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the morning - entered bearing a large crystal urn. One by one he approached each recruit, ladling a measure of water into their thirsty mouths. When Vance tasted his, he found the tepid water still managed to quench his raging thirst.

They meditated for four more hours by Vance's reckoning. Various methods of keeping time without a watch had been part of his training in EarthForce and, even when meditating, he assumed he was pretty close with his calculations.

'Enough,' said Turval. An audible sigh of relief escaped from several recruits, all of them human. 'Please return to your quarters,' he said, motioning towards the door. The recruits filed out, some of them walking rather stiffly. Vance was one of them.

When they reached the dorm, the robed water bearer was there once more. He quietly padded out of the room after ensuring everyone received a sip. Vance lay down straight away, as did most of the Minbari. Once again he took the opportunity to rest, since future opportunities might be scarce. He closed his eyes, hoping that sleep would wash over him when he heard a voice in his ear.

'Minbari mind wipe?' He recognised William's voice immediately. Despite his annoyance at being disturbed, he was relieved it wasn't Merreck spouting his threats again.

'What about it?' said Vance, his eyes still closed.

'Well, do you think it'll be safe?'

'Why, are you expecting to fail?' asked Vance, opening one eye.

William tried to look casual, but failed miserably. 'No, but: well, you never know.'

'Don't sweat it. You'll do just fine.'

There was a pause as though William was considering his chances. 'But what if:' he began.

'William! Get some rest.'

Vance closed his eyes. Before long the sound of shuffling feet diminished until everyone was on a slanting
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