Title: Memory Date: 10 MAR 3009 Time: 0640hrs Location: Sanctuary Cove Light reflected from her blade as sweat dripped from her brow. Dodge, parry, riposte; kill strike. Ky Fung moved gracefully from one stance to another, her sword a blur of motion as she worked the forms. Maintaining her mastery of the blades took hours of practice each day, but in these sessions Ky could lose herself, oblivious to the passage of time. With her blade an extension of her very soul, her burning muscles faded as recent history rose to the forefront of her mind. ‘Let me get this straight: You want me and my force to travel on a hired freighter to a world possibly under attack by an unknown enemy, of unknown strength, to protect an island that may or may not be defensible, in unknown conditions, for an indefinite period of time?’ The colonist sitting opposite her smiled confidently. ‘That’s right. Take it or leave it. But I only take the very best and I’ve heard you’re exactly that.’ Ky had smiled a toothy grin. She was starting to like this guy already. ‘OK. Just checking. When do we leave?’ In what had been months, but had actually seemed like years, Ky Fung and her force had finally arrived to discover an extraordinarily beautiful planet, complete with a secluded and defensible island and abundant resources. Best of all, the enemy was plentiful and could be killed without regret. All in all, coming to Arkadia had been one of Ky’s better decisions. Her best decision, of course, had been to take up a wooden sword as a small girl and start to learn the forms by watching her father. In time, she too had attained the level of a master of the blades and she knew her father would be proud. If men long dead could feel pride. The breeze blew across the sandbar of Sanctuary Crossing, flowing up the hill towards Sanctuary Cove, to be parted by Ky’s blade as it spun in a complex twist, the razor sharp edge hissing through the air. From this vantage point, Ky had watched Sundari and some IFN soldiers racing for the sandbar with a band of Oratan in pursuit. Sundari had been lucky that Ky was on lookout that day, the unfortunate Lieutenant Moshane less so, but Ky knew the simple truth; sometimes you can’t save them all. ‘You wanted to see me?’ Sundari said as she entered the room. ‘There you are, Doc. You took your sweet time.’ Fung said without looking up. ‘I thought you’d like to know that we’re in contact with Celeste Harbour again. The teleporter network is back online, so something must be happening over there. You can go back to Celeste Harbour at your leisure.’ A broad smile instantly lit up Sundari’s face. She could return to the city! ‘I can see you’re keen to get your arse back there quickly,’ Fung said with a grin, before jumping to her feet and sheathing her sword with a flourish. ‘Well, don’t hang around like a bad smell; go find out what’s been going on. Oh, and let whoever’s in charge these days know that I’ll be along shortly. I need to have a little chat with them.’ When Ky Fung had followed Sundari later that day, the IFN soldiers had seemed reluctant to grant her access to Commodore Toán Havir. A few grisly threats later, she had access to her target. The outcome of that meeting had been simple: Sanctuary Cove would be free of IFN interference forever, in exchange for the ongoing aid of the Sanctuary Cove Security Force in defending the northern Firebases until Fleet Arkadia arrived. Havir had been reluctant, but not stupid. He knew that without the Security Forces, there would not have been any human foothold left on Arkadia for the approaching fleet to reinforce. Several shots flew past Chan’s head, so close he could feel the wind of their passing. The Base Commander was not so lucky, his head exploding in a bloody spray of gore. Fung swore and leapt forward, executing a graceful pirouette that decapitated the creature with a precise slash of her blade. ‘Didn’t quite catch what those orders were,’ Fung said conversationally, as she wiped her blade clean. ‘You’re second in command of this circus, aren’t you Lieutenant? Do we stay and fight, or are we going to run away with our tails between our legs?’ Chan frowned at her for a second before activating his personal transmitter. ‘All units, this is Lieutenant Chan. The Base Commander is dead. I’m assuming command. Hold your positions. We must hold this base.’ He cut the transmission and looked at Fung. ‘That’s what you wanted to hear, wasn’t it?’ He challenged her, but Fung’s only answer was a feral grin. Ky had known it would cost the lives of many of her forces, but the freedom it would guarantee all residents and visitors to Sanctuary Cove would be worth the price. The island could be a sanctuary in truth, liberties paid for in blood, a true haven for anyone, with no IFN presence beyond what she herself allowed. Yes, the price had been worth it. Ky’s spinning blade abruptly reversed as she slammed it into its sheath. The time for losing herself in memories was over; there was work to be done.