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repeated. 'Step toward the line to begin. If you wish to decline the test, leave with me now.' With that he walked away and through the sliding door. It closed behind him with an ominous, metallic thud, a lock slamming shut within.

Vance turned once more to the line of Minbari sentinels barring his way. They had obviously seen some action and met some resistance from the previous recruits. Great, Vance thought. Trust me to have to face them when they're already madder than hell!

He glanced down to examine the second weapon, which was a long cylinder with a lockable switch to one side. Vance held it up and flicked the switch. The weapon started to give off a telltale hum. The unmistakeable feel of static electricity told him it was some kind of Minbari shockstick. Vance looked to his other hand and regarded the dormant fighting pike. Two weapons, but he wasn't allowed to strike out. Obviously self-defence would come into play here, and by the looks of his opponents, anything more than self-defence would be met with little understanding.

After a deep breath, Vance took a pace forward. He flicked off the power to the shockstick and kept the denn'bok contracted. He would not tempt fate until he was provoked into using the weapons. He would try to resist his natural urge.

The Anla'shok reacted little to his approach. One or two straightened slightly, stretching a stiff arm or clenching a tight fist. Other than that, they looked on with little interest as Vance steeled himself, forcing one foot in front of the other.

They had no visible weapons, but their fighting pikes were probably palmed and ready for use. As he drew closer, this last thought proved correct as Vance saw some of them move their arms to the side, giving themselves room to extend their denn'boks
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