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blow to his jaw forced him to one knee.

Vance's training took over and allowed him to roll away. He dropped to his left shoulder, kicking out with his right foot. As he sprang to his feet, Merreck waited for him. The roll took less than a second, but the Minbari had anticipated the move and repositioned himself accordingly.

Vance lifted both arms, fists clenched, covering the sides of his head against any potential blows. He brought his right leg up as a guard against kicks. Two quick and painful jabs to the abdomen breached what Vance thought were his impenetrable defences. He lashed out blindly, but Merreck had moved behind him. Vance only realised it after he was struck in the back of the knee. He went down, trying to turn as he fell. At least if he could see where Merreck was, he might be able to put up a better defence. By the time he turned, Merreck was on him, one leg pinning his right arm. Vance tried to strike with his free hand but Mer-reck blocked him, grasping his wrist with impossible and certainly inhuman strength, forcing his one remaining free limb back behind his head. The Minbari leaned in close, his free hand raised, palm flat. He struck at Vance's gut, but his blow stopped millimetres from the target. With a quick flick, he twisted his hand ninety degrees. Vance guessed he was signifying the twist of a knife.

'No human has ever defeated a Minbari in hand-to-hand combat,' spat Merreck, making no attempt to mask his disdain. Vance had never felt so helpless in his years since entering EarthForce. He was accustomed to being the victor.

'Enough,' shouted Durhan. At the order of the Anla'shok master, Merreck obediently released Vance, finding his feet in an instant. Vance slowly rose, flexing his leg as it began to ache from Merreck's blow.

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