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Mishal drilled them harder and harder, making each manoeuvre more difficult and pushing them as far as possible.

Now Vance found himself facing his most difficult test as a pilot, including even his EarthForce training. This trial was necessary to attain the second Mark of the Anla'shok: the Mark of the Star. Three at a time, the trainees entered an asteroid field with orders to destroy as many automated drones as they could. Only a finite number floated among the asteroids, and Vance had no intention of finishing last. Relaxation and concentration, Vance reminded himself, would prevent panic and mistakes. He could not afford to miss even one drone, or worse, hit an asteroid. Undoubtedly his meditation training was helping. Vance breathed steadily, allowing the flow of oxygen to the brain to remain constant and regulated, allowing him to think clearly despite the twenty different things he had to consider at the same time.

Already he had destroyed four of the seven drones needed to earn the Mark. With only twenty drones available as targets, and all three pilots gunning for the same targets, only two of them would have the opportunity to destroy at least seven drones and thus take the Mark. The third would be disqualified. Vance had no idea who his opponents were, but he trusted Sech Mishal to make a fair decision and put pilots into equal groups. Besides, failing to attain the Mark did not mean you had failed in your journey to become Anla'shok. While failure brought no shame, for Vance success meant everything. More than anything, suc cess meant he belonged, that he deserved to be here beside the Minbari. Success showed he was as good as their Warrior Caste. Failure was not an outcome Vance was prepared to accept.

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