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and they stiffened in unison.

Once again, a point of Minbari tradition presented itself that Vance did not understand. Would he always be the last to show the proper respect? Despite this, Durhan carried on. Gripping the fist containing the denn'bok, he bowed before his students.

'Vakash'tuli,' he said in the guttural Warrior Caste dialect.

The rest of the students bowed before him and repeated the Minbari phrase. Vance remained silent to avoid any possible embarrassment from mispronunciation. He could always find out the correct meaning and inflection later.

'I know most of you have little experience, so we will begin with the basics. Grip the pike firmly.' Durhan held out his hand, showing the denn'bok resting against his palm. Vance gripped the training staff in the same way. 'Some fighting pikes are button activated. The ones you will use are from an antique batch and thus require a sharp vibration.' Durhan shook his hand once more, and the denn'bok extended. 'Repeat!' he ordered.

Vance heard the hiss of minuscule hydraulics as three of the six training pikes extended. He shook his own but nothing happened. Durhan fought back a smile. 'There is a technique to it. Practice is all that's required.'

Vance shook his hand again and again, each time trying to make the motion smoother and more purposeful. The pike finally responded, shooting forth. The weapon's grace surprised Vance, and no inertia jerked his hand as the pike extended. Vance knew from his experience with weapons that this one was perfectly balanced.

'Good. Now, spread yourselves around and I will give you a demonstration of what the fighting pike can achieve against several attackers.' Vance didn't like the sound of this. Durhan was obviously going to take them all on. Usually he would
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