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to sit up, but the spinning got worse before he could rise to his elbows. Something strange about the bed registered in his buzzing brain. It took him a minute to realise the bed was fully horizontal, rather than at the forty-five degrees he was now accustomed to.

Vance raised a hand to his numb face. Swelling closed one of his eyes completely. His busted lip throbbed next to the dressing on his cheek. The shoulder battered by the denn'bok was sore but not broken. Strangely, despite the condition of his pulped face he still felt relief, as a broken bone would have kept him out of training.

He turned his head to examine the rest of the infirmary. Three of the six beds were occupied. Squinting a little, Vance recognised faces, although he couldn't remember, or had never been told, the names. When he'd been at Earth-Force boot camp for as long as he'd been at the Anla'shok academy, he'd made a point to learn the names of everyone in his billet. He was suddenly ashamed. He spent more time worrying about being the best and proving his worth than getting to know his fellow recruits. A real warrior would know better than this. His fighting brothers and sisters deserved his respect, whether they had combat experience or not. He came here to prove a point, but he only nurtured some twisted sense of self-satisfaction. Trying to prove himself the best, as always. Out on that landing pad, he proved unequivocally that he was not. He had lost control, lashed out and this foolishness led him to having the crap beaten out of him.

From now on, things would change.

'You don't look that bad.' William's irrepressible voice was welcome, more welcome than any other voice he could have heard, including the guys back at EarthForce. Few people knew what he was going through right now.
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