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Synopsis by Matthew Murray (i9717029@unicorn.it.wsu.edu)

Ivanova is in Sheridan's office, reporting to him about the budget problems Babylon 5 is facing, due in part to the increased number of EarthForce military transports passing through Babylon 5. That is forcing the station to reroute its commercial traffic, though EarthForce claims it is only temporary. She tells Sheridan that EarthForce, in order to reduce the deficit forming on Babylon 5, wants the two of them to either move out of their quarters, or pay rent of thirty credits per week, as they are the largest quarters on the station. Sheridan refuses to pay the rent, and tells Ivanova that, because of the work they do, they deserve the quarters they have. He tells Ivanova to inform EarthForce that they have no intention of paying for the extra space.

On the Mars colony, the PsiCop Bester is interrogating another telepath. "This is unnecessary, you know. If you'd just give us the information we need, we could stop this. We don't blame you. You fell under the influence of outsiders. They used you and then abandoned you. You mean nothing to them. You were raised by the Corps. Clothed by the Corps. We are your father and mother. Don't force us to do this." When the man refuses to speak, Bester continues, "We know there's an underground railroad helping unregistered telepaths. We know you gave them access to our files. Who was your contact? Who's running the operation?" The man claims he doesn't know, and that they don't use names. Bester asks where the central clearing house is for the railroad, but the man refuses to answer, instead, he recites "Mary had a little lamb." Bester reaches out and holds his hand above the man's throat, scanning him; the man dies painfully. "I caught it," Bester says. "Just before he died. Betrayed by his final thoughts. Babylon 5."

"We don't blame you."

Sheridan is in Earhart's, talking to Dr. Franklin about the problems he's having with EarthForce. Dr. Franklin tries to convince him that he might be making a mistake, but Sheridan refuses to pay rent on his quarters. Dr. Franklin jokingly offers to let Sheridan sleep on the spare cot he requisitioned for medical purposes. They meet up with Ambassador Delenn, who asks to speak with Sheridan privately. She asks him to help her better understand what it is to be human. "Though I now look more like you, I'm not like you. And if I am to be a bridge of understanding between humans and Minbari, it would help if I knew more about your people." She explains that she wants to go out to dinner with him, to sit and talk with him, as long as it is not about business. Sheridan agrees, and they make plans for that evening.

Delenn invites Sheridan to dinner.

A ship carrying Bester arrives on the station, and Bester tells C&C that he wants to have a meeting with full command staff. In the meeting, he explains, "For some time now, we've been aware of an underground railroad smuggling unregistered telepaths away from Earth to the outer colonies where the Corps can't reach them." Ivanova tells him that she doesn't see a problem, but he claims that unregistered telepaths are a security risk. He explains that he learned the railroad was centered on Babylon 5, and that he wants it closed down. Bester asks for their cooperation, but Sheridan asks to speak with the others before committing to a decision. Bester leaves with Talia. After he leaves, Sheridan asks Garibaldi whether or not Bester was right in his request. Garibaldi explains that he was, because, whether they like it or not, they are obliged to uphold the laws of the Earth Alliance, and the law compels them to help the PsiCorps.

"It's damn ironic, isn't it?" Garibaldi says. "The Corps got started because we were afraid of telepaths, and now they're victims of our own fears. We took away every right they had and shoved them into a big black box called PsiCorps. Now, look at them. Black uniforms, jack boots, giving orders... Some days they scare the hell out of me."

"Yeah," Sheridan tells him, "if you ask me, we created our own monster. Maybe we deserve it." Sheridan tells Garibaldi to help him in any way he can, but still keep an eye on him. As Garibaldi leaves, Ivanova reccommends to Sheridan that he check the files on Bester, because of the trouble he made before regarding Jason Ironheart. (cf. "Mind War")

Bester tells Talia on their walk that he is confident they will do what he asks. Talia asks him if he scanned them. Bester answers that it's against the law to scan normals. She asks him if he's scanning her, and though he claims she'd feel it, she says she wouldn't know if it was a surface scan. As he tries to convince her that he would only do such a thing if he believed she was doing something inappropriate, he hears the word "murderer" whispered over and over in his mind. He asks Talia if she heard it, but she says she didn't. He tells her to drop her defenses and listen again, but she still hears only the background noise of the area. "They're here," he tells her. "I was right."

Strolling through the bazaar.

Meanwhile, the underground railroad continues its operation. One telepath reports to another, Rick, who is apparently in charge, that Bester is there. Rick asks if Bester sensed him, but the telepath isn't sure. He says that they need to warn the runner and get out of there. He knows that Bester will attempt to stop them, and, in that event, their only option is to kill him.

That evening, Delenn, clad in an attractive black dinner dress, enters a restaurant and meets Sheridan, who is astonished by her appearance. He is not the only one, as many others around his table notice her. He asks her what she might like to order, and they look at the menu together.

Meeting for dinner.

Meanwhile, Garibaldi enters Earhart's and finds Ivanova there. He attempts to talk to her about official business, but at the mention, following military tradition, she forces him to buy the next round of drinks. He explains that he really does need to talk to her privately, and they find a table by themselves. He tells her that he needs a contact on the underground railroad. She wishes him luck, but is not sure what that has to do with her. She tells him that, even though she resents the PsiCorps, she is not responsible. He explains to her that he knows someone high up on the station must be responsible for such a large operation, and that he suspected it was her. She assures him that she is not responsible, and tells him that she wants to go back to her quarters and get some sleep. "That's the other thing I wanted to talk to you about," he tells her.

After dinner, Sheridan and Delenn are enjoying some pleasant conversation, discussing such topics as household pets and humor. Sheridan says he never thinks of Minbari laughing, but she tells him that the Minbari think no race can be truly intelligent without laughter, and that learning to appreciate humor is a large portion of their religious development. Sheridan explains to her that such things are not uncommon on Earth. "It would appear that we have much more in common than we imagined," Delenn tells him. Smiling, Sheridan agrees.

Talia is getting ready for bed when she is interrupted by a call from Bester. Bester tells her that he regrets the way he has treated her, especially in regards to Jason Ironheart. He tells her he wants to get to know her better, and invites her to join him for breakfast the next morning. She tells him that she will be there, and he hangs up. She walks over to a mirror and looks into it. Seeing her face, she remembers the time, about a year earlier, when Jason Ironheart came onto the station. She remembers his confiding in her, and Bester's attempt to kill him, his transcendence, and his mysterious gift to her. As she recalls those traumatic events, a penny on a nearby table slowly begins to move, flies from the table, and imbeds itself into a wall. "He's been in my mind twice today," she says as she watches the penny. "Why isn't he seeing this? Or was that the other part of the gift?"

An exhausted Sheridan approaches his quarters and attempts to use his card to open the door. He tries twice, but the door refuses to open. Ivanova appears, noticing his trouble, and informs him that EarthForce sealed their rooms until they decide to move to smaller quarters or pay rent. She tells him that she was on her way to rent a room, but he won't let her do that.

The unregistetred telepaths are gathered together, apparently assembling weapons. Rick insists that they do something again. Another telepath says that they are safe as long as they are hidden from him, but Rick knows better... he knows the telepath Bester killed to obtain the information cracked, and that they must be stronger to keep him off the track. Everyone agrees, and they all begin reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb," apparently using it to block out all other thoughts.

"Do it again."

Ivanova is curled up on the couch in Sheridan's office, while he reclines in his desk chair. He tells her that they need to be strong and cannot show weakness. She agrees reluctantly. To lighten the mood, he tells her a joke. "How many Minbari does it take to screw in a light bulb?" She doesn't know, so he explains. "None. They always surrender right before they finish the job, and they never tell you why. Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Kosh." "Kosh who?" "Gesundheit." Ivanova is less than amused.

The next morning, at breakfast, Talia and Bester are talking about the situation back home, especially regarding the death of the president. He asks her to keep an eye on the people on the station, wondering what they have to say about the president's death. Seconds later, he hears something else in his head -- plans to attack. He leaps away just in time, shouting at Talia to get down. He fires at and kills his attackers, but as Talia attempts to escape, she is grabbed by several people, knocked out, and dragged off.

Bester addresses the staff, telling them about the attack. He admits, however, that he doesn't know what happened to Talia. He tells them that he thinks she's fine, because they were after him. When Garibaldi asks Bester if the thought had occurred to him that they may have kidnapped Talia to get to him, Bester simply says that she doesn't know anything that could endanger either him or the Corps. This greatly upsets Garibaldi, who begins screaming at Bester that he should have notified security as soon as he knew she was gone. Bester tells Garibaldi that, if he really wants to find her, he needs to double the efforts of security. "You've got two bodies to start with. Make the best of them."

Talia begins waking up from her unconciousness, hearing voices in her head as she does so. She awakens to find herself lying on the floor, surrounded by people. She rises and attampts to walk around the room, and meets with no resistence. She walks over to Rick, and he tells her that they don't want to hurt her, but they will if necessary. Realizing this is the leader of the underground railroad, she tells him that they are only hurting themselves, and that the Corps just wants to protect them. He says he doesn't believe that and that she doesn't either. He also tells her that she is "almost there." She asks what he's talking about, and what he wants with her. He tells her that he wants her to understand.

Talia and her captors.

Dr. Franklin reports to Sheridan that he heard from the people running the underground railroad, who said that Talia isn't hurt. He tells Sheridan that they want to arrange a meeting between Sheridan and the head of the operation, but if anyone besides Sheridan arrives, the meeting is off. Dr. Franklin tells him that they want to find a solution to the situation without anyone else being hurt. Sheridan asks Dr. Franklin if he can trust them, and Franklin says he can, but refuses to explain how he knows that. Sheridan agrees to the meeting.

Talia listens to the story of one of the telepaths, who explains to her how his brother took medication to suppress his telepathic powers, which didn't stop him from speaking out against the PsiCorps. However, one day, when the PsiCorps came to inject him with the suppressing medicine, he never woke up. Talia refuses to accept that the Corps would kill someone, but the man insists it's true. Rick tells her that she's afraid of the truth. She tries to explain to him what the Corps gave her, but he tells her they took even more away, forcing her to wear a badge and wear gloves, and taking away her freedom. He tells her that the PsiCorps tries to keep telepaths seperate, but still dependent. She can't believe what he's saying. He tells her that he knows what happened to Jason Ironheart, that he was a rogue and ran away, just like all the others on the underground railroad.

Bester enters Garibaldi's office, where Garibaldi is waiting. He asks what Garibaldi wants, and Garibaldi tells Bester that he needs to see him, even though he doesn't want to. Bester tells Garibaldi that they both have the same interests and want to protect Talia, but Garibaldi doesn't believe it. Bester tries to convince Garibaldi that he has a wife and daughter, and is hardly the monster Garibaldi believes him to be, but Garibaldi cannot believe that story either. He tosses Bester some information, and tells him that he has learned the would-be assassins were living in Downbelow. Bester determines, as Garibaldi did, that the rest are probably down there as well. Garibaldi tells Bester that he will meet with Bester in one hour to go down there together. Bester agrees.

Talia is still with the other telepaths, this time listening to the story of a P-11 telepath who was asked to marry a man, another P-11, so that they could increase the chances of creating a baby as powerful, or more so, than the parents. When she refused, she was taken away during the night, only to discover a short time later that she was pregnant. After she had the baby, it was taken away, and she never saw it again. She escaped the hospital and never turned back. Rick talks to Talia again, telling her that the original function of the Corps has been lost through time. He wants to stop it, and he asks for her help. She can't easily agree, because it has been her way of life since childhood. She asks him why he wants her involved, and tells her that she's special. "Your friend Ironheart was my friend, too. They experimented on both of us. They pushed me up here," Rick tells her, pointing to his head, "they made me a P-12, maybe even a P-13, but Ironheart...he went further than I did. Further than anyone will ever go again. When he escaped, I went with him. Helped set all this up. I know he touched you. I know he gave you something. I know you can help us if you want to."

Sheridan arrives at the predetermined place to meet with the leader of the operation, when he inexplicably meets up with Dr. Franklin. Sheridan tells Franklin that he should leave, or else scare off the leader. But Franklin is the leader. Sheridan tells Franklin that he'd better have a good explanation. Talia appears. "I think he does, Captain, and I think you should listen to him. I think you should listen to all of them."

"I think you should listen to him."

"Back on Earth," explains Dr. Franklin, "I heard things. The kind of things you're not supposed to hear about. Genetic manipulation, breeding telepaths against their will, so-called relocation camps for rogue telepaths that aren't much better than concentration camps. It started when a few doctors began referring latent telepaths to each other, keeping them out of circulation -- losing reports, and changing medical history files. We couldn't just keep moving them around like checkers -- we had to get them away from Earth. They were filtered into Babylon 5 on business visas. Last year, I set up a clinic downbelow so we could start processing runaways and changing records without anyone from MedLab knowing about it. I trust my staff, but the PsiCorps has a knack for intimidation." Sheridan tells Franklin that he agrees, in principle, with what Franklin is doing, but that he is bound to obey the law as a soldier. Franklin is also bound, by an oath to protect lives. Sheridan doesn't want to turn Franklin in, because it would embarrass EarthForce, and give them another reason to shut down Babylon 5, but, if he doesn't turn him in, he becomes just as guilty.

"No," Talia tells Sheridan. "There's a third option."

Bester appears, without Garibaldi. He looks around for a while, turns a corner, and sees a group of telepaths there, with Rick in the front. Bester tells Rick that, if they return peacefully, they won't be harmed. Talia appears from behind the other telepaths, all together in a tight group, and tells him that he is lying, and that they will only be destroyed as a lesson to the others. "You want to keep us frightened and isolated. Not just from normals, but from each other. That's the real reason we wear gloves, isn't it? To keep us apart. But what happens when the gloves come off?" She raises her gloveless hands, and the other telepaths do the same.

The entire group joins hands together and begin fighting Bester collectively. He tries to stop them, but is unable. The telepaths, however, are making no progress. "It's not working," Rick says, straining against what he is doing. "Someone's fighting us." He suddenly realizes who it is, and turns to Talia. "You!" She shouts out to Bester, and they both fire on the entire group, quickly killing them all. He surveys the bodies, telling her that he would rather have taken them all alive, but that the leader is dead, and an example has been set. He tells her that the body will die when the head is cut off, which he orders her to do. He tells Talia he was convinced by her ruse.

Joining forces.

"The Corps is mother, the corps is father," she tells him. "I know where my loyalties lie." He tells her that security will be there soon. He suggests that they leave seperately, and hopes that she will deny all knowledge of the incident; she agrees. Bester leaves, and she walks off in the other direction.

Sheridan suddenly appears in the room, where all of the telepaths, including Talia, are gathered together, holding hands. They drop their hands as Sheridan explains that he only saw Bester appear in the corridor, then walk away. But Talia explains that they projected an image into his mind telepathically, and that he believed what he saw completely. Sheridan asks them how they did it, assuming that a PsiCop would be able to see through the trick. Talia tells him that they could only do it together, and that a single telepath could never have done it. Franklin tells Sheridan that, because Bester is convinced what he saw actually happened, he will not press the issue, not wanting to answer lots of questions about the dead telepaths. Because Sheridan doesn't have the defenses to block a scan, Talia recommends that he not see Bester before he leaves. Dr. Franklin also informs Sheridan that, because of the attention drawn to it, the underground railroad will no longer pass through Babylon 5, but that others will take over for him. Sheridan tells the telepaths that they are free to leave, but that he doesn't want them back. The telepaths agree and file out. Sheridan and Franklin leave back toward the elevator, Sheridan warning Franklin that he will turn him in if he does it again. Franklin tries to get Sheridan to admit that he agrees with Franklin's actions, but Sheridan won't. When Franklin asks him what he's saying, Sheridan only replies, "I'm not saying what I'm saying. I'm not saying what I'm thinking. As a matter of fact, I'm not thinking what I'm thinking." He tells Franklin that all he wants is a drink. Franklin reminds him that he also needs a place to stay, something which Sheridan had forgotten about.

As Talia returns, Rick emerges from the shadows and startles her. He says that she can never return, but she tells him that she can't leave the Corps. He points to his head. "No, I mean in here. You know too much. If Bester scans you, you...Can you keep him out?"

"I think so. Jason's little gift."

"He gave you more than you know. What we did back there...shouldn't have worked. Not with that PsiCop. You tipped the balance. I felt it when we were joined. You're more than you think you are."

"Then what am I?"

"The future," Rick says as he vanishes again into the shadows.

Ivanova appeals to Sheridan to the repeal the protest, since she believes that Earth Central will never concede. She tells him, however, that she will continue with the protest if he will. She also tells him that he snores, a fact he vehemently denies, but which she insists. She asks to sleep on the couch, but he says that she can sleep in her own quarters instead. She asked if he gave in, but he tells her, "I'm deducting sixty credits per week from the budget set aside to maintain combat readiness, and applying it against the rent." Ivanova asks on what grounds he's doing that, and he responds, "On the grounds that I'm not ready to fight anybody until I've had a decent night's sleep in my own damn bed." She thinks it's a good solution, and leaves Sheridan's office to go to sleep.

Ivanova, ready for bed.

Talia accompanies Bester to the docking bay. Bester tells her that he is very disappointed that Sheridan was not as supportive of the Corps as he had been told. He tells her to keep an eye on Sheridan as well, and Talia says that won't be a problem. He leaves, but as he is walking away, he stops suddenly, turns back toward her questioningly, then walks away.

Ivanova is interrupted by the door chime just as she climbs into bed. She answers the door, and Talia enters carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses. At first, Ivanova wants her to leave, but Talia soon changes her mind. Removing her gloves, Talia tells her, "I just wanted to say that you were right and I was wrong about the Corps. I can't go into details, but in light of recent events, I think we need to reevaluate our relationship. Which is just a formal way of saying that I needs someone to talk to, and, strange as this sounds, you're the only one I can think of. Unless my being here offends you."

"I come bearing gifts."

Ivanova shakes her head. "No, you don't offend me. But that does."

Talia looks down at her collar and sees the PsiCorps badge there. Without saying a word, she removes it and sets it on a nearby table. "Better," Ivanova tells her, and the two sit down and begin to talk.


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Last update: October 9, 1995