"Carbon-Fiber Chef"

A Gunslinger Girl Original Fiction Series By Chris Wallace

This story uses characters and locations based on the Gunslinger Girl manga written by Yu Aida and published in monthly shōnen magazine Dengeki Daioh. The characters of Kara and Michele are original to myself.

Chapter One – Decisions, Decisions…

Having completed her afternoon workout and shower, Triela walked back to the dorm room she shared with Claes. Dressed in a loosely fitted white t-shirt and blue Puma gym shorts, she saw that the door was slightly ajar so she pushed it open.

"Cooking a fish ruins it," Kara opinioned from behind her Apple PowerBook Titanium. She looked up to see Triela walk in and flashed her a smile and Peace Sign with her right hand.

"That's your Japanese half speaking," Triela heard Claes respond from the top bunk, though all she could see was the back of her legs as she kicked them in the air.

"My French half happens to concur," Kara shot back.

"Let me guess," Triela said. "Surprise Saturday?" Kara nodded and Claes' head popped-up over the railing.

"If we can ever figure out what cuisine to cook, much less decide on a menu," she charged with a stern look at Kara.

The Agency cafeteria did not have a single cooking staff when it came to the dinner service. Instead, three teams rotated in from surrounding Carabinieri and Esercito Italiano (Army) facilities. Depending on which team was working, certain days of the week were either looked forward to or feared.

The best team worked Sunday through Tuesday and also Friday. The girls figured they must want to open their own gourmet ristorante because the meals they prepared were always tasty. So those days were known as "Sumptuous Sunday", "Terrific Tuesday" and "Fabulous Friday". The only rough patch was "Mystery Monday", so noted because the staff used whatever perishables were left from the previous week (the stores being restocked each Sunday).

The chef who led Wednesday's team was a big believer in the concept of "fusion cuisine" – the combining of elements of various culinary traditions while not fitting specifically into any. Sometimes it was a hit, and sometimes it was a miss, but it was always…interesting…which is why the girls had taken to calling it "Wacky Wednesday".

The last team worked Thursday and they tended to put too much salt into each dish, which resulted in everyone drinking copious amounts of water or wine with their meal. The entire staff referred to it as "Thirsty Thursday".

There was no formal dinner service on Saturday, so people either ate out or used the kitchen facilities to prepare their own meals. As such, it was always a "surprise" as to what you were going to have for dinner, based on your schedule, mood, and whether or not you wanted to (or could) cook yourself or went out. This Saturday, Claes and Kara (along with support from Michele) had decided to eat in.

"So what cuisines are you looking at?" Triela asked as she went to the closest and pulled out a change of clothes.

"Anything but Italian," came the joint reply, as if in stereo.

"How about German?" Triela asked. "I could make something for Hillshire."

Kara started typing away in a search engine while Claes grabbed a German cookbook from the pile next to her pillow.

"This pork loin recipe looks tasty," Kara noted. "Cooked on a rotisserie and served with an apricot-cherry compote. We can serve it with mashed potatoes. Sauerkraut probably won't go over big, so I'll do a sweet & sour red cabbage side. I'd need to have Michele offer advice, since he is more familiar with German cooking then I am."

"I found a 'Chicken Schnitzel Oscar'. You pound flat a breast and then stuff it with crabmeat, artichoke hearts and grated Compté cheese. You then dip it in eggwash and panko crumbs and grill it," Claes replied.

"Compté cheese is fantastic, and I use panko breading a good deal in Japanese cooking, so I can make that," Kara said. "And if we're going to fry in panko, I am going to make myself a chicken cordon bleu."

"What about the soup? The weather has been a bit chilly so I'd like something hot with a nice broth." She turned to Triela. "Do the Germans have anything like French Onion Soup?"

"How should I know?" Triela said as she hiked up her pants and tucked in her blouse before buttoning them. "I'm not German."

"No, but your handler is," Kara pointed out. "Has he ever spoken about such a thing?"

"Hillshire likes lentil soup, I know," Triela said.

"Found it!" Claes called out. "Bavarian Beer Onion Soup. They don't seem to use cheese or bread on top, however."

"We'll improvise," Kara decided. "Cambozola is a good German cow's milk cheese that will melt nicely. And bread is bread as long as it is hard enough to soak."

"Any ideas for the entrée you want to make for Hillshire?" Claes asked Triela.

"I know he likes sausages."

"Sausages…sausages…" Kara muttered to herself as she typed and scrolled. "How about a sausage platter? We could do bratwurst, weisswurst and bier sausages. Toss on a slice or two of the pork loin and the potatoes and red cabbage."

"I think I can grill a sausage," Triela noted. "And we can do up a whole bunch to re-heat for lunches during the week."

Kara smiled inwardly at Triela express even a trace of doubt about her abilities. She was definitely the "Alpha Female" of the Generation 1 cyborgs and probably of the Generation 2 models, as well. Within the Agency, she had no real equal in Close Quarters Combat, though she heard that one Army trainer had bested her when her temper got the better of her. The staff of Section 1 referred to her a "The Princess". Except Michele, who called her "Hillshire's Valkyrie" and meant it as a compliment.

"Okay, how about this for the menu," Kara offered. "Bavarian Onion and lentil soups, a green salad with honey mustard dressing, the roast pork, chicken cordon bleu, the Chicken Schnitzel Oscar and a selection of sausages. Sides will be mashed potatoes, the sweet & sour red cabbage, and asparagus with Hollandaise."

"I think we need some sauerkraut for the sausages," Triela noted and Kara nodded her acceptance. "What about desert?" Kara asked.

"Apple strudel and a Black Forest cake are both a given," Claes noted. "If we want to add some Italian flair, we should make a spaghettieis, though it might be too cold."

"What's that?" Kara asked.

"It's a German ice cream specialty that looks like a plate of spaghetti. You press vanilla ice cream through a modified Spätzle maker onto a bed of whipped cream and what comes out looks like spaghetti. You then use a strawberry sauce to represent the tomato sauce and white chocolate shavings as the Parmesan cheese."

"That sounds neat," Kara said. "We'll see how the weather is on Saturday. If it's too cold, what's our backup?"

"Hillshire really likes berliners," Triela noted. "He sometimes has them for breakfast when we're on assignment if he can find a bakery that carries German cuisine."

"You're not talking about the citizens of Berlin, I take it," Kara asked, skeptically.

"Of course not!" Triela replied, hotly. "They're little doughnuts filled with jam and covered in powered sugar. They're actually quite tasty."

Kara dived into the search engines for recipes. "Okay, that doesn't look to hard. We'll make some for Hillshire and you, at a minimum, and if the weather is cold, we'll do them instead of the spaghettieis."

"Agreed," Claes said.