londo_mollari: (Londo)
Vir starts to categorize Londo's mornings after quite early on in his tenure as Londo's aide.

There are the mornings where Londo is still in bed, groans about his head and usually needs two cups of hot jaala to start using words with three syllables instead of two. (Never just one: Londo Mollari is not a one-syllable man.) Once he gets past cursing Vir for interrupting the dubious repose of sleep, he tells Vir that the jaala is good and starts to hum one of his favourite arias. These mornings usually mean Londo has had a good time at the casino; he might have won or lost at gambling, but he definitely had a good time, probably kissed a girl, and possibly conned Mr. Garibaldi into lending him more money.

Those mornings grow increasingly rare; once the war starts, they vanish altogether.

Then there are the mornings where Londo isn't in bed at all, but on the sofa, in his clothes from the previous evening, and when Vir comes in, he says something about Vir taking the morning off. This means he spent the night working, or brooding over Mr. Morden and his allies, the war, G'Kar, Lord Refa, or whatever else there is to brood about. Invariably, Vir tries to talk with him about it and tries to find that opening that will allow him to change Londo's mind on... well, on just about everything. Invariably, Londo changes the topic on him.

Vir doesn't miss those mornings when they vanish together with the Shadows and Vorlons. Two years later, on one of his visits to Centauri Prime which he isn't supposed to make quite that often, he finds himself received by Londo early in the morning. The imperial white Londo wears is crumpled, and Vir understands, with a terror that rivals the sun darkening over Centauri Prime, that those mornings are back.

Finally, there are the mornings where Vir is the one who is still asleep, and the babcom rings, or Londo impatiently knocks at the door, or sweeps into the room and pulls Vir out of bed. The reason is invariably a catastrophe and a plan Londo has to contain it, and after Londo explains, they tend to end up taking breakfeast elsewhere. "No empire is saved on an empty stomach," says Londo, and Vir is happy to agree, to finally be able to agree again with Londo.

These mornings start when Londo called him to Centauri Prime in the days of Cartagia. They do not end until Londo returns to Centauri Prime for good. Vir will never stop missing them.

One morning has no category on its own. It is the morning of Londo's ascension to the throne. Londo has insisted that Vir leaves with Sheridan, Delenn and G'Kar. He wants no one there to witness the event at all, he has said, and Vir, having practice in this, has found a way to obey and yet to disobey at the same time. So he remains for one more day, but not in the Royal Palace. Instead, he goes to one of the destroyed areas in the capital, where the bombs from the Alliance left so many dead and wounded, and helps with the installment of a shelter, with the burial of the bodies. And when the bell tolls, early in the morning, once for every step Londo takes alone, in the ceremony he had not wanted anyone to have to endure, Vir, burying the dead, starts to cry as he has not on all the mornings before and will not on all the mornings to come.
londo_mollari: (Londo)
Great Maker. At last, I thought, a topic which allows me to revel in the glory of Centauri opera, surely the most magnificent music written and performed anywhere in the galaxy, to talk about the redoubtable Bihati as opposed to the flashy and yet strangely compelling Dorva, to hum a few arias myself, as I am prone to do... and then Vir tells me that this question is meant to be answered by choosing a human song. Now, I find humans to be one of the most charming races in the universe. But this limitation smacks of infuriating short sightedness nonetheless, yes?

However, be that as it may, I, for my part, treasure the accomplishments of aliens and thus am familiar with some of the musical contribution humanity has produced. Why, in a most humiliating hour, I found my spirits lifted by a woman named Gloria Gaynor, and sung the human ballad of Jessie's Girl with young Lennier! But fitting as these tunes were for the occasion in question, I would not name them as choices to encompass my entire existence. Nor would I name a ditty a certain Narn aquaintance of mine insisted on singing when we were both in the process of being slowly roasted to death in a transport tube, though it has the questionable honour of containing my name.

No, after considering the wealth of human music, a minstrel with the enchanting name of Aimee Mann seems to sum up my existence best in a tune named Wise Up, though the title does sound like advice coming out of the less than musical mouth of my wife, the lady Timov. Ah, well. It does add the disquieting touch of realism a melodic summary of my life cannot do without, yes?
londo_mollari: (Playful by camelwithbrush)
I think I shall finally give in to Vir's enthusiam and visit Minbar. He seems to believe it would have an immediate beneficient effect on me, as a cup of hot jaala does on a morning where the tribute the gods demand for an evening with brivari consists of a particularly nasty hangover. Just why he sees the Minbari and Minbar as the equivalent, however, is beyond me.

"Vir," I told him recently, "if the Minbari were so incredibly soothing, they would hardly have established an Empire, yes? One does not do this through peaceful persuasion. Even at the days of our utmost power, we took care never to anger the Minbari. This should tell you something."

"But Londo," he protested, "it is just the Warrior Caste who..."

Clearly, he has been exposed to far too much propaganda while on that planet. "And just who was fighting the Warrior Caste during their recent civil war, eh?" I demanded. "Who usually tells them to go to war if they are not busy rebelling, hm? Great Maker, Vir, consider only the Minbari we know. I would rather have Neroon as my enemy than Delenn and Lennier at her side. My chances of survival would be infinitely better with that pike-swinging dolt, yes? No, Vir, the Minbari are no more walking around glowing with soul-cleansing serenity than we do. Which is most fortunate, for I have decided to visit after all, and I would not do so if I were afraid I would be forced to meditate and change my life as soon as my feet touch Minbar's soil."

"Londo," he sighed, "you are driving me insane."

"This should bring you into harmony with the rest of the universe," I replied, and set upon making travelling plans. Not immediate ones, no. But Delenn mentioned the other day that she and Sheridan are planning to live on Minbar once his first year in office is over. Clearly, they will need some distraction after being married solely to each other for an entire year, and a visit on my part would be beneficent for all parties concerned. One does one's best to demonstrate helpfulness within the new alliance, yes?

So I shall visit Minbar in the year to come.
londo_mollari: (LondoTimov)
Great Maker. "Significant other"? What an odd human phrase! Especially if it is meant to refer to marriages and love affairs. I dare say one's husbands and wives are often significant to anyone but one's wives and husbands, yes? And as for love, if it is love, one hardly sees the object of one's devotion as "other", especially when in the first throws of adoration; suns, moons, stars and other brightly shining centers of gravity are the usual comparisons as far as I recall.

In any case, the question assumes that we show the same qualities in each of our relationships. This, my friends, is nonsense of the kind not seen since the Vorlon ambassador and his endlessly annoying exercises in cryptic utterings were heard on this station. I am a married man - and in fact a divorced man as well - , and I was happy enough to be graced by the affection of a beautiful lady in the autumm of my life. Now, I dare say that to each of my wives, my worst quality was something different. All of my marriages were arrangements between houses, as is the custom on Centauri Prime, and yet I believe only Daggair felt she had still married beneath herself, or rather, that she was led to believe the future head of House Mollari would be a more adroit and ambitious courtier. I pause to contemplate the irony, given my current position. But what she undoubtedly sees as my worst quality was the decision to divorce her just when fate finally brought me into a position she always wanted to share.

Mariel, on the other hand, while also ambitious, would choose another trait of mine to single out. While the divorce made her furious as well, she is young, beautiful and easily in a position to try other possibilities. No, what my dear lady Death begrudges most is, if I have to speculate, my refusal to make her a widow instead of a divorcee by not dying as the result of her charming gift. She would have looked most becoming in a widow's white and blue silk, and besides, none of us bear failure well, eh?

Now my remaining wife, the Lady Timov, is quite able to tell you herself what my worst qualities are, amply and at length. The words "fool" and "drunkard" will undoubtedly be mentioned somewhere. But I shall be frank and admit that I know quite well where the real injury lies. For Timov did not wish to become my wife any more than I, at that time, wished to become her husband. We were both still very young then, and nursing our grievances for the ways that had led us to obeying our fathers. We started with an argument in our wedding night, and I do not believe we have finished it yet. Perhaps we never will. And yet I cannot pretend that she wanted me to be more ambitious, more powerful, or even dead, for Timov wanted none of those things, and still does not. Soon after we were married, perhaps during that first argument, perhaps later, she told me that she had heard of what my family tried so hard to surpress: of my love for a dancer, which led to a sudden marriage and then a divorce as my family's fury descended on me in the form of an ultimatum. "You did not have the courage to stand by what you felt," Timov said. "I cannot think of something that disgusts me more."

And there we have it, or at least a part of it. I was young then, at least; when I met my darling Adira, I was a washed-up old man dreaming of better days, and it still is a miracle to me that she chose to love me. If she had not died, she would be at my side now; I wanted to ask her to marry me when she returned to the station, and to hell with the gossip on Centauri Prime this would have caused. But Adira deserved to be loved first and foremost, more than anything else in the life of the man she honoured with her affection, and this I could not have done. If I was capable of such a thing, I would have left the station a long time ago, following her, leaving my office to Vir or whomever else the Royal Court would have appointed. Sometimes, I dream of doing this even now, though she is gone; but this would be the worst kind of desertion. My world might be more powerful now than it was for a long, long time, but the path to this power was bloody, and I know on whose hands this blood is; I know it better than anyone. I know the many enemies we have, and how easy it would be to create even more. The path through peace is harder than the one to war ever was, and it if there are not many people left to captain the beautiful and fragil vessel that is Centauri Prime, whose fault is that? To leave, to run away from prophecies and nightmares in order to seek personal happiness - that is the one betrayal I swear I shall never commit.

This, then, is it: my worst quality as a lover.
londo_mollari: (Bugwar by crazybee)
Some people who shall remain confined to sad gossip seem to believe I am irrational about this.

But I ask you, my friends: what possible purpose do insects serve on a space station? They are ugly, vile, disgusting, and I am not talking about the Pak'Ma'ra. No, I mean the little crawling wastes of space which for some reason, undoubtedly connected to the universe's attempt to inflict plagues on me, manage to find their way through vacuum and quaranteene procedures into this mass of steel that is supposed to represent the height of human technology. Bah. And naturally, they do not stay in any of the many sectors of Babylon 5 I would never dream of visiting, such as Ambassador Kosh's encounter suit, waste extraction, or Commander Ivanova's bed. No, these creatures of doom deign to visit my quarters.

I ask you: what was I to do? Wait until they decided they liked the way I had decorated and started to multiply, yes? Offer the hospitality of the great Centauri Republic?

I have used my sword for far worse purposes.


Dec. 4th, 2006 01:46 pm
londo_mollari: (HopefulLondo)
As a small boy, I had a nurse I was very fond of, for many reasons, not least because of the stories she told. One of them dealt with the way the Goddess Li rewarded a brave hero who had done her a service. She gave him a boon. "A dance," the goddess said. "When your hearts are worn out with weariness, only a dance will lift them, and I grant you this boon: you will always recognize the dancer."

This confused myself as a child, but then, my nurse had told me that confusion was the usual state of mortal beings when the gods talked to them. I did ask her for clarification, of course, and she said she always believed the hero had been promised he would find his true love. I accepted this until I found my father sitting by a window, alone, during one of the court receptions it was our duty to attend. "My shoes have grown tight," he said, "and I have forgotten how to dance." His voice was sadder than I had ever heard it before, or again. I did not quite understand what he meant at that moment, but thinking about it later, I recalled that old tale of my nurse's, and wondered whether the one did not explain the other, and whether the boon Li had granted had not been love, true or otherwise, after all, but the joy and passion of youth, which my father felt he had lost.

(Of course, then I wandered into a night club and fell in love with a dancer and married her on the spot, at which point I went from believing that of course the goddess must have meant recognising your true love to believing that there were no gods or true loves and that she had meant to curse the hero anyway.)

I have entered what I have reason to believe is the last third of my life now, and the old story, as most old stories do, keeps coming back to me; I am, after a all, a traditionalist. And thus I would like to suggest a third interpretation, for I believe that the Goddess, unpredictable and yet wise as women tend to be, granted something more precious than either of those assumptions. If you have eyes to see, she was telling the man who had, for some reason, gained her attention, and hearts to give, you will always recognize those who might accept them, be they a girl whose beauty is only rivaled by her sadness and bravery when she smiles at you from across the room, or a woman whose wit is as sharp as her tongue as you have better reason to know than most people, or a young man who for some reason remains determined to rescue you even if you do not wish to be rescued. Or another old fool who is your destiny, if anyone is. Give, and you shall be given in return.

And yet, I do not believe in the gods anymore, not really.

But I do believe I recognise their voices.


Nov. 20th, 2006 04:29 pm
londo_mollari: (LondoGkar)
The sun does not rise and set here; that, alas, is one of the downsides if you live on a space station. Now of course we Centauri admire sunrise and sunset for their aesthetic value, not like certain other people who insist on attaching divinity to them. But... there might have been a Centauri well past his youth and approaching dotage, if his actions are anything to go buy, who remembered a certain struggle involving a plant with a Narn of equal years, though with far less style, and involving a sunrise as well.

It might have been the case that this Centauri a few years later felt that, as a sort of truce with the Narn had been reached, that the entire argument back then had been extremely foolish. He might have wished to make a gesture without bringing up the exact incident, yes?

And so he might have said something along the lines of: "There is not much about Epsilon Three to recommend itself which I happen to know since I did visit the planet, as opposed to yourself. But it has just enough rocks and a depressing aura of martyrdom to make your feel comfortable. Let me introduce you to Draal."

Whereupon the Narn in question, being his usual quarrelsome self, would have replied: "What makes you think he would let you, of all the people, on the planet when Sheridan is only allowed to deal with him through intermediaries? Centauri arrogance is truly all-encompassing."

"Because I, of all the people, brought him to the blasted planet," would have been the obvious retort.

There might have been a trip, and some arguments about the Centauri's style of flying a shuttle, which in the process was slandered as an attempt at suicide. But in the end, it would have resulted in the Centauri and the Narn arriving just a few minutes before the sun was to rise on the northern half of the planet, and watching that sunrise together, in silence.

Only after the sun rose, the Narn, being a Narn, would have said: "You know, Mollari, it is actually the sunset which followers of G'Quan revere. But there are worse mistakes to make."

The Centauri would have tempted to reply that this trip was one of them, but would have remained silent, and thus would have discovered a twinkle in the Narn's remaining eye, which would have prompted him to realise he was being teased.

If, that is, such an event had taken place. Which I, as an official representative of the great Centauri Republic, firmly deny it has.
londo_mollari: (Default)
Great Maker. People who seek morals in stories are either idealistic youngsters or pontificating prophets, yes? If the gods had wanted me to recognize the moral of a story, they would have made me either of those. Bah.

But then again, I have not believed in the existence of our gods in many a year, and the late Cartagia’s determination to join their ranks has hardly helped the matter.

Very well. There are a few maxims I have found to be true, but they hardly provide staggering insight, and I very much doubt the word “moral” is the right term. Take the accumulation of power coinciding with the loss of one’s friends, for example. Now I know exactly what certain people on this station would call the moral in this principle: not to seek power at all. Naturally, they ignore that this wonderful recipe for virtue and clean hands means that power will be grabbed by those with less scruples, such as my former associate Lord Refa or that Terran imbecile Clark. I do not see myself as the most suited of power holders, no. Nor do I see myself as the worst, or as a coward who would run away.

No, the true lesson here is another: any man can sympathize with a friend’s misfortune. It usually leaves oneself feeling generous, righteously indignant on the friend’s behalf, or, depending on the nature of the friendship in question, even a little smug. Few beings of any species I’ve met could resist the temptation of saying “I told you so”.

But to sympathize with a friend’s success without turning into a sycophant, ah, that is the true trial. And few can pass it. If you do not believe me, look at the history of your own friendships, hm?


Oct. 22nd, 2006 11:15 am
londo_mollari: (Playful by camelwithbrush)
My father and my grandfather were not having the most amiable of relations, but one thing they agreed upon, one thing which became as essential as the air I breathed when I was growing up, was that House Mollari was in decline, that our ancestors would be ashamed of our current state, and that it was our duty to do something about this. Our House produced an Emperor once, after all, and now we were merely one of the noble houses moving on the outer circles of the Royal Court.

Now as a boy, I found this rather boring, though I did not doubt it was the truth. Briefly before my ascension at the age of sixteen, I found out that Mollari I., far from being that icon of dignity and success I had always assumed him to be, had what could be called - by me, not yourselves, dear readers, as I insist that only a member of House Mollari may utter such slander - a chequered career. He won his first renown not through fighting valour or legislative brilliance, but because as a comely young man, he caught the eye of Emperor Vahin's third wife, the beautiful - though aging - and insatiable Lady Gorla, who presented him to the Emperor. Vahin was rather taken by the young man himself. The official chronicles insist Vahin expired peacefully in his sleep, but if a letter by the Lady Gorla to the future Mollari I. is anything to go buy, the Emperor was far from sleeping; in fact, he was engaged in rather vital activities with the Lady Gorla and my illustrious ancestor when one of his hearts failed him. Frankly, I can think of worse ways to go, yes?

At any rate, my ancestor did not become Emperor after this, of course; that happened decades later. But he rather endeared himself to the Royal family and the various ministers by helping to disguise the circumstances of Vahin's demise and helping to console the Lady Gorla, who, her appetites not withstanding, had been deeply fond of the Emperor and even fonder of being the Empress as opposed to one of the previous Emperor's widows shoved of to some smaller palace. In short, he proved his diplomatic talents, and when the Republic needed a representative on the newly discovered home planet of the Drazi, he was chosen. There were still sniggers, of course; his nickname then was "the boytoy". By constantly underestimating him because of his origins, his enemies and rivals proved to be easy to surpass and remove, and a mere two decades later, he ascended the throne.

They even named a rather fine brand of brivari after him.

I am sure it is obvious by now he is my favourite ancestor, eh?
londo_mollari: (Default)
For this challenge, the reply is given from Londo’s early season 3 point of view, shortly after the episode Convictions:

As a person who shall not be named once pointed out to me, proving again his talent for stating the staggeringly obvious, we are on a space station. It is always night, yes? And while I have been known to while away the hours in a variety of pleasant ways in the past, my numerous duties as Ambassadors of the Centauri Republic have of late prevented me from doing so. There, you have a reply worthy of a Minbari in dullness. Bah.


Of course I still could visit the casino. I would in all likelihood win, but that is indeed the problem. Even if I were to cheat use my creativity in gambling, no one would report me to Mr. Garibaldi; I can see the fear in their eyes where once there was either amusement or patronizing contempt. In former days, I longed for that kind of change, but now that it is there, I find I have no taste for it. And thus I do not gamble anymore. Timov, were she aware of this, would be content. For all of five minutes, after which she would deduce the reason, and tell me her opinion of it in no uncertain terms.

There are, of course, politics. There are always politics. One of the various courtiers who now finds it useful to ally himself with House Mollari where in earlier times he pretended not to know the name of the Ambassador to Babylon 5 called me and confirmed what I had suspected: Refa is indeed in contact with Mr. Morden. And proposing yet another campaign. Is there anyone, humans and Minbari excepted, we are not at war at? I shall have to do something about this. Vir, were he to read these notes, would undoubtedly get that annoying glimpse of hope in his sad eyes and ask me whether this means I have seen the error of my ways. How he still clings to that kind of naivete while spending his days at my side is beyond me; in any case, my objection to Refa’s actions has nothing to do with this. It is simply common sense, yes? Start too many wars, and you will find yourself surrounded by enemies who just might see the sense in allying themselves against you.

I visited medlab the other evening, to see whether Lennier has recovered. He had. When I thanked him for saving my life, he murmured a polite nothingness under which lurked a chillingness that would have made Delenn proud. Well. It was not unexpected, and I assured him that there would undoubtedly be other occasions when he would not have to make the mistake of saving someone whose existence he so understandably disapproved of again. In any case, that took care of my intention of inviting him to dinner.

Not for the first time, I started to write a letter to Adira. I could record a message, I suppose, or even try to reach her through all the various channels that are open to me now... but then I would know, would I not? I would know whether or not she still wishes to speak to me. And thus a letter it was. This time, I reached three pages before I tore it up. Afer all, giving her her freedom was the one decision in recent years I have never had any doubts about was and remains good. Had she stayed, even as a free woman, she would always felt herself beholden to me. If she returns, it shall be of her own free will. When she returns. Ah, I am a foolish man, who should be too old for such nonsense, and yet I cannot but hope that she will.

There is still more than half of what has been deigned as the sleeping period of most people on this station left, and I cannot sleep. There is a fine brivari at my disposal, but instead I find myself drinking water. All this longing for water is undoubtedly G’Kar’s fault. Had he not insisted on spending hours during which we were slowly roasted serenading the prospect of a shared death instead of doing something as simple and logical as joinging our forces to accomplish an escape from that transport tube, I would not feel so utterly worn out and yet unable to rest now. I most certainly would drench myself in water.

He would have died. He truly would have died, rather than – bah. He is mad, yes? I shall not think of G’Kar anymore. I shall not. At any rate, I know how the both of us are to die, and it is many years from now. I could have told him that, of course, but that would have ended the evident joy he took from gloating about our predicament. Who am I to deny that self-styled martyr what little – but I shall not think of G’Kar any longer.

Reading the reports from Centauri Prime it is, then. Again. What a conscientious man I have become in my old age. Urza would laugh and –
Urza shall do nothing, ever again. I am looking at the sword that killed him now, at the hands who did.

But the Centauri Republic is no one’s ridiculed tourist attraction any more, yes? We are great, again, and are ruling the stars. That is what counts. It makes me profoundly happy, yes? There is no reason why I should not spend the rest of the night sleeping. None at all.


Oct. 12th, 2006 03:24 pm
londo_mollari: (HopefulLondo)
Our poets claim it is perpetual summer on Centauri Prime, but of course this is not true. We do have a regulated climate, and if one does not wish having to emigrate to another planet after a few centuries, changes of seasons are necessary; our ancestors realized this even before they defeated the Xorn.

However, it was summer when I finally prevailed on my father, who took me with him on a trip to one of the colonies. It was the first time I was to enter a space ship, as well as the first time I stepped on another planet. Curious as I was about the planet in question, it was the other prospect which excited me the most. Like everyone else on Centauri Prime, I was used to the occasional sight of ships on the horizon, small dots like birds in the sky; to be one of them seemed like a great adventure, and like most young boys, I was eager for adventure.

To my father, it was a fairly dull, routine trip on a passenger cruiser, shared by about twenty other Centauri. He grumbled a bit about the fall of House Mollari and said in the old days, we would have had our own ship and would not have to resort to sharing public transport, but then he dozed a bit, and I, after vainly waiting for attacks by Narn rebels or mysterious Minbari, was left to myself. I was far from bored, though. I found a window to look through and saw Centauri Prime falling back beneath us. It was an amazing sight for a child, and to me, it seemed scarely imaginable that this perfect bluish ball harboured everything I was used to. The vastness of space, unimaginable to anyone who has not seen it, the reality of it, something that really was infinite was striking, and somewhat indimidating. Suddenly I was afraid for my world, imagining it to be swallowed by all that darkness.

"How strange," sighed a voice next to me, and suddenly I became aware that there was a young lady, perhaps three years older than myself, standing near to me. I was soon to be fourteen, and had already changed my mind on girls, whom my friend Urza still regarded as interfering creatures instead of the mysteries worthy of exploration I had started to see them as. "How beautiful," I returned, and she looked at me, winked and smiled, understanding me quite well.

"I feel cold, though," she said. "In space. It's so different. At home, it is always warm. It's summer, after all."

"We are Centauri, yes?" I said, puffing myself up as boys are wont to do (though a certain wife of mine claims I never lost the habit). "We can share the heat."

I was still a boy, though, and thus I took my coat and put it around her shoulders instead of offering other ways to keep warm in space. Though I did stand quite close to her afterwards, and felt something stiring beneath my shirt without knowing quite what to do about it. Nothing else happened before my father woke up and summoned me to his side, but this shall always be one of my favourite summer memories; watching Centauri Prime from space, with a girl at my side, and in utter lack of knowledge of the future.


Sep. 30th, 2006 02:45 pm
londo_mollari: (Default)
Excerpt from the journals of Mollari II, written five years after his ascension to the throne

It is five years, today. Five years since fire and destruction came over Centauri Prime. I did the appropriate thing; I held the speech they wanted; they even allowed me to do some of the things I actually wanted to do, such as hear the petition of those survivors who are still in misery, declarations about our recovery notwithstanding. They think this will only benefit their goals, as it is bound to enhance the public anger, especially since the reception of such petitioners takes place in one of the Royal Palace's most ostentatious rooms, which makes the contrast between the poor and the nobility, especially myself, more glaring than ever.

To me, the ceremony is, among other things, a way to remind myself of just whose fault all of this is, which makes the other anniversary more bearable. Today, five years ago, after I saw my beautiful city in flames and heard the cries of my people, I lost the freedom I did not until that day realize I had, and became a slave. Hearing about lost fathers and sisters crippled for life demonstrates quite clearly that it is nothing less than what I deserve.

Bah. I sound like an old drunkard, stopping to sip the best brivari as if it were dishwater only to take great swallows of that even more addictive fluid, self-pity.

Mollari, I can hear G'Kar tell me, you are an old drunkard, and self-pity was always...

Ah, I miss G'Kar.

Still. Since I am a man who has taken a great deal of trouble to keep a great many secrets, it never stops to amaze me that they manage to remain hidden, just like the creature they bound me with does. When I am sitting on my throne, and petitioner after petitioner approaches me while the entire court watches, I want to yell at them: "Don't you see? It is right there, on my shoulder! Don't you hear my voice changing mid-sentence when it gives its orders? Do you not realize what you are looking at? This is not Londo Mollari, you fools, this is a husk, a puppet moved by other hands."

Now we Centauri are trained not to notice inappropriate behaviour in our superiors - or else my late predecessor, Cartagia, would have been locked up as soon as he made his first proclamation after his ascension, yes? - , but I remember, all too clearly, my visit to Minbar. The visit Vir always told me I should make, and which I made too late. Sheridan and Delenn had just arrived there, and they ordered me to go so I might hand over their poisonous gift. They both appeared to be somewhat distracted at first, but then we had dinner together. Delenn, surely one of the most clear-sighed women who ever lived and no-one's fool, looked at me and talked to me, and I felt the malignant creature at my throat stare back at her, its eye pulsating. It was directly in front of her, and yet she did not notice. Nor did she hear anything out of the ordinary in my voice, or if she did, she did not speak of it.

Vir used to hate the burden of my secrets, though he bore them for me. Little did we know then that apparantly the easiest method to keep something hidden, so deeply hidden that no one suspects, is to present it in plain sight.
londo_mollari: (Playful by camelwithbrush)
Hard as it may be to believe by certain professional revolutionaries: Londo Mollari of the House Mollari was not always the representative of the status quo. It is a law universally acknowledged that an adolescent must be in need of a rebellion, and I, too, once claimed that menacing and alluring state as my own. As a young Centauri, I did all those things young men of all the species and all the ages are want to do if they are in a position to afford them: I got into fights, I drank, I adored all the musicians my father and his wives hated, and I declared his every pronouncement to be tedious and unworthy to listen to. I also discovered the joys of sex and its many variations.

Unfortunately, I discovered this was as expected of a boy belonging to a noble house as his later reformation and ascendance to a state of sober responsibility. It was, dare I say it, tradition.

So clearly, my young self thought, or rather, did not think, for there were more feelings than thoughts involved, as the young are not famed for there rationality, clearly something more extraordinary was required. I just had no idea what it was. There was the fact I wrote poetry, but then again, some of our past Emperors had done so, and as long as one did insist on presenting oneself as a professional, nobody really objected. It was just declared to be, as the humans would phrase it, a "hobby" as opposed to a calling, and thus reduced to something safe and banal. "That's nice, dear," my mother declared when I announced I was considering writing a scandalously frank epic in free verse about life in the capital, and infuriated, I stomped off to next tavern. There, I pronounced those two universal declarations of youth, trascending all languages and species: "It's not fair!" and "Nobody understands me!"

However, this particular evening resulted in something genuinenly unusual. I met a dancer who took one look at me, said "whatever it is, it cannot be that bad" and proceeded to kiss me on the head. Consequently, I committed what was to be my ultimate act of rebellion. I fell in love, and asked the dancer in question to marry me.

There is a price for rebellion, you know. Well, actually there are two prices. One has to decide between them, and thus discover one's true nature. Either you are indeed willing to sacrifice the old life for the new, and leave behind everything but the one thing you desire... or your hearts are divided between themselves, and you are unwilling to leave everything for one thing. In which case the price you have to pay may just be the one thing you desire most, in addition to your belief in your own invincibility and lack of corruption. The second choice is commonly referred to as "growing up". Revolutionaries, as I have had intimate occasion to observe, never quite manage to do so.

I grew up.

But to this day, I have never stopped regretting it.


Sep. 11th, 2006 12:04 pm
londo_mollari: (Default)
The humans have a saying: Revenge is a dish best served cold. (Of course, they stole it from us.) I dare say it is true, at least for those instances when I avenged myself on someone else. Given the life I have lead, though, I have been the object of somone else's imagined or actually performed revenge far more often, and there was quite a bit of passion involved.

I heard G'Kar tell some other Narn about the futility of revenge and the endless cycle of hatred the other day. Later, I said to him: "You are a better person than I am."

"I know that, Mollari," he said, predictably.

"And yet I dare say revenge was essential for you to become the insufferable saint you are now."

"My whole life was necessary for this," he said cagily, but he knew very well what I had meant. You see, from the moment G'Kar invited me to a drink and toasted the Emperor while I sat frozen, knowing that there was an attack I had organized on a Narn outpost even as we spoke, from that moment onwards I had expected his retaliation. If he had been a Centauri, he would have challenged me to a duel, or slipped poison in my drink, depending on his temperament, and that would have been that. (Despite what certain humans call my "boastful nature", I know very well I would never have survived a physical fight with G'Kar. Why do you think I accepted Delenn's idea of making him my bodyguard?) I waited, and waited, and waited, and during all this time, I was afraid as well as, well, ashamed. I remember very well when I stopped fearing G'Kar. It was the day he took a drug that made him a telepath for a few hours, showed up at my quarters, proceeded to throw me through the room and then turned my mind inside out.

In a way, it was far worse than if he had killed me. But even while it happened, I knew it was what I had been waiting for. Afterwards, I never feared G'Kar again, even before I found out the entire incident had resulted in what he termed an epiphany for him. The next time I saw him, it was to arrange a revenge of my own, on Lord Refa, for which I needed his help. He asked me whether I really expected him to risk returning to Narn on my say-so, when it could be a trap for him as well as Refa.

"Yes," I said, and I did. Not just because he gained the freedom of two thousand Narn as well as Refa's death by this. Because we were even now, and knew each other too deeply to ever attempt deception again.

"To revenge and its uses," I said during the other, more recent conversation with G'Kar, raising my glass to him, and regarding me with the one eye Cartagia has left him with, he returned my toast, emptying the glass he held till the very last drop.
londo_mollari: (LondoTimov)
Humans are a charming people, truly, but clearly, they devised this institution to get around the fact they officially disapprove of torture and yet long to practice it every now and then. Our own guild of torturers, who since they got organized insist they should be called "pain technicians", certainly think so; I just received a petition from the leader of the guild to allow monogamy among their approved methods of punishing nobles who let themselves be caught in conspiracies (amateurs; they deserve no better), madmen (ditto) and people who talk in theatres. I am inclined to aquiesce to their request.

In any case, I never saw the sense in monogamy. If one gets married by others, as someone in my station almost inevitably does, the chance that at least one of the wives they choose for you turns out to be a companion of sorts is at least existant, whereas if they were limited to only one choice, they would be bound to inflict misery on their offspring; if one gets married by one's own romantic inclinations, the chance to inflict misery on one's self by the first attempt is as huge as the one to encounter trouble when offering alcohol to a Minbari.

Now, it has been pointed out to me that I divorced two of my three wives, but this should not be taken as a slander to the blessed institution of polygamy. After all, my remaining wife, the Lady Timov, would be the first to confirm any idea of the two of us living together in some kind of monogamous ideal just with each other would be bound to end in a tale so bloody and vicious that it would make the strongest Narn faint, yes? If my darling Adira would have survived and had done me the wondrous honour of marrying me, which I was intending to ask her to after her return to me, I would not have divorced Timov. That would have been gravely both discorteous and a coward's way to win our battles, and whatever else I am, I am not a coward. And thus I would have been living with two of the most remarkable ladies Centauri Prime has ever seen flourish on her soil, on those occasions at least when they would have deigned to live both with me and each other. Who, I ask you, would have traded a foolish limitation like monogamy for this prospect, hm?

Given the current situation and G'Kar's employment as my bodyguard, it occurs to me that I would have been living with them and G'Kar. Truly not an idea to be contemplated for the faint of heart, but then, any kind of marriage demans valour. Not, I hasten to add, that I would refer to the state of having a Narn inflicted on me as a state of marriage, although certain people who shall remain my good friend Sinclair have once called it thus; but it contributes to make my point. Monogamy is a torture at worst and an excuse for a lack of courage at most - bah. I shall have no part of it.
londo_mollari: (Default)
*excerpt from the Londo Mollari Chronicles, written in the fourth year of Mollari II.'s reign*

Being imprisoned in my own palace when I was the Prime Minister and Emperor-to-be is an indignity I could have done without. Little did I know at the time that those were to be my last hours of freedom. Of true freedom. I remember them so clearly now, and I would trade my throne and what illusory power I have in a heartbeat to get them back, those hours in a cell. I remember every single annoying noise G’Kar – who was imprisoned with me – made, and trust me, that Narn is neither discreet in sleep nor in any kind of relaxing activity. Oh, and he does not talk quietly, either, though I am aware one could accuse me of the same thing, yes? In any case, those hours, two days and a night at most, seem infinitely precious to me, and it vexes me that I cannot remember them all. There is a gap in my memory.

Maybe it was a dream, but I think at one point G’Kar and myself both saw a very bright light, and were rendered unconscious, and then I dreamt of things sweet and terrible. I thought I saw my dearest Adira again, stroking my head, and then I thought there were monstrous creatures, poking and prodding. But when I awoke, I was in the cell again, and G’Kar lay far away from me. (So much for poking and prodding monsters; clearly, he had an alibi.) To this day, I do not know what happened.

There is a way to find out, of course. The creature who whispers into my every thought now and controls my every move unless I drink myself into a stupor does not just transmit what I think to the Drakh Collective, if they deem it necessary. Presumably, it could also open the thoughts of the Drakh to me. Why not? I am their slave, after all, and will be until my death. They have nothing to lose and nothing to hide. I could simply ask.

But then I would know. And those last few days as a free man, the days I spent in the company of that irritating Narn who has become more important to me than anyone else alive, save Vir, those days could be spoiled by learning not even they were free of them.

I prefer to keep my memories as they are.
londo_mollari: (HopefulLondo)
Recently, Vir's cousin and his young lady love wrote to me - wrote, mind you, rather than used the interstellar broadcasting system. I found myself charmed and impressed, as well as reminded of my mother.

We Centauri tend to mention our fathers more often than our mothers; they are the ones in whose footsteps we are following, or not, as the matter may be. Whether we rebell against them or honour their wishes, it is our fathers we measure ourselves against. My father gave me my name and my position, and I have loved and cursed him for it in equal measure.

My mother, now, my mother gave me something different. She and my father had an eminently sensible arranged marriage; House Mollari had fallen on hard times due to certain events late in my grandfather's life, and thus my father was not able to afford another wife. I shall never know whether or not he had wished for one. I do know he and my mother were at peace with each other. But they were not each other's passion; of course not. We do not expect passion from marriages, unless we are, like Vir and his cousins, still innocent, and still so very young.

Nonetheless, my mother was a passionate woman. Once, as a little boy, I complained to her about having to attend a dull ceremony. I could not see the point; my father had spoken of duty and honor, but I saw only boredom, and that I would rather have spent the hours playing with my friends. My mother stretched out her hand, grabbed me by the chin and said: "Londo Mollari, this is not something you do for your father. It is something you do in service to the Emperor, and the Emperor is the heart of the people."

I looked at her, uncomprehending.

"Come with me," she said, and the summer heat not withstanding, she took me to see the city. She showed me the fountains and the sculptures, she took me to the market where real, live animals were sold, which was a rare thing in the capital, she showed me the space port and had me watch our ships lift from the ground, and I cried in excitement. She took me to the musician's quarter and made me listen to a blind man teaching his pupils how to make him see through their voices. At last, she took me to the Royal Palace itself, but not to the rooms I had been taken before, no, to the gardens. There, she knelt in her beautiful robes, took earth from a flower bed in her hands, and pressed into mine.

"This is Centauri Prime," she said. "It is the most beautiful planet in the universe. This, my son, is for you to love, and for love, no service is too hard."

It might have been my father who made me a nobleman, but my mother made me a true Centauri.

It was the best inheritance she could have given me.
londo_mollari: (Default)
Londo Mollari of the House Mollari does not have, or use, „lame excuses“. This is a vile slander spread by that pest of a woman, my former wife Daggair, in retaliation for our divorce. Bah.

Very well. I shall tell you the truth, yes? On the day I before married Daggair, something my father had insisted on since my marriage to Timov had not produced an heir yet, and besides had left him with the idea he had to prove that he could gain a noble wife for his son after having sold him for the rich one, on that day I enjoyed one of the universes more pleasant distractions; to wit, a came of cards. All games of chance are a challenge, but the true adventurer does not let himself be contained by something as dreadfully boring as any given set of rules. I have always seen it as my personal obligation to prove my creativity in this regard.

Unfortunately, I had a worthy opponent on that particular occasion. He anticipated a certain move I have since stopped using against Centauri. (The other races are another matter, especially the humans. They tend to assume because we look very much like them, our anatomy is identical as well. Why the Maker would have limited us to the one single attribute he gave them, I do not know, but there it is. Most of them still have not realized that we have six.) Alas, the way he chose to foil the move in question was to sit on my third brachiarte on the right, which had been engaged in collecting a card I thought I had a better use for than he did. He did not say anything, but he remained sitting where he was for the rest of the game.

Now, as opposed to a certain less than… balanced individual in a position of high rank, I never had any pretensions to divinity. Of course I ached through the next two or three days. And during my wedding night with Daggair, I might have said something to the effect that my failure to engage all six was not caused by a lack of charms on her side. I wanted to soothe the woman’s vanity, for gods’ sake!

Let this be a warning to every husband, especially in a marriage of convenience. Do not try to explain at all, eh? It only results in your former wife telling all and sunder that you used a “lame excuse” afterwards, and you’ll have to prove the agility of your attributes for the rest of your life.
londo_mollari: (Default)
Our good Captain Sheridan once accused me of being unable to spend five minutes without either yelling or laughing. (Of course, he never saw me attend a public function at the Emperor's court; believe me, I was quite capable of remaining entirely silent during those occasions, either due to blessed sleep - any member of a Noble House knows how to sleep standing, for how would we survive our Emperor's speeches, eh? - or for reasons of survival, as under the late Cartagia.) Now I will admit that I never saw any reason not to reveal to the universe at large when something annoyed me, yes. But there is a difference between this and the kind of fury I only felt twice in my life.

When I saw her poor, dead body covered by sheets, the flowers I had picked for her still in my hands, I fell silent. I did not yell, I did not curse, and I do not believe that there were words in my mind at all. Later, I held the broche I had given her in my hand, knew that she had loved me, truly, and that I might as well have signed her death warrant. The fury in me still was not loud, but it consumed me utterly. It was then that I discovered one could make very elaborate plans indeed in this state, yes? It was not divorced from calculation at all, which made it different from all my other occasions of anger. I came up with a scheme to destroy the man I believed responsible for her death, and it required patience, minute precision, and the deception and use of the one being who had never deserted me. I did not care, not then. All I cared about was my rage, and it demanded more than death. I could have poisoned Refa at any time. In fact, I had already done so; one more ingredient to make the dose lethal would have been easy to accomplish. But I wanted to see him humiliated first, I wanted him to die as slowly and painfully as possible - I wanted to destroy him.

A little less than six months later, I found out that Refa had not murdered Adira. Her killer had been Mr. Morden, and he had played me like a puppet. The rage came back, and again, it demanded far more than death. Though there was death that day, so much of it, and thankfully for far better reasons than one man's vengeance. Every one who stayed on the island of Celini did so for love of his people. They were the ones who saved Centauri Prime, and each of their names is burned in my memory.

But to return to Mr. Morden, who when he realized what was happening for the first time since I had the doubtful pleasure of meeting him lost his composure entirely and screamed at me: "You don't know what you've done, Londo!"

"What I have done," I repeated. "Oh, Mr. Morden, I have not even started with you yet."

Eventually, his head was put on a pike, as a gift for Vir. About the previous hours, I shall only say that he might have envied Refa, in the end. I am not proud of this. My father used to say that a man who does not offer his enemies a clean death does, in the end, become the dirt under their feet, and I believe this is true. But then, I do not believe I would act differently if I had the choice again but only the same information, except for one particular method in dealing with Refa, which I shall never stop to regret. At any event, what made that all consuming ice fill my veins after Adira had died was not rage at Refa, or Morden, oh no. They were guilty, but there was one far guiltier than they, the one who had made it possible for them to murder my beloved, and it was my utter loathing for him that made me conceive the deaths I did for Refa and Morden both.

Who makes me angriest? Why, myself.


Jun. 13th, 2006 06:31 pm
londo_mollari: (Default)
We Centauri are a deeply misunderstood race, as I have on occasion mentioned before. One of the most commonly held prejudices against us is the idea that we do not value loyalty and are only capable of betrayal.

"Now why would you believe that, hm?" I asked Mr. Garibaldi during a conversation in the early days, when such idle chats still took place between us.

"Are you kidding me?" he asked back. "Londo, each time you mention something of your planet's history, it's always this Emperor getting assassinated, those noble houses stabbing each other in the back, and when it's not politics, it's family life. I mean, man, you told me yourself your wives were the reason you liked this job. Because it keeps you far away from them. And you said that was typical for a Centauri marriage, right?"

"Humans," I said. "You are all so endearingly naive. I must say, it was your good fortune to encounter us first when you ventured into the galaxy. Another race would have exploited you without shame, yes?"

"Londo, you guys tried to con us into believing we were a long lost colony of yours and had to pay taxes to your Emperor."

I raised my glass to him. "That, my friend, is exactly what I mean. We were trying to protect and educate you. What better loyalty can you show a stranger?"

He said I was hopeless, but he paid my drink nonetheless, and I tried to explain the Centauri concept of loyalty to him, as my father, long ago, explained it to me. First and above all, one's loyalty should be to the Centauri Republic, to the Centauri People. Then to the Emperor. Then to one's House. Then to whichever allegiances one forms or inherits. Now, we Centauri, while infinitely more civilized than certain races I could mention, never claimed to be perfect, or geniuses. So often the order of loyalties gets confused; these kind of misunderstanding tend to be solved in a lethal fashion more often than not, but they do get solved.

"Hm," said Mr. Garibaldi. "I'm all for patriotism, but there's got to be more. There was a 20th century writer who was friends with a spy, and later when he was asked whether he'd have outed the spy had he known, he said "If I have to choose between betraying my friend or my country, I hope I'd have the guts to betray my country."

"A human standpoint if ever I heard one," I commented, and we spoke of other things.

Years later, I often thought back to this conversation. Both on occasions when I had to solve misunderstandings about the hierarchy of loyalties, such as in the case of the late Lord Refa, who, shall we say, needed incentive to come to the same conclusion as I had done about the wisdom, or rather, the lack of same, in continuing our relationship with Mr. Morden's allies, and on other occasions, when I had to wonder whether I had somehow managed to confuse the right order of loyalties myself. It was not Refa, after all, who had first asked Mr. Morden for help. It was not Refa at all. When the sky over the Centauri Prime darkened with ships that blotted out the sun and were screaming of death and destruction, I looked up and knew it was me.

Now I will never deny that I had ambitions. But I did and do believe, still, that if they were subservient to my patriotism. What I have done, I did for the Centauri first and foremost. Yet even so, they almost brought ruin to my people, and even if this was thwarted, I know there is still a reckoning waiting for me.

But here is the oddest circumstance: what made me change my course was not a conflict of loyalties. As I said, Centauri Prime comes first, and thus there was not even a question of priorities when the late Emperor Cartagia announced his intention to turn it into his inauguration pyre. No, what changed things was a discovery so new and breathtaking that I am still reeling from it, a year later. You see, nobody, not even the humans, ever told me that there could be loyalty between enemies.

I do not remember what I thought when Cartagia presented me with G'Kar in chains. But I do remember what I felt. And what I felt was that this man, who will be my death one day, whom I had hated dearly and had dearer fought, this man who had once turned my mind inside out, this man whose people were broken in no small measure due to my own efforts, should not be in chains. That he should not be tortured, which was something the Emperor proceeded to do all too soon. And that he should not die. That it was wrong for all of this to happen.

I offered him a pact then, which he took, for the sake of his people. I made a promise. And he, who had even on the best of days never uttered the word "Centauri" without scorn, did not once doubt that I would keep it.

After my world had narrowly avoided destruction, I ended up as the most powerful man on the planet, more or less. And the first thing I did was to honour my promise to him. I cannot really explain why. There had been no witness, after all, and he was in no position to do anything to pressure me. But it never occured to me not to do what I had told him I would.

So here I am, contemplating loyalties again, and where they lead to. I thought I had seen it all, and yet it seems I know nothing. For I cannot tell you where it will lead to, this newest, strangest loyalty of all. Perhaps this is why it can only exist between enemies.


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