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' asked Randell. 'Boy, that sucks!' 'I have no choice. Orders from Major Cleaver.' 'Well, at least we can have one last night in the mess. Jeany will be there.' Randell raised an eyebrow suggestively, and Vance smiled at his persistence.

'I don't think so. I've got to be on the early transport, and a night out with you guys never ends the same night.'

'Fair enough, but if you change your mind:' Randell patted Vance on the shoulder and left the room. Vance was quite surprised at how easily Randell had conceded, but he put it down to an uncharacteristic burst of sympathy. Still wondering what his father wanted with him, he packed for his journey to Babylon 5.

* * *

That evening Vance decided to skip dinner. He didn't think he could handle all the questions from his comrades, especially when he didn't have the answers himself.

He stood on the viewing platform of Hangar Bay 07, watching the supply shuttles leaving for their various destinations. Seeing the beauty of the steel birds taking off as the sun set on the desolate horizon never failed to cheer him. The ships criss-crossed the galaxy, linking with a hundred different platoons, stationed on an uncountable number of worlds. The sight made him feel part of something huge. Acknowledging this link to men he would never meet, but whom he knew had received the same training and followed the same ideals, made Vance proud. Proud to be part of EarthForce and proud to be human. On the landing platform, technicians busied themselves with refuelling, checking landing gear, stabilisers, cockpits, life support and a host of other things Vance didn't understand. He only knew how to fight, but his lack of knowledge made him feel neither inadequate nor superior. EarthForce was a living, breathing entity to him, and he was
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