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There was silence, as Vance thought of the best answer. After some deliberation, he felt the truth would be the best policy in this strange and awkward situation. 'I didn't really have time to expect anything, sir. I was more or less press-ganged by my father into joining. As for my first day, it's been an experience I think I'll never forget.'

Sinclair gave a curious frown. Vance instantly regretted his rather ambiguous answer. 'Well, I'm afraid the nature of your arrival is mostly my fault. I asked for a favour from your father, and your presence is the result. I know this will be hard for you, but you've got to believe me when I say this is probably the most important thing you'll ever do, for Earth and for the galaxy itself.'

'With all due respect, sir, I've already heard this from my father. If it's so important that I do this, why does it feel like I'm not welcome?'

'Yes,' said Sinclair, looking a little sheepish. Vance couldn't imagine him adopting this demeanour very often. 'The incident in the combat training hall. Certain Minbari aren't receptive to human involvement in the Anla'shok, particularly Durhan. You may need to work very hard to convince him you are worthy to wear that uniform.'

'I never asked-' began Vance. Sinclair held up his hand, smiling.

'I know. And if it's any consolation, neither did I. Some things we simply have to do, no matter how unappreciated they make us feel.' Sinclair stood and crossed his office to look out of the single stained glass window. The light that shone in bathed his face in a soft radiant glow, making him seem somewhat otherworldly.

'You have the potential to be one of the best recruits we have. Your military training far outstrips the other trainees, even the other Minbari.' Vance thought about Merreck
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