Author Notes: It looks like this one fanfic will be short and mostly based on the interactions between Aria and Jose/Henrietta fratello.


Jose walked right behind Aria while Henrietta showed the way to the underground firing range.

The SWA operative was disappointed about himself because of the incident in the check-room. He cursed himself since his unawareness could cost Henrietta her life. Of course, the little lecture from the white-haired girl that was walking in front of him, despite the fact that it was his partner who was lectured, didn't make his day brighter. Jose wondered why he was chosen for this mission. Jean, his brother, was better suited for it. Well, Jean had his own devils but at least Rico would never snap like Henrietta. Was it because the superiors misunderstood something?

Henrietta was distressed as well. She replayed the situation in her mind and couldn't find any excuse for her rushed actions. Both Maria and Aria didn't show any real signs of hostility. So why did she snapped like this. And like this girl behind her said such rushed actions could be disastrous during a real covert operation.

Among the trio only Aria was in a good mood. She followed Henrietta and hummed some random melody. But even so she looked like a careless girl on an excursion somebody more experienced could easily see through her simple acting. The AWTCorp CEO's daughter was memorizing the path by distinguishing the most notable details of interior.

After ten minute or so walk they finally arrived to their destination. It was a simple wooden door like many others they passed by not long ago. At least it looked like it on the first glance.

When the trio entered the fire range they found out that it had been already occupied by Triela who had been practicing alone without her handler. Possibly Victor was somewhere near since it was against rules letting cyborgs to practice at fire range without their respective handlers. The twin-tailed girl was so pres-occupied with her practice that she recognized their presence only about minute later.

"G'day, Henrietta. I thought you would be still on your mission to protect that rich girl."

Triela happily waved her hand in greeting to Henrietta and Jose. She put her handgun on the stand and curiously looked at Aria who like always looked back at tanned girl in front of her.

"So, Mr. Croce, you got yourself another girl despite poor Henrietta was so dedicated to you?"

Jose smiled in response as well as Triela. Both of them knew that it was a joke. Henrietta on other hand blushed and became confused. But before the SWA operative could introduce Aria the twin-tailed cyborg took initiative once again from him.

"Hello. I'm Triela. What's your name?"

Aria questioningly looked at Triela's outstretched hand for a second before shaking it with a friendly smile. But what she said next wasn't as friendly as her smile.

"Hello. Glad to meet you. As for my name... I am that rich girl."

An awkward silence hung in the room after the sarcastic introduction of the CEO's daughter. Triela blinked in confusion but quickly regained her composure and smiled back at Aria.

"Sorry for my comment. You do not look like those fancy snobbish rich girls."

"No ill feelings. I quite accustomed to such treatment by those who don't know me."

This time Aria answered with her usual authoritive voice without any hint of the sarcastic tone that was present seconds earlier. At the same time she came to the stand and M1911 with additional cartridges on it. Triela looked at the CEO's daughter with shocked eyes - it was unusual for a child to practice on a firing range with real handgun - she and other girls of the SWA were exception because of their purpose.

"Don't look at me like I some kind of weirdo. After all, I am the only child of my father who is the CEO of the AWTCorp the thrid manufacturer of weapons in the world." Aria had carefully checked Maria's M1911 before she added her next comment: "It's boring to sit at the HQs so I decided to make an inspection on you, or better to say, on our technologies."

Triela eye slightly twiched. It was obvious for Jose who was listening to conversation of both girls, while Henrietta was preparing her handgun for practice, that the twin-tailed girl was quite annoyed by Aria's comment about the "technologies" instead of the "humans". Especially from the one who was partially responsible for the technology behind their transformation. But the older girl just clenched her fist and glared at the VIP guest.

"Alright, rich girl. How about a little competition so I could show you what "your" technologies is capable of?"

"Triela, I think it is no a good id..."

"I accept your challenge. Let us see who is better: a human or just a military toy that my father introduced to the world."

Jose tried to stop them but Aria's stubborn and now openly insulting response made the situation uncontrollable. Henrietta, who stood at the stand and waited for other girls, was slightly dumbfounded. Possibly because she was too concentrated in her preparation.

"The rules are simple! Each of us will shoot 5 bullets at the practice target. The fastest and finest will be considered a winner. Is is acceptable for you?"

"OK. I will show that humans are better then surrogates like you."

Aria confidently smirked at Triela's condition. But such childish response made Jose to wonder once again what was hidden in the sleeves of the person known as Aria Silverlight. She was a strange child even for him who was working with cyborgs. It was clear that the CEO's daughter didn't fear pain, humiliation and possibly even death. Was it because her disease or due medical treatment she went trough. And why was Aria Silverlight so hostile to the cyborgs which her father designed?

"Jose, what is going on here? And... Triela, why are you so agitated?"

It was Victor Hillshire who asked this question...


Next: [Interlude] The Ghosts of the Past - Part I