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all to see, particularly since very few warriors would deign to read a book written in the Worker Caste dialect.

Now that Kelveer knew the ritual, he could greet any Star Rider, hailing him as a friend. If the correct statements, responses and protocols were followed, the two would remain allies until the instigator of the ritual decided otherwise. The book went on to describe how Kelveer travelled the system, free to meet and greet the Star Riders without fear of reprisal, always expecting to be treated with the respect due a member of their clan and Caste.

Vance could barely control himself. He pushed down a foolish impulse to leap ahead and confront Merreck immediately. Any error in his recitation of the ritual would leave him open to Merreck's wrath, and the Minbari would not be forgiving if he thought Vance was trying to trick him.

The firelight by which Vance studied flickered, and he decided sleep could not wait. He would return to this the next night, and so he placed the tome in a secure spot, marking the correct passage to learn. Hopefully, in the next few days, his problems would be over and he could concentrate on what really mattered.

* * *

Merreck was relaxing in his favourite location. The combat hall was empty but for the feral figure of the Minbari warrior, practicing his art. Occasionally his denn'bok cut the air so swiftly the sound carried to the roof and echoed back down.

From the far side of the hall, shrouded in darkness, Vance watched. His extensive study of the correct protocols had prepared him for this moment, but still he hesitated.

Could he trust Merreck to honour the ritual? Clenching his fists tightly, he stepped from the shadows. Merreck's split-second pause was the only thing that betrayed his surprise.

Vance breathed
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