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Vance, trying his best not to sound defensive. 'Maybe if I was a little more familiar with Min-bari electronics I could have-'

'Maybe, maybe, maybe. Why always look for what you should have done, when what you did was more than good enough.'

'I understand what you mean, but surely I could have done more than just meditate in my cockpit until help arrived. If I had known more about the Nial's guidance system, I could have brought some of the systems back online and completed the mission. Instead, I failed. There is no excuse for that.'

'Your ignorance is good enough for me,' said Mishal, the wry smile returning to his face. 'And besides, who said you failed?'

The frown on Vance's brow grew deeper still. He and Mishal regarded one another for a few seconds, Vance's look of puzzlement contrasting with Mishal's barely contained mirth. It suddenly began to dawn on Vance. 'So you mean destroying the drones was not the point of the mis sion? Or the way to attain the Mark of the Star?'

'More than anything, the Mark of the Star is a test of courage and patience, in much the same way as the Mark of Darkness. You have proven today that you have learned those lessons well. It is how a Ranger should always conduct himself. When all options are exhausted, and only then, you wait patiently for an opportunity. Then aid will come your way.'

'And if it doesn't?' Vance was becoming slightly annoyed with being duped for a second time.

'Then there is nothing you can do. Panicking will not aid you. Succumbing to anger will not help an impossible situation. Do you disagree?'

Vance could barely keep his frustration at bay. He suddenly realised his fists were clenched tightly by his sides. 'I don't disagree,' he said through a tight jaw. 'But would my time not be better spent
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