Sandan Tyler paced along the training floor at the Australian
Armed Forces Academy. His wards were a variety of injured line officers,
intelligence operatives and academy post-graduate students. The former had
mostly been injured on duty and the later had mostly suffered at the hands of
the drill instructors. The intelligence operatives Sandan was never sure about
- they did not talk much. The center was as much a morale builder as anything -
recovered combatants had a way of becoming suicidal and Sandan's program pretty
well eliminated that little problem.
As he absent mindedly wandered
past a dark, fully uniformed figure there was a loud snap of bamboo being cut
with a single swift blow. A chunk of it cartwheeled through the air and bounced
off the floor in front of Tyler. He looked over with a smile and walked on. The
dark figure continued, recoiling with serpentine grace back into a center
balance position. It brought a razor sharp short sword back up into striking
position and stood absolutely still... the fingers of the right hand rolled
slightly as the figure adjusted its grip. Then without warning the figure
pivoted and with another deft blow it slashed diagonally downward at the thick
bamboo pole behind it. "Bang" the blow reverberated through the room as another
large piece of bamboo flew clear.
The figure stood and looked around, there
were a dozen pieces of thick bamboo on the smooth wooden floor.
breathing heavily, Nengghi walked calmly over to the table nearby and gently
laid her sword on its side. Pulling open her uniform hood, she held up her arm
and peeled the uniform back to expose all five slender fingers on her right
hand. She held her arm out and looked at the short nails and tiny wrinkles at
the joints. She fanned them a couple of times and curled her hand into a loose
fist. Smiling slightly, she checked her knuckles and wrist for any signs of
As she held her hand up for scrutiny, Tyler walked back up to
her; "Looking for age spots Nengghi?" he asked gruffly.
She smiled ever so
slightly and dropped her arms to her side.
"That's my girl. How to you like
your new sword?"
"Good". she replied, "It has nicer handle. It cuts
"You've probably taken the bloody thing apart and put it back
together already. Well, enjoy it, it's yours now."
He watched her slide
her hand back onto the sword's inlaid handle. It was good to see her enjoying
her new-found mobility again. Now if he could just talk her into rebuilding her
left hand, but she quietly resisted. Well, she got full mileage out of her
right hand, so that was fine with Tyler. "Go get some food, you need to eat."
he added. She gave a single curt nod and walked out of the room.
walked away, Tyler looked down and pushed thoughtfully on one of the
floorboards with the tip of his foot. After a few moments of consideration he
cleared his mind and looked up to his next student.
Next: 04. To