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Babylon 5 headcanon:

Catagia was probably the most popular Emperor in recent Centauri history. Oh, the nobility hated him, and there were always dark rumours coming out of the palace – but for the average Centauri, there wasn’t anything remarkable about that. The nobles were always feuding and killing each other, after all. To most Centauri, the important thing was that the Narn had been brought to heel, and the Republic, so long in decline, was once more a great power in the galaxy. But it was more than that – Cartagia felt like a real man of the people compared to his predecessors. Wearing his hair short enraged the aristocracy but endeared him to the people, and they loved his eccentricities and the way he ignored the rituals and traditions of the old guard.

Needless to say, given his popularity, the suspicious circumstances of his death fuelled speculation. Nobody believed the official story that he’d died of a heart attack, and rumours abounded on the streets of Centauri Prime over who was really responsible for his death. The Narn, of course, were popular targets. Old aristocrats jealous of his success were often blamed. A few conspiracy-minded Centauri liked to place the blame on an obscure Minbari cult known as the “Anla-Shok”.

In time, a new theory began to gain strength - that Catagia had never died in the first place, that death had been faked to legitimise a palace coup while he was off-world. In the dark days that followed the coronation of Emperor Mollari II, the idea that Catagia could return and undo the humiliations the Centauri had suffered proved popular among the common Centauri. New rumours spread; that Catagia was living in hiding, disguised as a human on Earth, that he was gathering support among the League worlds to retake the throne, that he had made it to Vorlon space and was preparing to return with an armada that would unite the galaxy under his rule.

For a long time the Centauri government ignored these rumours as peasant superstitions. But when a rebellion broke out on the colony world of Davos, sparked by whispers that Catagia was about to make his move, the Centaurum realised something needed to be done to put the story to rest. It was a junior member of the body that ended up suggesting the solution: Why not revive the old tradition of deifying deceased emperors? An official Temple of Catagia would provide a safe, controlled way for the common people to show their affection for the dead emperor, and it would make spreading rumours of his survival not just treasonous but blasphemy against the God Catagia himself!

According to several members of the royal court, the only time they ever saw Emperor Mollari overcome with laughter during his reign was when he was presented with the legislation to ratify it – though some admit they were not sure if it was laughter or tears that overwhelmed him.

While far more popular than his predecessor, many Centauri were somewhat offended that Emperor Cotto seemed to go out of his way to avoid entering temples of Catagia during his reign…

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David Newgreen

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