The New President

Babylon Five

Sinclair downed his drink in one gulp. It was over. Earth Force One had exploded in front of his eyes, and no one wanted to listen. Santiago had been assassinated right under everyone's noses but nothing was going to be done, nothing could be done. And Garibaldi shot in the back, Sinclair closed his eyes. No word yet. He felt tired, drained, like he could sleep for weeks, and maybe when he woke up this would all be a dream. He ran his hand through his hair. It had all happened so fast, but it seemed like years since he'd asked Garibaldi to be his best man, years since he'd last felt happiness. Thoughts half formed, anger frustration sadness swirled around his head. He felt dizzy and tired, so tired.

"Following confirmation of the death of Earth Alliance President Luis Santiago, the Vice-President was sworn in. The ceremony took place on Earth Force Two earlier today. Now in route back to earth," the anchorwoman's voice droned on, her words barely registering. Sinclair nursed his empty glass, watching the light flicker of its surface. "In a latter statement the President had this to say about the death of his predecessor…"

Sinclair glanced up at the screen. He'd liked Santiago, remembered him the war days, but the new guy was a mystery. He looked so young, so green, but that was deceiving. His official biography stated he'd survived the Battle of the Line, no mean feat, and he'd beaten Senator Clark at his own game. Sinclair was willing to give anyone who could do that the benefit of the doubt, even if President Saxon's policy was a little vague.

"It is important," Saxon said, his features arranged in an approximation of sadness. "that we work together to create the world that Luis Santiago would have wanted for his children, my children and posterity yet to come. We have a long and difficult road to travel, but together we can overcome any obstacle and cure the sickness in our hearts. We shall begin by focusing more on the needs of our own people, as we take our rightful place among the stars."

The hairs on the back of Sinclair's neck tingled. Someone was behind him. He turned slightly. Kosh bowed in greeting, looming over the Commander. "And so it begins," Kosh said. His encounter suit chimed softly. "You have forgotten something."

Sinclair frowned, searching his memory. So much had happened, so many…"Delenn," he cried and ran off quickly. He hoped he wasn't too late. Kosh did not watch him go. Instead the Vorlon fixed its glowing eye on the screen, on President Harold Saxon. To anyone watching the Vorlon seemed calm and mysterious as ever, but hidden inside the encounter suit Kosh felt the first stirrings of shock. This could not be. They had long since passed from memory and knowledge, ancient even among the Older Races. If this were so, if a Timelord had come, then the circle was well and truly broken. Timelords had never taken lightly to those who meddled overmuch in their domain. Vorlon and Shadows both remembered Rassilon's wrath. And then Kosh remember what it was like to fear, and he did not enjoy the sensation.

Earth Force Two on route to Earth

"You wanted to see me Mr. President." Bester smiled his most charming smile. Psi Corps was in trouble. A great deal of time and effort had been spent courting Senator Clark. A mutually beneficial arrangement for all concerned. Then Harold Saxon had emerged from obscurity and carefully laid plans and machinations had become useless. Corps intelligence had failed to uncover any dirt on the young politician, but that just meant he covered his tracks better than most. No one could pull such a coup on Clark without fighting dirty, and then of course there was the remarkably efficient assassination of the President. No, young Harry Saxon was not as pure and innocent as he appeared, and Bester could work with that. Before the meeting was over, he would have all Saxon's secrets.

"Please sit down," Saxon smiled up at him, but did not offer his hand. Bester sank into the indicated chair. "I want to be perfectly clear with you Mr. Bester. Telepath relations are of foremost importance to me. I will do everything in my power to insure that those relations remain friendly."

"I was not aware that our relations were in any danger." Bester leaned back smiling.

"Nor am I," Saxon said. "and I hope that together we can cooperate more fully to protect the human race, telepath and mundane alike."

Alarm bells sounded in Bester's mind. "The Psi Corps is of course most anxious to do anything possible for the protection of Earth Alliance, but we would never allow our independence to be in any way curtailed." He met Saxon's eyes and reached out ever so gently to touch his mind.

"Nor would I ask you to. The wellbeing of everyone is my chief concern and I recognize that the Corps is better equipped to take care of their own.

"The Corps is Mother," Bester said. "the Corps is Father." Bester frowned slightly. Saxon was blocking him. That wasn't possible. He was P12, and Saxon was just another mundane. Except, he was blocking him. Try as he might, Bester could not scan the President's mind. There was a wall, dark and impenetrable protecting his mind.

"Indeed," Saxon continued the conversation as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening. "But we must recognize that we are more alike then we are different…tell me Mr. Bester is that you trying to read my mind?"

Bester blinked. "Of course not. That would be illegal."

Saxon leaned forward and smirked. "Yes," he agreed. "It would be."

"So would being a blip," Bester said.

Saxon threw back his head and laughed. "Is that what I am?" Bester shifted nervously. Most people didn't laugh at Psi Cops. Liked and respected, feared and hated, but seldom laughed at. "I'm afraid, Mr. Bester, that I do not fall under your jurisdiction."

"All telepaths belong to the Corps," Bester said. His fingers inched slowly towards his gun. He had come to find some hold over the President, some leverage he could use, and this was better than he'd ever imagined. He would own Saxon.

"All human telepaths …" Bester blinked. Then Saxon's words sank in. No! That wasn't possible. An alien could never be President, but he knew it was true. Saxon smirked. He rose to his feet so quickly; he hardly seemed to move at all. Bester's shock subsided instantly. He was back on familiar ground. He knew how to deal with threats. He drew his gun quickly, but Saxon was already in motion. He caught Bester's wrist in a firm grip and squeezed ever so gently. Bester restrained a painful cry, but dropped his gun. It fell to the floor with a muffled thud. Before Bester could act, Saxon reached out and held Bester's head between his hands. The move was so unexpected that Bester paused for a split second, and then Saxon was in his mind.

Bester gritted his teeth, but he could feel his adrenaline rushing. This was what he lived for. To take on a rival telepath and know that his mind and will was stronger. Bester had been Psi Cop for decades. He was the most experienced agent, the strongest, smartest, fastest, the most ruthless. He was probably the next head of Psi Corps. He was…he was losing. He had spent decades constructing the walls around his mind. Rage, determination, loyalty had been the brick and mortar. Mind scans of even fellow P12s struck harmlessly against his defenses, but Saxon…Saxon burnt through his outer defense like they weren't even there. Bester retreated from the onslaught, deeper into his mind behind his second line of defense, setting traps behind him as he went.

Saxon swept his hasty snares aside and battered against the inner wall. Bester could feel his defenses shudder to their foundations, but they held. Bester could feel Saxon gathering his strength on the other side of the barrier, but this was his mind, his. There was no way Bester would be beaten at his own game, not by some alien. He marshaled his rage and will for a counterattack, but Saxon struck first. If Bester need any proof Saxon was alien, here it was. His presence was ancient; it burned and it froze all it touched. The attack came sideways, and backwards, and in other ways Bester had never dreamed of. For a moment he thought he could hold back the assault. Then his shield shattered with such force that Bester was sent careening down through his memories. Saxon followed swiftly, burning brightly in the darkest corners. Bester felt the fires overtake him then he was elsewhere.

He glanced around slowly. He knew this place, he knew this time. Bester glanced down at a man…Stephen Walters. It had been a long hunt, but the resistance leader had finally been caught. Bester frowned slightly. Something wasn't right here. Then Walters began to talk, and bester didn't want to listen. He'd already been through this once before. Traitors. His parents were traitors. Stephen Kevin Dexter. No his name was Alfred Bester. He clutched his gun tightly in his left hand. The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father. He raised his hand and roared. Suddenly he was on the offensive. The memory faded to nothing around him and he charged forward. There was no skill here, no thought. Just pure undiluted rage. Saxon fell back slightly and Bester pushed his advantage and with a primal cry he won. Triumphant, he forced his way into Saxon's mind. The walls were strong but they seemed to crumble at Bester's touch and then he was in, and all was pain.

Bester recoiled in shock. Saxon's mind tasted of ashes, of age and power, of the orbit of stars, and the wheel of time. It burned with an ancient and mighty rage, and trembled with an even older fear. Past, present and future swirled and commingled twisting and folding round and round again. Bester saw the whole of time and space stretched before him, felt the fires of rebirth, the colossal force of a black hole. Saw armies of metal spit death, and beneath it all growing ever stronger, a drumbeat, a call to war…

Bester gasped and sank to the ground coughing. Saxon smiled down at him. "Congratulations Alfred," he said. "Or would you prefer Steven? There are few even among my people who would have done as well. And I always liked a good fight." Bester spat blood. He felt weak, broken. He'd fought with everything he had, used all his experience, and he'd won. But looking up at Saxon, he realized just how small that victory had been. Saxon looked ready for round two, and Bester doubted that he could muster enough strength to weather that storm again, but he would try. He would always try.

"Who are you," Bester breathed.

"I am the Master, and you will obey me." The words rang clear in Bester's mind like portents of his doom. He gathered together the shards of his mind shields and prepared for battle. He would not go down without a fight, and he would serve no one. The Corps is Mother, the Corps is…