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He then looked at other half-eaten bowls with a hungry, expectant look. To Vance's surprise, William spooned a little of his own watery gloop into the bowl. One by one, the other recruits at his table did the same until finally Jerklenn spooned in her portion.

Vance watched them all, at first unsure of what to say. 'Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm starting to feel a little misty,' he said, reaching up and wiping away an imaginary tear. Jerklenn's expression changed to one of sympathy but quickly became stern once more as Vance laughed. The other humans at the table chuckled as Jerklenn frowned into her bowl.

One by one, the recruits finished their breakfasts and exited until Jerklenn and Vance were the only two left at the table. People milled around the exits like lost sheep, as they had no instruction as to what was on the agenda for today. Vance became aware of Jerklenn's eyes burrowing into him. 'Why must you always make fun?' she asked. Vance was sure he could sense a slight trembling in her voice.

'It's just what we're like,' he replied.

'By "we", I assume you mean humans. Because if that is the case, then your statement is not true. I have met many humans who do not make fun in the same way. In such a deceiving manner.'

Vance wasn't sure if he was quite ready for this yet. 'Look, it's just an icebreaker. It alleviates the tension from stressful situations. Are you telling me the Minbari don't do that?'

'If we have such a situation, then we confront it. We deal with the problems in a sensible way.'

Vance let out a long sigh. A dialogue on manners with a woman from a humourless alien culture might prove to be more difficult than the test of the Mark of Darkness. It would be a while before she could appreciate the subtle nuances of Earth,
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