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weeks. During that time Vance felt he had attained a mastery over the denn'bok like no other weapon.

Merreck and Vance faced each other, pikes at the ready, with no pretence at ceremony. Durhan, knowing their rivalry, let this slide. A personal conflict needed to be settled here, and there would be no cry of "vakash'tuli". Neither of these warriors would accept any defeat.

Vance chose not to give Merreck the pleasure of being the first to attack, as he knew enough now to put the arrogant Minbari on the back foot from the start. He stepped in, using the katrat'voras. Roughly translated it meant "leaping bird", even though there was no actual leaping involved. The voras was a small predatory bird found only in the very north of Minbar. The move involved a combination of lateral strokes with optional breaks for parrying that had with them yet more options for counters. Vance tried for weeks to master it, but now he felt satisfied he could perform the manoeuvre successfully. Against anyone unfamiliar with it, the katrat'voras would be an opening move to end most combats.

Merreck parried every blow. At no point did he try a counter-stroke that might leave him open to Vance's own counter. Merreck obviously knew the move intimately. The flurry of strikes, utilising both ends of the denn'bok, should have been devastating. The sheer strength of the blows should have put Merreck on the defensive, but he wasted no time counter-striking.

Keldranan. Vance recognised it from the first blow of the six-move combination. He gave silent thanks to Durhan for teaching it to him. The first strike, a powerful overhead chop, sailed straight at the opponent's forehead. Vance parried the blow easily, moving his denn'bok vertically to fend off the sideways blows that would come in. There
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