cheer erupted. Vance's jaw dropped as what looked like his entire platoon applauded and hooted in the brightly lit gymnasium. Jeany stood front and centre, holding a bottle of champagne. Vance had no idea how she got her hands on genuine Dom Perignon so far from civilisation, but she always acquired things others could only dream of. Weekes and Chavez were also there, both holding paper cups which, by their wide-eyed expressions, surely contained substances of a dubious and highly alcoholic nature.
As the crowd surrounded him, clapping and patting him on the back, he turned to see Randell's beaming face. He smiled back, hiding his sadness, as he wondered if he would ever see this bunch of comrades again.
* * *
Randell slept heavily as Vance sneaked out of their shared quarters. It was 0712 and he'd slept for less than two hours. His mouth felt like he'd been chewing on a pair of Randall's sweaty socks all night, and his head was filled with a thick, wiry soup.
He gently closed the door as he left, shutting out the sound of Randell's snoring. The big man would probably be disappointed he hadn't had the opportunity to say goodbye, but Vance wasn't one for drawn-out farewells.
The docking bay was deserted, his transport designed for supplies rather than passengers. Vance presented his orders to the shuttle's captain and was told to board. He didn't look back as he entered the ship that would take him to Babylon 5, to the meeting he'd been avoiding for all these years.
An Unreasonable Request
Although he would never admit it to anyone, Vance hated space travel. He could pilot a Starfury well enough, but whenever he was a passenger on a transport, he grew uneasy. The pit of his stomach churned whenever he knew he had to fly. A man in his position