The Babylon Project

"I'm here to save your butts. Next time, show a little gratitude."

Alfred Bester, chastising the Babylon 5 senior staff.

Alfred Bester was a senior Psi Corps officer and one of the more notorious Psi Cops in Level 12 Investigations.[3]


Early life[]

Stephen Kevin Dexter was born in August 2189 at a secret location while his parents, Matthew and Fiona Dexter, resistance leaders both, were in hiding. "Little Stee" as they like to call him was named for Stephen Walters, his godfather and a trusted friend of his parents. Unbeknownst to anyone other than the late resistance founder Monkey, Little Stee's grandfather (Fiona's father) was none other that the Psi Corps Director Kevin Vacit, himself a powerful but unregistered telepath.

Shortly after emerging from hiding, Little Stee was with his parents and Walters at the Styx Hotel fortress when the Psi Corps picked up one of their people, Jenny Winters, in the nearby town. A deep scan quickly turned up the location of the Styx as their eastern base of operations.

During the ensuing raid, Fiona and Matthew entrusted Little Stee to Walters and sent him to lead a group out to escape though the caves while they set the self-destruct. After making it out into the woods, Walters leaves the baby with a young girl named Valerie in the basement of an abandoned house with orders to stay and wait for him to return. Walters makes his way back to the stronghold through the woods swarming with Bloodhound Units in an attempt to help Matthew and Fiona. The pair had been caught in a crossfire, and Walters only arrives in time to feel their mindscreams as they perish together. Distraught, Stephen makes his way back to the abandoned house to find the basement empty and no sign of either the baby or the girl. Though Walters didn't know if Little Stee was alive or dead, he was certain that if he hadn't been killed then the Corps had him and would raise him as their own.

After the purges, having heard that his daughter had been killed, Vacit visited his baby grandson, determined that he could never be connected with either the Dexters or himself, renaming Little Stee "Alfred Bester" after the 20th Century science fiction author, whose writing Vacit admired for looking to a future still to be imagined.

Cadre Prime[]

Even from birth, Alfie's talent had been fully manifested which, combined with his rating as a strong P12, made him very special and rare telepath. Placed with other such children, Alfie was raised by the Corps with the other children in Teeptown's Alpha Quad cadre house.

In 2195, at six years old Alfie Bester had already grown to be something of an outsider within his cadre house, often made to play the blip in Cops'n'Blips. One day the more popular Brett agrees to play the blip with Al and the two take off for the statue of the grabber with Milla, Keefa and Azmun hunting them. As they close in on the statue, Bester sure that Brett will betray him blows sparks into his mind and glyphing so that his image is juxtaposed with Brett's and leave him in the doorway as he takes off for the goal, leaving Brett to be caught by the others who think Alfie is the one in the doorway. Later in class, the Grins come and take young Bester out, back to the place where he had betrayed Brett, telepathically making him relive the incident over and over. Drilling in the lesson that Brett, like all telepaths was his brother just as the Corps is mother and father.

Later Alfie is taken to see the ancient looking Director Vacit. When asked, Alfie says he wants to grow to become the best Psi Cop in the Corps. Bester feels something touch his mind and an impressed Vacit cryptically says that few others have noticed it before. Informing the young man that he'll soon be retiring and that the Corps will change under the control of his successors but that it is still of vital importance to telepaths and that he should always beware of shadows.

In 2201, Alfie now twelve and preparing to enter the Minor Academy was in his room with Brett when the Grins swept into the dormitories, ordering them and the other cadre children to strip before parading them outside in front of the older classes. They are driven into one of the assembly halls, where many others have been corralled together as the Grins begin to savagely rip apart their telepathic blocks, tearing out memories of shame and humiliation and glyphing them for all to see. The scans intensify as all present are made to experience the most unpleasant memories of their fellows until finally Bester snaps and fights back, taking up the telepathic call for them to stop. The others soon join together, shouting at the top of their minds for the Grins to stop it. When they finally do, the Grins proudly take off their masks and robes, revealing that they are in fact Teacher Hua, Teacher Roberts, Teacher Alverado, Nurse Childress - all of their carers and teachers who had raised them from infancy. Hue tells them that the children are all of Cadre Prime, just as they were. With that, he and the other carers drop their defenses and invite the children to do to their teachers what had just been done to them, sharing their minds and memories. With the initiation complete, Bester and the other new members of Cadre Prime are dressed and at last receive their very first pair of gloves. Bester, still stung by the betrayal of Hue and the others, determines that he can never trust individuals ever again. Only the Corps can be trusted: The Corps is mother, the Corps is father.

Paris Adventure[]


Academy Days[]

In 2208 Alfred was teamed with cadets Elizabeth Montoya, Thuy Nhan and Vetsch for their final grade field test and after a long journey in blackout conditions were dropped into some remote plains that they would later learn to be the Altai Federation. With no hint as to what their location or objective might be, the group hunted around for a while until they picked up the trail of a blip, speeding away in a car. Montoya instantly gave chase on foot, with Bester close at her heels; keeping up the pursuit for several hours before the trail grew cold, leading to a nearby river with no sign of where it had emerged on the other side.

After bedding down for the night, Bester was awoken by Montoya who had found the car submerged about half a mile downstream. After rousing the others they followed a trail that led to the small town of Tuula. This presented a much more significant challenge as the blip would be much harder to track with a few thousand minds to use as cover, compared to the deserted open country. Bester then realized that the point of the test wasn't to prove they could catch a blip but prove they could be Psi Cops, part of the Corps and lead the group to the local MetaPol station house to report that a blip had been tracked to that area. The Psi Cop revealed himself as the blip and congratulated the team in passing their test. All four spent the night celebrating together at a local bar before retiring to a motel, where Alfred and Elizabeth spent the night together for the first time.

By 2209, the pair were still a couple, having managed to sneak away together here and there, either on leave in Geneva or when their respective roommates were away. After Bester told her that he'd had their DNA checked and found that they were genetically compatible by Psi Corps standards, Elizabeth confided in Alfred that she wanted to travel and see places like Mars, Kalevala, Narn and Centauri Prime and didn't like the idea that she needed the Corps' approval or permission to live her life the way she chose, including having children with Alfred, even if that was what she wanted too. Three weeks later, shortly before the final exams for entering the Psi Cop internship program, Elizabeth, still not happy with a life in the Corps and having found out that nobody who had qualified as a Psi Cop had ever left the Corps decided that if she was ever going to be able to leave, it would have to be now. After packing what she could carry, Liz comes to tell Alfred she loves him and she wants him to leave with her, escape to the outer worlds beyond Psi Corps' grasp where they could live free together.

Bester, torn at being forced to choose between Elizabeth and his beloved Corps agreed to meet up with her later in the park before leaving. When she saw him, her joy quickly turned to heartbreak as she saw he had betrayed her, reporting her intentions to the Corps. Having her arrested and sent away to a re-education camp.

Al Bester, Psi Cop[]

After graduating, Bester was admitted into MetaPol and was assigned as an intern along with Anne Mallory under Olivia Vong. Al served with distinction and was cited for showed outstanding courage under fire. After his internship ended Bester's first assignment was to the St. Petersburg office where he earned an exceptional arrest record, making Lieutenant in just under four years. His record at the time also showed two official complaints from civilian for his excessive use of force, though both individuals were convicted of aiding and abetting blips.

As Bester's career progressed, he served at a number of postings across Earth and while his record spoke for itself his reputation often preceded him, prompting concern in a number of his superiors. Of particular note was Commander Geoffrey de Vries who had Bester transferred from his command purely because the young man made him nervous. Though for his part Bester would say of de Vries that he was a good man, other senior MetaPol officers considered him to be somewhat timid for a Psi Cop.

In 2222, Bester now a well-regarded and successful Psi Cop after a three-month hunt Bester tracked and captured the rogue Johnathan Stone to his home among a Polynesian community in New Zealand. Though his people tried to protect Stone, the blip came forward and surrendered rather than see them hurt. It was then that Bester detected a familiar psi signature in Stone's mind; Stephen Walters, The Black Fox. The only remaining resistance leader who had survived the '89 purges had been there recently, and Stone had sacrificed his freedom to buy Walters time to escape. A brutal and deep scan of Stone eventually gave Bester the lead that he needed. Walters had gone to Mars.

Hunting on Mars[]

After convincing his superior to allow him to personally follow up on this new lead on the Psi Corps' most wanted, Bester left for the Mars colony.

After a rather bumpy landing, Alfred accompanied by fellow Psi Cop Erik Andersen disembarked at the Syria Planum city spaceport and were greeted by MetaPol officers Faren McCleod and Roxanna Durst who took them to meet with the Corps station chief for the colony, Judit Uhl. Uhl was less than helpful, painting a picture of a colony with two million people spread across an entire planet with a mere forty Psi Cops to police them for rogues and little support forthcoming from either Earth Dome or the military. She makes it clear that while Bester is free to waste as much as his own time as he likes, futilely searching for rogues in the Martian wilderness, she has no intention of providing any support that is not required of her.

After securing some transportation and a list of colony settlements from Uhl, Bester and Andersen set about narrowing down the most likely place to pick up a lead on the underground. Though the sheer number of settlements appears hopeless to Erik, Bester reasons that no settlement on Mars could possibly be totally independent and that even though they may be hiding out in the hinterlands, they must have lines of supply and a source of revenue. Furthermore, the most valuable commodity the resistance would have for barter would naturally be their Psi talent and since the ones most likely to trade what they need to live in return for illegal scans would be Mars's criminal underworld, Bester chose to start their hunt in the major population centres, beginning right there at the Syria Planum colony.

Before long, Bester and Andersen find themselves at a local casino where there's a man named Cheo known to be uncannily good at winning poker. They arrive just in time to see that McCleod and Durst had gotten there first, confirming Al's suspicion that Uhl's supposed disinterest was a lie and the local office intended to claim the capture of Walters for themselves. Bester and Andersen hang back and observe as the two local Psi Cops question Cheo and to their surprise, perform a brutal and very illegal scan in full view of the public, though from the reactions of others in the casino this did not appear to be an unusual occurrence. Al, who had been quietly monitoring Cheo's surface thoughts by line of sight got the lead as soon as the two cops pulled it out of his mind; a telepath named Thurston Chandler at 12 Lowell Avenue, New Harappa settlement.

Arriving by train, Bester and Andersen quickly make their way up the side of the roofed off canyon and along the cliff face avenues from East Street to Lowell Avenue. As soon as they approach the domicile they're fired on by unseen assailants, catching them in a crossfire. Al and Erik react quickly and after a brief exchange of PPG fire they had taken down their mundane attackers and find an unconscious Chandler within the apartment, along with none other than Durst and McCleod.

McCleod had been shot but not by them and Al brings an Inco-operative Durst with a mind flash. After a brief questioning, Durst reveals that the assailants that had shot at them were with Barsoom Autonomous, the Martian independence organization that Uhl and most of her officers were unofficially involved with. Durst claimed than she and McCleod had been trying to get to Walters first so that Bester would not discover the local office's involvement with Martian politics and disgrace the Corps, but Uhl had tipped off BA to the lay the ambush. Durst further explains that her orders to take out the blips first did not come from the local office but from Department Sigma, the widely rumored but very secretive "black box" operation within the Corps.

Once Bester has ripped the information, they need from Chandler's now ruined mind he makes a deal with Durst; Sigma's support and manpower in raiding the resistance stronghold in exchange for its location. Durst agrees and secures them an ATV while McCleod is taken to the local infirmary and drive through the night out into the outer lowlands. By dawn they're met by the heavily armed contingent from Sigma, led by Natasha Alexander herself. With the agreement that Sigma's involvement is not to be disclosed, Alexander agrees to allow Bester to participate and take credit for the raid. They storm the buried complex, capturing or killing everyone inside. In the midst of the intense fighting, Bester comes across the fatally wounded Walters; his body pinned by debris, one arm severed at the elbow and one leg hopelessly broken and twisted. Even in his weakened state, Walters instantly recognizes the telepathic signature of the Psi Cop as Little Stee, the lost son of Fiona and Matthew. Walters confronts Bester, with the truth of his parentage. Bester, who had been raised to believe his real parents had been killed in a bomb planted by the Dexter's flies into a rage, emptying his PPG's Energy Cap into Walters. As the fighting dies down Andersen finds Bester collapsed and in a fugue state by Stephen Walters's body, his fist still clenched tight around his spent PPG, unable to let go.

Looking Beyond the Veil[]

Department Sigma[]

Lyta and Beta Colony[]

Revenge on Ganymede[]

Bester on Babylon 5[]

In 2258 Bester was in pursuit of a powerful telepath named Jason Ironheart, who had been the victim of illegal genetic and drug experiments by the Psi Corps in an attempt to create a powerful super-telepath, a P-20 or beyond. With Kelsey, he intended to use a "safe word" to subdue him. While on Babylon 5, Bester exhibited a polite and urbane manner as a tool that allowed him to easily build rapport with and manipulate others. Bester was really cold, manipulative and calculating in pursuit of his goals. He convinced the senior staff that Ironheart was dangerous and scanned Talia Winters to make sure she had not had contact with him. He also kept track of the senior staff as they found leads. At one point, he suspected a "drill" was actually an escape attempt and found Ironheart being helped by Winters and Sinclair. He immediately joined with Kelsey to send the safe word, but Sinclair knocked him out, allowing Ironheart to escape. Afterwards, in Sinclair's office, Bester was forced to agree to a false statement, as he lost Kelsey in the incident and would not be able to explain it. He bid Sinclair farewell by saying "be seeing you."[4]

On March 14, 2259 (1015 EST), Bester, through torture of an escaped telepath, became aware that escaped telepaths were using Babylon 5 as a hub to coordinate escape from the Corps. He went to B5 to get cooperation from Sheridan and the staff. He also met with Winters again in order to cultivate a better working relationship and ask her to report back any information about escaped telepaths and any help they might be receiving. Through intel from the staff, he was led to an area in Downbelow where he found a captured Winters with the telepaths. The telepaths, along with Winters, joined hands and combined their telepathic powers to fool even the very powerful Bester into believing that Winters had helped him kill all the telepaths. Satisfied that the situation had been handled, Bester left without question.[5]

In 2260, Bester traveled to B5 again in order to track down a dust dealer to prevent it from getting into alien hands. At the same time, he wanted to get a read on the command staff. He was surprised to find that Sheridan this time had Minbari telepaths present to prevent him from probing their minds. He agreed to take a telepath suppressant for the sake of the stated mission and worked with Garibaldi successfully in finding a shipment of dust and dealer Lindstrom. He hoped that his colleagues would arrive in time to help scan the command staff's minds, but they left quickly.[6]

Bester eventually agreed to work with Captain John Sheridan at several points during the second Shadow war. He learned that his pregnant lover, Carolyn Sanderson, was abducted for use in the Shadows' ships. Bester decided to go outside the Corps and tricked Sheridan into rescuing her and the 99 other telepaths, by telling Sheridan the ship contained Shadow "weapons." Pretending to be stranded in a Stealth Starfury, he drew their attention and allowed them to tow him to the station. As he predicted, he was very distrusted, but was able to convince them to go out to Sector 500 by revealing his suspicions of Shadow interference in Earthgov. He went with them on a White Star and helped locate the transport in hyperspace. Further, he sensed the Shadow vessel and sent it away telepathically (and discretely). Sheridan was able to capture the transport and bring it back to B5. Before leaving the station, he asked the crew to take care of Sanderson.[7]

In 2261, after the end of the Shadow War, Bester returned to Babylon 5. He informed the station's leaders of a President Clark plan to turn the public opinion against the station, sending a full squadron of six Stealth Starfury to attack a group of loyalist's Starfuries, in exchange for them carrying to Z'ha'dum, in search of technology to heal his lover. However, Lyta Alexander triggered the planet self-destruction before they arrive. Bester, speaking to a still frozen Sanderson, promised to made them pay for that.[5]

However, after Michael Garibaldi was captured during an attack by the Shadows on the station, Bester was able to secretly recover and capture him in turn. Bester had become aware of an anti-telepath conspiracy and decided to try and use Garibaldi to expose it. Bester subjected him to subtle reprogramming in order to use him as a sleeper agent. He accentuated traits of paranoia and distrust of authority, correctly believing that the conspiracy would view Garibaldi as a prime recruit once alienated from his friends and work.

The wealthy industrialist William Edgars, the plot's mastermind, believed that a civil war among humanity would be counterproductive no matter how totalitarian the current regime. Edgars insisted that Garibaldi draw out Sheridan before he would bring Garibaldi fully into his confidence.[8] Garibaldi, not suspecting why he was so driven to find out the innermost secrets of the plot, betrayed Sheridan to agents of the corrupt President Clark. Edgars then revealed that his pharmaceutical company, Edgars Industries, had perfected a lethal virus which would attack telepaths' unique genes. Any infected telepath would quickly die without regular doses of the antidote they had also created. This would reduce telepaths to a slave race and avert the war which many normals and telepaths believed loomed on the horizon. After learning this, Garibaldi entered a fugue state, and alerted Bester and the Psi Corps. The Corps murdered William Edgars and captured the only known samples of both the virus and antidote. Bester came to Garibaldi, still locked in his robotic paralysis, and revealed the details of the brainwashing and the deception. He removed the commands and left Garibaldi to cope with the realization that he had betrayed everyone he knew on all sides.[9]

It was later revealed that, even with the programming removed, Bester had left in place an 'Asimov' - adapted from the first two of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics - knowing that Garibaldi would likely murder him on sight if not prevented from doing so.[10][11] Lyta Alexander eventually agreed to remove the Asimov from Garibaldi's mind, once he had helped her destroy the Psi Corps.[12]

Bester went to visit Sheridan after he turned himself in at Earth Dome following the conclusion of the Civil War. Bester turned on a device to disable recording devices and, after a bit of banter, demanded to know if Sanderson was among the telepaths, he used to disable the Earthforce fleet. He was relieved to hear she was still on Babylon 5 and will be transferred once things settle down. At the end of the conversation, Sheridan implied he knows the Psi Corps plans to take over the government, but Bester dismissed the idea.[13]

Bester got a call from Captain Lochley for help with Byron's compound of telepaths. He gladly made the trip to B5 to provide assistance for capturing the telepaths who had closed themselves inside their compound. He countered their trick of making the B5 workers think there was a bomb inside the compound so the men could work. He then came under fire from the other telepaths outside and called for bloodhound back-up.[14] With jurisdiction of the situation given to him by President Susanna Luchenko, he proceeded to forcefully hunt down the telepaths, with some of his people fired on. He insisted to command staff that communication with Byron was fruitless since he could not be trusted and sabotaged Sheridan's effort to do so. When Sheridan obtained agreement from Earthgov to get jurisdiction back, Bester decided to contest the meeting where Byron and some telepaths gave themselves to B5 crew. A firefight ensued, and a volatile chemical spill forced a cease-fire. Bester watched as Byron decided to set off an explosion, killing the telepaths. This shook him, as he believed Byron only needed to be reasoned with and they were not supposed to fight each other like that. He admitted to Sheridan that he did not understand what happened and left.[11]

After the Telepath War[]

Somehow, Bester survived the Telepath War escaping and hiding but was wanted for war crimes that he committed. He spent several years on the run before moving to Paris, France. He fell in love with a local businesswoman named Louise. But Michael Garibaldi eventually tracked him down. Bester was brought before the war crimes trial and was tried in France for his crimes. He was sentenced to life in prison and subjected to the Sleeper drugs that deprived him of his telepathic abilities. He then spent the next 10 years in a maximum-security prison in Teeptown.

Shortly after the disappearance of John Sheridan in 2281, in the wake of the Telepath War and the dissolution of Psi Corps, the new Psionic Monitoring Commission replaced Teeptown's old damaged statue to William Karges with a new bronze memorial featuring Fiona, Matthew, and their "lost son" Stephen, as a symbol of hope and a reminder of the sacrificed made in the name of freedom. Alfred Bester watched the dedication ceremony from his cell, knowing he was the only person left who knew what had happened to that baby and was amused by the irony. That night, the 91 year-old hated war criminal finally passed away in his sleep, found the next morning with his crippled left fist free and unclenched for the first time in decades.

After Bester was buried, Garibaldi came around and left something at his grave... a wooden stake.[15]

Family Tree[]

Jack O'Hannlon
(See: Lyta Alexander's Family Tree.)
| Unnamed Female--+--Unnamed Male
|____________ |
| | |
| | |
| Kevin Vacit--+--Ninon Davion
|___________________ |
| |
Fiona Temple--+--Matthew Dexter
Alisha Ross-------+-------Alfred Bester-------+-------Carolyn Sanderson
| |
______|______ |
| | |
| | |
Unnamed Son Unnamed Daughter Unborn Child

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Bester was slated to appear in the Crusade episode "Value Judgements," written by Fiona Avery, on the run from the authorities and being sought by Garibaldi's agents. The episode would have shown him encountering the crew of the Excalibur, who require a powerful telepath to open a lock that responds to powerful telepathy. By the end of the episode, Bester would have escaped once again, with Garibaldi's agents still at his heels.
  • Prior to creating the character of Bester, J. Michael Straczynski originally wrote the part of Knight Two with Walter Koenig specifically in mind. As it would happen, in early 1993 Koenig suffered a heart attack and would still be recovering from surgery when "And the Sky Full of Stars" was due to start shooting later in September. Straczynski initially tried to have the shooting postponed to accommodate Koenig's recovery time, but when this did not pan out, Straczynski instead promised to write another new character, which became Alfred Bester.[16]
  • The character's name Alfred Bester was likely an homage to the author of The Demolished Man, the first Hugo award winning novel[17], a story about telepaths who are charged with preventing murders.


Babylon 5
Signs and Portents
The Coming of Shadows
Point of No Return
No Surrender, No Retreat
Wheel of Fire