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slid open. In the dimly lit room, two candles shone on a side table, but Vance could not see anyone. He entered and the door shut behind him, blocking out the faint illumination from the corridor.

Vance recognised the rigid silhouette of his father in the darkness. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, the un-mistakeable outline of a Minbari became visible. Neither spoke, and Vance wondered if this was some kind of test.

'Is this cloak-and-dagger stuff necessary? We're on an Earth Alliance vessel after all.' Vance waited several seconds for his answer.

'Our enemy's agents are everywhere. But you will learn that soon enough.'

The voice was thickly accented but powerful. Vance felt compelled to listen and heed the words.

Slowly the lights became brighter, and Vance could see the Minbari better. He looked old, a wisdom showing within the watery blue of his eyes. Despite his demeanour, Vance could also see a certain kindness within the face, as though a long time ago it had known much laughter.

'Vance,' said the Colonel, 'this is Sech Turval, from the Eighth Fane of Tredomo, former leader of the Anla'shok. He'll be one of your mentors.'

The Minbari placed his thumbs together, fingers pointing downwards, and bowed his head, all the while keeping his eyes locked onto Vance. Vance nodded his reply but did not attempt the foreign hand gesture. 'I am pleased you have decided to join us,' said Turval. 'I have heard of your skill. You will need it over the coming months.'

Vance frowned, but he didn't reply, looking instead to his father.

'Turval's transport is waiting. You have clearance to leave.'

'How long will I be gone?' asked Vance.

'For as long as Shadows fall across the galaxy,' replied Turval before the Colonel could speak. The tall Minbari took
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