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.


"Twenty Questions"

A Gunslinger Girl Original Story by Chris Wallace


"State your full name and designation," Doctor Belesario ordered.

"Kara Michelle Pagani, test subject XB 11-02," Kara replied. Dressed in grey camisole and panties, she was sitting in a chair, a pair of smoked wrap-around goggles over her eyes. Beside her, a technician was reading a stream of data from sensors embedded in the chair, including heart rate, respiration and blood pressure.

"What are your primary functions?"

"To advance prosthetic and cybernetic research for the Social Welfare Agency; to defend the Republic against all enemies foreign and domestic; and to obey the orders of my handler and the Social Welfare Agency."

"Who is your handler?"

"Michele Pagani."

"Very good, Kara." He turned to the technician manning a digital camcorder and received a thumbs-up.

"Kara, I am going to ask you a series of questions, okay?"

"Okay."

"Are you experiencing any problems or faults with your cybernetic implants?"

"No."

"Are you sleeping well?"

"Yes."

"Any frightening or confusing dreams?"

"No."

"But you do dream?"

"Yes."

"Of what?"

"Recent events. My handler. The other cyborgs. Random things."

"Describe how you and your handler are getting along..."


"You can wake up now, Kara," Doctor Belesario said, removing the goggles.

Kara blinked her eyes at the harsh light reflecting off the walls and raised her right hand to shade them. She slipped out of the chair and pulled on a light green medical snap front tunic and drawstring pants and slipped her feet into cotton flats. She hung the badge holder around her neck and walked out of the examination room and into the waiting area, taking a seat on a bench next to Henrietta and sighed.

"You older girls are always tired after they examine you," Henrietta noted. She was wearing the same outfit as Kara and next to her sat Rico, also dressed the same.

"It's your scary dreams," Rico noted, kicking her legs out in front of her.

"I had a nice dream," Kara retorted. "Though it was one of those 'third person' dreams where I was watching and not actually participating."

"What did you dream, Kara?" Rico asked, pushing against Henrietta to get closer to Kara.

"Rico!" Henrietta cried as she slid into Kara. She started pushing back.

"Stop it you two," Kara admonished. "Rico, scoot over to your right a bit." Rico did so and Kara rose and sat back down between them.

"I was outside; at an airport, though I didn't recognize where. There were a lot of planes in a row. A beautiful Japanese woman was holding the hand of a cute young Japanese girl. The woman pointed out on one of the runways and I saw a plane with a long fuselage and four engines painted a beautiful mix of white, gold and purple accelerate down the runway and lift off into a clear sky. It was very loud. Louder then I expected and the sound kind of went through me."

"That sounds scary," Rico replied, and Kara playfully cuffed her forehead.


The temperature in the first week of January hovered around freezing and the sky overhead was cloudy. However, snowfall in Rome was rare and accumulations even more so and therefore the grounds around the SWA compound were bare and dry.

In a non-descript conference room, close to a dozen men and women faced each other around a long oval table. The temperature was significantly warmer inside, but many wore suit jackets or sweaters.

"It's remarkable how quickly the first tranche of new cyborgs have bonded with their handlers," Doctor Fernando Bianchi reported. "The Alessandro-Petrushka team are the farthest along, but it appears that the Michele-Kara fratello is now also starting to express genuine affection for each other based on what Kara revealed during her latest examination."

"I thought the Series 2 cyborgs were not programmed to love their handlers?" Ferro asked.

"That is correct," Doctor Belesario stated. "After Elsa de Sica suffered her…error…it was decided that we would not impose feelings of love and affection for their handlers on the new series."

"And you are not worried that Petrushka or Kara could also exhibit this…error…as you call it?" Ferro probed.

"At first we thought it might be a case of the cyborgs misinterpreting their loyalty towards their handler with love," Belesario replied. "However, it is quite clear that both cyborgs have developed an emotional attachment to their handlers completely independent of the programming and conditioning. Because these feelings are developing naturally based on external stimuli, we don't see any reason to worry about what happened with Elsa happening with these girls."

"Why is it happening at all?" Minister of Defense Monica Petris asked.

"They are teenage girls with teenage hormones," Doctor Bianchi noted. "Alessandro is a handsome young man who shows a strong interest in Petrushka as a woman. As for Michele, he dotes on Kara and shares with her the toys and joys of his life. It really should not be surprising that both girls reciprocate that affection back on their handler. They are the only men in their lives, after all."

He nodded to a red headed female in a white lab coat. "Marianna?"

"With the new series, we tread as little as possible when it came to their personalities," Marianna stated. Her specialty was neurology and she worked hand-in-hand with Doctor Bianchi on the conditioning process as well as the hypnotherapy the girls underwent prior to augmentation and initial conditioning.

"Each girl's personality reflects who they were before they were augmented. Petrushka reflects the positive outlook and diligence she had when she was the ballerina Elizabeta Baranovskaya, even if she no longer has any memories of her previous life. With Kara, her handler insisted that she retain many of the interests she had held when she was Kumari Deleroux. Her compassionate side comes from before she was a cyborg, but she also appears to have started emulating Michele's leadership and command abilities. She also retains a number of her earlier memories which helped ground her personality in a way that girls with no memories of their pasts – like Triela and Petrushka, for example – could not."

"And the other Series 2 cyborgs?" Petris asked.

"None have shown true affection for their handlers as of yet," Belesario noted. "However, it may only be a matter of time before they do. All are showing strong compatibility with their handlers and we are interested to see how it all plays out."

"And the original series girls?"

"They continue to degrade," Marianna replied. "Triela and Henrietta are showing the most advanced degeneration, though it is not as severe as it was with Angelica. As such, we believe they still have some time of active duty available to them."

"And none have shown any…errors?"

"No. Triela's feelings for her handler appear to be quite complex, but healthy. Henrietta has what could best be called a crush on Giuseppe, but this is likely in part because both handlers take a mild hand in conditioning and relating to their cyborgs. Rico has been conditioned by Jean Croce to a level that I don't think she is capable of romantic feelings towards him. Her overriding motivation is to be useful to him."

"So in your opinion, Petrushka and Kara feeling real love for their handlers is not an issue?" Ferro asked.

"On the contrary, I believe it is a benefit," Marianna replied. "It strengthens their bond and likely makes them more loyal and receptive to commands."

"Thank you, Doctor," Lorenzo said. He looked to Minister Petris.

"Thank you, all," she said. Doctor Bianchi nodded and he and his staff rose and exited the conference room, leaving Petris, Ferro and Lorenzo.

"Interesting…" Petris said.

"But beneficial," Lorenzo noted. "If they are bonding quickly and well, this might be the answer to the problems we are having with the original series."

Minister Petris nodded her head.


The End