Psi Corps had no jurisdiction in this galaxy. The unstated part of Elizabeth's mission, the reason that Bester had bribed and blackmailed to get her to into the lead position in this expedition, was to determine if there were telepaths in the Pegasus galaxy, and if so, to bring them under the guidance of the Corps. A deeply-hidden part of Elizabeth's mind, the corner of herself she'd been able to keep hidden from the Corps, remembered her mother's arms around her, and her mother's voice, whispering for Elizabeth to remember how much she was loved. She'd had barely an hour with her mother after the telepathy she'd kept hidden was uncovered. The black-gloved Psi Cop had arrived too quickly and taken her to the dormitories.
"Well." Elizabeth tugged at the calfskin gloves covering her hands as the lights came on across the city. Colonel Sumner was giving the all-clear for the expedition's scientists to explore the control room, at least. "Shall we explore Atlantis, Ms. Winters?"
"Please, Dr. Weir. Call me Talia," she said, her face a mask as she glanced over at Elizabeth. "After all, we don't know how long we're going to be here."
"You don't leave people in the hands of the enemy. And the fact that we are having this conversation in private lets me know that you know damn well that it's wrong, and you think it will totally undermine your leadership." Major Sheppard was yelling, standing on the balcony, screaming at her as if they couldn't open their minds to each other if wanted to. As if words were necessary. "As ranking military officer, I--"
"Just shut up and listen to me for a moment, all right?" asked Elizabeth, cutting him off with a curt gesture. He wanted words, not thoughts, then fine. They'd do this the long way. "Come on, what do we know about the Wraith? One of the few things we do know is that they are the enemy that defeated the Vorlons. When we first began to use the Stargate we found on Earth, we got ourselves into serious trouble. Why?"
There was something he wasn't telling her. Something about the native people of Athos. She could hear it in the undercurrent of his thoughts. She could find out. She'd had the training; the only reason she didn't have the title was because it would have been a disadvantage in her diplomatic work to be known as a Psi Cop.
Everything about her Psi Corps upbringing, about her training, told her to scan his thoughts without his permission, and without his knowledge. He was only a P7; he would never feel her mind touch his. Never mind that she knew beyond a doubt that no matter what the Corps had taught her, invading John's mind was wrong.
"I don't need a history lesson," said John, his voice even louder. Anger was rolling off him; he could barely keep his thoughts penned in.
"Because the people in charge didn't consider the ramifications before they reacted," said Elizabeth. She would consider them. She hadn't expected a telepath who'd only been sent along because they wanted him out of the way on Earth to end up in charge of her military contingent. She hadn't expected any of this, especially not antagonizing an alien race within a few hours of 'gating to this galaxy, but she would not start off by violating what little trust she and John had managed to build since they'd met in Antarctica.
She was meeting with Teyla and John first thing this morning. Elizabeth had a pot of Athosian tea brewed, with three cups sitting on the counter, steaming. John walked in first, holding the door for Teyla, who sat easily, giving Elizabeth a calm smile as she swept her skirt under her legs. "Teyla, Major Sheppard," said Elizabeth, nodding a greeting to them.
"Dr. Weir," said Teyla.
"Hey," said John, collapsing into a chair.
"Please, have some tea," said Elizabeth. She picked up her own mug and wrapped her hands around it, not wincing at the hot, bitter beverage washing down her throat.
Teyla took up her mug and inhaled the steam, her eyes fluttering closed. "Thank you, Dr. Weir," she said. "My people often begin their day with a cup of this very tea. I am pleased at your thoughtfulness."
"Yeah, it was nice of you," said John. He took a gulp and stared at Elizabeth with a determinedly pleasant expression, but she could feel a mental shudder at the taste. "Yummy."
"I thought we would conduct this meeting verbally in order to ensure everyone's full participation," said Elizabeth. "I wouldn't want to exclude our new allies in this galaxy when we make the determination of how to move forward together."
You do not need to take such steps for my sake. Puzzlement echoed in Teyla's mental voice.
She's a telepath? Elizabeth's mental walls dropped enough to talk to John.
"Oops?" John shrugged. He tried to look innocent. "I thought you knew?"
The look Teyla gave them both was amused. Obviously, there is much that we need to discuss.
"Do you think John enjoyed himself?" asked Elizabeth, sipping at her tea while paging through the paperwork e-mailed to her.
"I would imagine so," said Teyla. She stood, leaning on the windows that faced the control room as they talked. "He seemed quite determined to show Chaya the delights of Atlantis when she was here."
I'll show him the delights of Atlantis. Elizabeth didn't try to keep the snap from her mental voice.
It is comforting to know that the men of Earth and the men of Athos are so similar. Elizabeth felt the pull of muscles in Teyla's smile. Perhaps that is why the men of neither galaxy interest me.
A quick tapping on the keyboard, and Elizabeth was able to log off. More frustrating than comforting. She stood, pushing her chair back and stretching, smiling slightly when she felt Teyla's gaze on her figure. Do you think he knows about you and I?
"It is difficult to keep a secret from a telepath," said Teyla. She set her tea cup down on Elizabeth's desk, then opened the door, standing and waiting for Elizabeth's sure steps to bring them together. "Though only a tenth of your expedition have such abilities." There are ways my people keep their minds hidden from the Wraith. Do you wish to know them?
"We have very strong ethics against unwanted mental prying." Yes. I don't know what will happen if we ever reconnect with Earth. As she met Teyla's gaze, Elizabeth smiled, her diplomatic mask in place. "If we ever get back in contact with Earth, I'll have Mr. Bester explain it to you. He's certainly the Corps' most eloquent representative. Still, as the official Psi Corps representative on the Atlantis expedition, Talia Winters would be glad to discuss it."
"Are you not also a telepath, Elizabeth?" asked Teyla, her voice curious as they walked through the control room together. I have spoken briefly with Talia. Something about her makes me uneasy.
Elizabeth nodded shortly. "I am. However, my training in diplomacy and negotiation took a great deal of my time." I've never had a problem with her. She's a very reserved woman. They stepped out, into the corridors of the city, passing by Dr. Heightmeyer, who studied them curiously.
She is more rigidly controlled by your Psi Corps than either you or John are.. Teyla's thoughts were frustrated, but her voice was pleasant. "Has Ms. Winters had a different kind of training?" It is why I have not chosen to share the knowledge of my abilities with anyone other than the two of you.
"Talia's training encompassed a great deal, including corporate negotiations, as well as corporate espionage." I appreciate the trust you've given us. Elizabeth crossed her arms as they turned the corner. "I believe she may have paid more attention during Psi Corps history courses than I did." Her voice was light and amused, but she could feel as Teyla absorbed the bitterness underlying her thoughts.
"I see," said Teyla. And I cannot repay the trust that you and John have placed in me. "I find myself curious about the history of Earth, especially that of the organization you are a part of. Do you have anything I can borrow?"
"Some of my personal notes from my school days," said Elizabeth, waving her hand in front of her doorway. If they find out-- "Perhaps you'd like to wait inside my quarters while I locate them?"
"I would like that, Dr. Weir," said Teyla. They will not, Elizabeth. "Thank you."
Elizabeth was asleep, her arms wrapped around Teyla, when she felt a feather-light touch against her mind. John? As she reached down to pull the sheet up to cover them, Elizabeth felt Teyla push herself upright.
"There is a stranger in your room, Elizabeth," said Teyla, her voice sharp.
Elizabeth sat up, her eyes flying open, and saw a red-headed woman standing in her room, surrounded by a faint nimbus. "Who are you?" she asked sharply. She reached for her radio, but it moved sharply from underneath her fingers. "You're a teek?"
"Teek?" asked Teyla.
"Telekinetic," said Elizabeth. "The ability's rare. I have a trace of it, enough to influence the roll of a die on a good day. A very unusually good day."
"I have heard of such things," said Teyla. "We do not possess telekinesis in Pegasus."
"My name is Lyta Alexander," said the woman. "I've come to warn you. There's a Psi Corps agent on Atlantis."
Elizabeth laughed harshly. "Some people would tell you that's me," she said. "How did you get here? Your name was brought up by the IOA for the expedition, but Bester thought your loyalty to the Corps was in doubt. It was all I could do to convince him to let Major Sheppard join once we discovered he possesses the ATA gene."
"The Vorlons have helped me to Ascend," said Lyta.
Dr. Weir? Elizabeth heard Dr. Heightmeyer calling to her from the corridors of Atlantis. I just heard-- Did you ever know a woman named Lyta Alexander? She was a P5, a commercial telepath--
Elizabeth leaned over Teyla and reached for her uniform, lying crumpled on the floor. She's here, Dr. Heightmeyer. In my quarters.
"I don't get it," said John, sprawling on the sofa in Elizabeth's quarters. "I get that you're here, and I get that you're annoyed with the Corps. I figured Elizabeth and I were kinda in the minority. By a long shot."
Lyta was perched calmly in a chair, listening intently. "Kate and I were housed in the same dormitory during training," she began.
"She's the Corps' goddamn brainwasher," said John. "You wanna tell me what you're doing? You're getting our asses in trouble with her, and she's a P11. Actually, it's worse than that. She's a P11 with all the mind tricks that the Psi Cops can teach her."
"I'm a P11, John," said Elizabeth. "With Psi Cop training."
"Oh, so you're the ace in the hole," said Dr. Heightmeyer softly. "I thought you might have been the one sent to keep an eye on me."
"I thought you were a P8, Elizabeth. We are so doomed," said John. He took a deep breath. "My boss is a Psi Cop. The only shrink we have is a Psi Cop. We're harboring a couple of rogue telepaths. Oh, yeah, and the Wraith are coming. I'd rather deal with them."
"Elizabeth isn't the Psi Corps' only hidden asset," said Lyta. "Kate, remember the research you were studying when we were rooming together?"
"When I was in the personality labs?" Dr. Heightmeyer frowned. "There was a lot of theoretical research; some of the more practical cognitive aspects were deemed too--" She paled. "That was deemed too unethical."
"Nothing's too unethical for the goddamned Corps," snapped John. "Thought you were on board with all of that."
"I hate the Corps," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "But where else is there for a high-level telepath to go?"
"There's always Ascension," said Lyta softly.
"No one else was ever allowed to work with the Vorlons after you vanished, Lyta," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "No one knows how to Ascend."
"It seems that the Psi Corps is not well-loved among the members of this expedition," said Teyla. "Why do you remain in their employ?"
"There's no place else to go," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "They take you from your family when you're young, and believe me when I say the psychological programs are put in place from day one."
"The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father," drawled John. "What a load of shit. And they've got three separate spies on Atlantis, just in case two of the three decide that being in another galaxy is a good excuse to defect."
"But who's the third?" asked Elizabeth, frowning.
"There was talk of a program," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "I'd always thought it was just theoretical. When I was in college, there were some papers published internally about the possibility of laying in another personality underneath the base personality, one that was completely loyal to Psi Corps."
"That's barbaric!" exclaimed Elizabeth.
"How would something like that work?" asked John, grimacing.
"I know the trigger word," said Lyta.
"The trigger word is supposed to erase the original personality and allow the implanted control personality full, conscious access," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "If we do have one of these sleeper personalities, he or she is likely to be violent when threatened."
"I'm violent when threatened," said John. He patted his sidearm. "Let 'em try."
"What if this personality has been implanted in one of you three?" asked Teyla.
"There's only one way to find out," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "The personality won't emerge unless it's triggered."
Elizabeth took a deep breath and met Lyta's eyes. "Try it on John, Dr. Heightmeyer, and myself. If it's not any of us, you can give us the trigger and we'll test everyone else tomorrow."
"I will be ready," said Teyla. "Should one of you be the victim of their experiments."
"Do what you have to," said John. Not even the Corps' pet headshrink wants to live like that.
I heard that. Dr. Heightmeyer's voice echoed in their minds.
"Staff meetings?" asked Dr. Biro, early the next morning. She sat down in the conference room, her Psi Corps pin glinting in the overhead lights.
It could have been Dr. Dumais or Sergeant Markham. A thin tendril of Dr. Heightmeyer's voice reached Elizabeth. They sat next to each other at the table, neither one looking at the other. Their faces wore the pleasantly emotionless masks that Psi Corps had trained into them. It may be their agent died before we ever knew that an implanted personality existed.
"Dr. Heightmeyer and I simply wanted to touch base with the Psi Corps members of the Atlantis expedition," said Elizabeth, leaning forward, her elbows propped on the table. "I realize that with the Wraith coming, there's a certain amount of tension. Neither of us wants to see that turn the members of the expedition against each other."
"Oh, everything's pretty good," said Dr. Biro cheerfully. "Hey, Teyla. Hey, Colonel Sheppard."
John waved briefly, but didn't straighten from the relaxed slouch in his seat. Teyla nodded a greeting.
"Well, except Carson always looks a bit nervous around me." Dr. Biro folded her gloved hands on the table. "I'm not sure if that's because I'm a telepath, or because he gets a little green around the gills during autopsies."
"I'm sure it's just the autopsies," said Elizabeth reassuringly. She felt the mental tapping that was their signal for when Dr. Heightmeyer was about to give the trigger. "Carson has never expressed any anti-Psi Corps or anti-telepath bias."
Dr. Biro nodded. "I think it's the drilling into the skull that gets him," she said. "Or maybe when the bone chips start flying around the infirmary. Those are a bitch to clean up."
Elizabeth's expression became slightly strained. "Thank you, Dr. Biro," she said. "If everything is going well, I think we're done here. If Dr. Kusanagi is outside, could you please send her in?"
"Dr. McKay asks that you not keep me away from the labs for too long," said Dr. Kusanagi, her voice soft. "He was very unhappy to have me called away."
"Dr. McKay will be able to handle the loss of one of our scientists for a few hours," said Elizabeth softly. "Has he been especially hostile lately."
"Dr. McKay is everything that is gracious," said Dr. Kusanagi. She sat down uneasily, though, and glanced around the room.
John snorted. "McKay's an ass, Miko," he said. "Don't bother trying to cover for him. Everyone knows it."
"Dr. McKay's views on telepaths are also well-known," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "Has he been giving you a difficult time due to the fact that you're a telepath?"
"I am only a P2," said Dr. Kusanagi. "My telepathic abilities are not important enough for Dr. McKay to worry about."
"Also, McKay just gives a difficult time to everyone," said John. "What is this, an anti-telepath witch hunt?"
"John, that's enough," said Elizabeth firmly. She felt Dr. Heightmeyer give the signal.
"I--" Dr. Kusanagi paused, and Elizabeth saw Teyla shift her weight, ready to move into action, but Dr. Kusanagi just pushed up her overly-large glasses and continued. "I am pleased to serve Dr. McKay, no matter how difficult he may sometimes be. It is an honor to work with a brilliant man."
"Oh, boy," said John, tapping his fingers on the table as Teyla relaxed. "This is just going so well. Everyone already knows McKay doesn't trust the Corps. Does it matter that we have Miko tell us this again? Send her back, let her get to work, and we'll talk to Zelenka later and get the same damn story."
"Right," said Elizabeth, not looking at John. "Thank you, Dr. Kusanagi, for your time. Please inform Dr. McKay that if he gives you a difficult time over a required meeting, he can expect to hear from me about it."
"It is all right," said Dr. Kusanagi, rising. She bowed to them. "Thank you for the gift of your time."
As the door closed behind her, John slouched further in his seat. "That was a waste of time. Who's next, Bates?"
"This is ridiculous!" snapped Sergeant Bates. "I'm a loyal Psi Corps member, I'm a trained Marine, and you've got that native in here sitting judgment on me when she's the one hiding something?"
Elizabeth frowned. "Sergeant, that's out of line," she said. "Teyla is one of our valued allies in this galaxy. It's through the efforts of her and her people that we've made trading contacts. For that matter, it's through the aid of her people that we even have enough food to eat!"
He suspects that I am a telepath. I was not as careful as I should have been in our first days on Atlantis. Teyla leaned forward, her eyes narrowed as she glared at Sergeant Bates, who seemed more than happy to return the glare.
"Teyla's been more help to this expedition than anyone," snapped John.
"You just say that because you're sleeping with her," said Bates.
"Excuse me?" Teyla's voice was incredulous. "You think that John and I--"
"It's obvious," stated Bates, his arms crossed. "He's biased."
Elizabeth's spine snapped ramrod-straight as she sat further up in her chair. "Sergeant, I think that you've said more than enough," she said.
"Report to my office after lunch, Sergeant," said Dr. Heightmeyer, her voice icy. "I think we need to get to the bottom of these issues of uncontrolled rage, especially if you're displacing the anger you feel toward Teyla onto Major Sheppard--"
"The man's practically gone rogue while we've been away from Earth, and you're defending him?" Bates laughed disbelievingly, and Elizabeth felt Dr. Heightmeyer give the signal. "How can you justify that?"
"The Psi Corps takes care of its own," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "Whether they want it to or not."
"I'm fine," grumbled John.
"That's nice, Major," said Dr. Heightmeyer calmly. "Sergeant Bates, my office, one o'clock. Major, you can stop by at two o'clock. I expect that you both will be prompt. I am keeping detailed records."
Sergeant Bates blanched. He hadn't reacted to the trigger, but he was reacting to Dr. Heightmeyer's threats.
You're scary when you go all Psi Cop on us. Elizabeth knew John was letting her overhear the thoughts he was directing to Dr. Heightmeyer, who wasn't giving any kind of a visible reaction.
"I think we're done here," said Elizabeth. "Dr. Heightmeyer, you'll forward me a copy of your report?"
"Of course, Dr. Weir." Dr. Heightmeyer's voice was still even, but her eyes were locked on Sergeant Bates, and Elizabeth suspected that Dr. Heightmeyer's thoughts would be unpleasant right now.
"Right," said Sergeant Bates, standing slowly. "Your office. One o'clock."
"This is absolutely ridiculous," snapped Rodney, slamming the conference door open. He stalked into the room and slammed both palms down on the table, leaning on it and glaring at them. Dr. Zelenka followed behind him, shrugging apologetically. "Elizabeth, you're keeping key members of my staff away from some very important, possibly very life-sustaining duties just because the Corps' pet brainwasher wants to make sure everyone's treating the fragile little telepaths prima donnas."
"Rodney, we're trying to make sure--" started Elizabeth, but Rodney started talking again.
"First you take Miko away, and aside from the fact that she's the only member of my staff that sees fit to keep me supplied with coffee, she's also a key member of the power-conservation team that is trying desperately to do the impossible and get us enough energy to power the shields," he said. "Then you schedule an appointment with Zelenka, and while his intellect doesn't even come close to the genius that is me, he's also the only other person I'd trust to work on the control chair when I'm not there personally supervising."
"Rodney!" snapped Elizabeth.
"What?" he asked, frowning. "Everybody knows what this meeting is about, everybody knows how I feel about telepaths in general and Psi Corps in particular, and everybody already knows I wouldn't have given you or Sheppard the time of day before we got stuck here together, and found out that apparently not all telepaths are creepy freaks who are trying to read my mind all the time. What's the big deal?"
"We're trying to make sure that everyone is functioning at peak efficiency in light of the impending Wraith invasion," said Dr. Heightmeyer.
"Okay, I didn't ask you," said Rodney, pointing accusingly at her. "In fact, can't you just read everyone's mind to make sure they're 'functioning at peak efficiency?' Actually, here, let's go one better, and you can just make the necessary adjustments to their brains so that everyone is a good little boy and girl, and loves the Psi Corps, and we can all be happy. Doesn't that sound like fun?"
"That's not my purpose on this expedition," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "As a matter of fact, I'm here to help everyone, telepathic or not."
Rodney huffed. "Oh, that's a likely story," he said. "You were probably sent here to keep an eye on everyone. As if anyone has time to go rogue, what with the threat of the Wraith--"
Talia stood outside the open conference room door. "Am I too early?" she asked, just as Elizabeth felt Dr. Heightmeyer signal the trigger.
"And here's the official Psi Corps representative," said Rodney, whirling around. "Do come in and shut the door. We were just discussing how wonderful it is that Dr. Weir and Dr. Heightmeyer keep taking my staff away from me when we're trying to save everyone's asses."
"Rodney, shut up," said Elizabeth, bolting upright at the same moment as John and Teyla.
Talia's eyes were closed, and she stood there, hands pressed to her temples and her face contorted in pain.
"What is happening?" asked Dr. Zelenka. "This is--"
"Be silent," snapped Teyla.
Talia straightened, her posture cold and her eyes hard. "Psi Corps will be very displeased to hear how lax you've all been," she said. "Collusion with a rogue telepath? They're not going to like--"
"Restrain her," said Elizabeth. "Now."
Teyla was already moving, darting around the table and twisting Talia's arm behind her back, then wrapping her arm around Talia's neck. John drew his sidearm, aiming it at Talia. "You're not going to kill me," said Talia, sneering at him. "That will mark you out for the Psi Cops. The only reason they didn't take you before now was that they hoped you would die out here."
"That's enough, Ms. Winters," said Elizabeth.
"Oh, boy," said Dr. Zelenka. He reached for Rodney's jacket and tugged on it. "I think we should be going back to control chair, Rodney."
"I really hate Psi Corps," said Rodney, his voice edging into a whine.
"Imagine how we feel," said John.
"Imagine how you'll feel in prison," said Talia. "The Corps is Mother; the Corps is Father. How dare you reject that!"
"Can we get her out of here, please?" asked Elizabeth.
"My pleasure," said John. He glared at Talia. "How would you like to meet Mr. Holding Cell? He's been looking forward to meeting you all day long. One word out there in the hallways, and you can say hello to Mr. Gunshot Wound too."
The door slammed shut behind them. "Well." Elizabeth turned to Dr. Heightmeyer, Dr. Zelenka, and Rodney. "I think we're done here."
"We haven't even gotten started, Elizabeth," said Rodney.
"So you're telling me that a third of the expedition's remaining telepaths have gone rogue?" asked Rodney. "Including its leader, its brainwasher, the head of the military, and also one of my scientists?"
Dr. Zelenka shrugged. "I never said I like Psi Corps," he said. "As telepath, I am member of Psi Corps in order to do job. As Czechoslovakian, I had to be in Communist Party to do job I liked. Is simple fact."
"Could they have sent any more misfits out here?" asked Elizabeth. She slipped her gloves off and held them loosely.
"Huh, that's weird," said Rodney, frowning at her.
"What?" asked Elizabeth.
"I've just never seen your hands before," said Rodney. "Are you sure this isn't some kind of elaborate PsiCorps trap?"
"It's not," said Dr. Heightmeyer.
"Several layers of deception have been uncovered," said Radek. "I hope we are at bottom of it. Though I feel bad for poor Miss Winters."
"There's a chance for her," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "It's going to take a great deal of time, but I think I may be able to undo the damage caused by the implanted personality."
"How's that one work?" asked John, from where he was leaning against the wall.
"I'm a trained psychologist, as well as a medical doctor," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "With a specialty in cognitive and behavioral therapy. I may be able to undo the work, depending on how the control personality was laid in."
"I want you to give it your best shot," said Elizabeth. "No one deserves that."
"I won't be able to do it alone," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "Elizabeth, you're the only telepath on Atlantis who's even close to the level of ability needed for this."
"I thought you were just a high-grade diplomatic telepath," said Rodney accusingly. "Oh, God. How did I get drawn into a conspiracy against Psi Corps? They could kill me!"
"They will not," said Teyla. "Have you not trusted us to protect you on missions?"
"That's different!" Rodney's mouth opened and closed several times. "That's out there, with guns and Wraith and other dangerous things, not with Psi Cops who can turn my genius inside out any time they want."
"That's not going to happen, Rodney," said Elizabeth. "Do you trust me?"
"Well, yes, you, but--" started Rodney.
"It's not going to happen," said John. "Jeez, hasn't Elizabeth earned even a little trust?"
"Elizabeth has, but not Heightmeyer," said Rodney. "She--"
"I've thrown my lot in with Elizabeth and John," said Dr. Heightmeyer. "I'm as culpable as anyone else if PsiCorps finds out what we've done."
"Great. Just great." Rodney flung his hands up. "We're all doomed."
The last person through after Colonel Everett and the Marines was Alfred Bester. He walked up to Elizabeth, smiling pleasantly, his hands clasped behind his back. "Dr. Weir," he said. "So good to see you again. We'd been wondering what you were up to all this time."
"Trying to survive, Mr. Bester," said Elizabeth, nodding at him. "It's comforting to know that we were remembered during our absence."
"How has Major Sheppard been working out for you?" he asked. "So regrettable, the loss of Colonel Sumner."
"I've convinced him to see things my way," said Elizabeth. "If you'll excuse me, Mr. Bester, we are under imminent threat of attack."
"Of course, of course," he said. "I think I'll just see how Ms. Winters is doing next. Just point me in her direction."
"Ms. Winters is in the infirmary," said Elizabeth. "Unfortunately, the only telepaths we've discovered in this galaxy are the Wraith, and she was injured in the latest attempt to scan their minds for intelligence about the situation. She's been catatonic for several days now."
"Oh, that is a shame," said Bester, frowning slightly. "Are you certain she's completely unresponsive?"
Elizabeth felt him begin to scan her, and glanced at Bester curiously. He smiled blandly, probing at her mind and slipping through the cracks in her first layer of mental shields. "Dr. Heightmeyer assures me the condition is temporary," she said. The shields Teyla had helped her build, though, stayed firm.
"I'm relieved to hear it," said Bester. "Well, then, I'll just go and see how Major Sheppard is doing. I'd hate to see him injured during the invasion when you've started to bring him back into the fold."
"The Corps is Mother; the Corps is Father," said Elizabeth, nodding slowly at Bester. "I feel confident that Major Sheppard will come to realize that we have nothing but his best interests at heart."
"Of course, of course," said Bester. "If we all survive, that is."
"Of course," said Elizabeth, as Bester smiled again and walked away.