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the Ambassador shouldn't just walk off like that."

"Afraid I'll get mugged, Rathenn?"

"Mugged? I don't understand-"

"I just took a walk," said Sinclair, "and don't even think of reprimanding Venak. There was nothing he could've done to stop me. Now it looks to me like there's a waiting room full of people to talk to and register as visitors. That is what you want me doing, isn't it?"

Rathenn bowed and left without another word.

When Sinclair returned to his quarters that evening, he went straight to the bedroom. A faint smell of ozone told him Inesval had been there and gone already. The Minbari had done a first-rate job. The mechanism of the bed was now permanently welded into the horizontal position.

At last, Sinclair thought, he just might get a good night's sleep.



CHAPTER 4



"Stay in formation! Hold the line. No one gets through, no matter what!"

"Alpha Leader! You've got a Minbari fighter on your tail! I'm on him."

"No! Mitchell! Stay in formation! It might be a-"

The shadow of the massive Minbari fighter fell across Sinclair's Starfury. "Oh my God. It's a trap!"

"Mitchell! Break off! Break off!"

Too late. Starfury after Starfury blown to bits, exploding like miniature suns around him. Every ship of his squadron gone. Every Earth ship in his field of view destroyed.

"Not like this! Not like this! If I'm going out, I'm taking you bastards with me. Target main cruiser. Set for full-velocity ram. Afterburners on my mark... Mark!"

Sinclair was thrown back in his seat, his craft hurtling toward a collision with the Minbari cruiser. Ten, nine, eight, seven...

Metal fiber ropes bit into Sinclair's wrists and legs. He was racked with almost unbearable pain. Just beyond the rim of light, he could see moving shadowy shapes,
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