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huge silhouette of a Morshin carrier gliding into view. He couldn't help but allow a smile of satisfaction to cross his face. His system panel suddenly flashed on, the dim red lights of the cockpit replaced by the usual rainbow of colours. When he checked the time gauge, he had been drift ing for over four hours. Checking life support, Vance saw barely enough oxygen remained in the Nial's systems to last until the Morshin picked him up.

As the firm grip of the Morshin's tractor beam closed around the Nial, the pall of calmness Vance achieved through meditation slowly faded. Once again someone else controlled his destiny. Not until the Nial was safely within the Morshin's hangar did he feel secure once more.

When he exited his fighter, Sech Mishal was there to greet him, one eyebrow raised and a cockeyed grin adorning his face. Vance could not believe how uncharacteristically wry he was for a Minbari. He nodded in greeting, but he could not muster any enthusiasm, despite the mirth on Mishal's face. Vance had failed to gain the Mark of the Star, and that would be damaging to his cause. 'Why so glum, Vance? You are a very: fortunate individual.'

'That I can appreciate, Sech Mishal. But the malfunction on my ship means I've failed the mission. No matter how lucky I'm feeling, it doesn't change the fact I was one drone short.'

'Understood.' The smile dropped away from Mishal's face. 'And just where do you think your failure lies?' Vance frowned, trying his best to decipher yet another strange Minbari question. Was it the ship? Did he do something wrong? Was there any way he cold have avoided failure? Thinking back to the events that led up to the Nial's malfunction, Vance thought not.

'I'm not sure there was anything I could have done in the circumstances,' said
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