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flung open the door and marched down the corridor. Merreck was not far ahead, and Vance gained on him quickly. He marched as close as he could, staring at the back of the Minbari's head. Merreck did not turn or adjust his pace. This made Vance even angrier. Surely Merreck knew he was there, surely this must annoy him, having the human he hated most right at his back. The more Merreck ignored him, the more Vance's ire grew. He began to think of Jerklenn. Of the look she had given Merreck when he appeared the day before. Was it fear? Deference? Either was bad enough. All she had done was shake Vance's hand. Why should such a gesture shame her if done in front of Merreck? Were they betrothed? They were of different Castes. Vance wasn't sure if inter-Caste marriages were allowed. Whatever the situation, it was not acceptable for Merreck to treat Jerklenn in such a way. Not by his standards. Human standards.

Vance was about to speak, about to challenge Merreck's back, when the tall Minbari turned. Vance realised they'd arrived at the main hall. Merreck stopped to allow Vance to enter first. He bowed his head and held out an arm, beckoning Vance through. The gesture did not alleviate Vance's mood. If he didn't know better, he'd have thought Merreck was trying to wind him that bit tighter.

Once he entered the main hall, the suddenly solemn atmosphere eclipsed his temper. He realised that this was no time to vent his anger. He was the only person present not in his Ranger robes, adding to the dampening of his mood. Despite his unsuitable attire, nobody so much as glanced his way. The rest of the Ranger recruits, and most of their tutors and the fully qualified Anla'shok, were lined up in ranks, cross-legged on the floor before the statue of Valen. Sinclair stood in front of
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