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to give thanks to Valen and take strength for the coming day's trials. Vance could only assume the statue depicted the mysterious Valen he had heard about in Minbari history.

The robed figure's chanting was brisk and, before Vance knew it, he stood and led the procession into another room. Vance recognised immediately the sight and smell of a mess hall. It didn't compare to an EarthForce canteen; no banter or laughing greetings rang out across the space. The recruits solemnly filed in and took their seats. Vance sat in the closest available seat at a table with three other humans and two Minbari. One of the humans looked up and smiled at Vance, and he duly reciprocated. The two Minbari stared at their knees like scolded children, and the remaining two humans looked too groggy for conversation.

Before long a second group filed in, led by another white-robed figure, and these recruits took their seats in an equally ceremonious manner. The mess hall was not even half full. Vance did a quick head count. Including him, roughly twenty Minbari and thirty-five humans occupied the hall. He also noticed the Minbari who threatened him the night before sat brooding at the far end of the hall. Just as in the dorm, the Minbari stared as though Vance wronged him in some way.

Suddenly, more robed figures, these dressed in light brown, entered. They gracefully glided around the tables at great speeds in a well-practiced dance. Some distributed plates and spoons, while others dished out a thin gruel. They vanished through several doorways just as quickly as they appeared.

'Sinclair says the food should improve when he's had time to sort things out.' The recruit who smiled at Vance earlier spoke quietly. He still bore a grin on his face, obviously keen to strike up a decent conversation
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