn't see anyone approaching, he didn't hear anyone or sense anyone's presence. Whoever spoke now stood behind him. What should he do? Should he pull out his weapon and enter battle mode? No. If he were to cause an scene and hurt an innocent citizen he would just be getting farther away from his goal. For now, he would be careful. 

Faith slowly turned around  to see the source of that unknown voice. 

The one who stood behind him was a tall man, wearing all black. The first thing that stood out the most is how he wore a mask that covered the lower half of his face. The man also wore sunglasses that covered his eyes, but there was something strange about it. Even if Faith couldn’t see his eyes, he couldn’t help but feel a fierce and piercing stare coming from the man.

“Well?” The man adjusted his matching black hat. It wasn’t difficult to tell that he had no hair at all under it.

“We do.” Faith replied while staring intently at the man.

He couldn’t help but wonder who this person was, everything screamed suspicious.

“Can you catch a thief for me?”

Faith hesitated for a second. He was still waiting for the others to regroup. Was it really a good idea to take a request at a time like this?

“Go ahead and take the request. Especially at a time like this when people are scared, it’s common for thieves to strike. I’ll keep watch here and look out for the others.” May’s voice spoke into Faith’s ear through a receiver he had been wearing to keep contact with her.

The tall girl with a long braid was still inside the building, she was trying to pinpoint the exact reason all communications in the city were suddenly cut.

Faith closed his eyes for a moment before staring at the man and giving his answer.

“We’ll do it.”

Three figures continued to slowly descend deeper into the unknown abyss.

“Waah! How deep is this going to go?!” The spiky haired boy cried out.

“I’m not sure.” Caroline crossed her arms. “But we are really going down very slow, it almost feels like an elevator.”

“At least I’m glad it is like this and we aren’t falling to our deaths.” Eri sat on the floor with her eyes closed.

She didn’t want to look up and see the distance or think too much about it.

With a loud clicking sound, the floor stopped. They had gone so deep below, that they couldn’t see where the exit was anymore.

“Finally.” Eri muttered, taking a deep breath before standing up.

“Using the rope to escape is out of the question now, right?”

“Of course it is, Ruru.” Eri sounded couldn’t bring herself to sound cheerful at all.

“There is a passageway here.” Caroline held the flashlight in her hands illuminating a path to their left. “Maybe there’s a control room somewhere to make this go up?”

Even if they had descended all the way here, the structure continued being odd. The metallic walls had extended all the way through. From what she could see with the flashlight, they continued throughout the passage and the floor itself was metallic as well.

“Let’s go, let’s go!” Ryuusei rushed towards the passageway. “I’ll take anything before we just start sinking in deeper again!”

The girls followed and walked into the passageway. It was a very long corridor with a large door of steel at the end. Being this deep down, aside from their steps hitting the metallic floor, there wasn’t too much sound in the area.

Caroline continued to walk at the front while holding the flashlight. After what happened, it was likely the place was full of traps, so she decided to move forward slowly in order to be careful.

The flashlight was strong to illuminate the whole place very clearly, but something she didn’t notice before caught her attention.

Just before they reached the door at the end, there was a large screen on the wall. 

The screen looked like the screen of a big and flat TV. It was almost like someone had opened a hole in the wall and made it perfect for the screen to fit. There were no cords or connectors of any kind, there weren’t even any buttons on it, but the screen had turned on the moment they stepped closer to it.

“There are some words there, but…” Caroline stared intently at the screen. “I can’t read what it says at all.”

“Me neither.” Ryuusei scratched his head. “I can’t even tell what language that is supposed to be.”

“Hm?” Eri who had been standing behind them stepped forward to take a good look at the screen.

The red ribbon girl stepped even closer, staring at the words in the screen before slowly reading out loud.

“It all starts after the ending. When a… fountain? Of brilliant… red? Rises into the setting sun.”

“Eri, you can read that?!” Ryuusei's eyes opened wide, this girl was truly full of surprises.

“I guess so? I’m not fully sure though.” Eri was confused. She felt as if her arms were getting numb. She couldn’t tell what language that was either, but just looking at those words, she had the feeling she could understand them.

(Have I seen these with my sisters before? Huh? Sisters? What am I talking about? There’s only May.) Eri was lost in thought.

In the meantime, after hearing Eri's translation, the other two debated over the meaning behind those words.

“I… don’t get it?” Caroline tilted her head.

“Even if we know what it says it doesn’t make much sense, maybe someone was trying to write poetry?” Ryuusei brought a hand to his chin. 

“Whoever likes to write poetry deep inside an underground facility has some very questionable hobbies.”

“Oh, they really do. I never thought that would be cool or anything, haha.”

“Sorry! I didn’t think you would find it cool…”

“I don’t!!”

“Sure, sure~” Caroline laughed and then turned around towards the door. “Well, either way we won’t progress much like this, let’s get going.”

She stepped closer and turned the handle of the door. With a click, it easily opened. Caroline didn't like this, it was too easy. It was almost like if it was left unlocked on purpose.

A blonde girl with different colored eyes sat behind a desk by the entrance of the police station.

She stared at her necklace as she held it in her hands. She had been lost in thought thanks to the recent events and was unsure of what to do next.

“Um, Wish.” The voice of a young boy reached her. “There is someone looking for you.”

Starr walked into the building. He was being followed by a tall man with sunglasses and a mask covering his face from his nose down.

Wish snapped out of her thoughts and stared at the man standing in front of her. She looked at him from the feet and up, and then she spoke.

“Woah. You sure look suspicious!!”

“Wish…” Starr slowly stepped back embarrassed. He had also thought this man was suspicious, but it’s not something he would have stated out loud.

“I do get that quite a bit.” The man replied with his incredibly deep voice.

“Hm, are you here to turn yourself in? I prepared a fun survival game down there. That way you won’t be so bored in your cell all the time!”

“No, No no!” The man who looked so serious up till now suddenly lost his composure in an almost comical manner.  “I’m not a criminal! I’m just here with a request!!”

“A request? Eh, the police here helps with requests from suspicious citizens, I see…”

“Ahem.” The man coughed and tried to get the conversation back in track. “I need you to help me catch a thief.”

“A thief? Sure!” Wish jumped out from her seat and stretched out her arms. “I’ve been itching for some action anyway. Let’s go Starr!”

The blonde girl then dashed outside the building, ready to take action.

“Wait! I haven’t even given you any details yet!” The man yelled at her, but she didn’t stop to listen.

“Ahaha… I’m sorry.” Starr vowed at the man repeatedly. “Can you give me the information? I’ll get it to her.”

“S-Sure.”

Eri stood behind Caroline and Ryuusei as they walked onward into the strange location. Once they walked beyond the door at the end of the hall, they arrived at a much larger place.

The room where they stood was a round room that resembled a dome. Previously they had needed to use the flashlight in order to see the area around them, however this room was different.

This room was dimly lit, not because of any light bulbs, but because of screens that were around the walls. There were four screens in total, each displaying a different set of strange text.

Eri stood still for a moment as the other two looked around to examine the room.

The black haired girl wasn’t new to finding strange locations. Because of her sister’s occupation, and the fact that they were always inseparable, she would get stuck in situations like this with her a lot.

(But still. Something feels weird.) Eri wasn’t able to shake the feeling of unease. (Do I just feel safer when May is there? It’s true that she’s reliable, but so are these two. I don’t think that’s it.)

“Who would have guessed there was air conditioner in here. This place is really cold.”

The other two turned around to look at Eri.

“I don’t think it’s cold at all.” Ryuusei answered awkwardly.

“Hm?” Caroline spread her arms, trying to confirm her thoughts of the atmosphere with her hands. “It feels the same to me. If anything it’s a little hotter in here, isn't it?”

(Eh? Is it only me?) Eri was confused but decided to reply quickly with something that wouldn’t make them worry.

“Of course it’s not cold, I was just joking ☆”

(Just joking…) In contrast to her cheerful response, the voice inside her head was tired and devoid of emotion. 

She wanted to get out of here as soon as possible. As much as she didn’t want this to get to her, something cold was spreading inside her chest. It was beyond a bad feeling.

“At any rate,” Ryuusei came up with a suggestion. “Why don’t we check these screens? Maybe we can find more information to make sense of what we saw before.”

“I second that,” Caroline agreed. “Can’t say I’m not curious.”

Eri didn’t feel the strength to answer so she just nodded.

She continued to walk behind Caroline and Ryuusei as they slowly walked towards the closest screen. It was located towards the left side of the room.

(Huh?) Eri froze in the spot for a few seconds right after giving one step forward. (What was that? It almost felt like someone was following us.)

She wasn’t sure if she had sensed something or if it was just her imagination.

As a sensation of fear began spreading further, Eri accelerated her steps, making her way to the front of the other two abruptly.

(I didn’t hear anything though. Not even any footsteps and our footsteps have been quite loud in this metallic floor. So what was that feeling?)

“Eri?” Caroline tilted her head.

She wasn’t sure what was wrong, but she could tell Eri was acting strange.

“Let me take a look at what this says!” The red ribbon girl forced herself to sound cheerful again.

“Please do.”

Eri then stared at the screen and began reading out loud.

“When the heavens… open for… the moon to meet the sun?”

“More text that makes no sense.” Caroline crossed her arms. “It’s so weird!”

“We had something about a fountain of red before,” Ryuusei pondered. “I can’t think of a connection here.”

“For all we know we might not be checking them in the right order.” Caroline added. “Oh! Eri can you take a picture of this? Maybe May can work out something with this.”

“Sure, she might know a lot more than us probably.” Eri pulled out her phone and took a picture of the screen.

“While we are at it, let’s take a picture of everything then.” Ryuusei suggested.

“Taking pictures inside a hidden building with cryptic information underground, sounds like a perfect recipe to have an evil organization come after our heads later on~” Caroline teased him with a playful tone.

“N-Not everything then! Just a few things!”

“Here Ruru,” Eri handed over her phone to him. “You are the official photographer now!”

“Eh?! Why me?!”

“Now, now! Let’s go check what the other screens say!” Eri cheerfully walked forward.

As much as she was pushing herself to sound happy right now, she just wanted to walk away from there as soon as possible.

The feeling of someone approaching came back. On top of that, just like when she checked the last screen, her arms were numb again. She felt as though she would drop her phone into the floor any moment now, so she preferred to give it to Ryuusei instead.

She continued walking deeper along the edges of the circular room, towards where the next screen was.

“Let’s see, this one says…” She started reading out loud once more. “When the doors to the new worlds open.”

“New worlds?” Ryuusei repeated confused as he took a picture of this screen with Eri’s phone.

“I don’t know,” Eri shrugged. “That’s what it says there.”

“I’m starting to think someone was trying to write some kind of fantasy story instead of poetry now.” Caroline brought her index finger to the side her head while giving this some serious thought.

“Anyway!” Eri suddenly jumped forward and pushed them away from there. “Let’s check the next one, the next one!”

(It’s coming again? What is this? What is going on? What do you want?!) Eri’s distress continued to grow with every passing second. (On top of that it’s cold, I’m so cold…)

As they continued to walk around the dome-shaped room, a new screen they hadn’t seen lit up. This screen was located on a door. The door was at the very end of the room, in the opposite direction of where they had entered the room from.

“Let’s go~”

Eri however, ignored that screen altogether. It could be that she didn’t notice it, or that she was avoiding it for a reason, but she started walking faster as they walked past it. She continued pushing the other two until they reached another screen, now on the far right area.

“What about this one?” The spiky haired boy made sure to take a clear picture of this screen as well.

“At that moment… our world came to an end.” Eri’s voice unwillingly broke as she reached the end of the sentence. There was silence for a few seconds before the other two reacted.

“That’s very ominous.” Caroline was reminded to the time she and Faith met a young boy back when they first got to this city.

The boy had told them about a prophecy and how the Day of the End was coming. Could these be related? Could this even be that prophecy? Or was it something else entirely?

“It’s scary!!” Ryuusei quickly stepped away from the screen.

(It’s…what? I couldn’t understand what he just said. I don’t think it’s important enough for me to ask, but he’s been acting distressed for a while. I should try to help him cheer up. )

“Don’t think too much about it.” Caroline patted him in the back while trying to escape her thoughts.

The girl with the light blue scarf was still confused. She couldn’t understand the reasons behind Ryuusei and Eri’s reactions properly and thinking too much about it wasn’t helping either.

“It’s okay Ruru!” Even now, Eri tried to give them moral support. “It’s just someone writing edgy poetry, remember?”

“I hope that’s the case…”

“Okay! We are almost done, let’s get moving!” Eri urged them to move onward. They continued to circle the wall through the right, and reached the screen on the right side that was close to the entrance.

(It’s still following us. It’s cold. I’m scared. Why is it still following us?! What do I do? Think Eri, what should you do? Telling the others sounds good, but what if it’s just me? What if I make them worry for nothing? What should I…?)

“Eri?” Ryuusei waved his hand in front of her face.

“Ah!” She snapped out of her thoughts. “Sorry, sorry. I was just trying to decipher this properly~”

“It does look very complicated, just take your time.” 

(Seeing her act like this, it reminds me to my… eh? To who?) Ryuusei couldn’t shake the feeling that a gap in his memory was getting bigger.

“This one is a little longer, I will read it now.” Eri was the one to interrupt his thoughts this time.

Caroline and Ryuusei nodded, letting her proceed.

“When the radiant space, and the transient time… come together to… create new life.”

Caroline raised her hand before speaking.

“I think we shouldn’t bother trying to understand this anymore, we should just leave it to May altogether.”

“Agreed, May is the best after all ☆”

“This May person sounds really reliable.” Ryuusei who had never properly met Eri’s older sister, was impressed just by hearing about her.

“She is! She’s the best sister in the world after all! ☆”

(Sister…? A sibling? Eh? Ah! That’s right! A sibling! I should be worrying about my younger brother! I wonder if… wonder if… if who is safe? Younger brother? Younger… what? Who? Who should I be worrying about…?)

“Let’s just go check out the other room, we still have to find an elevator to take us up.” Caroline suggested.

“Good ide-”

Eri couldn’t finish her sentence. She fell to the floor, her legs giving out on her.

(My legs this time?!)

It was the same numb sensation that had covered her arms after reading the text in the other screens.

“Eri are you okay?!” Caroline quickly extended out her hand, helping her get up again.

The moment her hand touched Eri’s she immediately realized: Eri’s body was incredibly cold, it almost felt like touching ice.

“I’m fine. Don’t worry, don’t worry~” Eri laughed nervously.

“Are you sure you are fine?” Seeing Eri fall snapped Ryuusei out of his thoughts, he was sincerely concerned for her.

“Y-Yeah.”

“Here,” Caroline quickly removed her scarf and put it around Eri’s neck. “If you are really cold, don’t hide it.”

“Caro…”

“We are co-workers after all! It’s natural to look after each other, don’t forget that, okay?”

Eri couldn’t think of proper words to respond with.

“I may not be a co-worker.” Ryuusei took off his jacket, putting it over the black haired girl. “But you can count on me too.”

“Ruru… thanks.”

After making sure Eri was a little warmer, the three of them walked once more towards the far end of the room. The screen located on the door lit up once more as they approached it.

“This seems to be the last one, are you okay with reading it?” Ryuusei asked.

“No problem ☆” Eri smiled, and began to read the text. “And at that moment, the truth was that… Ah?!”

She began reading it but was forced to stop midway.

“Ahhhh! It hurts!" The black haired girl crouched down.

A piercing headache attacked her without mercy. Her entire body was colder, it also felt like it was being covered entirely with a feeling of static.

(It hurts, it hurts! What’s happening? Please make it stop, it hurts!!)

“Eri?” Caroline felt lost.

“Eri?! Are you okay, Eri?!” Ryuusei quickly kneeled down to check on her properly.

“I… don’t know!! It hurts!!! It hurts!!! I can’t…” 

And just like that, the black haired girl passed out.

Ryuusei was quick to catch her before her head would hit the ground, but she showed no signs of waking up.

“W-what just happened?!” Ryuusei couldn’t help but to freak out.

“She still has a pulse, her heartbeat seems to be normal, and she’s still breathing.” Caroline was quick to check. “It seems she just fainted.”

“I-It’s good to know she’s okay, but, why did she?”

“Hm,” Caroline’s expression quickly changed into a more serious one. It’s like her relaxed aura had changed entirely into a serious one. “This is getting out of hand. Let’s take care of this fast.”

“Y-Yeah.”

“Please look after Eri for now, I’ll take care of this.” Caroline stretched out her hand, asking for Ryuusei to hand over Eri’s phone.

Caroline then started the camera and aimed at the screen in front of them.

She pressed the button to take a picture, but she was not able to. 

The exact moment she tried to take it, the phone exploded in her hand. She was quick to let go of it by reflex. The explosion wasn’t big enough to do lethal damage, but there were slight burns and bruises in her hands. The red phone then fell to the floor, now broken in pieces.

“W-What?”

Caroline couldn’t help but stare at her damaged hand. She was unable to process what had just happened, and she wouldn’t have enough time to think about it either.

The door before them slowly opened on its own. A gust of cool air reached their bodies. The two of them stared at the inside of the room that had opened before them, and what they saw inside was…

“Welcome.”

A faint voice whispered in their ears.

“It’s somewhere around here, right?”

Wish stepped into one of the city’s main plazas. She was shortly followed by Starr who was short of breath from keeping up with her running speed.

The place before them was big and refreshing. There was a large fountain right in the middle with clear water running. A few wooden benches were spread through the place, and it all was covered by large tall trees dyed in the red color of autumn.

Because of the current season, there was a chilly breeze and some occasional gusts of wind that would spread some of the leaves throughout the solid ground.

“Y-Yeah.” Starr stopped for a moment to try and catch his breath. “I think it’s that building right there.”

He pointed at a large structure that stood out just beyond the plaza. A large old looking building could be seen just beyond the area where the trees ended.

“The electrocenter, is it? Weird place for a thief to go at a time like this. Oh well, we’ll get them anyway!”

“I wonder if it’s someone from the organization.” Starr didn’t want to meet any of his former companions if possible.

“Doesn’t matter!” Wish smiled. “I’m here after all!”

“Yeah.”

Starr smiled sheepishly feeling somewhat reassured. It was true that Wish was complicated to deal with, and most of the time he couldn’t tell what was in her mind, but it was also true that she was extremely reliable.

The two proceeded to run across the plaza and towards the building, however, Starr stopped the moment they walked by the tall fountain in the center.

“Wait! Wish, wait wait!” He yelled at the blonde girl who was a few steps ahead.

“Huh? What is it?” Wish stopped and walked back towards where Starr was.

“T-There’s someone-” He quickly jumped into the fountain not caring that his clothes would get wet. “There’s someone here.”

Wish stepped closer to the fountain just to stare at a figure that was floating face-down on the water.

Starr put all his strength on his arms and lifted them up. He then carried the figure out of the fountain and put them on the ground just next to Wish.

“Do you think, she is…?”

Starr was too scared to finish his sentence. This person had been floating while facing the water, the fountain itself wasn’t that deep, but there was a chance they could have drowned at this rate.

“Let me see.” Wish kneeled down and stared at the person before her.

The person Starr had pulled out of the fountain was a young girl. Wish, who was the same age as Faith, calculated this girl might be just around her age as well.

The girl’s most noticeable feature was a tiny mole just below her left eye.

Her wet hair stuck to her clothes and her skin. It was long hair that reached her back and it was of a soft pink color, with the bangs that fell on her forehead and her chest fading into a snow white color. The light blue sweater and the black frilly skirt she wore were completely soaked as well from the fountain’s water.

Wish was quick to check her pulse and confirm that she was still alive. The moment her fingers touched her wrist, she couldn’t help but notice how soft the girl’s skin was.

The blonde then placed her ear near the girl’s mouth and nose to confirm any breathing sounds, but she was unable to hear anything.

“Starr, give me a hand here.”

Making sure to take action fast, Wish’s next step was to get the girl’s sweater out of the way.
The clothes had become too heavy after absorbing too much water and she determined it would just get in the way.

Wish began pulling the girl’s sweater up, while Starr helped extending out her arms upwards so she could remove it faster and with ease.

The girl was wearing a white tank top under her sweater. The water made it stick to her skin and become almost see through, revealing her curvy figure and her busty chest properly. Starr couldn’t help but to look away out of embarrassment.

“Is that…?”

The moment he looked away, he was able to notice someone running in the distance.

It was the black haired boy with a black coat running across the opposite end of the plaza.

“It’s Faith! He’s probably trying to catch the thief too!”

“I expected this,” Wish frowned. “We will have to let him get a bit ahead for now, I’m not going to lose someone if I can do something about it.”

Wish then placed both of her hands over the center of the unconscious girl’s chest. She tried her best to focus and began pushing downwards with a lot of force while being mindful of the timing between intervals.

The moment Wish did this, the girl started to cough out water. Wish continued the process until she had done it somewhere close to thirty times, she was then quick to check her breathing again, but judging by her expression, Starr could tell it wasn’t a favorable result.

The young boy was surprised. He hadn’t known this person for long, but the little time he got to interact with Wish. She was always hasty and focused on completing her goal. Stopping to help someone seemed like the right thing to do, but he didn’t expect Wish to follow that train of thought.

He remembered the moment she agreed to participate in Faith’s challenge to save the city. It wasn’t much, but it was clear Wish was very competitive towards him.

Starr realized it was more than likely he was misunderstanding her after being under the command of people from the organization who wouldn’t have hesitated to race Faith to the goal and let someone die if they were having a competition like that.

“I’ve learned about it but I’ve never done that before, I’m not too confident but I will have to do it.” Wish spoke to herself out loud as she stared at the girl.

(Is she thinking out loud?)

Starr was unsure how to react or respond, even if it was clear she wasn’t talking to him.

“Okay, Wish. Okay. You don’t have time for this. Stop thinking and just do it.” She smacked her own cheeks with her hands and took a deep breath.

Wish gently placed her hand over the girl’s chin and then placed the other one over her forehead.

She proceeded to slightly tilt her head backwards.

Wish stared intently at the girl’s face as she did this, she could tell she had a serene and peaceful expression. It was hard to think someone who had almost drowned would have that kind of expression and it made her wonder what really happened.

The blonde then pinched the girl’s nose and started to lean in closer to the girl’s face.
Wish’s lips continued moving closer to her face, until she was able to feel the girl’s soft lips touching her own.

Wish put her entire focus on performing this first aid operation. Seconds later, the girl’s chest started to visibly rise as air reached her lungs.

Wish slowly pulled away, and confirmed her breathing again.

“She should be fine for now,” Wish sighed in relief. “But she’s not going to be completely fine like this. Starr, I have a quick emergency mission for you!”

“W-What is it?” Starr slowly uncovered his eyes and looked at Wish who quickly stood up.

“I can only think of one person that can properly take care of her from here. I need you to take her to Faith’s place, May should be there.”

“Is that okay with you?”

Starr had a blurry idea of who May was, he had only seen her once after all. He didn’t know too much about her, but he knew she was part of Faith’s group and that essentially made her their enemy.

“It’s fine!” Wish was quick to reply. “She’s able to breathe now, but she hasn’t fully recovered either. If she doesn’t have someone to further check on her, there’s no guarantee she’ll be okay! I’m going to go after Faith and complete our initial objective, so I’m leaving this in your hands, I believe in you! Go as fast as you can!”

“G-Got it! I’ll do it!”

Starr rapidly lifted up the girl in a princess carry position.

Even as part of the organization, he was just another number, his results or performance never mattered to anyone. His brother Ryuusei was always very over protective and never relied on him for his troubles. Yet… this person was entrusting him with someone’s life. A fire had lit inside him, a sensation he had never felt before. He would do it no matter what.

Wish stared at the young boy running outside the plaza at full speed while carrying the unconscious girl.

Even if she was clearly bigger than Starr, the young boy had exceptional strength, so Wish knew he could handle it with ease.

“Now.” She turned around and looked at the building Faith had run towards. “Let’s do this.”

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