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one.'

Seeing Durhan relax a little, Vance did likewise, allowing his guard to drop but still expecting Durhan to launch another attack. It did not come. 'Now, your defence was competent but sloppy. Had I been a lesser opponent, your adequate use of the denn'bok would probably have kept you from harm. However, a stronger opponent could easily beat your guard.'

Within seconds, all thoughts of Merreck, Jerklenn and pointless Minbari tests were gone. Durhan's practicality captivated Vance. As the lesson carried on, he became more and more obsessed with his weapon, and for the first time there seemed to be no surreptitious philosophy surrounding it. Simply warrior and weapon. The first thing about the Minbari that Vance felt he could truly comprehend.



The Mark of Fire



The recruits awoke the next morning to an environment fraught with tension. A tangible malaise hung about the complex, but none of the recruits could identify it. Vance was pleased to see Jerklenn was safe but didn't feel comfortable enough to bring up the subject of her sudden exit when Merreck had interrupted their conversation the day before. Besides, Vance didn't feel he should breach the general lull in the morning conversation at their table.

The oppressive mood, Vance soon realised, sprang from the solemn and serious attitudes of all the Minbari around them. Even their usual morning wake up call seemed particularly glum. How the silent, white-robed figure had managed to be more miserable than usual Vance could not tell, but somehow he infected the entire dormitory.

No breakfast conversation lightened the gloomy mood. Vance noticed one or two recruits at other tables attempting to exchange banter with their fellows, but the Worker Caste Minbari who served their meals quickly stared
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