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Morgan Clark As Tragic Hero?

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WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD. This chapter discusses material covered later in the project.

An entire book could be devoted to the rise and fall of Morgan Clark. I am not certain if I am the best one to write it - his story is a side story to the main one I aim to tell - but I do believe that it should be written.

At the time of the Earth-Minbari War, then-Senator Morgan Clark was the ranking member on the Earth Alliance Senate Armed Services Committee. Unfortunately, Earth's military capacity was no match for the Minbari's, and the war was going very badly. Earth was unmatched in every way, and up against an enemy that they (and the other races) knew very little about.

Although Earth Alliance law prohibited telepaths from serving, the war also brought unprecedented cooperation between the military and telepaths, though under the radar, all highly classified. (One such story is that of Lt. Andrew Denmark, who flew in Sheridan's squadron during the Battle of the Line. Behind the Gloves covers this story later in the project.) Morgan Clark was involved in operating a clandestine "rendition" program to scan captured Minbari prisoners at the joint EarthForce/Psi Corps base on Ganymede. (Bester participated in this project.) The program was successful in providing Earth with vital information about the Minbari and their military capabilities, but it came at a high cost for Clark and the others in the Senate - because they had to trust the word of telepaths.

And that bothered Clark very, very deeply.

The very last thing normals wanted to do was trust telepaths with anything of importance - especially the most important thing of all, planetary security. All of Earth's laws had been set up to keep telepaths out of any real power, anywhere - in government, in the courts, in the military - and now they had to trust telepaths with everything.

The Psi Cops in the program performed their duties faithfully, but the more successful Bester and the others were at obtaining vital information about the Minbari war machine, the more scared Clark became - of the telepaths.

As the war wore on, and Earth lost more and more battles, it became clear to all "in the know" that Earth was going to lose. Eventually, no one expected humanity to survive (except perhaps in isolated settlements). A half hour from killing everyone on the planet, after the brutal Battle of the Line (20,000 troops went in, a little more than 200 came out), the Minbari suddenly surrendered, called off the war, and flew away.

The survivors on Earth had gone through the trauma of a "mock execution," on a global scale. For Morgan Clark, the single most important thing was preventing this kind of tragedy (and humiliation) for the people of Earth from ever occurring again. Thus he made a prime target for agents of the Shadows - he was blinded by this obsession, his own personal lust for power, and his fear of telepaths.

Through intermediaries, they contacted him (and others in his circle), and established a certain pact. The then-unnamed Shadows ("Shadows" being the Minbari name for the race) were, after all, very powerful - vastly more powerful than the Minbari - and to Clark, a deal with these new powerful "friends" would forever protect Earth from future Minbari aggression. The Shadows gave Clark what he wanted - they promised to make him the most powerful man on Earth. They promised him they would deal with the "telepath problem" once and for all, too.

So Clark and those around him fell more and more into this web. Some telepaths got caught up in it, too - some not understanding the true nature of the threat, some out of loyalty to EarthGov even when things were looking Really Bad, and most out of fear, because they knew that if they resisted, they would be swiftly killed. Not directly by Clark - the directors of the Corps (Johnston, and his successor York), both normals as dictated in the Psi Corps Charter, were deeply involved in this conspiracy as well. They swiftly ordered the execution of telepaths who resisted them in any way. The charter, after all, gave the director that absolute power over the life and death of any telepath - period. No trial, no lawyer, no appeal, nothing.

Indeed, Johnston had been ordering these executions since the day he came into office decades before, when Bester was a teenager. Johnston had trumped up charges against Bester's mentor and father figure, Sandoval Bey, and forced him to commit suicide, and had been trying to assassinate Bester for years (since he was fourteen!).

By the time Bester found out about the conspiracy (in general terms), in 2256 (the year before Season 1), this conspiracy encompassed not just Clark, but other senators, IPX executives, Johnston, and more. Bester had no idea who these mysterious aliens were, despite his best efforts to find out, but he had seen the Shadow ship on Mars, he knew how extremely dangerous these new aliens were, he knew the Earthgov plot involved betraying telepaths, and he knew Johnston was in on it. He finally assassinated Johnston ("My name is Al Bester, you killed my father, PREPARE TO DIE"), but it did little to slow the progression of the conspiracy to take over Earth and pave the way for Shadow infiltration of EarthGov.

The Shadows would look for "corruptible" heads of state, promise them whatever they wanted, and then use them to take over control of the government of that planet. If that head of state hated telepaths, all the better, because telepaths were a threat to the Shadows, too. They would "gladly" take the "telepath problem" off the hands of the leaders they were influencing.

Note: It's not "technically" wrong that the Corps was involved in the conspiracy, but this is just because "the Corps" is "Director Johnston" (a corrupt, evil normal with absolute power as granted by the charter), his successor, and the telepaths who were terrorized into doing their bidding. Telepaths "as a whole" were not involved in the conspiracy, the Corps "as a whole" (as defined by the people in it) was not involved in the conspiracy, and those telepaths who assisted largely did so under extreme duress.

EarthGov was, indeed, betraying telepaths - "selling" them as "parts" to the Shadows by the mid 2250s. Clark, Johnston and friends were emptying off-world Corps prison camps and selling the telepath prisoners to the Shadows in exchange for the technology to make the Omega class "hybrid" Shadow ships as shown in Season 4 and later in Crusade (and whose origin is never explained onscreen). EarthForce hoped to integrate the new, powerful alien technology into its own ships and thus create a whole new indestructible fleet. (Unfortunately, this technological integration process went really wrong in some later models (Crusade), but that's another story.)

EarthGov was, under Clark's direction, emptying (off-world) telepath prison camps. In 2259 or thereabouts (Season 3), Bester finally found out about this - his team went to intercept what they knew to be a shipment of "weapons parts" to allies of the Shadows, and found to their horror that these parts were actually people (Ship of Tears). Bester's lover Caroline was in one of the stasis pods. Suddenly he understood the extent of EarthGov's treachery, and how little his assassination of Johnston several years earlier had actually accomplished. The war against the Shadows - always something that had concerned him - suddenly became much, much more personal.

But that story comes later.

Clark, when he was VP, had, with the help of the Shadows, assassinated President Santiago and become President himself (Chrysalis). He had instituted martial law. He had created the Nightwatch, a fascist paramilitary organization. His regime had taken over all official media outlets on the planet, and arrested journalists. And, like Macbeth, he went mad. It took a small civil war to depose him - and when he saw he was losing, he tried to wipe out the eastern seaboard of North America with Earth's own defense grid, and committed suicide (Endgame).

One might then expect, with Clark deposed and dead, the situation for telepaths could improve. But alas, that was not to be. For after the death of Santiago and Clark's rise to the presidency (Chrysalis), the then-director of the Corps, York (Johnston's successor) officially endorsed Clark for president (Points of Departure), thus violating a key provision in the Psi Corps Charter that the Corps must, at all times, remain neutral in matters of normal politics. Panic broke out on Earth, and all media outlets covered the stories for days (Points of Departure). Recall that the charter was the only thing standing between telepaths and the pogroms of the century before - and now the director had ripped it to shreds and used it for toilet paper. The normal population blamed "telepaths" for this grievous transgression - to them, the Corps was opaque, monolithic, and likely corrupt. Few normals understood the inner workings of the Corps, how decisions were made in the Corps, and the extent of normal control in the Corps. To them, one telepath was the same as the next, and none were ever to be trusted, other than conditionally.

Telepaths, recall, were only "tolerated" because the charter had been upheld by telepaths (i.e. Psi Cops) on their own people (by force when necessary), so this violation brought everything into question once more - even strained coexistence. Telepaths panicked. York's decision was not their own, he was not their "elected leader" - he was appointed by the Senate, for life. If he had blatantly violated the charter, and the Senate hadn't removed him or even sanctioned him, it could only mean that the Senate was in on it.

They were.

It was only a matter of time, now, until war.