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but she was otherwise unhurt. She looked up into Vance's eyes and could see his anger steadily boiling to the surface. Jerklenn shook her head, but Vance was beyond being reasoned with. He looked up and saw Merreck had advanced. No smirk, no arrogant look of triumph decorated his face, but the Minbari still had his victory. Vance shot forward, his clenched fist connecting with Merreck's jaw. Merreck made no attempt to avoid the blow, which knocked him sideways. When he looked around, Vance could see that he was smiling.

'We are no longer allies,' said Merreck, his smile widening.

'Then let's get to it,' answered Vance walking past him. He got to the door of the library and stopped. 'Well? Are you coming to the circle or not?'

'No!' said Jerklenn, clawing at the bottom of Merreck's jacket as he followed Vance through the door.

The walk from the library to the combat hall was a long one. As the other acolytes saw Merreck and Vance walking so purposefully, the whispers began. When their destination was finally confirmed, the rumours spread like wildfire. By the time the pair had reached the combat hall, most of the other acolytes were hot on their trail.

Vance could hear Jerklenn all the while, pleading for someone to stop them. It was obvious whom she feared for.

It was also obvious what would happen, but Vance simply could not stand for this anymore. He hated bullies, but before he had always been tough enough to beat them. Now he would take yet another beating, but he'd make sure he gave as good as he got. For a while, at least.

'This time I will give you no quarter,' said Merreck as he stood on the edge of the combat circle, denn'bok in hand.

'Neither will I,' Vance answered, though deep down he knew it was unlikely he would have the choice. With
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