Late evening in the Orange Planet campus, and most of the employees have gone off to bed. In one of the rooms, a green-haired girl and her lavender-haired senior sat up on their respective beds - the younger reading a book, the elder enjoying a cup of tea.
“Alice?” The green-haired girl lowered her book and looked at her senior.
“Have you started working on your canzone?”
Alice shook her head. “No, I haven’t thought about it yet.”
Athena stood and looked outside their room’s window, bringing her teacup closer to her. “Alice, you’re an amazing gondolier. You row better than half the Primas here, and your talent has made you famous even among tourists.
“I don’t have much left to teach you, Alice,” the lavender-haired girl laughed softly. “The canzone is all I can teach you now.”
A brief silence, with Alice deep in thought.
“Do your customers always ask for a canzone?”
“It is why most people know me, and it is why they want me to be their guide,” Athena mused. “Between Akira and Alicia, I’m not really good at rowing or guiding.”
“Is it always the same song?”
Athena shook her head. “I have two or three. I’m want to make some more, but I’m not sure if I should since my songs are already pretty popular.”
“Why not become an opera singer then, miss Athena?”
The lavender-haired girl giggled. “I like rowing too, you know…”
Another brief moment of silence as the conversation was cut short. Athena broke the silence as she started singing one of her famous canzones softer than usual. Her voice rang softly but clearly through the air, a subtle languid addition to the noises of the city in the clear summer night.
“Miss Athena? What do customers expect in a canzone?”
Late morning in Neo-Venezia, and the canals and alleys are bustling as people walked and rowed to work or play. Undines, clad in varying uniforms, guided their gondolas gently through the water as they showed the city’s beauty to their customers. Athena, gently petting a small cat, sat on a black trainee’s gondola as Alice rowed.
“Something nice and pleasant," the lavender-haired girl pondered.
Silence fell, and Alice rowed and made her way through the city. The summer sun has started to rise even higher, and the city became just a bit hotter.
“Your songs, miss Athena...they don’t have real words in them, right?”
A small laugh from Alice’s senior. “That’s right. But they sound pleasant, don't they?”
The gondola pulled to the side of the canal near a cafe shop front, and the two girls climbed out of the boat. “I thought we would have some coffee, miss Athena.”
The small cafe was dark and quiet, a cool, comfortable retreat from the hot day outside. A tabby cat greeted the two girls as they entered, and followed them as Alice and Athena sat themselves.
The proprietor of the cafe went to get their orders, and the two girls received iced coffees shortly. Athena produced the small cat from her uniform's front pocket, which immediately walked to and stared at the larger tabby.
"Starting to work on your canzone is the hardest part," Athena said after sipping from her coffee.
"How did you start on yours?"
Athena mused in her airhead fashion. "I don't remember, really. I just got an idea and started singing."
"That's not much help, miss Athena."
Athena pulled out an old magazine from her handbag and gingerly placed it on the table. On the cover was the face of Aria Company's Alicia Florence.
"An old issue of Undine?"
Alice's senior pointed to one of the featured headlines - E nata una stella! - and opened the magazine to the headline's article. The headline had a subtitle: ~Rowing Prodigy is an Undine Hopeful~
"They wrote something about you some time ago. Maybe you'll get some ideas."
Alice pulled the magazine closer to her and started reading. The cafe was silent, save for the mewling of the two cats as they played. After finishing the article, the green-haired girl closed the magazine and placed it in her bag. She put on a strange face as she faced her senior. "Thank you, miss Athena."
Her senior smiled in return. "Let's do some more practice."
The suite was barely lit - the only light came from a small lamp that gave Alice enough to see. She sat on her desk, a notebook in front of her, deep in thought. Athena had already retired for the night, soundly sleeping in her bed.
The sheet laid out in front of her had much in it. Most of the words or paragraphs were scratched out or scribbled over, rejects for her canzone. Her current iteration seems much larger than the other attempts, and the girl chewed on her pen as she pondered over her song.
"Orange - to give homage to the company. Sunsets, water...the beautiful sky. Moving, stirring the soul..."
Holding the paper in front of her, Alice started to mouth the words of her canzone, fearing to wake her senior. A small smile cracked the girl's face as she silently sang the song she had just written.
Vesperruĝo, fluas en ondetoj.
Ĝi estas kiel la kanto, bela kanto de feliĉo.
Ĉu vi rimarkis birdojn, portanta afableco?
Super la maro flugas, ili flugas kun amo.
Oranĝa ĉielo emocias mian spiriton..
Her smile faded as she stopped abruptly. The song wasn't finished.
Alice looked at her other scribbles and at the desk for inspiration. She looked at the old issue of Undine Athena gave her, at the headline her senior had pointed at.
E nata una stella! ~Rowing Prodigy is an Undine Hopeful~
The girl smiled - her song was complete. She immediately put pen to paper as she quietly sang the last lines of her canzone -
Stelo de l'espero,
Stelo lumis eterne,