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Merreck, who stood proud and to attention, regarding the other recruits with self-satisfied disdain.

As Vance stood in line, he felt someone behind him stumble and press hands into his back. 'Apologies,' said a female voice.

'It's OK,' he replied. Jerklenn stood bleary eyed, attempting a smile, but Vance could tell it took all her strength. 'Tough few days we've had.' Vance smiled. 'Feel free to lean on me.'

Jerklenn stiffened at the suggestion. Vance realised he had overstepped the mark. Seems the rumours about the Minbari's sense of humour, or lack of it, were more than myth. Without the energy to make an apology or explain the intricacies of Earth sarcasm, he turned and followed the long line of recruits.

Vance mouthed a silent prayer that they would skip their morning praise of Valen and head straight for the canteen. He had almost forgotten what it was like to eat. Unfortunately he was disappointed, his stomach grumbling as they knelt before the ancient statue. Then panic rippled through his gut when he realised his tutors could just as easily demand more meditation rather than provide a meal.

His nerves calmed when they eventually entered the food hall, and the hearty breakfast of gruel could not come quick enough. Vance began to trough it down, finding his spoon far too small to hold a satisfactory amount for each mouthful. He thought it was the best breakfast he'd had in a long time, then stifled a laugh when he realised it was the only breakfast he'd had in a long time. The gruel went down like honey down a starving bear's throat, refreshing his aching body. He came up for air after several seconds to find the rest of his table staring at him as though he were a zoo exhibit. 'Er, a little hungry are we, Vance?' asked William.

Vance returned their
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