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and meekly walked toward him. They spoke for several seconds. Vance could not hear the words, but Merreck's harsh tone was obviously upsetting Jerklenn. He would not stand for it, truce or no truce.

'What's all this about?' he said rising to his feet.

'This does not concern you,' was Merreck's curt reply.

'The hell it doesn't-'

'Please, Vance,' said Jerklenn suddenly. 'Do not involve yourself.'

Her words stunned Vance more than a kick in the face. What was going on between them? As they continued their conversation, Vance thought he could hear a little of what they were saying. Words like "dishonour" and "shame" seemed to be repeated, and a realisation dawned on Vance. Perhaps they were betrothed. In his studies, he read little of Minbari courting rituals, but Vance realised he might be in the middle of some strange alien domestic. 'Look,' he said, walking forward. 'I don't mean to get in the middle of anything, but Merreck, you should know there's nothing going on between us.'

Fury flashed across the big Minbari's eyes, and Vance knew he had said the wrong thing. 'What does he mean?' Merreck's words had venom in them that Vance had not heard before. 'Is it not enough that you should court shame by spending so much time with the man who-' Merreck grasped Jerklenn's arms, and from the look on her face it was hurting.

'Nothing's going on. Now let go.' Vance's casual manner was gone. He clamped his hand over Merreck's wrist. 'I said let go,' Vance repeated

Merreck slowly tore his eyes away from Jerklenn and glared at Vance. Then, without looking away, he shoved Jerklenn backward. His arms held enough power to send her reeling back across the library, where she clattered into a chair and fell in a heap.

Vance rushed to her side. Her lip was bleeding,
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